Mary L.

I am so proud that I finally completed the "dreaded" lesson 2.  I bought the book this summer and jumped right in to lesson 1.  However, lesson two stopped me in my tracks. I probably was over thinking and the perfectionist in me was a bit frighten.  I signed up for the summer camp thinking that would inspire me to complete it.  I completed lesson one but hit the wall at lesson 2 again.  So, one of my reasons for taking this class was to get past lesson two.  Conveniently last week was busy and I was away for a three day weekend due to my first big run race of the season.  ( what a great excuse!! No time!!). I must toot my horn here because there were 4 races and I age placed in two of them and came very close in the others)   Woo woo!  Back to lesson 2..... On Tues, I scheduled time to to work on the expanded squares and ... surprise,  I love creating them!  They are quicker and easier than what I conceptualized in my mind.  I have summited three of them but am working on more and really intrigued with working some in fabric.  

I am really feeling the need to schedule time to work on art because it so easily gets pushed to tomorrow.  I think about my running and that I fanatically never skip a training run because I have a race day goal.  I am pondering how I can set goals with my art quilting. Both activities are important to me but running usually wins because it is set miles and times unlike art that requires experimenting and thinking time. This assignment has given me lots to think about and has brought up questions within myself about why and how my art got pushed to the side.  I know that many of us have to juggle interests and time. On to lesson 3.

Darlynn E.

This week the rebelin me had a hard time coming out. When I first started the exercise I felt restricted and hesitant to just cut the paper, hence the symmetrical dragonfly. I continued trying it and began to relax and just enjoyed the process. I found myself just cutting shapes and anxiously waiting to see what the outcome would be. When I tried to completely disassemble the square it was difficult to put back together.

With six children and fourteen grandchildren, I know this is an area I need to work on. Learning to say no and finding time to experiment in my studio every day is sometimes very difficult.  I will continue to work on it.

Susan S.

Week 2 Musings

I had never done the expanded square exercise.  I made my black squares 4 ½” because I had a square ruler that size.  Due to rheumatoid arthritis I found it hard to cut with an exacto knife and went back to scissors.  I am not sure if this adaptation affected my creativity.  I also did them in different short intervals, working on one when I had a few minutes.  (I had pre-cut out the black squares to be at the ready.)  I felt my attempts were feeble compared to those of some other members, and the ones in your book.

I was bored doing the basic expanded square.  I made two, one with pieces cut from the outside, and one with the pieces cut out from within the square.  I found both pretty unsatisfying.  I then broke the rules and tried cutting from the center and not worrying about forming a square-----instead re-arranging the pieces.  I purposely used wavy rather than straight lines, and I found it fun to arrange the pieces.  I liked the last one I did best. I cut from the corners and in the last ones concave curves from corner to corner on a side….much more satisfying. 

I also found that I have lots of personal “rules” and “messages” which keep me from the studio and working, including ones such as I must do all my work before I can create or have fun, that what I do is unimportant, and the fear of making a mistake or not being good enough. Also messages that it is better not to do something than to do it badly.   I got a whole list

I am definitely not worried about success….I like to be successful when it happens and am not afraid to put work I deem “good” out into the universe.

I was happy to do the exercises in small “bites” and enjoyed each cut better than the last.  I am not sure if I will use these for anything, but I could see this as a good exercise to try to get the creative juices flowing.

Sharon C.

I like combining paper and fabric, and each time I sit down to create something with paper and/or fabric in a collage-type piece, I feel the pull of my kindergarten days, muttering to myself, “and who doesn’t like working on something you can use paper and glue!”

The first notan pieces I did were pretty “ho hum” to me—probably because I prefer angles, lines, and geometric shapes (see Fig 1 and Fig 2).  I found that cutting in curved lines did not appeal to me.  But I liked the shadow shapes that unfolded on the outer edges.  It provided an interesting contract and balance.  The pieces as a whole did not, however, excite me so I decided to make copies of the designs then cut them up and reassemble them hopefully into something more interesting.  I do that a lot in my art quilts if I think something is boring or bland.  It makes simple pieces look complex.  





The look “felt” better to me once cut and reassembled (Fig 3), but this morning while sitting at my worktable and surrounded by bits and pieces of paper, I decided I would create a collage (Fig 4).





I believe in serendipity—which seems a driving force in my work.  I had made copies of my original squares and in the tray of my copy machine was the copy of notes I made for a recent talk so when I started cutting my sheets of notan work, I also snipped some of the words (also like using words in my work). 

It wasn’t until I finished constructing my collage that I felt a sense of satisfaction with this exercise—but that happens frequently when I try something new.  I guess I tend to resist new ways at first, and it’s not until a bit later that I can work things to “my own” aesthetic that I begin to have a sense of “wow, I like this.”

I immediately saw a couple of uses for this kind of work.  The first had to do with images worked in Photoshop Elements.  I do a lot of digital designs (then print them in small batches) so I experimented with merging the collage with a couple of already digitized image until I came up with something interesting (See Fig 5 and Fig 6).  I think the second would be to simply print on fabric and cut apart.  Love how fabric looks cut into small strips.





Donna W. - Part Two

Within a day of making peace with the idea that I wouldn’t have time to complete the Week 2 assignment, voila! I magically found an hour to execute my expanded square. Funny how that happens. When the pressure is off, my universe tends to open up.

Once I found this magical hour, I decided not to jam it all up by attempting to compete with the amazing expanded squares I saw posted in Open Studio, which I found quite intimidating. My expanded square is not complex or artistic or particularly beautiful; it just is, and sometimes, that has to be good enough. As I was executing the square, I wasn’t thinking about being creative or going deeper or breaking rules and being a rebel. Instead, I was thinking about the arc of my life, and how as I’ve gotten older, I’ve edited bits and pieces of it, reimagining its shape and pruning off some rough edges, much as I was cutting away the black areas of the square to reveal the white areas. In the long run, in both my life and with my expanded square, I recognize that it takes both the positive and the negative to reveal the beauty of the whole.

Michele K.

Hi everybody, 

Here are some pictures of the trials I made during the week.

I tried spontaneous cuts with and then without any drawings on the black paper, I tried also to make a quick sketch on a piece of paper to have some guide lines, I tried sinuous and geometric forms.

And I laughed yesterday when I saw a little figure appearing slowly, it lookedmore and more like a little devil, so I thought he really deserved that little red tongue !

It is an interesting exercise to do. I admired what I saw on your photographs . I need to improve my fluidity of cutting paper ; during those exercise, I didn’t really knew what I would get at the end of the cutting and gluing, so I need to understand more how to choose and make the cuts according to an idea.

Susan M.

I had difficulty engaging with this exercise. Though, I loved seeing everyone’s else’s “squares,” especially the red ones, the torn ones, the casually assembled ones. Thank you!

My attempts included cutting up a few pattern samples I’d painted recently and involved breaking some rules – but, not in a big way. So, I’ve been puzzling about why I couldn’t dig a bit deeper with the exploding squares and associated questions. I’m probably more interested in line and mark than compositions with shape as the important element, as it seems to be with the exploding square, though I could have nudged the assignment toward line.

And, regarding rules, one that’s close to the top of my list is to do something that’s good and do it well… or, don’t do it at all. Right? I’m wondering how often I have to bump into that one. Repeatedly, I expect. While I was resisting the exploding square, I was also reading about the painter Cy Twombly, admiring his work, and the way he seemed to make the process the central event, the main drama. A Twombly-esque drawing is posted here, scribbles, minimal thinking, enjoying my hand in contact with a surface.

Reflecting on the first two lessons, I’m reminded that I love flat, simple surfaces – ironed surfaces – and seem to be energized by line and mark.

Donna W.

I’m having a very crazy week and feeling badly about not having more time to put into this week’s assignment. I’m trying not to beat myself up over not creating sufficient space for making, specifically, for not making the expanded square. Although I did make time for an art workshop this weekend that exposed me to soldering jewelry charms, something totally outside my experience and comfort zone. I found myself repeating the mantra my yoga teacher gave me: I am attempting something difficult and I appreciate myself for trying.

I also spent time this week thinking about the reading and can at least comment on that.

The last two lines of the ‘God Says Yes to Me’ poem — “What I’m telling you in Yes Yes Yes” — spoke to me. I heard: Wide open skies, no limits, boundless potential. It’s okay to be afraid, but it’s not necessary. There is a safety net beneath you; you are protected. (Where did all that come from?)

The directive to engage my Rebel energy and protect the time that isn’t co-opted by higher priorities prompted me to ask myself: When will I make making my higher priority? If not now, WHEN?? the reminder that I just need to “open the door and walk into the room” spoke to me on a metaphorical level as well as a literal level. I know that I need to clear a space in my mind that will allow me to exercise that Rebel energy without worrying about how crazy it looks to other people. For me, now, that could come down to as radical a move as leaving my lucrative job with state retirement benefits to become a freelance writer (the opportunity has been offered to me) with very little pay and no benefits. But I’d be doing what I love and I’d free up space in my head to let the Actor-Detective-Networker-Scholar-Storyteller-Artist-Seeker-Student-Seer soar. If not now, WHEN???

Maria S.

This was an interesting challenge.  I have never seen the expanded square before.  I really had to start from the beginning to get to know it. (Square 1, Symmetrical and Square 2, Asymmetrical)





Using the prompts I made one that is dimensional.  Square 3,4 and one going through the middle (square 5)





And lastly I let the square explode, throwing triangles into the air.

What is the rebel?  One who breaks the rules on a quest of discovery, discovering new techniques, new ideas or new ways to find my creativity.

Jane M.

I was breaking the rules before I even started as the black paper I thought I had was red!  

I then got to thinking about breaking the rules, and it came make to me about making snowflakes and lines of dancing dolls by paper cutting years ago. So I thought I try a snowflake , with the cutouts reattached.

And then I abandoned scissors and just ripped.

Is it seaweed or a nebulae?.  I love the soft edges I have achieved.

Overall I enjoyed playing with this and it got be back to making for couple of hours rather than cleaning up round the builders that are in my house at the moment.

Carla D.

"Sometimes you have to break the rules to keep the work alive."  Quote from "How to Make An American Quilt"

I thought I had better try to send these photos before the heavy winds started in our area.  We are expecting 40 to 60 mile winds today which means the loss of power for who knows how many days.

This exercise was so much fun!  I had a hard time doing symmetrical and plan to do more squares when I can.  The beautiful thing is I am back in my studio having fun and facing my fears of "not being good enough".  Making again has been so liberating.  I feel that doors are opening again.