Jo Van L.

I am the middle child with two brothers. One is ten years younger that I am and the other is six years older. My father was a gregarious, fun loving, charismatic man with a very short attention span. We moved ten times before I left home for college. My mother was his help mate. She was organized. She packed and moved almost seamlessly.

Both parents loved to cook. They cooked excellent meals together. They loved to travel. I visited 48 states while growing up. I lived in south America for two years.

I began college as an art major. I panicked and did not think I could be an artist. Because of my age, and my family , I only know I had three choices: teacher, secretary or nurse. I chose teaching. I got a degree in education and a master’s degree in counseling because I wanted to understand my students better.

I met my husband my senior year in college and we married after my first year of teaching. After eight years of marriage we decided to have children. That decision scared me but now I cannot imagine my life without my children and my grandchildren. (I had two daughters and now have seven grandchildren).

I taught school for thirty years. I incorporated art into all my lessons. My favorite two years of teaching was a pre-K program. I was told as long as they knew the numbers and letters by spring, my curriculum was up to me. I loved the creativity. Every letter was introduced with a song and an art project. The children loved school and I loved teaching them.

When I was in 7th grade, I took a class at a sewing machine store in town. I made a dress. My mother would rip the mistakes out at night and fix them for me. She knew that I did not have the patience to fix them myself.

I also took knitting. It was too slow of a process for me.

I sewed my clothes for years. I had thematic “teacher dresses” with a school bus for the first day, a rainbow for teaching colors, a solar system to learn that etc.

When my children were little, I told my mother in law that I was going to quilt when I retire. She told me that I would not be any good if I waited until then. She bought me a “beginning quilting kit” with a rotary cutter, a ruler, and a mat. I book my first quilting class. I made a pillow and a king size bed quilt.

Because of my interest in Art, I discovered I wanted to create my own patterns. I did not want to copy others and I did not want to millions of the same blocks.

When I retired I took every quilt retreat I could.  This gave me an opportunity to learn and travel. Two of my most favorite things in life. I also began to take college level art classes in color theory, design, drawing, life drawing, water color and more.

In 2006 I found out I had a rare form of cancer in all places…my elbow. I was removed but it came back. Long story short. I am very fortunate…. six surgeries later. I have an artificial elbow and a hand that works!!!!! The lesson I learned is life can be short. Do not waste a minute. Take it by the horns and ride!

My goal to learn is still strong. I am still looking for value in my life. My family has moved to the other side of the US. Now is the time to concentrate on me.

Part 2:

I love making fabric. I like the “Christmas effect”. What I mean is that I love the surprise when you are dyeing a fabric and you open it up to see what has been created. I struggle with note taking and repeating processes. I do jot things down but really don’t look back on what I wrote. I like representation work. My pieces that I love, tell a story. It could be a story from the past, like grandma’s button box or from a trip…Have broken arm with travel.

My most common method is to create the image by fusing and then to sew and quilt at the same time. I enjoy adding hand stitches.

Do I have a voice? I don’t know I am struggling with that. My art is not static because I am always learning. I am always growing.

Part 3

What I care about. I care about people. I love my family, friends and strangers. I love interactions with people. I love travel because It exposes me to new people and new ideas. My whole soul needs tha arts, music and visual arts. Art is an escape into beauty and comfort.

I am a student of life. A good day is a day I have learned something new.