Archive for August, 2010

An art collector shares tips for patrons AND artists

Correspondence:  Open Lines in situ in the home of collector Irene Peake

I am always humbled and thrilled to have my artwork acquired by one of my patrons as part of an important celebration. Irene Peake, who recently added Correspondence:  Open Lines to her and her husband’s collection, was kind enough to submit to a Q&A about collecting fiber art.  She offers tips for both collectors of fiber art and fiber artists:

1.  Why are you interested in collecting fiber art?  Do you collect other types of art also or is there something in particular that draws you to  fiber art?
Irene:  Collecting fiber art is a way of staying connected to a tradition of needlework in my family.  My maternal grandmother was a milliner whose specialty was trimming hats.  I grew up watching her create beautiful hatbands decorated with stitching, ribbon rosettes, cockades, feathers and sequins.  My paternal grandmother and her sister crocheted bedspreads and embroidered tablecloths.

2.  What is your criteria for adding fiber art to your collection?  (The artwork’s theme, the artist, the color, the materials, a specific location, an occasion, . . .)
Irene: I am especially attracted to fiber pieces that depict or are related to nature.  Texture is key as is the use of a variety of materials—fabrics, threads and non-traditional items.

3.  Have your tastes in fiber art changed over time and, if so, has that affected your collection?
: Over the years, I’ve learned to enjoy pieces that are more abstract than realistic, so I often look for pieces that are executed in an abstract style.

4.  You added Correspondence: Open Lines to your collection in celebration of a special occasion.  Would you care to share something about the process of choosing this artwork? Its relevance to your celebration? Why/how did you and your husband choose Open Lines?
Irene: My husband and I have a tradition of buying something for our home as an anniversary present.  We are also home renovators, so finishing off a room is cause for celebration.  Once the dining room was completed, I knew I wanted a single piece of fiber art to go on one wall.  I went online and bookmarked several artists’ work to show my husband. He liked several of my selections, so I made a short list.  Then we reviewed our budget to determine what was affordable.  Among the finalists were three of your pieces.  Since we already own several of your pieces, Bob was familiar and comfortable with your work.  Two pieces were the wrong size for the dining room, so it came down to Correspondence: Open Lines.

I selected this piece to show my husband for several reasons.  This piece:
Utilizes lots of stuff (various fabrics, threads, etc.).  I love stuff!  I make collages and assemblages so I really enjoy artwork that utilizes “bits and pieces.”
Is colorful…just what we needed to brighten up our dining room.
Utilizes movement.  Lines sweep across the art to catch your eye and engage you.
Is complex.  I enjoy looking at the materials and stitching up close.

5.  What advice do you have for other collectors of fiber art? For those just beginning to collect fiber art?
Irene:  Collecting any type of art is an investment of time, energy and education as well as money.  Whatever you are drawn to, learn more about it.  Read; visit museums; go to galleries, exhibits and craft fairs; look at artists’ web sites.

Keep an open mind and look at everything.  Learn what you like and what you don’t.  What’s more important, learn why you like or dislike an art work.  For example, don’t dismiss something as “ugly.”  What specifically bothers you about the piece—color, subject matter, execution?

Beginning collectors can start small.  Many fiber artists make small works—art cards editions and originals (ACEOs), wall hangings, journal quilts, etc.  When deciding upon a purchase, consider:
Display: Where will the piece be shown?  Does it need to be framed or is it ready to hang?
Maintenance: What type of cleaning is required?

Anyone seriously interested in building a collection should document and insure their collection as well as consider estate planning issues.

6.  What advice do you have for artists who would like their art to be added to a patron’s collection?
Irene:  Artists who want to be added to a patron’s collection should have a web site that displays their work well.  This means easy-to-navigate pages, clear photos (including detail shots) and a price list.  If links are included, check on a regular basis that they work.  If you are represented by a gallery, be sure their web site has samples of your work posted and that the site works properly.

Facebook, Twitter and YouTube can all be powerful marketing tools.  Personally, I enjoy reading artists’ blogs.

Artists should also consider creating work for a variety of price points.  Beginning collectors with small budgets often buy smaller “starter” pieces.  Therefore, making small works available is one way to enable collectors to become familiar with your work.  However, don’t skimp on quality when creating less costly pieces.

Also, be responsive to collectors who contact you with questions.  Building a relationship with artists is one of the joys of collecting.

If you have any questions for Irene, please contact her at irene.peake2(at)


08 2010

Free shipping on my book until Tuesday, August 31

Tuesday is just around the corner, but you can still have my book shipped free to you even if you live outside the U.S.  What a deal!  All the details, including a “click-through preview” of Wild at the Edges: Inspiration from a Creative Life, is here.

The book might seem a bit pricey in hardcover, but I’m willing to make only $4 profit on each book and have limited distribution so that Blurb can take care of all the billing and shipping.  Just one of those tough choices that frees up more time for the studio.

Need a testimonial?  Here is what artist Carol Larson had to say about Wild at the Edges:

The spectacular artwork, combined with the enlightening text, the wondrous haiku and the beautiful photography all combine to make this book a treasure for anyone who loves nature, art or life! Additionally it is such a powerful lesson for women about life on the edge, facing the fear and truly living in the moment. What an inspiration, Virginia!

Thanks, Carol!  Read more reviews here.

If you have any requests for a book you would like to see me create, let me know privately or by leaving a comment.  I have created eight Blurb books so far, but mainly from Boundary Waters trips.  They are books I return to again and again.  I hope you will say the same about Wild at the Edges.

Happy Weekend!


08 2010

Artwork Auction for a Good Cause

Fifteen by Karen Stiehl Osborn
15″ square; Karen’s hand-painted & dyed cotton cloth and canvas.

My friend, Karen Stiehl Osborn, has a soft heart.  Even though she already had two dogs, she agreed to foster the cutest little rescue dog.  Why?  Poor Chili had a leg amputated and Karen didn’t want Chili to recover in a rescue kennel.

Now Karen is auctioning the artwork shown above to help the rescue pay for Chili’s surgery.

The auction is now open.  All the details you need to bid are right here. Click on over and give Karen a helping hand in her mission of kindness.


08 2010

Unexpected Perfection in the Boundary Waters

Just back yesterday from the Boundary Waters on the Canadian/Minnesota Borders after another inspiration canoe wilderness camping trip with my sister, Nancy. We both thought this trip would be an easy paddle in, a set up on our favorite campsite on a small lake, and a week spent day tripping here and there.

But Mother Nature knows how to keep you humble and on your toes.  About two minutes after launching the canoe, I took this photo:

And then it really started to be interesting.  It was honestly the biggest and nastiest water I have ever paddled in for so long.  So finally we said, “That’s it” and beat back to a campsite we had visited before.  We were one lake short of where we hoped to be, but very happy to be safely ashore.

Engineer Nancy set up with this tarp wind break that was a great place to cook and be out of the roaring wind and rain:

And so we spent the week on that one campsite with plenty of time for naps, lovely meals, sketching and a daily photography challenge. And in every kind of weather we had coffee break in the afternoon; you know that made me happy:

We also had two sunny days that let us survey our big lake and see mink, eagles, beavers, loons, and more.  Sometimes life gives you just what you need.

My August e-newsletter will be coming out before the end of the month with more exclusive photos and stories from the Boundary Waters .  Not a subscriber? Just send an e-mail with SUBSCRIBE as the header.

These maple seeds just turning pink were very interesting to me.  I photographed them again and again at different times of day and in different light:


08 2010

Art Bras and cancer fundraiser success!

Remember my humbling experience with making an art bra?  That bra and seven others were on display at the Relay for Life cancer fundraiser for which my sister is chair this past weekend.  Viewers could vote for their favorite art bra.  All the bras used the theme of  “Celebrating Women.”  The winner was made by an eleven year-old girl and collected over $200 in donations for the ACS.

This bra was entered by Team Visor captained by Emily Ziemer.  It was created by Noelle Maki Rollins, a very talented artist.  The bras weren’t for sale, but Noelle agreed to part with her artwork for a donation to the ACS.  The title of the artwork is We’re All Pink and features portraits of Sheryl Crow and Carly Simon.  I couldn’t resist this artwork after reading the artist’s statement:

Cheryl Crow and Carly Simon are both breast cancer survivors.  Like the music they create to touch the souls of those listening, we all share an ability to touch others.  Some of our greatest gifts are being able to connect, to share and gain strength from each other.  With one another we have the ability to create a pure, tangible, contagious energy.  We all hold a common bond; we’re all connected.  Just like the symbloci ribbon we all stand behind; inside we’re all heart and all pink.

Niece Jenny, me, Chairperson and Sister Nancy, Mom  (Sharing our energy to stay up 30 hours and raise funds to beat cancer)

The Relay was a huge success with your generous donations to the Tote Tuesday fundraiser for my Fiberart For A Cause adding significantly to the success.  Thank you for your wonderful support.  My family “Relays” in honor of my Dad, Bob Spiegel, a sixteen-year survivor of colon cancer.


08 2010