Archive for January, 2012

In the Studio with Mary Ann Van Soest

Mary Ann Van Soest

Mary Ann Van Soest is one of those wonderful people who is both an artist and a Patron of artists, as you can tell by her studio photos below.  Mary Ann shared this information about herself: I have not been formally educated in the field of art. Mostly self taught by choice. Had sewing class, music class and 4-H from an early age. Was tailoring clothes by the age of 12, working for a produce market by age 14 and running a produce stand by age 16. Owned a real estate office and had 33 good years of sales. But I always wanted to go to art school. Not in the cards for me. In 2009 I  went to the International Quilt Show on a whim and, wow, I found a way to express my art.  The art quilts fascinated me. There are no limits. The last three years being retired gives me all the time I choose to create. It has been fun and I look forward to growing as an artist. As you can see I am a little driven. When I choose to do something I go full speed ahead. I am close to Chicago and I may just try the Art Institute some day and go to art school after all.  My best friend is a 90 year-old artist who has given me a lot of direction in the last 3 years. Life is good.

1. How do you find/make time to be in your studio?
I usually try to be in the studio at least 4 times a week. I start to work(I call it playtime) by 9 am, break for lunch, and continue until 3 or 4 pm.

2.  Describe your studio in 5 words.

Big bright comfortable work space.

3.  If you could pick only one thing from your studio to represent your art practice what would it be?

I would pick my hutch which is by my idea wall. In that space I  have art from my friends, pieces of my art I choose to keep, carved birds, a collection of blue mason jars, books, pottery and whatever I like at that time.  It is a easy place to rest my eyes during the day and remember who I acquired those items from or when I made that special piece. Great memories that  inspire new art.

4.  What is the best/worst space you have ever had as a studio?
Hands down the furnace room where I started out. No windows and plain ugly.

5. What would make a “dream studio” for you?
I am in my dream studio now. Last year a family member moved into our guest room for 4 months. That had been my studio. When they left I stayed in the large bright room I have now. 22 by 20 foot open space with lots of windows, cabinets for storage and a sink for clean-up. This space has evolved into a great working space. A happy place to create.


This is one of three beautifully color-cordinated Fiber BONUSES donated by Mary Ann for Foto/Fiber 2012. Items in her BONUSES may include hand-painted fabric, snow-dyed fabric, batiks, beads, fiber cards, thread. See more details about her Fiber BONUSES on Mary Ann’s blog and on Facebook. Foto/Fiber 2012, a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, opens February 15 at 10 a.m. Central. Mary Ann has also donated a gorgeous art quilt for a drawing when we reach our goal of $7000.

 6.What would you advise someone setting up a studio for the first time?
Think it through first. Imagine it in your head. Find the arrangement and style that is comfortable for you. You can always move things and change it out.

7.  Any unique features/pets  you would like to share?

My large window area that looks out at ground level is special to me. Deer, birds, the neighbor’s cat, some Canadian geese and squirrels have all looked into the window when I am working.  Always something interesting to see out there.

8. Any new exhibit or project we should know about?
I am part of a show coming up this summer, Under Indiana Skies. I am creating pieces for that now. I just finished the first art quilt, Sunrise, for that show. Five more to go. I use a photograph or a painting I have done to inspire the art quilt. The 2 pieces will be hung side by side for the show. Another show in 2013 that will be a botanical theme. I have just started to plan that one. Both shows will be at the Wells Center in Lafayette, Indiana.





01 2012

In the Studio with Sue Reno

Sue Reno

Sue Reno is known throughout the art quilt world for her use of cyanotype and heliographic prints. Her rich and intricate art quilts are inspired by her surroundings, incorporating images of plants and animals that inhabit her extensive organic garden and the surrounding woods. Sue also works with architectural subjects, including a series documenting the transformation of the beaux-arts style Watt & Shand department store into a hotel and convention center.  Sue’s artwork has appeared in numerous magazines, in solo shows, galleries, and art centers.  She also serves as a lecturer and juror.

1.  How do you find/make time to be in your studio?
I’m always trying to find that elusive balance between time spent in artistic endeavors and the commitments I have in the rest of my life.  One of these days I may get it right!  In practical terms, I eat well and exercise to keep my energy level  up, I’m not afraid to let non-essential household tasks slide when I have deadlines to meet, and I get a lot done late in the evenings when I get a second wind.  I keep a daily log of time spent working on art and art-related paperwork and web work, and review it periodically to see where I can make adjustments.

2.  Describe your studio in five words.
Peaceful, inspirational, functional, organized chaos.

3.  If you could pick only one thing from your studio to represent your art practice, what would it be?
The materials I use to make cyanotype prints.  I am continually delighted by the process and intrigued and stimulated by the limitless possibilities it presents.

4.  What would make a “dream studio” for you?

A helio print drying on my driveway (outdoor studio space).

I could always use more room, but aside from that I love the space I have now in my home.  It has all my stuff in it and it’s well organized.  I’ve got good light, my machines, two big work tables, movable design walls, and a half bath with a sink.  Best of all, it’s got sliding glass doors that open into my backyard.  The outdoors provides much of the inspiration as well as the raw materials for my work in the form of the plants and flowers in my extensive organic garden beds.  It’s also my adjunct workspace for much of the year, where I make cyanotype and heliographic prints and hand paint fabric.

A view of my garden (my inspiration).

5.  What would you advise someone setting up a studio for the first time?
Don’t be discouraged if it’s not ideal.  A dream space is a wonderful luxury but not a necessity. What’s more important is the commitment to make the work that’s important to you, in whatever increments of time you can manage.

Sue is donating three Fiber BONUSES for Foto/Fiber 2012.
Read all the details about her Fiber BONUSES on her special blog post; you won’t believe all the fiber treasures that Sue is fitting in to a 6×9″ padded envelope.

6.  Any new exhibits or projects we should know about?
I’m excited to be working on my entry for Seasonal Palette, an invitation juried SAQA exhibit that will debut at the International Quilt Festival in Houston, TX this fall.  I’ve started documenting the inspiration and construction process of my summer-themed quilt on my blog, see the tab at the top.  I’m also thrilled that I will be the juror for an upcoming SAQA exhibit curated by Kathy Nida, I’m Not Crazy.  It’s going to be a wonderful, meaningful, and well travelled exhibit, and I’d like to encourage everyone to read the prospectus and consider preparing an entry.  The prospectus can be viewed here.


01 2012

In the Studio with Natalya Aikens


Natalya Aikens

When I look at the studio photos from Natalya Aikens, I see a direct reflection of her artwork. Natalya’s website is bilingual and her art reflects the Russian fairytales, folklore and decorative traditions of her birth city of St. Petersburg. Her artwork is instantly recognizable and, according to Natalya, “The focus of my materials and techniques is on recycled elements; vintage fabrics of personal history; sheer, translucent effects; intense hand stitching and machine work; computer manipulation.” Visit Natalya’s blog for updates from her studio as well as many beautiful photographs under “Wordless Wednesdays.”

1.  How do you find/make time to be in your studio?
I really can only be in the studio during the school day, so I make sure to schedule all my errands and “to do’s” either into one day a week or in the morning so that I can a have bulk of the school day in the studio. I am not always successful, but I keep getting better at keeping regular studio hours and keeping distractions at bay.

2.  Describe your studio in five words.

Functional, cluttered, organized, cozy, conducive to inspiration… can we count the last three as one?

3.  If you could pick only one thing from your studio to represent your art practice, what would it be?

My book cabinet that holds my favorite research materials which are books on different aspects of Russian and Slavic cultures and decorative arts, books on different art styles and movements, books by and about inspiring artists, my journals and on top a collection of glass weights, glass jars with mementoes, icons and postcards.

4. What is the best/worst space you have ever had as a studio?
The dining room table in my parents house was probably the worst. Having to forever clear it for dinner was not conducive to my creative flow…but that was eons ago. The best place is now, it is a converted garage that is part of the basement of our house. Two large windows were cut in to let plenty of light and there is a door off to the side so I can step outside as needed for a breath of fresh air or an extra dose of nature.

This is a detail of one of the three Fiber BONUSES Natalya is donating to Foto/Fiber 2012. Each of her Fiber BONUSES is a different colorway and contains hand painted dryer sheets, an ATC, color coordinated unique bits and pieces from her personal scrap selection, ribbons, yarns, buttons and threads. You may choose Natalya as your Fiber BONUS artist of choice on February 15.

5.  What would make a “dream studio” for you?

Taking over the adjacent playroom from my kids and spreading out! I wonder if they would notice if I slowly start encroaching on their space?

6.  What would you advise someone setting up a studio for the first time?

Take advantage of any space you have, whether it’s big or small, and just start creating in it and and adjust as necessary. It’s not the space or place that matters, it’s the work that’s created in it!

7.  Any unique features/studio pets you would like to share?

No studio pets in my house, but my children are occasionally inspired to spend time in there with me and I alway enjoy watching what they create and how they eek out a space for themselves among my clutter.

8.  Any exhibits or special projects we should know about?
I have several exhibitions coming up in Winter/Spring of 2012:
Piecing It Together at ArtsWestchester in White Plains, NY from January 28th to March 28th.
Russian Art II: Fiber, Paint, Photo – a two person exhibit at the Mahopac Public Library in Mahopac, NY from February 2nd to 28th.
My work will be at two venues during FiberPhiladelphia – Synchronicity at the HighWire Gallery from March 30th to April 27th, and Softer Edges: Fiber Artists and the Urban Environment at the Fleisher Art Memorial from April 2nd to 28th.
Links to all these exhibits are on my website.

***Please join us on February 15 and 16 for Foto/Fiber 2012, a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.  Our goal:  Add $7000 to the $215,000 we have already donated to the ACS.***


01 2012

In the Studio with Cynthia St. Charles

Cynthia St. Charles

Cynthia St. Charles is known for her art quilts that exemplify her love of nature and her beautiful work with surface design techniques such as pole wrapped shibori, rust dyed, and discharged pieces.  She has been published several times in Quilting Arts magazine, including the latest cover.  Her blog, Living and Dyeing Under the Big Sky,is updated daily with her latest art and adventures.

1.  How do you find/make time to be in your studio?  
Since my studio is on the lower level (walk out basement) of my home, it is easy to start my day there with my first cup of tea.

2.  Describe your studio in five words.  

Spacious, salvaged, whirlwind, colorful, productive.

3. What is the best/worst space you have ever had as a studio?
When I first began art quilting, I had a small table (2 x 4′) for my sewing machine in the laundry room squeezed between the door and the washer.  There was a 4′ square design wall above the sewing machine.  I did my dyeing on the floor between the dryer and the kitty litter box.  That was the worst.

My current studio is the best workspace I have ever had.  I have a wet studio with a dedicated washer and sink.  My regular studio is very spacious and although it is furnished with salvaged retail store displays for storage and work surfaces, it is extremely efficient.

5.  What would make a “dream studio” for you?
My current studio would be a “dream studio” if only I could make it more private.  There is no door separating it from the rest of the house (and no easy way to install one in the arched entryway).  The only lower level doorway to the outside is in my studio, so it gets a lot of traffic, which I resent.

6.  Any exhibits or special projects we should know about?

My work is on the cover of the December 2011 / January 2012 Issue of Quilting Arts.

I am curating the first ever group show for the Montana-Idaho region of SAQA.  The show, called Broad Spectrum, opens at the Rynkier-Morrison Gallery on the campus of Rocky Mountain College in Billings Montana on February 17, 2012.


Of course, Cynthia’s two Foto/Fiber 2012 Fiber BONUSES will have something to do with chickadees. Cynthia sent this note,”I did my studio pillaging for Foto/Fiber and can now say that each bonus will include not only one of the special postcard series, but also a hand carved printing block, monoprinted fabric, block printed fabric, and some of my hand dyed specialty yarns – all from my hand.  More if I can fit it in the envelope.”  Thanks, Cynthia!  Cynthia will be having more about her Fiber BONUSES on her blog.

Please join us for this fundraiser for the American Cancer Society on February 15 and 16. 100% of the proceeds are donated directly to the American Cancer Society through Fiberart For A Cause.  Here is the donation page if you want to check it out before February 15.


01 2012

In the Studio with Pamela Allen

Pamela Allen

I have always appreciated Pamela Allen’s artwork for its sensibility and its sense. Pamela is an award-winning Canadian artist well-known for her dynamic art quilts full of color and meaning. She was a nominee for Professional Quilter Teacher of the Year in both 2008 and 2011. She is featured in the book, Masters:  Art Quilts.  Pamela offers both a DVD and workshop entitled Think Like An Artist. Pamela’s Fiber BONUSES for Foto/Fiber 2012, opening February 15, will be completed works of art.

1.  How do you find/make time to be in your studio?
For me studio work is my job so if I don’t go in regularly then my boss would be really mad.

2. Describe your studio in five words.

Comfortable, chaotic, creative,challenging and cheerful.

3. If you could pick only one thing from your studio to represent your art practice, what would it be?
My junk drawer.


4. What is the best/worst space you have ever had as a studio?
The best was a two story loft in an old woolen mill.

5. What would make a “dream studio” for you?
Anywhere that’s air conditioned!

6. What would you advise someone setting up a studio for the first time?

Be happy with almost any private space. Its ALL yours and no one elses.

7. Any new exhibits or projects we should know about?
I offer five five online workshops:  Think Like An ArtistStill Life is Boring – NOT!About Style, Pattern and Color; Figures and Faces; and Four Quilts, One Subject.  


A detail from First Nation, one of Pamela’s three Fiber BONUSES for Foto/Fiber 2012.
On February 15, you will be able to choose a photo and then indicate you would like one of Pamela’s BONUSES.
OF COURSE, 100% of your donation will be made directly to the American Cancer Society through Fiberart For A Cause.

***Share the news about Foto/Fiber 2012, a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, and be entered to win a copy of Cate Prato’s, Inside the Creative Studio, a $25 gift certificate from Fiber On A Whim, or a package each of TAP and ExtravOrganza also from Fiber On A Whim.




01 2012