Creative Dry Spells

I think I can safely say I have suffered from “Creative Dry Spells” in all forms of my artistic endeavors. It is like being in a depressed mood; you know it will pass but it does not make it any the less painful. They are not fun, nor can you talk yourself out of them; the best thing to do is ignore them for a day or two and then try to work thru them or just do something else like cleaning (ugh) or cooking. Cleaning should convince you to be creative real quick and cooking can be creative also yummy if you bake or make desserts.

I read somewhere (probably another blog but I forgot to write down whose blog) some ways to get the creative juices flowing again. I have adapted them to needleart thoughts:

  1. Spend some time with your stash
  2. Finish a UFO or several
  3. Practice a stitch/technique you haven’t mastered or would like to learn
  4. Look ahead to projects you must finish:
  • Designers/teachers have deadline
  • Finishing deadlines
  • Work under pressure
  1. Just keep active.

Sometimes any of these are easier said than done depending on how “dry” you are feeling.

Sometimes spending some “me time” with a cuppa and your favorite needlework books and/or magazines can help. I love my books and looking through them may give you an idea of something to stitch, a technique to try or maybe you will just relax and look at the pictures.

Sometimes no matter what you do nothing speaks to you; then it may be time for some artistic needlework enhancement. In other words, a trip to your local needlework shopS (sometimes it takes more than one). Going to your favorite places is good for two reasons:

  1. It may spark your creative juices with something as simple as a new thread for that project you saw in your stash. You may find a new canvas that speaks to you and if all else fails…
  2. You are at least spending time with other creative people and this is good. They may remind you of a canvas you have at home that you were really dying to stitch just a few weeks ago. They may show you a new technique they are working on, a new stitch, a new thread, or maybe just give you a smile that will brighten your day.

And if you are lucky enough to have more than one shop in your area you have that many more chances to get those creative juices flowing…whatever it takes to spark those fingers. And if you are really lucky, maybe you can sit and visit with others. You don’t have to be stitching something, you can just visit. I visit a group(s) and not everyone is stitching needlepoint, some are knitting, some are stash enhancing, and others have just come by to visit.

And we learn from each other and the more diverse and wide our circle of creative friends is the more we learn…there are no limits to creative thoughts. Attending guild meetings, having stitch-ins, maybe just going for a cuppa and stitching there. Just think for a minute about threading a needle; you know people who:

  1. Thread a needle with the end going immediately through the eye of the needle
  2. Bend the thread over the needle and then thread that bend through the eye of the needle.
  3. Pinch the thread tightly between their thumb and index finger and saw the eye of the needle onto the thread
  4. Wet the end of the thread and place thread through eye of needle … or
  5. Use a needle threader.

None of these are wrong, None is better than another…it is what works for you. But if some needle artist is having trouble threading a needle just being around other needle artists may give her the idea she needs to thread her needle. I know that is pretty simplistic but you get the idea.

If you don’t want to tempt you credit card, watch a love flick, visit an art gallery, visit a park, just take a walk. Anything will do to keep you from sitting and brooding about the “dry spell”.

I have two artist friends that seem to ward off  dry spells by drawing every day; they have notebooks of their works. I am not that disciplined and that’s probably why they make a living at their art and my art just keeps my sanity.

One of my friends tries to go out and about every day to see inspiration. He will draw and paint in his notebook people and places around him. Recently at an art fair, I ask him if I could see his journal and he shared it with me. He was in a mall at an art fair, yet found the time to capture the other artists around him. Each entry has the day and date of the week (he told me it was like his day planner). Not only was there an image of his fellow artists but a small drawing of the type of art they were showing. WOW! I spent several minutes looking through his diary and it was such a privilege; I felt like he not only trusted me very much. He had let me see into his soul; it really was a special moment. I did not read his thoughts but just looking at the pictures he had drawn. I left his booth maybe not inspired but feeling sooooo uplifted.

My other artist friend is a former art professor and he lives close to his former university. You can visit him anytime he is in town and he will listen to you and then in his own magical way give you some thoughts to ponder. He never gives you “his answer” because then you would not be working through your problem. Once a week, when he is in town, he holds “tea time”; an open date to just visit with others of like mind, have tea and discuss whatever comes up, such an enlightening way to give so much insight into so many things. It is no wonder all he asks is for you to RSVP your attendance; these events are attended by friends, former students and students who have heard about him through their professors. And even though it may be a crowded place on occasion, you always come away feeling inspired and more than that hopeful, optimistic.

So, I think I will be off to look at my stash and maybe it will trigger something.  I hope you are not having a creative dry spell but if you are, join me by going through your stash and let’s see what happens.  I really hope you can just go stitch and have fun.

Thank you for stopping by, I hope you have time to stitch today.




I have had notebooks on my mind these past few months.

15-03-05 a J. Pollen notebookIt all started with the Jason Pollen exhibit and lecture last fall. In the second part of his exhibit he displayed some of his notebooks and in his lecture he said he draws two hours every day in these sketchbooks. I would love to spend a pot of tea going through these note/sketchbooks; it would be like climbing into the mind of the artist. Oh heck, I’d just like to sit in his studio as he worked and have him think out loud…I think you would learn so much.

And then last week on KCPT, Bob Holloway, another of my favorite artists was profiled and he said he has kept a journal/sketchbook for the past 40 years. He has 40 of these journals…incredible! Ditto on the sit in his studio.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWell if I didn’t feel inadequate before I did after watching this show; I want to journal and sketch too. I want to put my thoughts down on paper so I don’t lose them. I was feeling pretty uncreative and I started straightening up the office, stitch space and library. And what to my surprise, I had an epiphany: OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI do journals, notebooks and sketchbooks and have for years. I have 2 Master Teacher Notebooks, I have a value and color notebook, I have a notebook of another favorite artist, Fritzi Brod and I have a notebook of finished stitched projects I have completed to mention a few.

And then I found these blue notebooks I made and carried. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI drew stitches in them whether it was a new stitch I saw on another canvas, in a book or magazine or whether it was just something that popped into my head, I drew it in these notebooks. I also kept noted on the canvas I was stitching and when I made the page for my finiOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAshed stitch project notebook I would turn the pages up of or remove them. These notebooks are dated so I have an idea when I did them.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI don’t know why I stopped using this method but I have a feeling that this is what has been missing in my life. I think I thought that the larger graph paper in a larger notebook was the answer for me but now I am not so sure. I don’t carry this notecase everywhere and therefore have fallen out of the habit of keeping good records/notes for myself. And I seem to have acquired a large amount of pieces of graph paper that are not contained anywhere. I think maybe I thought I needed a larger area for diagrams but maybe I just need to have that at hand in case and carry my little notebook everywhere.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI also have two other note/sketchbooks that I keep. One is ideas that I see or think of that I want to remember for that “ah-ha moment” of inspiration. This notebook contains drawings and pictures of other art works, just stuff.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Every other page is numbered and I put a month and year date on the  page too. When an idea is forming I will look through these books (there are only three so far) for ideas that relate or that I might want to incorporate. This has happened and I go OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAback and find the reference and it usually sparks more creative thoughts.  The flower in upper left of the picture became a Sunflower Temari ball with French Knot center.

15-03-05 j sktbk pg 4-15-13My other notebook is the frustrated artist in me. I want to be able to draw like Jason Pollack, Bob Holloway, Fritzi Brod, Mary Englebreit, Joan Walsh Anglund to name a few. I want it to seem as effortless as they seem to make it seem. But I struggle with this OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAartist within me; I read books, take classes and still do not feel I am neither a sketcher nor an artist. My drawings in these notebooks are all dated and vary from geometrics (which I love) to just a sketch of my coffee cup or dot pictures. I can create a geometric needlepoint, I can pick stitches for a painted canvas (and yet I struggle with these sometimes too) but I OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAdon’t think I will ever be an art show artist, nor is anyone going to ask me to have a showing of my artwork. But some of these drawings will hopefully become needlework too. I just saw a geometric in drawing #1 and the pumpkins in drawing #2 are drawn from a picture my daughter in law sent me of two pumpkins she made last year for a contest at work. I want to stitch needlepoint canvases, finish them as stand up baskets and have the hair and flowers planted in them…I see Sundance Sparkles for the hair. (see I am incubating a new ideas as I write this)

15-03-05 o FA ntbk 2And last week after cleaning, I went to the opening of a new show at the Nelson-Aitkens Art Gallery for a special exhibit: Ferran Adria Notes on Creativity. They are the drawings of this chef and his staff on food, history and creativity. While I creatively 15-03-05 p FA ntbk 2understood these drawings & notebooks, I wasn’t sure I understood his method (but I am not a chef either). 15-03-05 q no peasMy favorite was this graphic: I saw it from across the room and was sure I knew what it meant…I was wrong, it represented seed but to me it was and is “no peas.” There were parts I liked and other parts I am not sure I understood, but that’s okay because at the bottom of one page that had been blown up was the explanation of it all…

15-03-05 n FA ntbk

Result(in box): everybody has his,her own creativity process.

The “ah-ha” moment of the week for me. The artist understood these notebooks and sketches and each meant something to him and he became more creative because of them and helped his students to be more creative also. I did another tour of the exhibit with a new and greater understanding of the beauty he had created and given us a brief glimpse. I’m sure to the major chefs that see this exhibit it has my more meaning to them than it will to me, but we both have come away with our own moment of creativity.

It was ah-ha moment for me and I realized that my notebooks do not have to appeal to anyone but me. Notebooks are a glimpse of the artist who creates them and do not have to make sense to anyone but that artist. (I still would like to spend an afternoon with the artist I admire and their notebooks. Just to listen to them and see how their creative process works I think would be inspiring.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo I have decided to go back to my little notebook for stitches; I made myself a new little notebook about 50 pages and will keep it with my stitching. I will still keep my ideas notebook , I will sketch (but maybe never 2 hours every day)  and I have also decided to start another long overdue type of journal…I am going to start keeping a stitch doodle canvas. It will have no rhyme nor reason to it, it is just going to be OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAstitches. I plan to keep a log of which stitch is used, the thread and I might even add where I used it if I do use it. Stay tuned as I finish a canvas (the first page)  I will share it with you.

Thank you for stopping by to visit, I hope you find time to stitch today or do whatever helps you be creative!



Sh-h-h-h Part 1

I’m actually going to try and post several times this week; otherwise this post will be too long. I have been inspiring myself weekly and I will share with you to catch you up. Some (today’s post is no longer available to see but of the others are still open and what’s best is they are free)

Have you ever noticed how quiet an art gallery or library is? And it is a different quiet than when you are home alone without the distraction of TV or computers. It’s like the quiet of a mountain retreat or a quiet day sitting at the lake, a special quiet that is so peaceful and relaxing even when looking at art that does not appeal to you or reading a thrilling book can disturb.

My visits to the art gallery and libraries started last fall when a friend told me about an art show at the Kansas City Public Library Main Branch. (see The Jason Pollen exhibit, Unfurled was a two part show and lecture. Unfurled, Part 1, spoke to me and I became an instant fan (I knew at this first show I needed to know more about this artist.) I made my husband miss the start of the first game of the World Series (Royals vs Giants) so I could attend Jason Pollen talk at the library and it was worth every minute. I could hardly wait for Unfurled Part 2 to begin and when it did I went the second week (would have gone to the opening but was feeling like I was one sneeze away from the flu and did not want to expose people to 15-02-03 Flag-Peace sdmy germs.) Jason Pollen also had an art show in his home/gallery and I did not miss this either. In fact I am the proud owner of a Jason Pollen flag ( I call it “Peace” ). It hangs in my stitching nest with my Fritzi Brod (  and I look at them every day.

I r15-02-03 Shiftealized, given a the chance I could be a Jason Pollen groupie.  I would love to take a class from him and regret that I did not when he was teaching at The Kansas City Art Institute; I think he would have been a very nurturing and inspiring teacher.  I liked many of the works, but I really loved the pieces he created using silk with fussed fabrics (Tierra Luminosa, Tierra Verde and Shift 15-02-03  Flicker I{pictured}).  The reflective aspect that he created by fussing fabrics together and hanging so the light played 15-02-03  Flicker IIoff of the art work and created an ever changing piece were spectacular. I could see myself sitting in front of one of these and being completely relaxed and inspired.  I like his mobiles too (Flicker and Flicker II); 15-02-03 Notebooksthey were free moving, ever changing and fun! (I found myself wondered how I could adapt this idea to needlepoint.)  In Unfurled Part 2 he displayed his sketch books; I think these would be very interesting to look through… I think you would be inspired beyond belief. Another piece that spoke to me was Thirty Days. Jason Pollen “hit an artistic wall, unable to identify what to create next or even 15-02-03 Thirty dayshow to create it.” He made himself come to the art, studying line, color tint and shade by making a linear foot a day for 30 days. It reminded me of the doodle cloths we so often speak about making in the needlepoint world but seldom start let alone complete.

In fact the Jason Pollen Exhibits is what made me realize that I had probably been missing a world of wonder that was mine just for the looking. So one of my goals is to keep my eyes and ears open to the exhibits that are going on around me. I listen to the morning news and read the paper and local magazines for exhibits at the art galleries and libraries I have overlooked in past years few years. I try to do something every week and then I also get a lunch in the bargain.

More later this week, I have some interesting things I’ve seen.

And I do find time to stitch just nothing very interesting right now. I think I’m in a dry spell and have had a couple inspirational failures…it happens to all of us.

Thank you for stopping by, I hope you find time to stitch today! ttfn…sue

Fritzi Brod, my favorite artist

14-09-02 In the WorkshopI’m still in awe of my new Fritzi Brod picture, In the Workshop;  but let me tell you about Fritzi Brod and how I came to love her artwork.

Bio: Fritzi Schermer Brod was born Prague, Czechoslovakia in 1900. She studies at Lycee in Prague and Kunstgewbeschule in Vienna. Fritzi met Oswald Brod in Austria and came to the United States in 1924 to marry him.

Fritzi attended the School of Art Institute in Chicago. She made a name for herself in the textile arts as a designer of textiles. Her designs were among the first displayed by Marshall Fields. She was part of the Chicago “bohemia” artists. She was a painter (both watercolour and oil), decorative painter, textile painter, printmaker and writer. During WWII she turned her talents into map making for the US government. She wrote 3 books on design: Decorative Designs; 200 Motifs and Designs, and Flowers in Nature and Design. She also illustrated 3 books that were included in sets of pictures to color: Flowers to Color; Birds to Color, and Scenes to Color. She died in Chicago 1952.

14-09-12 Flowers to ColorAnd Flowers to Color is how I came to know Fritzi Brod… When I was about 8 years old, my parents gave me the Flowers to Color box. The box contained a small box of crayons, 32 black and white plates of all the flowers listed in the accompanying booklet Flowers to Color with illustrations by Fritzi Brod. I would never color on these black and white plates but copied them and colored on another page. Over the years the black and white plates were lost but I still have the book.

Years later, my mother and a close family friend, Mr. Reiner were closing up an apartment of his first secretary after her death and there on the wall were three of the flower pictures from the book, Flowers to Color. I recognized them immediately and requested to have them if no one else wanted them. Mr. Reiner asked why I wanted them and I told him 14-09-12 flower picturesabout the coloring box of my childhood. He then informed me that he and his wife had given these pictures to his secretary and they were the original plates from the book. He gave me these pictures, I had them reframed and they have hung in my home ever since.

Mr Reinier had been friends with Fritzi and Oswald Brod for years and he asked me one time if I still had the little Flowers to Color Book and I told him of course, it was one of my treasured positions of childhood. He asked me to bring 14-09-12 den couplesit down to his apartment and of course I did. Mr. Reiner had six original watercolours that Fritzi had given him for his birthday, but due to space could not display them. Each picture is a couple in native 14-09-12 sitting roomCzechoslovakians peasants costumes. Mr. Reiner gave these to me and the accompanying cards describing each. I had these framed and they also hang in my home. I have a couple ads from shows that Fritzi had and these pictures are listed in the show.

14-09-12 card noelMr. Reiner was so pleased that someone enjoyed Fritzi’s art as much as he did that over the years he gave me three Christmas cards Fritzi had sent to him, one is an original. He also gave me 200 Motifs and Designs; a portfolio with design plates Fritzi had sent to him. Mr. Reiner also had three other 14-09-12 200 motifs coverpictures framed in his apartment that have remained in his family and a glass vase with nude etchings that is signed by Fritzi.

In the late 90’s I spent a great deal of time researching Fritzi Brod and even was in contact with Rose Brod (Rose was the second wife of Oswald Brod). She gave me permission to reproduce any of Fritzi’s designs in any media I so chose. I never had the opportunity to meet Rose Brod but we corresponded for many years. I have a 3 inch notebook on Fritzi Brod and her art work; it contains all the press releases I have found over the years and pictures of all the works I have ever found on the internet and elsewhere. I also have copies of all the books Fritzi wrote or illustrated. Fritzi Brod is a true inspiration to me, I love her work, even the ones that are baroque and yes, even her nudes. I would love to find more of the flower watercolours, especially the tulips. And of course I would love to find pictures like the ones Mr. Reiner had.

So, you can see why a few weeks ago I was speechless when a Fritzi Brod arrived at my house. What a gift …

Thank you for stopping by, I hope you find time to stitch today! ttfn…sue

Oh my gosh…Thank you

I had a blog all ready to post about cording BUT I have to show you what arrived at my house last week. The UPS man arrived and I am still speechless when I look up and see this picture…

14-09-02 In the Workshop

I hung this immediately in my office so I see it everyday; I also have a nail in my stitching nest to hang it there too. I want this to be an inspiration to me to complete some of the designs I have in various stages of completion. This is a lithograph titled “In the Workshop” by Fritzi Brod. I have loved this artist since I was a little girl and have several of her originals in my home. I have always loved this picture too and a dear friend sent this to me. As soon as I finish the roll ups I will write all about Fritzi Brod.

14-09-01 In the workshop wall

Right now I am still speechless. Very few things leave me speechless and almost in tears, but this gift did both. All I can say is: Thank you so much.


“Miracle of Miracles” hear the music?!

I really do have good intentions…just not enough hours in my day, OR I’m a scatterbrain, OR I suffer from ADHD in the worst way, OR I am just getting old and slow. How about a combination of all…”an old slow, tired ADHD scatterbrain”… that’s me! I can see the sculpture now… head with threads, beads & wire for hair; the body would be a computer and a box (with all sorts of projects stored inside); Scissors for one hand, paint brushes, pens, pencils, needles and a computer mouse for the other hand, I think it should have rollers for feet and a broken watch attached somewhere…oh no another project!  Can you tell I’ve been to the Art Fairs around town and the 3D mixed media art really speaks to me?  And there are so-o-o many things I want to do… needlepoint,  jewelry making, needlepoint, art journaling, needlepoint, beading, needlepoint, drawing, needlepoint, painting, needlepoint, scrapbooking, needlepoint…and that doesn’t even include reading, needlepoint, sleeping, needlepoint, eating, needlepoint, …and all the other mundane things in life.  

But I am right braining again….my goal for this morning is to post a blog so that if anyone out there in blogdom still looks at my blog they know I am alive…notice I did not say and well.

I have been productive this summer… I computed 5-6 projects for a couple needlepoint teachers. Remember, I don’t compute and tell…never know what will happen in the life of a needlepoint class. I’ve blogged about this before: and .

So that said we will move tight along to what I can share with the world…

I lost a very dear friend (more about that in another blog another day), I have crocheted a blanket (will show that another day too).  I also played with art most of the summer…I bought a journal and color washed about 1/3 of the pages… . Then I started art journaling as such…sort of a controlled art study. I used the book: Drawing with Children; Mona Brookes; St. Martin’s Press; New York; 1986 as my catalyst. From there I discovered Zentangles and more Art Journaling; which lead me to Sarah Whitmire and her website and blog: and

And on Sarah’s blog I learned about a new book & toy I needed: The Spiral Draw Book; Doug Stillinger; Klutz; California; 2003. Although my son’s tell me we had a cooler version of this when they were growing up call Spirograph. I don’t remember this, so I did do some research and I sort of remember this being around the house. But I may have to ask Santa to bring us another for my amusement this time.

Then I was off on a Zentangle and Art Journal tangent and have added another 20 or so blogs to my reading list. Yes I try to read all your blogs I have bookmarked at least twice a week.

And I have stitched; completed another Eagle to be framed at later date. Did some finish finishing, bought material to do some more and still have a huge pile of other unfinished completed needlepoint. Finished Sue Reed class piece and will post a picture when I get it back from friend I let borrow it since she was unable to attend class. And am doing computer work for a year long guild project…and I have even completed stitching all the areas I have on the computer (the only thing I am ahead of the pack doing). I also keep the ort box canvases handy for something to stitch on the road and when I have no other project in hand (that means I was too lazy to go to the workroom and pull a canvas or chart and threads from my stash.)

And that’s my summer in a nutshell.

Hope everyone has time to stitch today!  ttfn…sue