Vision, by definition, is the act of seeing. It is also the word used to describe something experienced in a trance or dream. The same word describes a force of imagination. As words go, it’s an easy one. As concepts go, it’s pretty hefty.potato bush flower3 Creativity relies on vision–all kinds of vision. (Okay, maybe not everyone creates from visions through trances or dreams, but many artists do.) Having perfect eyesight isn’t a guarantee of creativity. Even a broad base of knowledge about what you are seeing doesn’t translate into creativity. And you can certainly have all kinds of visions of yourself as an artist without any basis in reality.

So what is it that sets apart a Creative from everyone else? What happens in the brain and mind to turn sensory input into something other/new/different? Is it something you are born with? Or can you train yourself to “see” like a Creative?

potato bush flower2While the general populace tends to believe you are either born with a creative bent or you’re not, I disagree. I believe we are all born with the ability to be creative–in some way, to some degree. I believe it’s part of our humanity, our soul. For many, the creative urge has been stifled. Usually, early on and with repetitive attempts to “normalize” behavior.

Often, that creative urge is lying dormant, waiting to be valued and set free. All it takes is a tweak to your vision, a change of perspective. After all, what is creativity but a different way of seeing the world and expressing it?

But even if you recognize that creative part of yourself, you may be frustrated. You may feel woefully inadequate at executing the creative visions you do have. Don’t despair. That’s perfectly normal. But you can’t wallow there. You have to build skills, practice your craft and create, create, marigoldIn the meantime, you can feed your creative self by adjusting your perspective. Our eyes take in much more than we actually “see”. Our brains apply filters so we don’t go crazy from all the information we receive visually. But there are additional filters we can apply to change our focus and fill ourselves with beauty. orange marigoldWe don’t have to “see” the imperfections, the unappealing details. We can choose to focus on the things that feed us and inspire us. Once you start to do this, it becomes automatic. You can train yourself to pay less attention to some things and more attention to others. The choice of where your attention, your focus, goes is entirely up to you. Look at this photo:stuff to plantIt’s just a bunch of plants waiting to be put in the ground or in pots. They’re not even grouped to look particularly appealing in the interim. But that’s exactly they way they were when I grabbed the two close ups of the marigolds. And this photo:potato bushThat’s the potato bush waiting to be planted, in exactly the same spot as I got the first two photos in the post. I chose to look at the details and focus on them. Not on the stuff that needs doing in the yard–the weeding, the trimming, the ground cover, etc.

It’s a practical example of what I’m trying to communicate. Vision is not only about the light passing through your eyes and telling your brain what’s in front of you. Vision is as broad or as narrow as you choose. Focus on the things that are beautiful, interesting, different and you’ll soon be drawn to those things wherever you may go. Unexpected textures and colors combinations will show up. Bizarre details will pop out of mundane architecture.

One of the easiest ways to explore beauty and document the things you choose to focus on is to take photos. Those bits of captured inspiration can be turned into all kinds of creative “stuff”. And it’s a good way to train yourself to “see”. In an upcoming post, I’ll tell you about my cameras and how I use them. I’ll share the editing steps I take and talk about how to get eye-catching photos.

So stay tuned!

Family Trees

geraniumWhen you belong to a large family, there always seems to be some milestone or other on the horizon for somebody. It’s usually things like major birthdays (you know, the ones that end in zero) or anniversaries, the birth of a firstborn, etc. Sometimes, it’s a bit more mind-bending.

On Saturday, there was a baby shower for a little one who will soon join her voice to this loud cacophony–this family to which I belong. It’s a huge occasion, really. Because she will be my first great-great niece. I have five brothers and sisters, eighteen nieces and nephews and twenty great-nieces/nephews. But in about eight weeks, the first of the great-great nieces /nephews will be born.

Isn’t it crazy?! It’s really not that odd to think of my mother as a great-great grandma. Or to think of my great-niece being a new momma. And it’s only a little weird to think of my niece becoming a grandma. What’s really, really weird to me is that my brother (my brother!) will be a great-grandpa.

Apart from the familial diversion over the weekend, things are moving along here. Samples were shipped off last week for some magazine work. A few Market samples will be shipped off this week. And then, cross your fingers, maybe there will be some breathing room and time for some thoughtful posts.kaffe pillowsFor now, click over to MakeItCoats for my free rectangular pillow pattern in Kaffe prints. (Photo courtesy of MakeItCoats) Super quick and easy–a great way to add a pop of Spring color.

Happy Friday!

Wow! Friday. Already. I hardly saw it coming. It’s been busy here, of course. Between samples for Market and stuff for magazines, there’s very little time for much else. However, despite the mayhem, I grabbed a few moments of “spare time” and started a new throw quilt with blues from my Amy Butler stash. Aren’t they lovely?AB bluesSpeaking of magazines, you’ll find my Charmed pillow pattern in the current issue of Stitch magazine (Spring 2015).Charmed pillow in StitchAll you need is 25 charms for this one. And the “quilting” is done by sewing buttons at the points (which means even those with imperfectly matched seams can create a masterpiece). Of course, it’s a great way to use your scrap stash as well. You can find it online at Interweave for half the price. Just click here.beautiful surpriseHave a Happy Friday and a great weekend!

Brighten Up

The Kaffe Collective 2015 will be shipping this month. A few favorites are available in new colorways (like Kaffe’s Spots). Click here to see them. A few months ago, I made two Floppy Bag samples for Westminster Fibers. floppy Kaffe bagsAnd now I’m thinking I need to make one for myself. I’m always gravitating towards dots, so it’s no surprise that some of my favorite combinations from the collection would include them.kaffe 2015 comboBut I must admit, this combination of Brandon’s prints would make a fun beach bag.brandon 2015 comboReady to start your own wish list? For starters, go visit Canton Village Quilt Works, Quilt Home and Hancock’s of Paducah. With Spring in full swing, it’s time to add a bit of color to your life. And there’s no one like Kaffe and friends for floppy closeup

More Guidelines for the AMH EPP

For those of you working on your own version of my AMH EPP project (which sadly, still doesn’t have a “real” name), I’ve put together the remaining information for the paper piecing. You can download the two page pdf file by clicking here.Black Cat on EPPThis is the information you need to prepare all the remaining pieces–the fillers for the sides (half diamond star units and half star flower units) which complete the rows and fillers for the top and bottom edges. If you’re already far enough along to be needing this, I commend you! If not, file it away for future use. Or…just wait for me to write the pattern.ceramic tea kettleBetween starting on the sample sewing and working on the backyard projects, it’s been a bit busy around here. Naturally, the coffee maker has taken it as a sign to quit producing. I know! Catastrophe. We’ve had a Bunn My Cafe for several years and we’ve loved the versatility of the machine. It seems, however, they’re not making them to the same standard. We didn’t even get one year out of this last one.

Because the cost is going up and the quality is going down, Mr. P decided it was back to a drip maker of superior quality. The new machine will be here this week, thankfully. But it doesn’t have the hot water feature I’ve gotten used to on the Bunn. (Believe it or not, we do actually drink tea around here as well.) I was ready to deal with an ugly electric kettle until I found the one above. I’m sure you can find a fantastic assortment of electric ceramic tea kettles elsewhere in the world. In the US, however, this is a huge find. Not only does it work amazingly, it keeps the water hot far longer AND it matches the kitchen! I found this one on Amazon, in case you feel the need for a pretty electric tea kettle.african irisLately, I’ve been spending time thinking about vision. Vision, as in the visual sense through which we experience our world. Vision, as in the forward thinking process of imagination. Vision, as in the unexpected presentation of thoughts and ideas from our unconscious. The word itself covers a lot ground. When you get down to it, the things that set us apart from each other have to do with the way we see and experience our world–past, present and future. And of course, the ways in which we share this with each other.

You can expect to see a post or two sometime in the near future about all this. It will segue into a post about cameras and how to get the most out of what you have. It’s a natural progression from seeing to documenting. But first, you have to train your eye to see.

NOTE: You can find the first AMH EPP project sheet in this post.

Working Hard

cape honeysuckleOn a occasion, the hard work takes place outdoors. The sewing machine sits idle and the days are spent doing never-ending yard work. The beautiful weather we enjoy means weeds are a problem for most of the year, but especially in the Spring. Mr. P had three days off last week and we made good progress on the weed crop. oleanderWe hauled a load of rocks from my brother and got them situated. It will take a few more trips before we have enough to do all the things we have in mind. For now, we have a beginning on the lizard houses. (Not that we are building houses for lizards, but that’s what stacked rock becomes. Stinka will be thrilled to have more “playmates”.)Ohia Lehua in HawaiiWe found the plant above at the local plant nursery. It’s a gorgeous drought tolerant plant called Ohia Lehua in Hawaii. I love the gray green foliage and am looking forward to it reaching its full size of 5 ft. x 5 ft.stinka lays down the lawOf course, our efforts were supervised by the felines. Stinka in particular had something to communicate to anyone and everyone.  Poor Pete could only observe and stay out of her way.

This week, it’s back to the sewing machine. The first box of fabric to be turned into samples has arrived. It’s time for the craziness to begin! If you need to stock up on fabric for your own kind of crazy, be sure to visit Quilt Home. The Daily Specials section has some incredible prices on great prints–perfect for backings.

Let’s See…

It’s scorching! The weather is ridiculously hot. When Mr. P checked the temperature around 2 p.m. (not quite the hottest part of the day), it was 95 in the shade. In March! Ugh…. All this heat means my feline visitors make their rounds early.pete's morning roundsOn days like these, you won’t see Pete again until the sun is nearly down. Stinka hangs out a bit more but has plenty of shady spots to choose from. I’m afraid my spot is directly under a fan. It’s not great weather for sewing; however, dreaming up projects….definitely doable.ABpossibleThis short stack of Amy Butler fabrics is calling for attention. The sunny days and warm weather seem to go perfectly with the yellow. These fabrics ended up together by accident. And when something so magical happens by accident, you should listen. (The lace print if from Amy’s True Colors, the yellow from her Belle collection and the fabric on the right is from Violette.) So these will stay out where I can think on them some more.P1070025I spent several days this past week in brainstorming mode. There was a lot doodling, sketching, line art drawing and yardage figuring. During one Pinterest distraction, I decided to check out Tina Given’s pdf patterns. Her loose fitting style and airy comfort are exactly what these hot days are demanding. For starters, I downloaded the free Bloom dress and got it taped together. I even managed to dig deep enough to find some voile in a fun print. Now for the cutting and sewing part. I’ll omit the split in the front and wear it with leggings or skinny jeans. But more on all that when I have something to show you.

I hope you’re having a relaxing weekend. Stay cool (or warm, depending on where you are)!

The Elizabeth Tote — A Free Pattern

Some months ago, Free Spirit asked for a bag pattern to go with Tula’s Elizabeth collection. We talked about size and style, as well as print combinations. If you’ve seen Elizabeth (which just shipped to stores this month), you’ll know that it has everything we’ve come to expect from such a talented artist. Free Spirit wanted this personality print to be featured.TP Elizabeth Tote 2I wanted to design a bag that would hold a lot of stuff. You know, a whole project’s worth of stuff. For some reason, yarn projects were on my mind. Probably due to the Fall weather at the time. So I knew it needed some needle pockets–which also work great for scissors and miscellany.TP Elizabeth tote 1I made two and shipped them off to their home at Free Spirit. My prototype bag went to my mother for Christmas. Which left me without one of my own. So yesterday, I got out my Gregory’s Garden (Jane’s Spring 2014 collection) and got to work.Elizabeth tote in JSJane’s harlequin diamonds are a favorite of mine and they work beautifully on this bag, just as they do in every application.  Naturally, I had to add some bugs for the lining–a little whimsy is always welcome.Elizabeth Tote sideSo…the bag measures 16″ x 5″ x 16″. The exterior pieces (front, back and sides) have fusible fleece. I used Thermolam because it provides just the right amount of body to the bag. The bottom and sides have heavyweight stabilizer, which helps it stay upright, more or less. There are also two interior side pockets and one interior pocket across the width of the bag. Plenty of room for your project and then a little more.Elizabeth Tote closeupThe bag requires a small bit of finagling to get the side stabilizers situated before you fuse it. But since you leave the sides open to do it, you have easy access.  I suppose you could leave those two pieces of stabilizers out altogether, but you wouldn’t have the same bag.

You can find the free pattern at the Make It Coats website. Enjoy!

Friday Feline

Happy Friday! I’m a bit confused. The calendar keeps insisting it’s March. How on earth can that be true?Stinka sitting under pergolaMarch did come in like lion, bringing us some much needed rain. The weather has since changed back to dry and sunny–something that makes the plants really, really happy. The ice plant is rioting. It almost hurts your eyes to look at it. Of course, weeds love it too.iceplant riotBesides doing some weeding this week, I added that gorgeous amber Sew Sassy thread to the AMH EPP project. Next step….baste and quilt!blanket stitch amheppI even finished up the Violette table runner I started a couple weeks ago. Super easy nine patches made it a cinch to sew. (I added some of Amy’s True Color prints to the mix. They go so well with Violette.)violette runnerI hope the first week of March has been a productive one for you as well. Enjoy the weekend!

Time Off

My forced time off last week included a quick road trip to Arizona with Mr. P to see his mom and her husband. We spent one morning in Sabino Canyon in Tucson. I could have stayed there for most of the day.cottowood shadeThe weather was perfect. The air smelled fantastic. Sitting in the shade of a cottonwood by a slowing running stream is a great place to be when you’re in the desert. I would have been quite happy to sit quietly in this spot and sketch. Since I wasn’t able to do so, I contented myself with photos of the trip down the canyon. From delicate wildflowersdelicate wildflowerto bristling cactus spines,cactus spinesfairy dustersfairy dusterand chollas.jumping cactusAnd of course, the saguaro.saguaro blue skyAfter all that beauty, I’m ready to start creating. The “short list” is growing. I’m sure you’re not the least bit surprised. And don’t worry, I have not forgotten about the AMH EPP. I’ll be working on another information post for those of you who are working on your own version. It will have the necessary pieces for finishing the EPP portion.sabina canyonHave a beautiful week!