Quilter Sally Noland: Artist in Fabric

Friends & Favorites by Sally Noland

One of the nicest things about teaching adult art workshops is the wonderful people you meet who participate in them.  People who take art workshops tend to be life-long learners who are engaged in the world and interested in honing their creative abilities and exploring new art processes.  More and more I am meeting individuals who in retirement are creating whole new lives as artists and creative explorers.   It goes without saying that some of them become fast friends that you look forward to seeing regularly.

Sally Noland and her husband Jim Hilger are just such people.  They have taken my Bjorklunden workshop at least eight times as well as attending one in Mineral Points wonderful Shake Rag Alley School of Arts and Crafts.  We are always happy to see each other and often stay in touch between workshops.

Sally is a wonderful painter but her artistic passions really lay in fibers.  The quilt introducing this post is called  Friends & Favorites.   It features  blocks Sally won in her guild block raffle, where quilters make blocks using batik fabrics and then draw for to see who will win sets of the blocks entered.  Sally says, “I really hoped to win and then I DID!!!  I made extra blocks for my quilting friends to sign so I’d have enough to make the outer border, then picked some favorite quilt blocks for the center and made those so they’d fit together using mainly batiks.

The detail photo below shows some of the signatures and quilting.  Sally and Jim split their time between Illinois and Texas.  The quilt includes signatures of friends from both places.

Friends and Favorites detail

In a previous post I mentioned that Sally’s husband Jim loves to do and create crossword puzzles.  He as even has had some of his own making accepted in the New York Times. Her quilt Oldies But Goodies is a tribute to Jim.  He created the music-themed crossword featured in the quilt, which was no surprise since he also collects records.  (He has about 10,000 in his collection.)  Sally is willing to try new technologies in her quilting.  The images of vinyl records she used in the quilt and the giant crossword puzzle were all created on an ink-jet printer.

Oldies But Goodies by Sally Noland

Record fans have fun looking at the labels. They include the Davenport-based Fredlo label, featuring The Sotos Brothers with “Little Lila,” and a rare, Texas-based Bo-Kay label featuring Elroy Dietzel and the Rhythm Bandits with “Teenage Ball.

Oldies but Goodies detail


















I have mentioned before that I have turned a number of my painting and watercolor experiments into fabric designs.  Sally surprised me this year by making me a quilt using two of my fabrics that I had given her last year in a quilt that she gave me,  The fabric patterns are ‘Karners Love Lupine’, and ‘Bee Good.

Karners Love Lupin fabric pattern by Helen Klebesadel

Bee Good fabric design by Helen Klebesadel

Bjorklunden Beauty by Sally Noland

You can see by the look on my face that I am thrilled with the lovely quilt that Sally gave me designed around my fabrics.  My spouse Akeem is equally thrilled to be the recipient of a lovely Sally Noland quilt created using a “Stack-n-Wack” technique.

Stacknwhack Siesta

I asked Sally to share the story of her passion for quilting in her own words, and to mention some of the quilters that have influenced her own creative journey.

Sally Noland:  Artist in Fabric

I started quilting in 1990, attending the local Mississippi Valley Quilter’s Guild monthly meetings, buying a couple of fabrics and a pattern for my first quilt, and taking my first class.  I had been interested in quilts before that, going to quilt shows and museum exhibits, etc., but I just decided, along with a good friend, to get going on quilting as a hobby in 1990.  On our first trip to Door County in the early 1990’s, I remember stopping at quilt shops and fabric stores along the way for the first time and returning home with the beginnings of my now huge collection of fabrics for future projects, known as my “Stash”.  I had heard that you must buy fabrics when you see ones you like, as you may never see them again; that continues to be true, as each quilt shop is different and the growing number of fabric companies and designers ensures that it will always be the case.

Chamelion Camellias

Most of my quilts have been made since I retired in 2001; before that, I could count the number of my quilts on my fingers.  Attending several sit & sew groups in Amarillo and the Quad-Cities has provided me a great deal of support and encouragement in my quilt-making, along with making new friends.

Ill Take You Home Again Kathleen by Sally Noland

(The above quilt is one Sally is most proud of.  It is and original design that she made for her late mother, depicting the four houses her mother had lived in during her life in Amarillo, Texas, and four scenes related to her mother’s life. The quilt was a 90th birthday present.  The image below shows the details of the porch swing, pet dog Cloudy Knight, and several birds in the trees, bush, and air.)

I'll take You Home Again Kathleen detail

I love the fabrics, the endless variety of quilt patterns, the continuing learning of new techniques, the wonderful people you meet, and being able to make and give a unique gift of a quilt to my friends and family.

Quilter Joe Cunningham says “The quilt is the perfect existential object! It soothes the pain of existence by beautifying your surroundings, and you can also wrap up in it against the coldness of the universe.” 

I enjoy the creative process of getting an idea for a quilt, thinking of what fabrics, patterns, concepts to include, and going through the steps to completion: cutting, sewing blocks, appliquéing, using a design wall to try out ideas, final sewing of the whole piece and borders, deciding on quilting patterns, and finally sewing the binding, hanging sleeve, and label.  Most of my quilts are machine quilted by long-arm quilters; I have quilted a few by hand and a few on my home sewing machine.

My Stars by Sally Noland

‘My Stars’ is a quilt I made back in 2005, to test out a new pattern by Sally Schneider of Albuquerque NM.  I had just taken a class with her in IL and she asked if some of us would be willing to try out her pattern and give her feedback before the pattern was published commercially.  I made the quilt and sent her a photo and some feedback.

Our local guild has nationally-known speakers occasionally and I have been privileged to take many classes through the guild over the years from talented local quilters and nationally-known quilt professionals, such as Gwen Marston, Sally Schneider, Sharon Schamber, Suzanne Marshall, John Flynn, Ruth McDowell, Anita Shackelford, Harriett Hargrave, Jeana Kimball, Bettina Havig, Julie Silber, Kim Diehl, Elsie Campbell, and most recently Ricky Tims, Alex Anderson, and Libby Lehman.

Thank you for sharing your passion with us Sally!

Posted in Ability, art and technology, Art Techniques, Creative Play, Fabulous Artists, Fiber arts. Fabric design, Spoonflower | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

An Art Workshop Were Everyone is a Learner and Everyone is a Teacher

Bjorklunden Chapel collaborative watercolor Summer 2011

I already miss my 33 Paintings in 33 Days Project with Nikki Kinne but I am looking forward to seeing her in person and painting and teaching together in Door County in September.  In the meantime I have been trying to continue my daily practice of painting.

In August and September this year I am doing a lot of face-to-face teaching of watercolor and creativity workshops which means I do lots of demonstrations.  Teaching others is a critical part of my creative process.  My workshops remind me of the expansive possibilities and promise of my favorite medium, watercolor, as well as of how mixed-media collage can make use of visual materials to aid creative thinking processes.   I am offering weekend watercolor and creativity workshops  the next two weekends at the Wyoming Valley School  near Spring Green, Wisconsin and I offer several on-line self-directed classes year-round  through the Art Outreach section of UW-Madison Continuing Education.

My daily practice was much aided by the week-long watercolor workshop I taught last week at the magical the Door County campus of Lawrence University, Bjorklunden.  I would like to use today’s post to share some of the wonderful works created by my workshop participants last week.  Unfortunately I do not have photos of everyone’s work but I can give you an overview of the many creative voices that emerged in the week of watercolor wonder.

Ann Baruth, Appleton Wisconsin

While there were a number of beginners in the workshop the majority of painters this year were repeat attendees, and a good number of them are VERY experienced artists in their own right, joining the workshop for the creative camaraderie and atmosphere of learning sharing that occurs on all levels at Bjorklunden every year.  Ann Baruth is one of the more experienced participants, she has a degree in art and is an art teacher and  a professional illustrator, but her love of learning brings her to the workshop.  What a good role model for her students.  (While this workshop was more Intermediate/Advanced due to the number of experienced participants  September 18-23rd  watercolor workshop  at Bjorklunden, Watercolor a Fresh Start, will have a majority of beginners, and will be geared for participants who have never touched a brush before).

Bianca Anderla, Appleton, WI

In this workshop I am not the only teacher.  I often call on the participants to share their techniques and strategies with each other and me.  Bianca shared her technique for treating the watercolor paper with acrylic gel medium before starting to paint, allowing her to do easy lift-out of color after her washes have dried.  She combined that process with the wet-into-wet approach I encourage in the workshop to create this luminous work.

Peg Ginsberg, Blue Mounds, WI

Another professional artist in the class is Peg Ginsberg.  She owns a studio-gallery where she sells her work and teaches watercolor classes in Mt. Horeb, WI.  This work, with its lovely droplets inspired the whole class, and I asked Peg to demo her process.  You will could see variations on the theme of droplets in other works created this week.  Its wonderful to be in a setting where people share their knowledge and skills so freely.

Judith Overcash, Safety Harbor, Florida

Another very experienced artist in the workshop who shares freely of her knowledge is Judith Overcash.  Judith has been in the class fourteen of the 15 years I have taught it (others have taken the workshop 3, 5, 8, and 10 times, creating a very special atmosphere and creative community).  Judith, a retired art teacher, oozes creativity and models life-long learning.  She freely shares her knowledge of book making, jewelry making, painting with acrylic watercolors, and, her knowledge of Salvador Dali, as a docent at the new Dali Museum in Safety Harbor Florida.  This year she combined one of her paintings with mixed media collage to create a Joseph Cornell style box.

Sally Noland, Moline IL

Not everyone in the class is a professional painter.  But many who participate are artists in other media too.  Sally Noland of Moline, IL has been in the class eight or more times doing lovely little watercolors that show her love of color and texture.  However Sally’s first love is quilting.  I hope to feature Sally’s work as a quilter in a future blog posting.  We are the proud owners of two of Sally’s Quilts.

Jim Hilger, Moline, IL

Sally’s husband Jim Hilger is a another workshop regular.  While he could be a professional illustrator and cartoonist if he wasn’t having so much fun being retired, he prefers to keep it a hobby and enjoys painting with Sally when they are not busy with their many other creative pursuits.   You can see in this piece how he played with Peg’s droplets exercise to reflect on reflection.  His first love is creating cross-word puzzles, however, and he has had his puzzles published in the New York Times several times.  Here is one special puzzle he made just for our class a few years ago.

Watercolor crossword puzzle by Jim Hilger

Phyllis Dintenfass, Appleton, WI

We did have a couple of true beginning watercolor students in the class. A wonderful professional bead artist Phyllis Dintenfass completed all the watercolor tech sheets AND created this first watercolor inspired the shadows of a flower bouquet.

Phyllis’ partner in taking the watercolor workshop  for the first time was Judy Gaines.  Judy too completed all the color wheels and technical sheets that I ask first and second time participants to do AND she jumped in with both feet to complete a lovely large expressive landscape in transparent watercolor.

Judy Gaines, Appleton, WI

Cathy Tronquet joined us all the way from Oregon for the first time thanks to an invitation from her long time friend and watercolor workshop veteran Judy Catlin.

Judy Catlin, Appleton, WI

Cathy, already an accomplished painter,  explored wet-into-wet techniques in combination with liquid mask resist to create this lovely work.  Cathy learned that you have to stick with it to get the results you want, and that sometimes the results along the way are unexpected.

Sitting near Cathy in the studio was her friend Judy Catlin who did a number of lovely nature studies and explored the relationship of her art process to her love of nature.

Another veteran and nature lover is Danielle Devereaux-Weber of Madison, WI.  She created a number of lovely nature-based based paintings of fungus and forests as well as the lovely simple landscape below.

Danielle Devereaux-Weber, Madison, WI

Liz Heuser, Minnetonka, MN

Second time participant Liz Hueser also did a number of lovely works including the watercolor here.

Despite being very productive and pushing through to learn new things in their painting I  was too late with my camera to capture some very exciting works by Grace Frudden of Madison (I’ll get your work in September Grace), and Nancy Homberg of Appleton, but I hope to have a chance to do so in the future.

We had a lovely time during the week celebrating the birthday of Mary Wall.   Mary has joined us in the workshop many times, taking what she learns home to  Iowa City to share in an open studio she runs.  Mary’s bold colors and whimsical creations of seas and nature are a highlight of the workshop when ever she joins us.  This year she did not disappoint as she worked magic with a fan brush to create this wonderful fishing bear.

Mary Wall, Iowa City

Poet Rusty McKenzie is also a long term watercolor workshop participant.  She has the title of ‘waxed paper guru’ for her wonderful textured abstracted creations that we all try to emulate.  Below is one of her creations from which she has pulled out the image of a golden fish.

Rusty McKensie, Menaha, WI


















The final image in this post is by  first time workshop participant  Susan Nitzke.  While it was her first workshop with me she brought considerable skill and experience with her.  Susan was lured to join us by Danielle, and we were glad, especially as we watched this lovely large watercolor emerge throughout the week,

Susan Nitzki, Madison, WI

I’d like to thank the Bjorklunden staff for supporting our efforts last week (Lawrence students and the Bjorklunden professional staff took VERY good care of us and fed us well.  I also want to thank the entire group of watercolor workshop participants for making this one of the most productive and fun summers for Watercolor The Expressive Medium.  Each person had a part in weaving the magic we experienced by letting go of fears, sharing skills and knowledge freely, and generally immersing themselves in the experimental  creative process.  Thank you!  I look forward to seeing you again in September!

Summer class of 2011 at Bjorklunden

Posted in Ability, art collaboration, Art Techniques, Creative Play, Fabulous Artists, Teaching Art and Creativity, Watercolor, Workshops and Classes | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Day 33 of 33 – Two Artists Share A Painting A Day for 33 Days

Summer Dance, 9 x 6, watercolor, , ©2011 Nikki Kinne

Welcome to the final day of the 33 Paintings in 33 Days Project of Alaskan artist  Nikki Kinne and Wisconsin artist Helen Klebesadel.  I cannot believe the thirty-third day has  come so quickly. This has been an amazing experience.

For her final painting in the series Nikki stayed close to home.  Sometimes the best subjects are just outside our front door.  This was a quick study of wonderful lily flowers from Nikki’s yard.  When Nikki lets go of her inclination to do photo-realism, and moves into a more expressive mode she creates dynamic expressions.  Nikki says of this approach that when she tries to just ” grab for a gut response it seems my paintings have more life in them.”    She wants both the satisfaction and control she can achieve with photo-realism, AND the dynamic expression possible when responding with spontaneity to a subject.  Nikki wants then BOTH, and I do too.  What a wonderful celebration of painting for our final day in this project!

Water Lilies, 12 x 28, watercolor, ©2011 Helen Klebesadel

My final painting is my largest to date and it builds upon my earlier studies of waterlilies.  I had a wonderful time shaping the pedals and creating surface textures on the surface that disguised the twining stems below the surface.   I hope you enjoy looking at the painting even half as much as I enjoyed painting it.

This has been an amazing experience for me.  The commitment to daily painting is something I have promoted for years but all to often it was a do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do suggestion.  Having committed to this process and received the grace and benefit of the experience I know that I will continue this commitment on my own for as long as I can manage.

Additionally Nikki and I are planning to develop a two-person art exhibition of larger new works that we will be creating over the next year around a shared theme.  We will be checking in with each other at least monthly to see how our work is progressing and to share ideas back and forth in a way  that we hope will make the new collaborative project every bit as fulfilling and successful as this one has been.

I’m a great one for reflection and review of where I’ve been as I think about where I am going next.  I couldn’t resist putting up all of  the thirty-three paintings I’ve created over the last month and three days to see what I had accomplished.

The 33 Paintings in 33 Days Project

Here is a closer view that shows you the sizes of works in relation to each other.

Half of 33 Paintings in 33 Days

And another…

Half of 33 Paintings in 33 Days Project

Thank you to everyone who accompanied Nikki Kinne and I on this project.  Knowing you joined us made our experience all the better.  And, thank you to Nikki Kinne for saying ‘yes’ to this project and to living fully in this world as an artist.  Its a pleasure painting with you!

All of my paintings for this project are (or soon will be) be found on my art facebook page and available works for sale can be found in my Meylah Marketplace on-line store.  You can learn more about Nikki Kinnes painting and find artworks she has availabel for sale on her artist website.

Thank you.

Posted in A Painting A day, art collaboration, Creative Play, Fabulous Artists, Watercolor | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Day Thirty-two –Two Artists Share A Painting A Day for 33 Days

Crow Dusk, 13 x 18, watercolor, ©2011 Helen Klebesadel

Welcome to day thirty-two in the 33 Paintings in 33 Days Project of Alaskan artist  Nikki Kinne and Wisconsin artist Helen Klebesadel.

In my Crow Dusk painting I revisited a study I did earlier in this project and honed the idea a bit to bring more layers of meaning to the painting.  Its not uncommon for me to revisit an idea and play with it multiple times to see what greater potential an idea has.

In this case, I was thinking about how the crows darken the sky when the fly by en masse to find their evening roost.  They cave come to mean ‘dusk’ for me.  In this painting I show the stars and the moon in the bodies of the crows.  They literally bring the night.    I am sure this idea will reappear latter in a larger, multi-layered painting when the time is right.

Its not unusual for audience members or students new to art-making to think that artworks spring fully developed from the brains and hands of an artist.  After all, we only see finished artwork in the galleries and museums that exhibit art.  We don’t usually get to see the experimental and exploratory works that lead to larger finished compositions. For every masterwork hanging in a museum there are usually many many artworks created before and after that special piece that honed an idea, or developed special skills.

Easy Does It, 2 1/2 x 3 1/2, watercolor, ©2011 Nikki Kinne

For day thirty-two Nikki needed something easy and fun.  For an incredibly busy day she gave herself permission to work small (artist trading card sized), easy and fun.  She gave herself over to the joy of the mark and this is the lovely little creations she came up with.  It sings of sunshine.

I can’t let this post pass without acknowledging that Friday, August 5th marks the one year anniversary of the existence of the Co-op Arts Artist Co-operative in Fairbanks, Alaska.  Last summer, when I was visiting and teaching at the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival, the Co-op was in the final stages prior to opening.

Ken Kokjer, Nikki’s husband, is the Co-op Art co-owner and manager.  In 2010, prompted by the closing of three art galleries that significantly impacted the professional art community in Fairbanks, Ken, Nikki, and several of the current artists decided to do something about the fact that artists no longer had a place to display their art, and the public had lost the opportunity to enjoy the creativity and inspiration of a very talented segment of their community.   Co-Op Arts has worked hard over the last year to fill a small bit of the gap in the downtown arts scene.

Building a successful art business in this day and age is quite a feat.  Ken brings quiet leadership in his management of the group built upon his engineer’s organizing skills, his levelheadedness,  and his profound sense of fairness.  It helps that he really likes artists, being a vocal musician himself.  Of course the ten participating  artists have all also worked incredibly hard to bring the gallery into reality, to maintain a vibrant inventory, to staff the store, and to celebrate each month with a First Friday reception.  I can not resist the opportunity to give a special shout out to Kate Wood and Margaret Donat, both especially talented artists I got to know last summer thanks to my friendship with Nikki Kinne, artist extraordinaire.

In just a year the gallery has become  become such a profound presence in Fairbanks that Co-op Arts was awarded a Friends of the Arts recognition by the Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce in January.  Please join me in congratulating Co-op Arts Artist Co-operative for a year well done.

If you are in the area Friday August 5th stop in, 5:00-8:00 and celebrate the First Friday event featuring Kate Wood’s watercolor works in Peaks of High & Low, then go again next month, September 2,  and see Margaret Donat’s works in a series entitled, Alaskan Men.

Thank you for coming with Nikki and I  as we explore the world of a-painting-a-day inspired by the world around us.

My daily works for this project available for sale online in my Meylah shop here: http://meylah.com/HelenKle​besadel  I post them each day after they are posted in the blog.

Posted in A Painting A day, Creative Play, Fabulous Artists, Watercolor | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Day Thirty-one — Two Artists Share A Painting A Day for 33 Days

Running In Circles, 6x4, watercolor, ©2011 Nikki Kinne

Welcome to day thirty-one in the 33 Paintings in 33 Days Project of Alaskan artist  Nikki Kinne and Wisconsin artist Helen Klebesadel.

Nikki Kinne and I have a lot in common besides a love of watercolor, nature,  and helping others find their creative voices.  We are both people inclined to be a little over committed.  This comes through in Nikki’s description for her thirty-first painting.

The painting is about  “Just running too fast.  When I closed my eyes I saw the pit with white circles getting smaller and smaller.  This painting had more of a playful feeling than the image I saw.  In fact, in the painting of the black pit of white circles I started feeling better. ”

Slowing down to spend time painting is a good way to center ourselves and notice what really matters.

Water-lilies and Koi, 7 x 10, watercolor, ©2011 Helen Klebesadel

To create this piece I used one of the  techniques I teach in my watercolor workshops to get the wonderful textures of the water.   To create it I start with a wet surface and then drop colors into the water and let them blend on their own.  I took a few liberties with the subject. While I did drip yellow onto the surface to blend I really hadn’t intended to include Koi fish in the painting (actually we call them ‘Carp’ in Wisconsin).  However, when the paint dried I could see them circling just under the surface so, after contemplating the painting for a while,  I defined them just enough to make them more visible.

Thank you for joining us as we share our creative thinking through collaborative sharing.

I am now making my daily works for this project available for sale online in my Meylah shop here: http://meylah.com/HelenKle​besadel  I post them each day after they are posted in the blog.


Posted in A Painting A day, Art Techniques, Creative Play, Watercolor | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Day Thirty – -Two Artists Share A Painting A Day for 33 Days

Bluebird, 9x12, waterolor, ©2011 Helen Klebesadel

Welcome to day thirty in the 33 Paintings in 33 Days Project of Alaskan artist Nikki Kinne and Wisconsin artist Helen Klebesadel.  I cannot believe how quickly this month is going by.

For my 30th day’s painting I reverted to a subject I’ve painted in the past.  Painting bluebirds was one of my first commissions.  I remember fondly that both my Aunt Meg and my Grandmother Ruth asked me to paint them bluebird paintings.  It was especially significant because both were near the end of their lives when they requested these images.  Now I think of them as a sort of spirit guide, which actually means I pay close attention when one crosses my path.  For the rest of the world, in many many cultures,  they may represent the ‘bluebird of happiness,‘ but for me they symbolize stripping away the trappings of life and getting down to what really matters.  I think its interesting that in at least one European myth (The Blue Bird) with the bluebird at its center the moral of the story is “…that the search for happiness is ongoing, and it is to be found within oneself.”

Bluebirds  have always been symbolically significant to my family and others, but they are also an environmental success story.   Between the 1930s and the 1980’s the population of bluebirds in the US had declined by 90%. They were truly endangered. By the time I grew up in the 1950s and 1960s in southwestern Wisconsin, bluebirds were rare. Pesticides contaminated their invertebrate foods, and nesting cavities were in short supply. Sighting a bluebird was a rare treat that took on mythic proportions in my family. Bluebirds have come to symbolize all things good and beautiful.

Bluebird Restoration Association of Wisconsin (BRAW)  When BRAW was organized in 1986, it was estimated that the Eastern Bluebird population in its historic range had declined by 90% during the preceding 50 years due to changes in agriculture practices, competition from the House (English) Sparrow and European Starling, severe weather in its central and southern winter range, and the loss of nest sites, such as tree cavities and hollow wooden fence posts.  Today, bluebirds are common in suitable habitat thanks to the work of citizen volunteers placing bluebird nesting boxes in the right places and working to protect their habitat.  It makes me hopeful so I paint bluebirds of happiness and give them plenty to eat.

Thoughts Are Reality, 16 x 20 Watercolor on canvas, ©2011 Nikki Kinne

Nikki and I communicate periodically even when we are not engaged in a creative project like this.  We like to check in on each others’ lives and art making, sharing opportunities and interesting resources.

We occasionally exchange TED videos lectures that catch our attention.  TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design.  Since that time the field have broadened.  The annual TED conferences, in Long Beach/Palm Springs and Edinburgh, bring together the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes or less).  If you haven’t checked them out its well worth your time to do so.

One of my all time favorites Ted thinkers is by Sir Kenneth Robinson.  You can check out his lecture here:  http://blog.ted.com/2008/06/20/whats_the_best/

Another video I shared with Nikki was this TEDx  lecture by Bryan Franklin. ( TEDx, in the spirit of ‘ideas worth spreading,’ is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience.)  Nikki had a different reaction  to it than I did.  She did this great process painting to express the issues, ideas, and concerns raised by the perspectives he shares.

Here is another view of Nikki’s painting.  Its painted on a canvas specially treated to accept watercolor.

Side view, Thoughts Are Reality, 16 x 20 Watercolor on canvas, ©2011 Nikki Kinne

Sometimes the process of making is more or just as important as the end product.  While art making isn’t therapy , it can be therapeutic.  For me art making can be a form of meditation or a place to explore feelings and ideas without worrying about end products.  Restricting yourself to creating art works that are exclusively  created with the idea of appealing to an imagined market or buyer can keep you from enjoying the wonderful, freeing expressive potential of the art experience.

This 33 Paintings in 33 Days Project has been wonderful at immersing us in the creative process and helping us avoid over thinking our work (always something to be avoided at least until the work is done and we are making decisions about what to do in making the next piece of art).

We are enjoying this experience of creative exchange and all the expressive potential its bringing us.  Thank you for joining as we reflect on our creative process and friendship!

I am making my daily works for this project available for sale online in my Meylah shop here: http://meylah.com/HelenKle​besadel  I post them each day after they are posted in the blog.

Posted in A Painting A day, Beauty, Watercolor | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Day Twenty-nine –Two Artists Share A Painting A Day for 33 Days

Tumbling Spirits, 7 x 7, watercolor, ©2011 Nikki Kinne

Welcome to day twenty-nine in the 33 Paintings in 33 Days Project of Alaskan artist  Nikki Kinne and Wisconsin artist Helen Klebesadel.

In painting 29 Nikki is playing with a traditional image in new manners. She uses a figurative knot design and makes it her own by making the figures appear like transparent fairies tumbling in the grass.  Her brush strokes offer gestures that create movement through areas of lifted out color, while trees in the  background are subtly present supporting the nature spirits in their play.

Crow Gather Study, 9 x 12, watercolor, ©2011 Helen Klebesadel

Most evenings at dusk the crows in my neighborhood gather one place to socialize and caw their messages to the world.  When they chose the large maple that shades my studio I feel like I’ve been chosen to receive a special blessing.  I  consider it an auspicious occasion.  I am happy with this image and plan to revisit it in a way that more strongly associates night arriving with the gathering of the crows.

Thank you for enjoying our creative journey with us.

I am now making my daily works for this project available for sale online in my Meylah shop here: http://meylah.com/HelenKle​besadel  I post them each day after they are posted in the blog.

Posted in A Painting A day, Beauty, Creative Play, Watercolor | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day Twenty-eight – -Two Artists Share A Painting A Day for 33 Days

A Secret Place, 11 x 14, watercolor, ©2011 Helen Klebesadel

Welcome to day twenty-eight in the 33 Paintings in 33 Days Project of Alaskan artist  Nikki Kinne and Wisconsin artist Helen Klebesadel.

For my day 28th painting  I was in a very quiet mood.  I was prepared to sit and meditate in paint.  This imaginary landscape emerged when I  approached an old  wet-into-wet experiment with an attitude of idle play.  The place seems strangely familiar to me so it must combine elements of places I really know or would like to know.  What lives in that cave anyway?

Seeking Flight, 3 ½ x 8 ½, watercolor, ©2011 Nikki Kinne

Nikki’s 28th painting is significant in that in painting it she is grappling with a dilemma common to people who, as she described “are native but don’t look native.”

The painting was a reflection growing from a recent Powwow she attended.  Nikki feels like her native blood needed to be allowed its  expression, but her white looks often cause her to feel like she doesn’t have permission to use certain symbols, even if they are in the public domain.  This is an extremely personal  struggle that grows out of Nikki’s respect for native culture and her distress when its exploited.    In this painting Nikki recognizes that her ancestors accept her and she declares that she accepts her native blood and experiences too.  Thank you Nikki.

Watercolor workshop, Bjorklunden in Door Couty, from 2010

Today is a wonderful day for me of seeing old friends and meeting new ones at one of my favorite places in the world. Bjorklunden, in Baileys Harbor Door County is the northern campus of Lawrence University where I was on the art faculty for a decade.  I started teaching a summer watercolor workshop at Bjorklunden in 1997 and have continued to teach it each summer since even after leaving the Lawrence faculty to  accept a position with the University of Wisconsin System Adminitration in Madison.  This will be my 15th summer teaching “Watercolor the Expressive Medium.”  Given the great enrollments in this workshop we’ve added a second seminar September 18-23, “Watercolor: a Fresh Start.”  It is such a gift to have the privilege of being a part of this magical place.

Some of you may have noticed that in my rush to get out this post I credited Nikki with both paintings.  Oops!  Corrected!

Thank you allowing us to share our creative thinking with you.

My daily works for this project available for sale online in my Meylah shop here: http://meylah.com/HelenKle​besadel  I post them each day after they are posted in the blog.

Posted in A Painting A day, Beauty, Inspiration, Watercolor | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Day Twenty-seven – -Two Artists Share A Painting A Day for 33 Days

When Night Becomes Day, 11 x 14, watercolor, ©2011 Nikki Kinne

Welcome to day twenty-seven in the 33 Paintings in 33 Days Project of Alaskan artist  Nikki Kinne and Wisconsin artist Helen Klebesadel.

Day twenty-seven was jam packed for Nikki.  In her correspondence sharing this work she describes sitting down to paint this 11 x 14 painting and being repeatedly interrupted by almost all the people she loves most in the world.  Finally ready to paint she describes her thought process:

“After all of the interruptions of trying to do a big painting I was tempted to call it quits.  But, it was so peaceful, and meditative.  Have you ever watched dawn, the transition from hints of shapes devoid of color to the full bloom? I think as we are coming out of hard dark times, life is like the dawn.  It might help our tired souls, when they are just seeing hints of shapes, to remember that if we allow light to shine on the situation we can understand and find a path. ”

Thank you for staying with this work Nikki.  The world is better for it.

Sunset Pines, 14 x 19, watercolor, ©2011 Helen Klebesadel

Both Nikki and I are indulging in the wonderful color s possible in watercolor.  I’m still revisiting my rough sketches of Northern Wisconsin and using them as a bases for loose and expressive paintings that try to catch the spontaneity of of the changing light at sunset.

We are enjoying this experience of creative exchange.  Thank you for joining us on the journey!

I am now making my daily works for this project available for sale online in my Meylah shop here: http://meylah.com/HelenKle​besadel  I post them each day after they are posted in the blog.

Posted in A Painting A day, Beauty, Creative Play, Watercolor | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Day Twenty-six –Two Artists Share A Painting A Day for 33 Days

Sunset Hill, 14 x 19 1/2, watercolor, ©2011 Helen Klebesadel

Welcome to day twenty-six in the 33 Paintings in 33 Days Project of Alaskan artist  Nikki Kinne and Wisconsin artist Helen Klebesadel.

Nikki and I were honored yesterday to have this project featured in the Meylah Marketplace Blog.   As you may know I have been posting my paintings from this project in my Meylah storefront daily after this blog posts.  The  Seattle-based Meylah is a relatively new ecommerce platform for artisan and creative products. Through personalized storefronts that integrate blog technology really well, Meylah offers thousands of items for sale internationally including handmade, digital, fine art, and photography products and tutorials.  What sets Meylah apart from its well known competitor, Etsy (where I also have a storefront), is the format, and the fact that while there is a modest monthly fee for a store there are no transaction fees for the seller.

My 26th day is inspired by my earlier sketches of the north woods of Wisconsin but I used a base image as an excuse to play with the spontaneity of the watercolor.  This wet into wet image started with me wetting parts of the image and dropping in the dominant color and then allowing the colors to mix freely.  Next I dropped salt into the sky and alcohol into the hill to create these wonderful textures.  I had retained dry areas in the shape of the rhythmic line across the hilltop.  After the sky and hill were completely dry I went back in and painted the yellow and red rectangles to complete a dynamic composition.

Delphiniums on Yupo, 15 x 11, watercolor, ©2011 Nikki Kinne

For her 26th painting of our 33 Nikki gathered a bouquet of Delphiniums from her yard and brought them to her studio to paint.  Nikki is an expert at painting on Yupo paper.  Its a non – absorbent surface that allows you to re-wet the paint and wipe back to the surface.

She says of creating this work, ” I usually paint flowers light and the background dark.  I’m glad I had used Yupo paper for today’s painting.  The flowers got lost in being the same value as the background.  So, I re-wet the background and pulled lots of the paint up off of it.  What excited me about this, plan to do more exploration of, is the wiping energy in the background that almost makes the flowers seem to be moving. ”

Its beautiful Nikki!

Thank you for joining us on this adventure of sharing.

I am now making my daily works for this project available for sale online in my Meylah shop here: http://meylah.com/HelenKle​besadel  I post them each day after they are posted in the blog.

Posted in A Painting A day, art collaboration, Creative Play, Watercolor | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment