Sunday, March 31, 2013

Inspiration Series: Stuff Your Eyes with Wonder


I'm beginning a new series of small textile pieces that will incorporate quotations and images that reflect some aspect of the quotation -- I'm calling it my Inspirations series.  I'm inspired by this new series, and I hope that the pieces inspire others as well.  My plan is to make multiple versions of each piece, to explore different design variations.  I think this will work well for me, as it allows me to combine the thoughtful exploration of ideas as well as experiment with design and embellishment.  Plus, I'll build up a body of small works, which I am currently lacking.

Oh, and did I mention the giveaway part?  I'll choose one version of each piece to give away to my blog readers (that's you!).  I hope to complete a new set of pieces every month.  So come back regularly to catch the giveaways!  (Remember that you can sign up through a blog reader or get new posts by email -- see the links on the sidebar.)



Before I get into this first piece, I want acknowledge some of those who have been inspirational to me.  Thanks to Lesley Riley, whose Fragment series was part of the inspiration for my new series, and to Cynthia St. Charles, whose Mail Art Project gave me the idea of creating multiple versions of each piece and to include the blog giveaway part.  And of course, thanks to Q, who inspires me every day, as well as giving helpful feedback and suggestions.


This piece began with a photo I took of PC, one of Q's mother's cats.  I was sitting on the floor, taking pictures of PC, and she came up to stare at the camera.


In Photoshop, I cropped the piece and enhanced the brightness and contrast.  For the final version, I then used the dark strokes filter in Photoshop and printed the photo on a cotton fabric sheet especially designed for inkjet printers.

I began to hunt through my collection of quotations, pondering what kinds of themes were evoked by this photo.  The eyes seemed the most compelling aspect . . . those big eyes . . . big, wondering eyes.

So this quote by Ray Bradbury seemed perfect:  "Stuff your eyes with wonder . . . live as if you'd drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It's more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories."  But I didn't like the reference to dropping dead, which seemed unduly dramatic and evoked a sense of threat that I didn't see in the photo.  So I cut that portion of the quote to more clearly focus on experiencing life with wonder.

The four different pieces I created from this inspiration:
Cotton fabrics sewn onto a Timtex base, machine and hand stitching,
each approximately 6" x 8"
I believe in the power of wonder.  In Abraham Maslow's study of self-actualized individuals (people who have generally realized their full potential), he found that they were able to experience life with a "freshness of appreciation", the ability to experience life with wonder and awe.  Wonder is an uplifting feeling, one that helps us appreciate our lives afresh and keeps us from becoming acclimated to the richness of our surroundings.  (Psychologists call this acclimation process the "hedonic treadmill.")  Wonderment encourages us to look more carefully, probe more deeply, experience more fully.  So I say yes, stuff your eyes with wonder; your life will be the better for it.
We framed this piece and gave it to Q's mother, who loved it.
Side note:  I had originally planned to make the pieces generally similar, with the idea that it would give me the opportunity to play with minor changes in design or embellishment.  Instead, I ended up approaching each one as a unique piece.  I did use the same fabric palette and the same basic techniques, but each one was unique in design and composition.  I also explored hand embroidery embellishment on several of the pieces. 

Experimenting with a vertical orientation. 
I like the "whisker" effect of the embroidery.
If you would like to be eligible for this week's Inspirations giveaway (for the card pictured at the top), just leave a comment on this post by April 7, 2013.  Be sure that I have your email address so that I can notify you if you are the winner.  I'll do a random draw and announce the winner during the following week.

This one features hand embroidery with bead accents.

I hope your week is full of wonder!

30 comments:

  1. I love cats, and I love your little works of art. How nice of you to offer us a chance to win one.

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  2. I really like your work and would love to win a one of your works of art.

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  3. You are truly an artist, where I am only a pattern copier... Love your work
    Gladys at the Iowa Farm Report Center

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  4. Very nice pieces, P C is a great subject,

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    1. PC is a beautiful cat -- I'm glad I was able to capture her curious wonderment. Thanks!

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  5. Thanks for being so generous; I would love to have your art work.
    nygilpin@gmail.com

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  6. Deborah, what a great series! Being a cat lover, I often try to think of what my cat must be thinking. Thanks for giving us a chance in the draw.
    Martha Ginn

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    1. Thanks for the nice compliment, Martha! Cats *are* enigmatic at times, aren't they?

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  7. I love the way you think. So very inspirational! The Maslow and Bradbury quotes are keepers (even without the part about dropping dead!). The kitty expression is perfect. Keep up the wonderful work!

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    1. Thank you for the nice compliment and encouragement! I love your matzoh covers and the stories you wrote about them -- your work is lovely and inspiring.

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  8. P C reminds of an Egyptian cat I had as a younger person. she was an Abby and so friendly and one day while I was at work she was gone and possibly rode off with the newspaper boy on his bike, back in 197something!
    Maslow is super and Brad is the Bomb!.

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    1. I'm sorry to hear about your wandering kitty. My father had two Abyssinian cats at one point and one of them jumped out of the car while we were driving. We never did find that cat -- maybe he went to join yours. :-)

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  9. I'd love to win one of your pieces. I love how you've incorporated text, and I am a big fan of all cats!

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    1. Thank you! I love your onion-colored eggs -- the patterns are so beautiful. You clearly have a good sense of wonder; as you say on your blog, "Everyday is an adventure if viewed through fresh eyes!"

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  10. Love the cat pic. I would love to win one of your works!

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  11. These are beautiful - clean and crisp. I like how you enhanced the photo with photoshop. You have inspired me.

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    1. Thank you so much! I am so pleased to have inspired you; that means a lot to me.

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  12. Like the way you made the text a full part of the composition. I've been doing that in different ways in my work for the past few years.

    Keep up the good work!
    Linda in CO

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    1. Thanks! I went over to your website and enjoyed looking at your recent work -- you have some really interesting compositions and I like your use of text.

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  13. Love your cat pictures and the phrase is just perfect. I love cats and can't have any for awhile till the come up with a vaccine for Bobcat Disease

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    1. I'm sorry that you can't have cats -- I can't either, as I'm quite allergic. But we can both enjoy cat photos, anyway. ;-) Thanks for stopping by!

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  14. The expression on PC's face is priceless.

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    1. Isn't it though? I love her expression in this photo.

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    1. I hadn't thought about it, but yes, wonder and curiosity are the opposite of Henri's sad ennui.

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