Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Virginia Spiegel - Byron, IL

1. How do you describe yourself? As an artist who is also a writer, poet, adventurer/traveler, and landscape gardener.

2. What is your creative process? I work very intuitively after exhaustively researching a topic. I think and read a great deal about topics of interest to me. When I am ready to begin work on a new series or artwork, I endeavor to not THINK, but to FEEL and to directly translate that to my artwork. I definitely have something specific I am talking about in each artwork and usually write a one sentence statement of intent before beginning an artwork or series. But I endeavor to bring enough mystery to the artwork that viewers may bring their own experience to their response/interpretation.

3. What's your style? I work almost exclusively as an abstract artist, but do occasionally work figuratively. I "make" all my materials for art quilts from white fabric by painting (with many tools including brushes, stamps, and brayers) and screen printing. It is a very meditative process and integral to the type of art quilts I produce. A very common response to my artwork is that no photo ever conveys the depth and complexity apparent upon personal viewing.

4. How long have you been a quilt maker/fiber artist? About twelve years.

5. Do you listen to music when you make art? No. When I am doing hand work I listen to the "Great Lectures" series on topics unrelated to art or to my academic background. Recent topics have been about the Civil War, music, American history, and economics.

6. What do you do when you are blocked creatively? Fill the well. One way I do this by switching art forms. If I have been working exclusively in art quilts, I work on mixed-media collage or sculpture (with wax), paint on stretched canvas, or make an artist book. Additionally I usually am away from the computer and my studio from long stretches during the summer months for travel, adventures in the Boundary Waters, family events, and landscape gardening. These months are crucial to my artistic production and development as they are a space for me to think about my art and its trajectory in a subconscious way. I have a general and long-standing goal of reading five books per week (undergraduate English majors learn to read very fast). I read widely and eclectically with occasional bouts of vertical depth on one subject or with one author. I also read about and look at a lot of art outside of the art quilt world. I also find writing, photography, and making poems to be activities that are self-perpetuating in terms of inspiration and integral to the creation of my art quilts.

7. Do you teach? I used to teach, but found it severely limited my studio time. I am an
artist who needs a lot of time for process -- thinking, experimenting and creating.

8. Are there artistic endeavors that you have yet to do? No, but I appreciate that I can switch among many forms that I like to do and are all very different in approach and concept. I have learned that while I appreciate many art forms, the media I have the most affinity for are fiber, in all its forms, and paint. They both seem very warm and alive media to me.

9. How do you balance your family life and art? I am learning to limit computer time to the bare minimum and to decline, with regret, opportunities that do not directly align with my current artistic goals and intent.

10. What is the best part about what you do? The freedom to choose what I do and to be the sole arbiter of its worth.

My new book - "Wild at the Edges: Inspiration from a Creative Life"
". . . wise insights into living a genuine life as a person and as an
artist. The photos of nature and art dazzle, inspire, and soothe the soul."


  1. Virginia is simply my idol! and now to read that she reads 5 books a week and listens to educational lectures while she works---oh my. This woman is a saint- a very talented one!!

  2. Virginia is who I want to be when I grow up. I am in awe of her discipline and boundaries. She walks the talk (and with such grace). The Boundary Waters and not just her art series, it's the perfect description of Virginia - beauty, movement, activity, LIFE, flowing through the boundaries she has put in place for herself and her art.

  3. Virginia, you are definitely my #1 idol for sure. I admire your dedication, choices you have made in your life that allow you the time for creativity. Your organization, preciseness, your vision of the beautiful world around you is so inspiring, soothing with its stillness and a beautiful prepresentation of nature...encouraging to the "emerging artist" in me - so very inspiring to the "plodding on" me...lolol I so look forward to your newsletters and read your blog often...
    Anna Rice/aka maclives


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