Thursday, May 20, 2010

Sarah Ann Smith - Camden, Maine

1. How do you describe yourself? Busy. Creative. Tired. Energetic. Curious. Open. Well-traveled. A reader. Learning.

2. What is your creative process? Most quilts grow inside my head, percolating until they are ready to come out. Some spring into my mind nearly whole, formed instantly. But there is pretty much always a picture inside my head before I pick up the first piece of cloth. Sometimes things change during construction to improve design, composition, color, but rarely is there a wholesale turnaround in a piece.

3. What's your style? Representational... I use whatever technique it takes to create the picture in my head. I fuse often (hooray for MistyFuse!) to collage pieces, but also use machine applique of various sorts, paintings, dye, dye-painting, some surface design, some embellishments, but never all of those one one piece. I just use what techniques are needed to allow the picture to come to life in cloth. With LOTS of thread and machine quilting!

4. How long have you been a quilt maker/fiber artist? I made my first (traditional) quilt in 1988, and my first art quilt about 2000 or 2001, unless you count the sunrise tea cozy I made in 1974 out of scraps from the clothes I made and the pillow (same vintage) with what I learned two decades later is a nine-patch with five embroidered squares. I began sewing when I was six (LBJ was president!) and made garments, though, until I found quilting, which was the marriage of the two things I loved to do most: sewing and art.

5. Do you listen to music when you make art? No, not really. I often use the TV a white noise, but I can't really listen to something that requires me to pay attention. I get so into what I am doing that I totally lose track of anything like a movie dialogue. I've never understood how quilters can listen to books on tape! I focus so intently on what I'm doing that I tune out the external sounds, and then get irked that I have NO idea when I "left" the book and how far back I need to go to pick up where I stopped paying attention to the story line and focused instead of the art.

6. What do you do when you are blocked creatively? Honestly, I don't know that I ever have been blocked. Too tired to *be* creative, yes, but blocked? Not really... there are always so many ideas clamoring inside of my head that if I need to let one project percolate a bit for problem solving to emerge, I do, and take up something else. But usually, the idea/image has bounced around inside my head until the picture is clear, and then I simply have the process of turning the cloth and thread into the picture.

7. Do you teach? Yes. Seeing the light bulbs go on in people's eyes! Having students tell me "I didn't think I could ever do that, but now I think I can!" So much of teaching is helping others learn how to break a project down into manageable steps, then learning how to do A, B or C, then on to the next step. Trouble-shooting, and how to do it on your own, is important, too. This works for both technique and design....

8. Are there artistic endeavors that you have yet to do? Always! I don't know what they are yet, but I'm looking forward to finding out.

9. How do you balance your family life and art? Ummm....balance? Desperately seeking balance! I'm getting better, learning to say no, learning to pace myself, not be a workaholic, learning to relax and take it easy, but my mind is always racing with ideas, things to do....

10. What is the best part about what you do? The best part is the art! Making, creating, figuring out how....and sharing with and learning from friends and acquaintances and the internet. The paperwork, the marketing, ugh! But you have to do the yucky stuff if you want to earn enough to keep paying for the supplies to do the fun parts!

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