Stretching….creatively

by Sandra Bruce

Have you been able to keep cool this summer? It’s been pretty brutal here in Grass Valley, between the smoke and the heat. This very cute squirrel has been hanging out (literally) on our deck railing to try to keep out of the heat. I can so relate!


We’re very close to our Zephyr retreat….only a few weeks away! I have a full class, with ladies working on a varied assortment of quilt subjects for their Matrix quilts. Children, pets, scenes. I look forward to this very much each year.

One of my past students made a wonderful Matrix quilt, which I had the pleasure of quilting yesterday. Here’s the before and after! I absolutely love what Colleen did. It is an homage to a memory she has, and this quilt will keep it alive.


I’ve not been working on a new Matrix project since I finished “Dame Lorraine”. (she and “Summertime” have already gone to Houston). I have had the urge to do something different than what I’ve done in a while. First, I’ve been working on a needle-turned applique Halloween quilt, from a pattern by Verna Mosquera. I absolutely love doing applique and this quilt has fit the bill. About 2 or 3 blocks into it I realized something, that I have some of my own ideas for Halloween quilt designs. I have changed a lot of details in this quilt, and now I have 3 concepts in my mind to create new quilts, and maybe patterns to sell. Here it is so far, on my design wall:

When I went to Cleveland to tape my episodes of QATV in April I met Susan Shie, who I have heard so much about over the years through our mutual friend, Therese May. I was so happy to meet her! When Susan did her taping, the day before me, I was so taken aback by the stack of drawing sketchbooks that she showed us. She draws every day. It lit a fire under me, and consequently I signed up to do an online drawing class with her, with a few others, for 5 weeks, via Facebook. It’s a very interesting concept. First I went to my local art supply store and bought a few new Prismacolor pencils to flesh out my stash of them. Just the sight of the Prismacolor display is enough to make my heart skip a beat!

A bit off subject, but I’d like to share a tip with you about pencils. This will save you a lot of headache if you use pencils often. The best way to buy pencils is individually, such as from this Prismacolor display, when possible. In other words, don’t buy sets. And here’s why: when pencils are made there is the top piece of wood, the “lead” in the middle, and then the bottom piece of wood. If the lead is not dead center, if it is off a bit (which is pretty common) then every time you sharpen it it will break. Then you’ll sharpen it again, and the break will happen again. Etc etc until your pencil is a nub. So, the moral of the story is: be sure the lead is right in the middle between the 2 sides of wood. Below is a photo showing the difference between a good one and one destined for trouble. These are not inexpensive pencils and this tip will save you money and frustration! Doesn’t this make you want to draw??!

My first assignment was to draw a selfie in my new sketchbook using both right and left hands. Interesting exercise! I found I could not hold pencils in both hands and draw simultaneously, but I could switch back and forth. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would….I may draw like this more often. My right-handed marks (non-dominant hand) were bolder and a bit goofy, but I liked them. The light initial sketch was done left-handed, and the inked lines right-handed, with the color back and forth. Here’s my drawing.

Before I go, a couple of news flashes. The Series 2200 on QATV which I appeared in, has begun on PBS, on the 2nd channel. I appear in Shows #2206, 2208, and 2211. Hope you can find them and watch! I talk about Material Matrix, how to match a binding to the image in the quilt, and how to stitch words with your home machine.

Also, I have a new page in my website, called “Publicity/News”, where I list the shows my quilts are currently in, books/magazines featuring my work, and other tidbits.

Now I’d better go work on Zephyr name tags, one of the pleasurable tasks I get to do for the retreat.

Stay cool and smoke-free everyone. Fall is coming.

Sandra

10 thoughts on “Stretching….creatively

  1. Sandra, thank you for the pencil tip! I hope Zephyr goes well, that lots of inspiration/creativity flows and you get some relief from the smoke and heat soon.

  2. Thanks for the pencil tip. I use watercolor pencils and now I think I will go look at them because some seem to break so easily when sharpening.

  3. I had no idea why some pencils are so freaking breaky breaky! Thanks for the tip!

    You are one of many people inspiring me to (soon) begin art journaling… or, at least, to get back to doodling. Thanks for that, too.

  4. Hi Sandra,. I am so happy that I took your class last year.. looking forward to seeing you this year!! Only nine days woo Hoo! I am taking the upcycle girls class ..this time around. Love your article and all of the great things you are doing.. see you soon.

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