From pavement to canvas and a memoir in six words

I know you thought I was procrastinating with all the photos of pavement cracks and rocks.  Well, maybe I was a little bit (!) but here’s a recent 12″x12″ – Composed – which uses some of those craggy lines.

With pen in hand, these lines on another newer piece - Wanted -  are created with india ink and calligraphy nibs.  The splots are just flung for emphasis and I think that’s my real specialty!



I got on a roll with the 12″x12″ pieces.  Fissure  is most definitely inspired by the limestone outcrops prevalent in my environs.   I’ve painted on canvas, collaged with textiles and papers, added more paints and then for the piece d’resistance, the ink.

I love to practice mark making — trying to spend a few minutes at least daily– while utilizing tools of all sizes and shapes.  Twigs are a personal favorite.  I’m enjoying the look of different intensities of the india ink.  I’ll blog about this at another time.

On another subject, I follow Donna Watson’s blog – Layers.  She has beautiful images — in the true wabi sabi tradition and is always informative and challenging.  So her most recent post, refers to Six Word Memoirs at Smith Magazine.  The challenge is to write your own memoir in six words — sounds simple, huh?  Well, not so much.  I went through countless iterations — remember SIX words.   I finally settled on this — at least for now!

Buoyed by optimism,

she’s always evolving.

So, I’ll extend the challenge to you.  What’s your memoir?


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My backyard. . . almost

I’m still on the subject of inspirations — well, in truth, what artist isn’t always consumed with it?  Anyway, wise people often say that inspirations are right under your nose and in my case, it’s absolutely the truth.  You see, a short three-miles away from my home sits the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Mrs. Johnson was a true visionary who among other things, valued the natural beauty in our environment and set out to enhance and preserve our surroundings – by eliminating road signs that blighted our highways, providing trails for hiking and biking, promoting wildflowers and native habitats.  This center was her idea and with grit and perseverance, the dream became a reality.  So today, thousands of people visit and study on the premises.  While it has more recently become part of the University of Texas system, it is a true public/private partnership with many of the improvements attributed to the generosity of its patrons.


In all of the years that I’ve visited, the center has never looked so beautiful.   Central Texas remains in drought conditions, however, our wet spring spawned a virtual symphony of vegetation not enjoyed for several years.

Climbing to the top of this rock tower treats the viewer to a fantastic panorama for miles around.




Colors, textures, value studies, patterns, repetition and rhythms — all are present to inspire and engage the artist.  Other scenes that caught my eye:


These are all designs that can be translated into mark-making.  Dyes, paints, inks will combine to play a part in designing from these incredible natural images.

What an inspiring day!  Talk to me about yours.








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Inspiration, part II

This is such a huge topic that I’m taking it in small pieces.  Certainly, people are inspiring, events can be riveting, readings, theater and more — all creating this rich tapestry of our lives.  But today I’m going to rachet down the discussion to those simple things that upon observing, give me pause.  Having my iPhone camera at the ready, is a great way to capture these sightings.  Here’s a few from recent days.  Our weather has been gorgeous, the flora in its full splendor and then, there’s the sidewalk!  Just look at the lines – I want to replicate with pen in hand.

Here’s another:  a lovely stone retaining wall with interesting cracks, crevices and grass pushing toward the light.  The subtleties of the color values form a background for the energy of the lines.





Awaiting for the trash pick up, these bundled twigs offer a study in line and composition.


I’m preparing a presentation of my inspirations and the way they are manifested in my art.  More on that later but these for sure will be in the mix.  What about you??


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I was recently in Philadelphia at the time of the FiberPhiladelphia exhibits –  and while I didn’t allow time to fully explore the various venues, what I did see was absolutely spectacular. The endeavor  is a herculean effort involving galleries, museums, studios, schools, etc. — over 40 different venues throughout the city and believe me, next time I will plan to be there for several days.

Just to give you a flavor, I’m linking you to Jeanne Beck’s blog .  She previews the exhibit “Mending=Art” at the Borowsky Gallery.  The photo at the left is from Jeanne’s blog -

Lake by Dorothy Caldwell.  13″x13″




So, one questions (or at least I do!), where does inspiration emanate?  Well, that’s one where there’s no easy answer but I’ll attempt to make it simple.  Certainly, seeing the photos in Jeanne’s blog is hugely inspiring for me — beautiful work and exquisitely presented.  It gives me pause.

I was recorded this week for Alyson Stanfield’s Artist Conspiracy site.  She asked me to elaborate on my opinion about the mistakes artists make when applying to a call for entry.  Having organized several exhibits in the last few years, it’s a subject near and dear to my heart so I was both honored and happy to assist.  The audio recording will be available to her Conspiracy members next week and likely on the general blog in a few months.  Thank you, Alyson!

Happy spring, everyone and may you see inspirations all around.

We are not free when we are doing just what we like.  We are only free when we are doing what the deepest self likes.  And there is getting down to the deepest self!  It takes some diving.”  D.H. Lawrence




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Our Art Cloth Mastery class graduated last week — what a bitter-sweet end to nearly three years of study.  The grand finale is the class exhibit at the Radius Center in San Antonio which will hang until May 31st.  Twelve artists and twelve voices.  All unique in vision and style and together, the result is an engaging and lively show.  If you’d like to see the entire exhibit – with photography credits to Alfredo Rego, go to the Twelve Voices from One blogsite.  The opening reception produced an amazing crowd which served to fuel our spirits even further — if that were possible!

  Attraction inspired a poem by Gioconda Costello:

To angular
Black and white
Embraced by
Blue amd red
Enveloped into

Ms. Costello read her poems at the opening reception along with others.


Simple Gifts  was also versed by Gioconda Costello:

Of Depth

The poetry unexpectedly became an integral part of the evening because in these brief words, the authors addressed the source of our intent in the compositions.

 Revelry abounds!!  The happy graduates along with the maestro, Jane Dunnewold

 Emboldened by the strong spirit of our class and a complete high from the experience at the Radius, I climbed on a plane headed for Philadelphia the next day.  This was my first board meeting with the Surface Design Association where I am their new executive director.  I was struck by a tremendous sense of purpose among the group — not unlike that same passion I had just left with my class in San Antonio.  It’s wonderful to see the dedication and energy in taking very seriously the monikor of directors of such a fine organization.

So, I leave  you with this  from TED — it features Craig Hella Johnson who is the artistic director of Conspirare, an Austin-based choral group.  Craig speaks eloquently about finding fulfillment and enchantment.  A perfect ending to the last two weeks!!


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Artistic path

 An  assignment for our Art Cloth Mastery class involves developing a discussion with power point accompaniment on our art development.  After all, says our instructor, Jane Dunnewold, you need to be ready to discuss the evolution of your own style; it’s very interesting to the viewers and a gallery owner or curator may call on you to speak.

As painful as it may be, I knew she was right.  So I delved into the project and quickly surmised that my real development in this field spans a little over five years with three distinct periods.  I’ve divided it as follows:  2006-2007 — piecing.

Etude I

26″x33″, 2007

I worked with commercial fabrics, creating free-form designs with the smallest scraps.  I was intuitively looking at color, value and line — even though I had yet to study those principles — that came later!

Incidentally, this piece was purchased by a dear friend whose enthusiast support continues to spur me onward.

The second period — from 2008 – 2009 marked the beginning of fabric manipulation with an eye toward dyeing, printing, stamping and in other ways, manipulating the surface.

Sunset at Chaco Canyon

26″x26″, 2008

Before I knew the term “flow” as applied to artists, I experienced it with the Chaco Canyon series and by the time I ran out of ideas, I had completed six works.  In each one, I was attempting to capture the light and some of the mystery of that very special, magical place.

There is hand-dyed and printed cloth, found objects and MUCH intricate piecing.

Finally, the last period brings me to the present – a time where I  study art cloth techniques and design principles in a very focused and concerted manner.  The quest for meaning and content in my work will be on ongoing endeavor.


24″x36″x1.5″, 2011

While the cloth is a starting point, I now utilize acrylic paints, paper lamination, collaging with additional cloth and papers.  And I’ve found ink, loving to make marks in the design.

Class is coming up next week and I’m so looking forward to the time with my fellow students and hearing about their  artistic path.


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Magnificent March!

What a month this is becoming!  There’s a special logo on the left which has been an important part of my life over the past several years and now is even more so.   I am honored to be the incoming Executive Director of the Surface Design Association.  For the uninitiated, we number about 4000 members from around the world — educators, designers, artists — in the textile art field.  The organization is celebrating 35 years of evolving to meet the needs of its impactful members.  And I hope, along with a dynamic staff and Board, to continue in that vein.  For me, it’s a win-win  — combining the art that I love with the experience gained in the corporate arena.

Another milestone, actually a bitter-sweet one.  The Art Cloth Mastery 2010 class, of which I am a part,  is now graduating.  We were selected over two years ago by Jane Dunnewold to study with her at Art Cloth Studios in San Antonio, honing the processes of surface design, composition, and attuning ourselves to the content in our work.  Our class hails from all over the United States plus one participant from Jamaica.

Each of us has developed a distinctive and individual style — truly a credit to Jane’s excellent tutelage.   After studying with this absolutely wonderful group of women,  I really understand the message that each wants to convey and I’d recognize their work across a crowded room.   We are having a graduation exhibit at the Radius Center in San Antonio with an  opening reception on Thursday, March 29th from 6-8pm.  The exhibit hangs until May 31, 2012.  If you’re in the area, please plan to attend.

I just finished another piece for the Mastery exhibit – whew!  It’s called Equilibrium – go figure!!

Visit my website – 






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Inspiration from a movie about food?

If you’re a subscriber to Netflix, you know that based on your viewing “habits,” they prepare a recommended selection of movies for you.  Since I mainly look at documentaries, detective movies and classical British flicks, guess what was in my queue?  Thinking that I wanted to see something a little different and not quite so  heavy while I knitted away, I picked Today’s Special , mainly because of the food connection and I thought it might be good for a few laughs.

It was that and more.  Without giving away the plot, the movie deals with the need for passion about what you’re doing, authenticity, realizing that there’s not a direct path to “success” and that we have to be ready for spontaneity leading to new experiences.  Sound familiar to anyone?  It’s funny,  smart and has me hungering for dahl.  (You’ll have to watch the movie to get that connection!)


Visit my website — it has a new look!

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Printing on uncommon surfaces

I spent three days last week in a workshop about printing on various surfaces using our own digital images.    Kathyanne White has distinguished herself in this arena — she’s absolutely fearless about what she’s willing to try as long as the sharp or particularly uneven edges are controlled.  Fortunately, she hovered closely as we queued up by her magnificent Epson as none of us wanted to fry that machine!

I primarily stayed with the same image so that I could see how it responded to different surfaces.  I was pleased with all — take a look:


The top left is on crumpled tissue paper, the one to the right is on an aluminum can and the lower image is printed on wire mesh.  Part of the workshop was learning to prepare “skins” in order to run these items through the printer — they had to be coated in layers with products from InkAID.

Two more — on the left is cheesecloth and the right is on lutradur.






I absolutely love learning about new techniques and Kathyanne’s prowess completely amazes me.  She might use a discarded printer plate, print on it, cut it into squares, punch a hole and fold in half  – then she might crochet the pieces together with wire.  There’s no limit.

So, I’ll decide how I’m going to use this new-found knowledge in my work.  In the meantime, I came back so refreshed that I’m embarking on another piece for my Art Cloth Mastery class exhibit.  Here’s the start: 

It’s a bamboo-cotton cloth which was dye painted and then over-dyed.  A collage artist friend, Mary, asked to have a photocopy of some of my work so that she can use it in her compositions — what an honor.  As I spread it out for the copy, I decided that this one is in my sights for the next work,  right away. I love it when the spirit strikes!!

Visit my website – dianesandlinstudios.

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At last . . . and more!

I’ve blogged about preparing for the Texas Federation of Fiber Artists exhibit at the Hill Country Arts Foundation and another blog about hanging the exhibit.  Well, it’s finally time for the artists to convene at the Foundation this Friday. 

Just to give you an idea of the creativity in this group, take a look at the image on the poster — yes, it’s a shoe by San Antonio artist, Rachel Ridder Edwards. Not quite Cinderella’s slipper, but quite special nevertheless.

Working on this exhibit has been, well, work but the outcome has been well-worth the effort.  Teaming with our juror, Kathyanne White, has been smooth, interesting and rewarding.

Part of the upcoming Texas Federation conference involves workshops and I’m fortunate to be enrolled in Kathyanne’s Printing on Uncommon Surfaces.  Armed with my laptop and photo editing software, I’m eager and ready to learn new skills.

The old adage is that good things come in three’s — well, I’m at least at number two with Kathyanne’s workshop ahead of me and having just completed a session with Donna Watson this past weekend.   I’ve long admired Donna’s aesthetic — and it was a pleasure to not only learn more about how she approaches her art, but to take the time to focus on design elements.   We worked — a lot — in sketching in advance (something I never do!) — to contemplate the composition, incorporating the principals and elements of design.  It was rigorous and I know that I speak for the entire class, she has us thinking first and foremost about content and then the composition.  My head is full and there’s another class to go!!  Now, getting back to the good things coming in waves, I wonder what number three will be!!

My website is going through a transformation — construction is ongoing but take a look -


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