Inspiration comes in all forms...and when we stumble on it unexpectedly it is all the more joyful. For instance: just as I was bemoaning the coming of a certain heavy-duty birthday early this summer I had the pleasure of meeting Virginia Greene. Ta-Da! A long morning with Virginia and I have a new perspective about my age...and my art. Let me share....
Patti Greene. I had heard tales of her creativity: how she and her husband had built their cabin (with their own hands!) and about how she took up quilting after she had retired. I had seen several pieces of her work and knew they were stunning...Patti called them "story quilts." I referred to them as "fiber art." But I still hadn't laid eyes on this force of energy so I made an "appointment" and in true southern style dropped by one morning for coffee and pie. Hours later I begged forgiveness for my extended stay and left full of creative juice and positive inspiration.
Virginia's very first quilt was made with a friend because she wanted something to do with her hands while she watched her beloved Red Sox on TV. "I didn't know there were books on quilting," she explains, "so I just fumbled around and did ok. When I found out about the books I was off and running." But Virginia discovered that traditional patterns didn't hold her interest for long. "Something else was needing to get out," she explained. And her "story quilts" came into being. "I just fool around with shapes and figures I cut from cloth. And then I audition colors for the background and then I just start putting them together like pieces in a puzzle," her simple explanation for what turns out to be a vignette from days gone by.
"I kind of like to put a story in my piece, or at least a little something hidden to keep the viewer interested," she also shared. "Something new they will see when they look again and again." (Oh yes, Virginia, you took the words right out of my feeble attempts.) "I also like color," she confessed. "Lots and lots of bright, bold color." (Amen sister!)
Virginia has quit her art at least three times in the recent past. Eye problems, moving, and other issues made her think it was time to shelve the cloth for good. Each time she sold her machine only to find that she just wasn't herself without the creative outlet. Like the clever woman she is however, she managed to upgrade machines each time she returned to the craft! No debate there, we creatives know it is all about the latest and greatest tool.
We shared stories of failed experiments and grand surprises. We talked about the fact that nature provides both of us a lot of comfort as well as a lot of ideas for shapes and colors in our work. We also talked about the joy we get from someone enjoying our work and honoring us by wanting to live with it.
My visit with this lady in her 80's convinced me that age is not an issue when it comes to craft...one's vision of what is to be shared is much, much more important. And wow, if Virginia is even now coming upon new ideas and themes, who knows what strides I can make by the time I am her age? I have an entirely new perspective. Thank you Miss Virginia!
photos: top photo credit to Cheri Glover, Virginia McKinley Greene for Carolina Mountain Life
2- bird piece as Virginia learned her new machine...I still have not decided if they are on a birdbath or a feeder or in front of their house...but I love it
3- free form design I decided was a leaf...or a feather...or a sail...or a path...or ?
below: a traditional block pattern assembled in a non-traditional manner, exact colors of my living room and wonderful texture next to the stone as shown here.
I believe that art enriches and informs our lives everyday in many positive ways. Sharing those experiences, whether as an artist or as an appreciator, is part of the pleasure. I welcome your comments and hope you find something of value: a laugh, an insight, a new idea or just a happy moment. Enjoy art!