Aug 27 2011

Inspiration and Online Classes


I guess it all started in 1985. While I was working in Zurich for a summer, I got to visit the Verzasca Valley in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland.  It was breathtaking–the landscape, the color of the water, the fireflies, the lightning off in the distance.  In 2000, I returned with my friend Weslee, whose family emigrated from that area.  I was looking forward to showing her the beauty of the area.  Mother nature had other plans. She saw rain, rain, and more rain.  In a gallery at the end of the valley, I found a book of sketches and photographs created by Richard Wagner of Cologne, Germany.  Wow!

Verzasca Valley by Richard Wagner


Water Photos by Richard Wagner


Watercolor Sketch by Richard Wagner

He captured the essence of the valley in just a few words, photographs and watercolor sketches.  This little book has been my inspiration for travel photos ever since.  Shoot the requisite tourist photos, but take the time to capture some of the details. Eleven years, and numerous drawing classes later, I’ve finally decided to add watercolor to my box of tools.  Spare time is precious at the moment, so when Jane Lafazio announced her online class Sketchbook & Watercolor: On Location through I had to give it a try. One of the great things about online classes is that you can “attend” the class anytime you like—even my preferred time of 11 p.m.  Since Pixeladies teach online classes (click here for more info), it’s also interesting to see how others use the technology to teach.  I love the class.  I love the interaction between the students. We probably learn just as much from seeing each other’s drawings and asking questions. And I’m intending no disrespect to Jane.  She has created wonderful handouts and lessons for us.  Here are my sketches for lesson 2—the coffee shop (Yes, I’m one of those “bad” students who doesn’t follow directions.  Not being a coffee drinker, a noodle shop for lunch was my choice.)

Pho Ga

The View From My Table

Aug 19 2011

Organizing Patterns with Photoshop Elements


At the American Sewing Guild’s national conference in Los Angeles, we gave a short presentation about organizing your patterns with Adobe® Photoshop® Elements.  The Organizer portion of Elements is a great way to catalog photos, videos, music, and yes, even sewing patterns.   If you want to use the tags we created for patterns, save the file PatternTags.xml by right-clicking on the link and then clicking on “Save Target As…” (or “Save Link As…”).  Remember where you save the file, because you’ll need to find it again. (Tip!  Deb saves the file on her desktop and then trashes it once it’s installed.  Kris, on the other hand, tends to agonize over where best to save it and then forgets where she put it, but she’ll never admit Deb is right!)

Open Organizer and look for the Green Plus Sign icon.* Click on “From File….”  Navigate to PatternTags.xml, then click Open.  The Category Patterns with all its attendant Sub-Categories and Keyword Tags will appear in your panel.  Now you can delete the file, so your desktop doesn’t get all messy like Deb’s!

*It’s the first icon in the Keyword Tags panel.  If you don’t see the Keyword Tags panel, Click on Window > Show Task Pane from the Menu bar.

Aug 12 2011

Working on Faith . . . Ringgold that is!


Sometimes you just have to pinch yourself. I still can’t believe that we – yes, the Pixeladies – have been invited to create a quilt in honor of Faith Ringgold. An entire event is being planned to honor her at City College of New York. She’s an alumna of the college and will be the first recipient of the Annual Cultural Arts Award program. You should take a look at some of her work at


Dancing at the Louvre 1991

You can imaging how excited we are to be part of this event. The opening reception is October 6, 2011. We’re working on a piece that measures 36 x 36 inches.  We are making another one of our text quilts and are looking for words and phrases that will help express our vision – just try finding that in People magazine.

Yes, Kris is a Lefty!

Here’s a picture of  me cutting up a magazine. This really is lots of fun. The problem begins when you start getting distracted and just need to know why Lindsey Lohan is in jail again or some such gibberish. Deb, on the other hand, will be distracted by travel articles or really cool custom luggage  (more on that in a future post).  One good thing is that you can pretty much cut anywhere. My favorite places to cut out words are under Deb’s gazebo or in front of the TV watching reruns. We’ll keep you posted on our progress (without giving too much away).

Aug 10 2011

Linking WordPress to Facebook


Some Yamaguchi Totes

Hey, we’re trying to figure out if our blog entry will automatically post to Facebook, if we tell WordPress to do so.  So here’s an image to check it all out.

Aug 5 2011

Join Us at the ASG National Conference!


We’re packing our bags for the American Sewing Guild’s national conference in Los Angeles August 19-21.  (OK, that’s not really true. We’re actually running around getting all of our teaching materials ready, but that doesn’t sound like the organized Pixeladies we always claim to be.) Despite this small confession, we really hope you can join us there. We’ll be giving three 2-hour presentations: Furoshiki – Fun with Fabric Folding (bring your empty wine bottles – full, if you want to bribe the teachers), Organize Your Patterns with Photoshop Elements, and Design Fabric with Photoshop Elements.

Cactus Flower to Border Print


If you want to learn how we got from the cactus flower to border print,  sign up for the Design Fabric class. We’ll also be in the fashion show on Friday night.   Watch with amazement (or embarrassment) as we attempt to do a quick change on the runway.  It should be fun.

BTW, make sure to look us up for evening partying. We’re members of that Placerville/Gold Country chapter that has a reputation for getting the party started! Bananagrams, anyone?

Bananagrams, anyone?

Aug 1 2011

Art and Community


Deb and I recently returned from a meeting of the Northern California Quilt Council. They devote two meetings a year to “Meet the Teachers.” Any member interested in teaching at a guild can sign up to present her/his classes to other members. These meetings attract upwards of two hundred people. We always come away inspired and wanting to get to work not only on our classes but on our art, too.

Lunch with friends after the NCQC meeting.


I got to wondering why this is. After all, you’re only allowed three minutes – yes three – to tell the group how wonderful you are and which classes they just have to book from you. Multiply that by 30, and you have a very intense 1 ½ hour meeting. Now, I have a pretty good reputation for a loud mouth, and I can be pretty blunt, but there is an art to getting all that done in just three minutes.

I decided it wasn’t the topic that was so inspiring. I mean, Deb and I aren’t booking any teachers, after all. I think it’s the being with people whose art you admire. You want them to get as many bookings as you yourself hope to because you know that is how they support their art making. Sewing and quilt guilds are part of the new brand of patronage, along with corporations that collect art (and there are many), and various governments. It’s not as sexy as, say, the Medicis, but it keeps us going. Oh, and it’s the partying afterward – the good food this time was Afghan Tandoor, 1586 Gateway Blvd., Ste C-5, Fairfield, CA 94533 – that gives us the opportunity to discuss art and the art of teaching. No wonder we come home wanting to finish or start a new project. And it’s no wonder that when you learn about artists, you find how often they were a part of an artists’ group. More on that in a future blog.