ELAINE QUEHL, Quilt Artist, Teacher, Dyer, Designer

Saturday, February 23, 2013

What Are You Not Doing This Year?

I've been thinking about the year ahead.  What do I really want to do?  What do I need to NOT do so I have the time to do something else I really want to do? Well the big thing I am NOT planning to do this year is have a solo show, or even apply for a solo show for a future year. As you may know, planning a solo show in a gallery or museum often requires you to apply and plan at least a year, and often two or more years, in advance of the actual show. After quitting my day job in 2008 it became very important to me to branch out in all directions in order to set up the best scenario for making a living as a full-time artist and teacher. The result was that between 2009 and 2012 I had four solo shows and one joint show. Showing in the City of Ottawa art galleries was one of my best experiences, but I do not want to do it again until I have a new body of work to show. Because I am teaching and travelling a lot, it will take some time to amass that much work. My dream is to one day have an all-hosta show, but that means I need about another 10 pieces, and I hope my interest in this series will sustain me that long. Time will tell!!! The bottom line is that I am now in a place mentally where I can wait, and where it is OK to say no to certain opportunities. Sometimes we have to say no to certain things in order to have the time and resources to do other things that are more important to us, and sometimes we have to say no for our own well-being. What are you saying no to this year that will enable you to meet another very important goal?

This week I did spend a lot of time in the studio finishing my old oak tree, which at the moment is named "Invitation" because of the welcoming bench beneath it. The first time I met this oak tree in the Ottawa Arboretum, there was a pastel green bench beneath it, beckoning visitors to stay a while and enjoy the massive canopy of oak branches. It was early spring when the leaves were barely budding, so the tree was dark and stark, like in the finished quilt. You can see a close-up of the bench in the second photo. I did cut a curve between sky and land, to make the dividing line less stark, but in the end it seems that most of that curve ended up behind the tree, leaving the line still a bit too strong.

Invitation, 2013
Invitation, Detail, 2013

One thing I will be doing this year, is having the following work, "End of Days", travelling in SAQA's Metaphors of Aging show. I was thrilled to find out two weeks ago that the piece is one of 39 quilts accepted, out of a total of 160 entries, to travel in this show. The two venues so far confirmed are Festival of Quilts, Birmingham and Johannesburg Quilt Festival, South Africa.
End of Days, 2012

On the other hand, I also learned in the last couple of weeks that none of my three entries (below) to Fantastic Fibers at the Yeiser Arts Center in Paducah, Kentucky were accepted.  Only 54 of the 700 entries (a very competitive show) were accepted, and mine were not among them.  
Curtain Call 2, 2012

Red Stool, 2011

Red Stool Macro, 2012

That means I now have three works I can use to apply to other shows.

I feel that I get better outcomes by sending a few pieces a year to juried shows internationally than by having a solo show locally.  I think a solo show locally can be very important when you are trying to establish yourself as a serious artist in your city, or if you are trying to make a living selling your work. However, to expand my teaching I need to have my work out in the world. So like previous years, I will continue to enter juried shows, although I may enter fewer this year. One other thing I will definitely not be doing is having a work in the Canadian Quilters Association's National Juried Show. Very simply, I screwed up and missed the deadline because it was a bit earlier than usual this year. I feel that this is normally an important venue to show at as a Canadian teacher who makes the bulk of her living in Canada.

Another thing that is happening here in my world is that we've adopted a new kitty. Isn't she pretty? Poor thing almost froze to death on New Year's Eve, before Cat Rescue Network found her and placed her in a foster home. We applied to adopt her, were approved, and she came to live with us today. She is supposed to be a companion for our dear old Kissabelle, our only remaining cat. Unfortunately, today, Kissabelle is NOT amused by the scent and sight of a new cat in HER house. We will have to tread carefully and introduce them slowly.


  1. What am I not doing this year? I am not entering (m)any juried shows! I am newly minted from my C&G program, and decided to follow that with application for a booth at the local Lacombe Art Show and Sale, which required making several new pieces, including some 'miniatures' for 'impulse purchases'. The artists for the booths are juried in so I guess that will be my one attempt. I have a piece to make for the SAQA Benefit Auction and one for SAQA Western Canada's next touring exhibit (June deadline)...and then I want to take the summer to do some reading, playing with new techniques and thinking about what comes next.

    Enjoy your new kitty! My Diesel is still grumbling at/about Pookie and they've lived "together" for 7 months now!!

    1. Great, it sounds like you have set your priorities Margaret. Taking the summer to read and play sounds idyllic! I totally understand the grumbling of Diesel. The funny thing is that in the almost 11 years that Kissabelle and Mr. McMenace lived together, Mr. McMenace never accepted Kissabelle until his dying day! I hope she doesn't become Ms. McMenace!!

  2. Very pretty kitty, Elaine. This is a great post with some VERY sage advice and some great thoughts on exhibiting work and entering shows, i, for one, really appreciate that. Thanks. Enjoy the new wee girl!

  3. PS! Big error! I forgot to tell you how much I love the Invitation quilt. The colours are fabulous and the little bench is a stroke of genius. We are NOT surprised at THAT!

    1. Thanks Carolynn. There used to actually be a bench under that tree the first time I encountered it. I will always remember it that way.

  4. The kitty is lovely. Tell me you have a name for her! I will watch for your quilt in Birmingham. I am planning to go there while I am visiting my British relatives this summer.

    1. Lucky you Heather, going to Birmingham during the Festival. Our kitty's assigned name from the pet rescue is "Peek-A-Boo". For now we are calling her that, and will wait to see how her character develops as she becomes more comfortable with us. The names of some of our other cats morphed quite a bit over time.

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