iPad for Artists: App of the Week


One of my favorite apps for combining text and images, TypeDrawing, is this Friday's  iPad for Artists App. TypeDrawing is neither new nor trendy -- there has been a web-based version of the software for several years. (I'm still using my iPhone version, but plan to update after seeing the iPad interface improvements.) The iPad and iPhone version is handy for on-the-go work and the retina screen of the iPad makes it all so beautiful.

TypeDrawing is useful in so many ways for we who work in mixed media or fabric or surface design -- and for graphic designers, too:

  1. Making images for thermofax, screen-prints or direct prints of specific words, text or letters.
  2. Adding words on top of images for invitations, posters and postcards
  3. Randomizing text for direct printing
  4. Sizing text and choosing fonts for other design applications.
  5. Drawing with typography (See this website for examples!)

The interface takes a bit of learning - and the website has good, if short, tutorials and explanations.

In general -- Hit the + sign for a new page, T to type in your text, F to select font and how the font is manipulated, the litttle square and eyedropper are color choice and color picker, respectively, the rectangle lets you select color and opacity  -- you can also choose and import a photo to use as a drawing aid or as a background - great for using to make invitations.

Two images of posters I designed with TypeDrawing and some iPad art images.

Two images of posters I designed with TypeDrawing and some iPad art images.

Keeping Track of Art

OK, true confessions. I have never kept an inventory of my art work, submissions, sales or what is where. Never. This is pretty sad for an artist who has been making work, selling, showing and submitting (professionally) for the past 15 years.

Sure I have "sort of" records scattered about the internet and in my computer and photo files. But it certainly is not in one place. I even tried a few times to use some art inventory software and never found satisfaction. First of all, if you are an artist you don't want to use an ugly inventory. That's what I think anyway. If I can't stand the way it looks, I really have a hard time logging in to use it. That was the problem with several software packages I looked at, and even tried. Even my iPad app store couldn't come up with something I liked (if you must try one, the best seems to be Artwork Track -- it's ok but doesn't give you forms for all the data I wanted to include -- and you can only use it on the iPad, not on the desktop, and that much typing is not much fun for me on the tablet.)

Second, they never did everything I needed an inventory to do. Maybe you could add work and details and galleries and sales, but I never found one (until today) that would also track and integrate submissions to exhibits. Since much of the textile (art quilt, per se) world is visible and active through juried exhibits, submissions seemed to be a key need for me.

Third, some programs I tried crashed and burned, were painfully slow or over complicated in their entry formats, or seemed awfully expensive for what you got -- an ugly data base with either too little or too much customization necessary or available.

Thanks to artist friend Lisa Kerpoe, who posted a query on our Google Fiber Arts Community about needing such an inventory, and to my renewed sense of wanting to "get things done."  I reopened my search. First, the reviews I read,  (thanks, Lisa McShane) jived with my experiences. THEN, a link to a cloud based newish inventory system. http://www.artworkarchive.com/ (also on Lisa M's blog).

(Screen shot of an art piece page -- partial)

See the introductory video here

John Feustal was my guardian angel as I set up my site, and had prompt replies to my questions in an online chat. That was nice, too. 

We've had the site up and running for almost 2 years but have really seen a
lot growth in the past 6 months. The best thing our artists can do is to
tell others about Artwork Archive, so I really appreciate you writing a
blog post!

We try to keep things as simple and elegant as possible while still being
powerful enough to do everything our artists need. I think starting with
your most current work is a great approach, and just adding older pieces as
you get time.

There is a limited free trial, and two tiers of annual subscriptions. You can access on the web. Maybe next he'll make an iPad app!


Do you Know Ze?

Ze (pronounced zeh) Frank is an amazing man, magician, imagineer on the net. His work (conceptual, comical, social, compassionate) is that of a true original, out-of-the-box thinker. He uses social media, the internet, software games and interactions as his media, and comes up with kindness. 

This 2010 TED Talk is a great introduction to Ze if you have 20 minutes now - or later -- well worth the watch. (TED also has other talks by Ze, Chris likes him a lot!)


I've long used Scribbler, one of his online tools, to make interesting sketches, cards, and, lately I'm trying it out in a new-to-me version that includes color and more user controls than the original tool did. A collaborator Mario Klingemann, added the enhancements to the original, and looking at the website, I see that there are iPhone and iPad versions as well. 

Since I am working on my Joggles online class (an on an upcoming iPad online workshop series) I played around last night with Scribbler and text images. If you want to play, head over to this site. And take some time to explore the rest of Ze's site, too! You'll find answers to questions you never thought to ask. 

Growing a Garment and Self-Assembly

How about this approach to art-to-wear? Suzanne Lee is using bacteria to grow cellulose fabric.

“What I’m looking for is a way to give material the qualities that I need. So what I want to do is say to a future [insect], ‘Spin me a thread. Align it in this direction. Make it hydrophobic. And while you’re at it, just form it around this 3D shape.’”


Here's a blog with a complex discussion about bioengineering and replicating nature's self-assembly between Lee and Skylar Tibbits, both TED Fellows.

And Tibbits' YouTube videos.

Traveling with Text

With my aquisition (thanks to birthday bonanza from Linda) of a NEW iPad with the camera, I am afire with digital imaginings. Here are some of my most recent experiments using several iPad apps one on top of another, as well as a few text-based Mixel collages.

The one above was a "physical" collage made with text cut from magazines (one of the exercises in my Text on Textiles courses, like that I am teaching on Joggles right -- and in the summer semester, too). I then photograhed it with the smart phone, sent it to the Cloud and my iPad and altered the colors with an app called PhotoPad (free, and a good photo editing tool). Then I drew on top of that saved image with some other tools and also erased part of the  image -- it looks to me like "Pollock takes on text."

Below is another physical collage that was altered, first with an iPad app called ArtistaHaikuHD that gives one a variety of watercolor effects/filters to use on photos.  Then I loaded that saved image into the PhotoPad App and played around with the colors. Que Cool!

Here's the watercolor versions in ArtistaHaikuHD:

How did I start? You can see the original here. 

 Or, rather the intermediate stage that was done on Mixel. The first product was actually this little 4 by 6 collage (shown here with two copies taped together):

WOW! It's amazing how these tools can morph one image SO MANY ways. I love to play with the possiblilities -- so the challenge is not in fluency, it's in when to quit and put my hands back on the wheel, so to speak. Where does what I can do only with hands happen?

Here's one way:

Print it with inkjet transfers on an old piece of tablelinen:





More Fun on Mixel

OK admission. I am addicted to Mixel now. It's totally taken up all my FB time (thank you). And the chitchat is minimal. Mostly you just make stuff sort of together. Now the warning. Anything you upload becomes public property. I am mostly just adding a few detail images and nonart snapshots to the process. But I love the cropping and layering soooomuch. And I am printing some of these on fabric, too.

I have figured out how to use the software to  make collages (fun-- crop with your finger or a sylus from any of your own photos or web images or images other Mixel users have contributed) without making images public or getting involved in the public arena of this software. You do have to have an account (no longer only possible with a FB account) but you do not have to post to "the world." After making a Mixel, just go to the upper left corner and take a photo -- saves to your ipad. Then DELETE the image. 



Designing with Type Shapes

As part of my online Joggles course (get the full story here) I'll be doing an occassional post here that my online students can use for further ideas; maybe those of you reading along can pick up a tip or two as well.

I've been pondering collage design with type and "found letters," those cut from magazines and newspaper or even spit out in differing sizes from your computer font library. Putting them together quickly, then arranging, rearranging and copying out bits and pieces in differing sizes is how I like to work on these random text collages -- I am not necessarily going for a literal message, more just the feel of type as shape and form and texture. But there is also an interesting challenge in using the letters of a meaningful or intriguing word that you might want to have as a kind of hidden message in a piece.

For example, this piece, while primarily a strong and bold composition, with text that pops out -- mas (Spanish for more) and LIFE from the classic magazine title -- also includes the "hidden message" "music." Each horizontal pieced  band of fabric is a repetition of each letter M, U, S, I, C in order. 

Here are some tips that may help you make some interesting collages with your type collections:

1. Work with CONTRAST:

SIZE -- Use as wide a variety of sizes as you can. Collage the letters with varied sizes as neighbors to those of other size.

VALUE -- Use strong contrast in value for the best copies -- black on white, red on white, dark hues on light pastels (AND vice versa) Avoid type -- or limit it -- that is too close in value to the background. Yellow reads as white and pale blues disappear on almost all copy machines

DIRECTION -- GLue the letters down in different directions, try to make a "patchwork" of letters facing different ways, upside down, left to right, right to left.


Try these different ideas as ways to glue down a text collection -- think of different rhythms and different patterns to develop collages that have different feelings and messages in their composition:

swirling letters

marching across the page letters

letters lined up and making another shape

a tornado, a wave, a spiral, a crawl, a race, a path, windows in a house, people in a crowd, letters arranged to make animal shapes or objects. (Like concrete poetry, but letters only) See the alphabet video here for examples:

Letters on stage performing for other letters

3. Follow the rule of 3s

Use similar elements or copies of the same letter forms in odd-number arrangements: 3s, 5s, 7s. For some reason odd numbers of related shapes (etc.) always seem to work better in compositions.


Arrange letters and elements close enough together that your eye "reads" the design with continuity -- just enough space between the elements (shapes, lines, dots, stripes, letters, etc) that your eye can easily leap to the next element, especially if it is a repeated element. Also, try to vary elements spacially, paying attention that you don't set up too regular a pattern (like polka dots) unless that is the rhythm you are trying for.





Art on the iPad

These are a few of the art experiments I've made on the iPad this week, part of the iPad Art Studio online course that I am taking -- it's great and the tutorials that Jessica has included as the materials are so good -- she is really good at explaining technological steps and issues, and I'm learning a lot in that respect, too!

Meanwhile, these were made using iPastel and Doodle Buddy. I really love the stencil features in DoodleBuddy, worth exploring those for fiber application alone...

Loving the Internet, another reason

Ok, it's a pill. And a time-suck. You can hear it just take the energy out of your day. But on the other hand, I just spent a little time in a discussion, bilingual, with a former student in Guatemala about the change of government now occurring. Example one of the connectivity. That was on Facebook with instant messaging.

But even more to the point (as far as time spent), as a traveler who loves adventure, I have found a new tool for finding the perfect place to stay: Airbnb. As in Air Bed and Breakfast -- though the listings range (in theory) from treehouses to shared flats to luxury apartments. We are planning a trip in Spain this summer and I just booked a week long stay sharing an apartment in Barcelona and a private apartment loft in Madrid for three days. In between, we will be walking the last stage of El Camino de Santiago, St. James Way, a pilgrimage walk that has a long history, and was recently spotlighted in the Martin Sheen film THE WAY.

After a day of exploration, yes, a day, I found just the right spots. These are places you can't find anywhere else on the web. I reccommend the process, and the reviews -- and recommendations from friends -- seem to suggest that this tool is right on target. I'll let you know when its all in the box!


Still Mulling, but Mixel Makes Me Giggle

I'm still mulling over my journaling  choices for the new year, and here it is Jan. 2 already.  I think I will sort it out soon, at least by the time I figure out to remember writing 2012 on my checks, datebooks, etc. (Since I don't write that many checks anymore (do you?) it may take me a while for that task to settle into a new date, though.)

Meanwhile, I did find a fun tool that is almost as interesting as cut-paper, old magazine collage making journaling -MIXEL, an iPad app that is a very simple, free-form cropping and layering collage tool with a social media twist --  Which is the downside actually, since any image you use in a collage, even cropped, becomes freely available as an entire image, and usable by any other Mixel user. 

I am not highly protective of my art images since I long ago realized that anyone who wants to steal an idea or image from work of mine could do so pretty easily. My attitude towards art that I make, whether the reaction is scorn (I don't like that work... who does she think she is making fused quilts?) or theft (they must like it, huh?), is similar to that of composer/lyricist Cole Porter -- "there's thousands of more where that one came from."

BUT, you do need to realize that if you sign on for Mixel, and use your photos, or pictures of art, or other computer generated or accessed images, those become "free" content for other users to rearrange, add to or otherwise appropriate.  And it's intentional, being an app that the inventors think of as a kind of round-robin, remixing visual conversation.


I'm enjoying it, uploading consciously, and having fun with the visual remixing I see. I hope to get better at the process, but the photos above and below are some of my first tries. So my first couple of days of journaling have been online and totally word-free. I am saving them in a EVERNOTE notebook, called JANUARY JOURNAL, so I guess this is a start!

Filmmakers in the Making

Linda teaches Mass Communications at Northwest Vista College, part of Alamo Colleges (community college) in San Antonio. As a final (three-day!) project, her students had to write. produce or otherwise create a public service announcement that addressed both some form and structure instructions  as well as recent research information about the impact of texting on student sleep deprivation and school performance.

Several of her students did outstanding work, and I can't resist sharing it with you -- note, these are not necessarily done by students taking any courses in media production -- just the  I think they are a wonderful example of how new media, the technology of YouTube and Vimeo, access to inexpensive media tools and an understanding of creative composition, design and how to use them. These are the New World Kids, growing up. This is their language and it shows.

For more about the assignment, see Linda's blog at http://cuellarsblog.blogspot.com/

Night the Living Stayed Up Instead from Jorge Alvarez on Vimeo.



Bookmaking with the Maestros/Maestras

We're doing another round of book-making here at Palo Alto with the international program scholarship teachers in Group 4. Everyone is writing and illustrating with photo collages their own "me books," as models and to take back to their schools as examples when they return to the classroom. The creativity is exciting -- and everyone is enthralled withusing copiers and photo printers -- technology not necessarily at hand back at home. But, as the digital world gets broader, as tools become more accessible, these teachers will return with the knowledge and experiences to dream with their students. And, the basic book-making and writing and illustration exercises can be done with low-tech supplies and tools, too.



Drawing Together

Now this is fun. Anyone want to draw with me?? Send an email via the comment form and let's see what happens. It's an interactive by email drawing and writing collaborative tool.


I think its got great possibilities for work with kids, teachers and colleagues!I found it while looking around for tools to use on my upcoming trip to Central America and an interactive, somewhat digital exhibit I'm designing.

Must See/Do/Listen Fun Stuff

I am easing back into blogdom with some fast-and-simple posts just to get myself back in the habit of posting. If you are looking for more substance I'm sure you'll find plenty of great sites  -- including the ones listed in this little mini-review of fun and games. These were all new to me, though none of the sites are exactly new. (BTW if you got one of those spamy invitations from me to join some kind of health site, believe me it IS a total spam-capture-email ploy that happened by stupidity. I am trying to get my name and info off the site, pronto.)

Here are the sites I've had reccommended to me over the past few days, all from good sources and all worth the follow-up when you have some scrolling around time.

GROOVESHARK -- http://listen.grooveshark.com/


Sort of like Pandora, one of my all time favorite ways to listen to music, Grooveshark is more direct in its choices. ie. You like Leonard Cohen, it finds all the music in its library by Leonard Cohen, covers of songs by Leonard Cohen, etc. and plays them for you in a live streaming playlist. (With Pandora, you put in an artist's or composer's name, you get music by many others that has similar sonic qualities to that artist's work.) With Grooveshark, you can save playlists, tag favorites, reorder the playlist, etc. Last night I painted the hallway listening to every know imaginable Beatles cover. It takes a lot more time than I was willing to give it to really get the interface, but that's ok. You can start listening to favorites immediately and without fuss. You can get an ad-free VIP version for $3.00 a month/$30 a year (also that includes a mobile ap for free for the time being, anyhow.)


An absolutely fun and wonderful addition to your computer design tools. It's easier to see than to describe, so jump on over to TYPEDRAWING and have some fun. You can upload to their gallery, email the results to yourself and then print, or, do as I did here and make a clipping.


Friend and artist Pat Schulz reminded me about this program, one that will turn any jpeg photo image into a tiled version so you can download each panel as a pdf, print it in pieces and assemble the art as a larger photo or drawing. Great for enlarging images to use as patterns for art quilts.

AND finally, a TED talk from Sir Ken Robinson.


What I do

Flaming Eyebrows, detail art quilt

This post was originally published on Michele Foster's www.quiltinggallery.com. Check out the post and comments there, as well as great guest spots from some wonderful quilters.

Angels, saints, sinners, strange beasts. fire eye-browed women and prickly landscapes step out of the air and into my work. I can’t help it. These odd characters and scenes aren’t predetermined, they just happen. I don’t use patterns, rarely make sketches, refuse to pin, never measure (except at the very end), sometimes I don’t even worry about the back of my quilts and the knots and snarls that bedevil us all whether we admit it or pick them out or not.

Let’s get one thing straight here at the start. Some of you are traditional quilters. You are the backbone of the interest and the audience and most of the quilt store customers and you are skilled! I am not. A quilter really. Nor am I really very good at quilting. But I think I make good art. That happens to be made of fabric. And stitched, and usually three-layered.

I intentionally make contemporary textile paintings (see Lisa Call’s blog for her ideas about that) and they are quilted (free motion) and they are also fused.

Intensely interested in pattern and color and texture, paint just doesn’t work as a medium for my ideas, and, as an artist, it is my path and passion and calling to get my ideas out of my head and into the world in the best available materials. I began sewing at a young age, but the precision required by my home-ec teacher (and that dates me, right) was an unwelcome discipline and an unnerving challenge. So I went into theater and visual arts and then later became an arts and arts-in-ed educator, museum designer, writer and teacher (there’s even a new book for parents and grandparents who want to encourage creative kids, see www.newworldkids.org), but I kept coming back to cloth.

My personal revival came in a surface design course at the Southwest School of Art and Craft in San Antonio (where I now teach in the fibers department) and in a discovery that I could actually learn to paint and pattern and design fabric. Then I had to figure out what to do with the stacks of stuff I was making and I discovered art quilts. Among those who have influenced what I now do: Jane Dunnewold, Sue Benner, Leslie Jenison, Kerr Grabowski, Rayna Gillman, Lisa Call, African textiles, Mexican embroiderers, Guatemalan weavers, limestone layers, the Art Cloth Network, the International Quilt Festival (where I also teach) and lots more.

I told you what I don’t do much of in the first paragraph. What I do do: journal and observe, listen to my dreams, follow my obsessions, pile up cloth and look at the colors together, mull over design elements and sketch, sketch, sketch images, doodles and private marks then turn them into thermofax screens for printing paint and dye, improvise dyed fabric using Kerr’s methods of deconstructed screen printing, iron WonderUnder or Mystifuse to every piece I like, sometimes piece together long rows of 5’ strips and other background fabric, then start cutting with a vague idea of what it is that is speaking to me. Then I free-motion stitch the quilt, possibly even go back and print another layer of imagery on top of it all. Sometimes I mount my work on wooden frames, sometimes it just hangs on the wall.

And yes, someday I really do want to make a bed quilt. But I am terrified of the binding. And the basteing. I read you so that I will have the courage to try someday!

For those who comment here, or on my blog during the rest of the month of February, you’ll be entered into a drawing for a free copy of that book on creativity (it’s even good for grownups who aren’t around kids): New World Kids at www.newworldkids.org

The Big Leap; Learn as You Go

I am one of those foolhearty types who hates to read instruction manuals, dislikes asking for directions, heartily hates following linear to-do lists -- you get the picture. So it's probably no surprise that when I want to master something new, the best way for me is the sink or swim approach. 'Course I try to choose tasks that are intrinsically intriguing and tools that are intuitively operational. (And that, in a nutshell, is why mac is the only computer for me.)

This past year, I have become a webmaster by intention, building three passable sites, with I admit, not a line of code, just a lot of tinkering with built-in templates, both on the Squarespace site for New World Kids (Squarespace hosts this blog, too -- I love their interface and the support desk is great), for my own gallery website and a new website for Fiber Artists of San Antonio. That's the one that's just gone "live" and, while I hope to tinker and improve over the next few weeks, the basic architecture is up and running and even taking money via PayPal.

I used iWeb (part of the Macintosh iLife suite of tools) to build the FASA site and my gallery site, and with some help from my friends at the Apple Store I know pretty much the ins and outs of using that software. (I do highly reccommend the Apple One-to-One program -- $99 gives you a week of private tutoring from a kid whizbang expert at the Apple Store.)

PayPal and GoDaddy are not exactly what I would call intuitive sites, and I've had to buckle down and actually read instructions, usually about 40 times, before I get the kinks out of using their interfaces with my sites. But, it no longer terrifies me -- that's what jumping in the deep end gets you -- past your fear.

If you've been thinking about building a website, I say, dive, dive, dive. And if that or some other said-to-be-difficult task looms in your new year, consider whether an external deadline or expectation from a (unpaid) volunteer client (like the Fiber Artists were for me) might be that little push on the backside that you need. Don't be afraid to make mistakes, at least on the computer, few errors are actually fatal and most stupidities can be undone. I may never be a "real" webmaster, but at least now I know enough to design and put something up that I like and that does the job for client/s (me, FASA, our book). I certainly don't sneer at templates and WYSISYG editing programs -- they frankly just make me glad I never invested time in learning to write HTML.

I know, I know, my sites won't win any awards for innovation, real techie types will point our their shortcomings in style, elegance and probably speed, but I loved the experience of learning more about electronic media and how to work in some personal style on top of a template.


Teaching with Web 2.0

As I research options for my on-line course -- probably  "Text on the Surface" after feedback from a number of readers on and off the site -- this video by Dr. Michael Wesch, a cultural anthropologist, came across my path. Synchronicity was working overtime -- Linda wanted me to see if because of the implications for her Mass Communications teaching and research, and it opens ups a whole host of possibilities for teaching with the aid of electronic, digital interfaces. He presents an overview of the educational issues of teaching and learning in a web 2.0 world, and says that no one, no matter his or her age, is starting from scratch with this media --"There are no natives here," he says, explaining that most of what is happening of relevance to educators today had been launched within the past 3 years, and that daily hundreds of other interfaces are being created, tested, marketed, and used or discarded. So, no excuses, you aren't too old. Even today's 18 year old is faced with the same challenges of learning these new tools. Most of them, Wesch says, are still working just superficially, with no experience either at actually using the creative potential of these new tools.

It's a fairly long piece -- and specifically directed to university professors teaching young people -- but if you are interested in the landscape of kids, media, information and teaching, it's well worth the time. Although my ambitions for using technology aren't that ambitious, I do think that as a teacher the meta-message about the learning environment is one that must inform my work, in and out of the studio. Obviously, my "learners" are already looking for something meaningful; most of you who might take a course are already self-selected -- no course credit here. You might just try the first 30 minutes, that covers most of the big ideas-- though the remainder is a fascinating look at how his students recreated world history and cultures through a simulation based on "rules" of anthropology and using web-based tools.

One of the key ideas in this longer piece is well presented in a shorter, visual piece, "Information R/evolution." That how we have traditionally thought about information, as a thing, that can be catagorized -- filed -- in one kind of linear way, is no longer the case. Now information can exist simultaneously in more than one category, can be user-defined (rather than "expert" defined) and is no longer defined to a material form. "There is no shelf."

Wesch also produced "The Machine is Using Us," an great piece produced in 2007 that became one of the most-watched videos in the blogosphere ever. If you haven't seen it, the link is here.

If you are interested in creating web-based learning portals for yourself, fear not. Here are a few places I have found to play around. The first two are wiki-like aggregators that you can customize, keep private or publish to the world. Flock is a social network friendly browser that puts Flickr, My Space, etc all on your home page, Ning is a social network site that lets you build pages and whole sites around interests and then lets people subscribe to them. Stumble is a nonlinear "earch" engine that lets you find web pages you didn't know to look for!

Please remember: YOU CAN NOT BREAK ANYTHING DOING THIS. You probably can't even screw up your computer unless you have no virus protection and use a PC and that's only if you start downloading a lot of strange applications. Check the site, make sure it's real and exists with actual content, not just links do other webpages,

No one is going to grade you or make you feel stupid except yourself. Yes, you are entering a public arena sometimes, but you control that. Most of the sites that I am exploring have a "private" function where only you have access to the material, links, tags that you upload or make use of. However, I would also challenge you to release some of your fears about going public on the web. I don't believe that I have opened myself up to harm, to stalking, to any physical danger by having a blog or by participaing in wikis (used authored sites). I have made many interesting connections with people whose ideas and input have stimulated my learning and my life. It is a new frontier, and we all can grow with it. 

I'd love any meta-sites that you like to use. New ones appear everyday. Some last, some don't -- we are in the equivalent of the wild wild west frontier days here -- nearly lawless, but there are fortunes to be made.

Catching Up or Starting Fresh?

I find myself getting back into the blog after nearly a month away. Not even an intentional vacation from the page, rather a retreat from on-line life in favor of a packed August -- between exhibits, deadlines, workshops, and designing several new web-based projects, my calendar suffered a meltdown.

Perhaps more to the point, I've taken a vow to leave the computer in the studio -- or packed up in its tidy little briefcase -- during early morning and post "work hours," in the interest of sanity and domestic harmony. If this (blogging, et al) is important as part of my work, of my bigger picture of self in the studio, of the business of being the artist and teacher I want to be, then its worth doing as part of my work day. Frankly, the laptop was taking over my living room -- even the bedroom --  at all kinds of inappropriate hours. Inappropriate, because, well, live people deserve my undivided attention when I am in the same room with them. In order to step back from the brink, it seemed necessary to just shut it off for a bit, and decide how and when and what was most important to continue.

So we will see what that means. Exactly.

One issue, as I've come back online with the new month, was whether to try to catch up the record and my readers with all that's gone on -- two shows, three workshops, two trips, new art cloth projects and techniques, new classes planned and promoted. Yikes. No way. So we start fresh with today. With what's right now, as I sit here in the University Inn at Rutgers, a day early into town (New Brunswick, N.J.) for the Art Cloth Network meeting.

I have a visceral "new year" reaction to the first week after Labor Day, from 16 years of school calendars (back when schools still started after LD). The month has that new pencil, new notebook, new box of crayons feel and energy, so what better time to start on a virtual new slate. I've always considered myself lucky to have this second fresh start during one calendar year, don't you?

So here, besides the blog, are my fresh starts:

1. More time for just doing nothing. Letting quiet and peace make a space for what's new.

2. Saying "I'll think about it. Let me tell you tomorrow" before I automatically say "yes," to a request, no matter how important or  how much fun it intimates.

3. Take a yoga or NIA class weekly -- I need the class structure to move myself into fitness. The sweets of summer have gone to my waistline.

4. At least two "no drive days" each week. With planning, I can do that. Without planning I spend way too many hours in the car.

That's enough. See number 1. And number 2, even when I am the one doing the asking.