Pitter Patterns

The second installment of pattern inspiration blogs this month. If you didn't get the newsletter that started it off, follow this link!

Here's a great collection from creative bug, a website/blog/newsfeed devoted to all things design. One of the featured artists is Hope Little -- her geometric animals (right) could inspire an amazing pieced quilt! 

Another animal pattern inspiration comes from National Geographic -- a great source of photos and images for art.

Puffer fish pattern

Puffer fish pattern

To make a black and white abstracted pattern from any photograph, take a look at what these apps can do with that photo above

And finally, a few animal print patterns that could inspire thermofax designs, screen printing or even a hand cut stencil!

If you'd like to know more about editing photos with iPad special effects apps, consider taking my Art on the iPad online course! Or take my workshop at Quilt Nebraska this summer!

Fearless Sketching

If you've been waiting for the right moment to take a "pain-free, no-critic-zone" drawing class, this might be the workshop for you. I've had a cancelation due to one participant's planned move (she was coming in from afar!) so there is space available for one fearless sketcher on April 12-14 (Friday night potluck optional).

We'll do big and little sketches, drawing from life, some invisible drawings, lots of fun exercises that get your hand and pen in action. Some participants will bring iPads and use those, but it's not necessary, just an option.

There is a catch -- the only bed available is either a cot sized (though comfortable) bed in the studio (includes private bathroom) or a spot on the sleeping porch. The fee includes all meals and most supplies -- you'll need to bring a large sized sketch pad or loose paper and your favorite drawing implements -- and food to share at one pot-luck meal. Generally folk arrive here on Friday about 4, the "formal" workshop runs from Saturday at 9 to Sunday at 3, with lots of fun, conversation, time in the hottub and pool, walking in the hills and stargazing in between. 

If you are interested, send me an email -- contact list on the sidebar -- or leave a comment so I can get back to you. These are pictures from the last Fearless Sketching workshop, and some of the results. My friend artist Sarah Jones will co-lead this one with me. 

The workshop fee is $185 -- views into the Hill Country, infinite and free!

Sketching on the sleeping porch.

Hand studies, two exercises

The sleeping porch.


More Text on the Surface -- Online!



My Joggles course MORE TEXT ON TEXTILES starts tomorrow. There is still time to get in on the fun, the supplies for the first class are things you will have at hand! And you can order the rest from Barbara at Joggles -- makes it easy! In addition to very specific instructions and pdfs of the lessons that you can download and keep on hand, there is an online forum during the course for questions and conversation. I will also bring up the various topics here on the blog, with some additional inspiration from other artists during the 4-weekly lesson series. Although this is a continuation of TEXT ON TEXTILES, this class does not require that as a prerequisite and you can take the two in any order. 

The tuition is only $45 and I think offers a really nice round up of creative approaches to getting text onto your art cloth or art quilt, with some interesting twists and turns. You can be upfront and obvious or subtle and secretive, posting your message in secret code or billboard boldness. Use a quote or just a fragment of your own journals or sketchbooks!

There is even a SAQA exhibit that you can enter with your text-centric work (if you make a quilt quickly) called TEXT MESSAGES, judged by Lesley Riley.



Here's the course outline from the Joggles catalog:

This class is scheduled to begin on February 19, 2013.

Add to your technique toolbox with interesting and “open-ended” ways to add words, letters and text designs to your art. 

This process-oriented course is organized around a set of exercises, rather than presenting one project -- you’ll be able to use these ideas and approaches in work for wall pieces, art-to-wear, art journals and other mixed media work.

Full of photos and examples, each weekly pdf workbook takes you through one or two new techniques, including making word stamps from craft foam, an easy way to cut original fabric letters to fuse or appliqué, sun-printed and mono-printed words and letters, and using soy wax with textile paint to add words to fabric. 

Susie will also offer a “bonus” fifth lesson that illustrates her process in making a small art quilt using the techniques taught in this course. This course is a continuation of Text on Textiles, but the lessons are not sequential and not dependent upon participation in the first course. 

Lesson 1 -- Learn to cut free-form fabric letters in a variety of styles, inspired by the work of Corita Kent. Start with paper (these can be used in mixed media and journal work) and move onto fused fabric, felt and other materials, too. 

Lesson 2 -- Make your own word and letter stamps from craft foam and recycled materials. Learn how to easily reverse your words and letters as you design, then make stamps with craft foam, string, cardboard scraps and other recycled materials. 

Lesson 3 -- Sun-printing with textile paints is a fun and easy way to make original fabrics for your art quilts, bed quilts, art-to-wear and other projects. And, given a hot sunny day, you’ll see how easy and versatile a technique it is. 

Lesson 4 -- Soy wax is a non-toxic, easy to wash out process that requires no solvents or special equipment other than a wax-dedicated electric fry pan (preferred) or a microwave oven. You’ll learn ways to make lovely fabrics that have a minimal change of hand when done, so they are great for all kinds of quilt and wearable applications. 

BONUS Lesson 5 -- See how Susie adds up some of these techniques to make a small art class. Use her approach and see what you can do! 

Curious to know how online classes work? Go here to read all of the details:


The supply list will be sent to all students one week before the class starts. Once you buy this class you will receive an email order confirmation, but you will not hear from us again until the supply list is sent. 

A high speed connection to the internet is recommended for all students.

In order to participate in online classes at joggles you are expected to have basic computer and internet skills. You need to be able to browse the internet, know how to download and save a document to your computer's hard drive, and understand how to open and save email attachments. It is your responsibility to learn these skills before the class begins.

Please be certain you are comfortable with all of these skills. Class fees will not be refunded once the class has begun.


Rainbow Printing Revisited

I love to make Rainbow Prints. This is my go-to method for making one-of-a-kind versions of iconic images, saints and sinners, angels and other visitors to the design table when I want something specifically matching a color scheme or a one-of-a-kind version of one of my silkscreens or thermofaxes. Over the years, I have featured this technique in workshops, in a Quilting Arts issue, in a DVD (see below) and on many of my textile paintings and altars.

My lovely lightweight Airbook has one difficiency, it doesn't have a big memory. So I tend to have to juggle info and files and the go-to stuff I am working with on and off of external drives. And, (I don't suppose you will be surprised) I don't exactly have a uniform file naming or file storage system in place. SOmehow, I don't think this chore is going to come to the top of the list anytime soon,

So I just find myself on the occasional morning like this doing copying and deleting -- and the good thing is that I surprise myself with all the treasures that I have forgotten! So, before I banish some of these pdfs to the external drive, I thought I would share them here on the blog. 

First, here's a pdf of the "short version" of how to make Rainbow Prints --my term for multicolored screen prints made with watersoluble crayons.

 I'll keep this pdf on the computer for another week, so act quickly if you want a copy via email -- just send a request to me on the comment form on the sidebar. I'll also put you on my monthly mailing list for other notices, unless you tell me PDF only, please.

If this tickles your fancy and you need or would enjoy more information and examples, you can see a video promo on Quilting Arts website or right here

and you can also order the DVD if you decide a full-fledged video workshop is just the ticket to success.


Paying Attention

The just-past post covered a lot of territory. As I take on this new expanded adventure of art out into the world, it's a good idea to think about my story, and what I bring to the table. (Perhaps you should do so, too! Post a link in the comments to your blog about your creative path and we'll see where this takes us...)

Where does my story as an artist begin? With paying attention.

Paying attention, this skill, like any other, needs focus, practice and to be honored within the environment (culture) of its practice. Fortunately from my childhood, I had mentors, parents and teachers who gave me that skill and fostered it's development.

First, a family who loved nature and beauty: Birdwatching was the usual activity on any trip; a geology pick was always in the back seat; composition books for note-taking are STILL a Christmas stocking standard. We looked at plants and creeks on Sunday afternoon drives as we searched for farmland (soon thereafter purchased with the GI Bill). My chemist father shared his love of observation and my intellegent stay-at-home mom nurtured beauty in the everyday life; both of them honored the skill of paying attention and modeled it to us four.

The concepts in The Missing Alphabet speak to my second set of lessons in paying attention. When 12, I was enrolled in a Children's Theatre at Baylor University, part of the department of drama headed by legendary regional director Paul Baker (he also headed the Dallas Theatre and worked with Frank Lloyd Wright on the design of that forward-thinking structure on Turtle Creek). His wife Kitty, and the young woman who became my mentor for decades, Jearnine Wagner, had started a children's program based on the same principles and ideas that were at the heart of the college drama program. These were: that each of us is creative and has a unique story to tell in our art and that all art/perception and creative thinking can be discerned through a vocabulary of form: line, color, shape, movement, light, rhythm, space, sound and texture. These perceptual/sensory tools could be harnessed by the artist (no matter his or her genre or field) as tools for telling that unique story. These, called by Baker "the elements of form," have moved into our missing alphabet book as "the sensory alphabet," a change of language that helps us explain to parents and educators that these are not just "art" words.

I've been able to take these perceptual and creative tools into my life in so many ways, I use them daily as "screens" for my thinking and inventing and imagination. They are the tools that I teach to the participants in many of my workshops, retreats and courses. I find them invaluable in defining and critiquing, in helping other artists find their own strong suits, their own voices and their best ways of working, simply by asking them to pay attention to these perceptual elements in their lives and work. The Missing Alphabet, while its a book targeted at parents, is still a useful resource for emerging artists who would like some specific information about the sensory alphabet, as well as lots of activity ideas that have no expriration date according to age!

Art school introduced me to another set of tools for paying attention, principally, that of drawing. I am not a natural "drawer." In fact, as a young woman (and even in art school) I pretty much decided I could never be a "real' artist because my drawings in junior high and high school never measured up to the cpaturing of reality that I expected as artist should be able to achieve. And though my college drawing classes at Trinity University were dully attended, I still never really fell in love with drawing until much later -- like a couple of years ago.

Paired with the sensory alphabet, some simple ways to approach the blank page have helped  me to get over my fear of drawing and to actually treasure the time I can carve out to pay attention through drawing.* I have a new group of "drawing" mentors, in real life, my friend and artist Sarah Jones, in the digital and print world, the work and writing of John Berger


That's why I am looking forward to the next Fearless Sketching workshop here at El Cielo. It's scheduled for April 12-14, costs $180. There is still room for a couple more participants, so if you are interested, send me a note through the comments or on the contact form on the sidebar to the right. 


Shaping Symbols into Art Quilts

Would you like to transform some surface design fun into a small art quilt? In just one day, at my Wednesday Quilt Festival workshop (#330 in the catalog), you'll take a journey from shape to quilt composition -- with original fabrics, fused and ready to stitch. The date is October 31, 2013, starting at 9, lunch 12-2, finishing at 5.

I'm offering a full day and full of fun with these ideas: Master design skills with free-form patterns, cut-paper shapes, and original stamps as you explore personal imagery and iconic symbols. Learn to simplify photos for original quilts, printing and more using a computer or iPad, and also just by hand-and-eye. One of your designs will be made into a thermofax screen and mailed to you later. You'll layout a small quilt, with critique and assistance, with lots of custom fabrics on hand from my stash to use for your project.

The advance workshop registration for Festival is over, but there is lots of room in this one if you want to register onsite. Just go to the George Brown Convention Center in Houston. The workshop fee is $65 for the full day event! Plus the supply fee of $25 for printer inks, copier paper and card stock, erasers, craft foam, mounting block, textile inks, thermofax mailed to student after Festival. 

More info about Festival this year:

International Quilt Festival Houston 2012

November 1-4, 2012
George R. Brown Convention Center
Houston, Texas

Wed., Oct 31 (Preview Night): 7-10 p.m. 
Thurs., Nov. 1-Sat., Nov. 3: 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Sun., Nov. 4: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. 

Ticket prices:
$12 daily adult
$9 seniors & students
Children 10 and under free.
$12 Preview Night (includes one free additional day)
$42 Full Show Pass (includes Preview Night)

The pre-enrollment deadline was Friday, September 28th. Onsite enrollment will be available to sign up for classes, lectures & events. The onsite enrollment hours are as follows:

Sunday, October 28 3:00pm - 6:00pm
Monday, October 29 7:30am – 6:30pm
Tuesday, October 30 7:30am – 5:30pm
Wednesday, October 31 7:30am – 8:30pm
Thursday, November 1 7:30am - 5:30pm
Friday, November 2 7:30am – 6:30pm
Saturday, November 3 7:30am – 3:30pm
Sunday, November 4 8:30am – 10:00am


Screen Printing Free Form Letters

This blog post is intended as a bonus for those enrolled in my More Text on Textiles online course that started on Joggles today. 

Now, it's not too late to join in the fun, so if you are interested in this 4-week, PDF based course (with an online forum during the next 6 weeks), head on over to this link for enrollment info --http://www.joggles.com/store/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=75_1235&products_id=24165

It's an affordable way to get your feet wet with putting words, quotations, pithy comments and other thoughts (yours and others) on your art quilts, art cloth, wearable art or mixed media pieces.

Using letter forms for screenprinting stencils is another way to use your cut letters. P.S. This post assumes you have a basic knowlege of screenprinting. If not, go to this site to see a demo at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wogKeYH2wEE. This is a demo that takes you through the entire process, making your own screen. You can purchase them ready-made at many art supply stores. This demo shows all kinds of stencils, and you will be using your cut letters as the stencil. YOU don't need a clamped frame, I just move my small screen over the fabric. 

Because these letters will be used as a one time stencil, then thrown away, I usually just use old newspaper or sheets of newsprint, or recycled copy paper. Newspaper is really great because it is really thin and adheres to the screen and wet ink really well.

Any thin flat paper will work, but if you want a reusable stencil, cut your letters with contact paper (backing side up, the sticky side goes against the back of the screen).

 You can use any clean silkscreen for your tool. Occasionally I even use one with defects or blocked areas, for a distressed kind of print.

 Free-hand cut your word or words from your choice of paper (instructions are in the first lesson of More Text on Textiles). Then use small folds of masking tape (one or two per letter only), and tape your letters on the back (bottom) of the screen. Your words should read correctly through the screen unless you are intentionally reversing them. This is a great time to teach yourself to cut serif letters or letters that enlarge some iconic type (like those used by Corita Kent in her work).

Screenprint onto ironed flat fabric with thickened dye (see the Dharma catalog for easy instructions and supplies), textile screen printing ink, or other inks. Use a padded surface under your fabric.

Use your word as a repeat, or as a one-time print. When finished wipe down the screen, remove the letters and wash. Let textile ink prints dry, then iron to set. Thickened dye prints need to be batched, as with any dye painted fabrics.









New Workshop Schedule

The new (and somewhat revised) schedule is out and about. Here's a copy:

Nurture your creativity as you come away from a weekend with renewed energy, new  materials and techniques in surface design applicable to fiber, ceramics, jewelry, painting and mixed media work. Susie Monday leads artists’ retreats and workshops throughout the year at her studio near Pipe Creek, Texas, about an hour from downtown San Antonio. El Cielo Studio workshops are designed with the needs of the participants in mind;  free time is scheduled throughout the weekend for reading, reflection and personal work in the studio. You are welcome to bring projects in process for Susie’s critique and for peer feedback in an environment of trust and respect. You’ll share meals, poetry and stories, music and advice for living an artist’s life. Enjoy the 25-mile vistas from the deck, hot tub and pool time,  and strolls down the country roads. The fee for each workshop retreat is $175 for a 2-day event with discounts for early enrollment. Comfortable accommodations are available from $15 -  $30 per workshop. Most workshops offer a Friday night potluck option. Limited enrollment. Most supplies included. 

Susie has taught creative process and art techniques to adults and children for more than 30 years. Her art is in private and public collections around the world.



ONLINE course at JOGGLES.com

JUNE 15-JULY 14 includes 4 fully-illustrated weekly lessons, plus a bonus week, $45

Have you ever wanted to incorporate a favorite word, poem or quote into an art quilt, garment, art doll or other textile project -- going beyond simply writing or embroidering the text? This all new surface design/mixed media class will give you a set of process tools for making text and words an integral part of artfully designed fabrics that you can use in a wide variety of projects. Learn soy wax lettering, freeform cut letters, sunprinting and more.

JUNE 15-17

Optional potluck 

Friday night


In this workshop, start with simple sketches and doodles and end the weekend with an arsenal of new surface design tricks and tools.   Explore doodles and scribbles as sources of  uniques and personal imagery that will give your art quilts, wearable art, or mixed media work personal depth and layers of meaning. take a favorite symbol -- for example a heart, star, spiral, circle -- and by taking it (and yourself) through a series of creative generative exercises, you’ll make something new and different to incorporate into your design, composition and surface design. Tools and techniques explored include paper lamination on fabric, large scale “mark-making” rollers and monoprinting.

JULY 6-8 


Optional potluck 

Friday night


Embrace your inner goddess of summertime. Design and make a small art quilt “altar” for kitchen or dining room with tools and materials that depend on heat, sunlight and passionate delight: sun-printing, vegetable prints, fusing, hand and machine stitching and “found” fabrics from attic, thrift store or kitchen closet. We will recycle napkins, tea towels and other like objects and design a thermofax featuring a meaningful symbol, favorite fruit, icon, saint, culinary relative, heroine, angel or other meaningful design as the centerpiece for the altar. (Altar frame, $12 supply fee).

AUGUST 17-19 



Optional potluck 

Friday night

Let late summer colors, shapes and even heat inspire your surface design. The weather is perfect for dyeing, dye-painting and soy wax! Sketching from nature, and from collected natural objects (don’t worry, you can do it), we’ll design one-of-a-kind fabrics, silk scarves and mixed media pieces.




Face your fears of drawing head on, as Susie takes you on a sketch and draw adventure, with no failures allowed. You’ll try different approaches, learn so me classic tips and tricks, and find out how drawing is a learned skill, not something you had to master as a 6th grader who “couldn’t draw horse like your best friend.”


“ The exercises we did this weekend were freeing on the one hand, but will also help me focus.”

 “This workshop was a fabulous, uplifting, nurturing environment to create in. The journaling was particularly helpful, I would definitely recommend it to a friend.”

“Thank you for creating such a fun, yummy, comfortable, and inspirational experience...”


Explore Your Inner Team

A spot (or two) in my Archetypes workshop this coming weekend just opened up. Here's the scoop:

Calling All Archetypes

March 23-25 (Friday night optional)

Explore the inner team that keeps you going, makes a difference, inspires your best --- and sometimes holds you back. With journaling, fabric printing, collage and mixed media techniques galore, you'll explore the inside-operators that are part of your life story: empress, playful child, journeyer, pilgrim, maker... who knows who will come out to visit? Create a unique fiber art quilt altar to one of the archetypes. Learning fusing techniques and how to make a small art quilt "altar" stretched on a frame. Suitable for all levels.


Cost is $185, including $10 supply fee for altar frame. One private bedroom is still available, with two beds and private bath -- shared it's $15 each, single occupancy, $30. (Includes both nights.) Also a free sofa or sleeping porch bed is available. Most supplies are included.

We'll start on Friday night with optional journaling exercises, then begin at 9 am on Saturday. The workshop usually ends about 3 on Sunday.

Email me with the contact form on the sidebar if you are interested.

Below are two photos from previous workshop, the first is Julia's altar in progress, the second, Martha's.


Onward to Festival -- Save the Dates

I've received my contract for teaching at the International Quilt Festival in Houston in October, 2012. It's an honor to be among the 100 quilt/art/mixed media instructors selected to teach this year -- I've been off the roster for two years, and just squeeked in with my application this year!

So if you are planning to attend and want to take one of my workshops, here are the relevant dates:

Wednesday, October 31, full day workshop, Shaping Symbols into Art Quilts

"Master design skills with free-form patterns, cut-paper shapes, and original stamps as you explore personal imagery and iconic symbols. Simplify photos for original quilts, printing and more. Thermofax screen mailed later."   

I'll tell you more about this as the time approaches, but the picture above provides a bit of info, too. 

Sunday, November 4, Inspiration is in the Cards, half day workshop 9-noon.

"What inspires you? Create a one-of-a-kind card deck to spark creativity, take you out of your creative rut, move you into art-making and imagination. Collage and design your way to a new studio ritual with a variety of mixed media techniques."

This one is part of my annual agenda in the January Artist's Journey workshop (usually), but its a fun way to make a mixed media deck using collage, paint, paper and an inkjet copier.

In between, I'm on the circuit of the Mixed Media Miscellany, 2-4 on Thursday, the Friday Sampler, 10-noon and Saturday Sampler, 10-noon, with stamping and inkjet transfer demos.

Hope to see you there! And if you know someone who is planning on attending and taking classes this year, please reccommend these if you think they would suit. I'm looking forward to the wild, wacky, inspiring, overwhelming experience of festival, and I think everyone in our community of textile artists deserves the experience at least once in a lifetime. It's our tribe.

Two Weekends for Play and Passion


Not to mention: pears, peaches, pool (cool), plenty, and well, just lots of fun.

Coming up: July's Play Art and Attention and August's El Cielo Workshop will be hot-as-lava, fired-up with spirit and full of heat-based artcloth techniques that take advantage of the weather, the countryside and the grand vistas to inspire a new perspective on life, the artist's path and your place on the road.

First, we'll put play to the work of imagination and inspiration, with a variety of surface design techniques and creative exercises that open up possibilities for all kinds of new mixed media on paper and fabric. AND, we'll take a mid-year look at your annual art goals, how to reinvigorate your artistic studio focus, and set up some targets to hit with intention. Play and focus come together with a bit of yoga, some time in nature, and your hands in a zappy happy mix of new and fun materials.

In August, spend a couple of days exploring heat related techniques: textile paint sun-printing, rusting (afterall, a slow oxidation -- or burning -- process) and kitchen utensil and vegetable printing. We'll put your new fabrics together in a small art quilt art  Kitchen Altar, using a wooden frame and stitched work. Enjoy an August retreat from city's heat -- sure South Texas and the Hill Country are hot even up here in on the ridge, but it's always 10 degrees cooler at night than in the asphalt-ribboned city (and there's the pool, too). 


We'll be taking advantage of the  heat, with dye processes, using batik on fabric and to create screen-printing and more. Use the heat of the season to ignite your creative imagination, enjoy a convivial time with other artists and feast on the bounty of the season (some of it from El Cielo's own new veggie garden). 

If you're interested in making artcloth like the ones you see here


July 29-31

Making time to play with odd-ball materials; learning to focus upon artful tasks at hand -- sounds like opposite sides of the coin? At this exploratory and full-of-play weekend, we’ll explore the relationship between the time, play, art and focus. Where does time management intersect with open-hearted fun? Expect bubbles, playdough, sparklers, jello, yoga and seeing the world from new angles and attitudes. 


August 19-21

Embrace your inner goddess of summertime. Design and make a small art quilt “altar” for kitchen or dining room with tools and materials that depend on heat, sunlight and passionate delight: sun-printing, vegetable prints, fusing, hand and machine stitching and “found” fabrics from attic, thrift store or kitchen closet. We will recycle napkins, tea towels and other like objects and design a thermofax featuring a meaningful symbol, favorite fruit, icon, saint, culinary heroine, angel or other meaningful design as the centerpiece for the altar. 

For more information, email me with the contact form on the sidebar. 


From Photo to Fabric

Time is running out to register for the next Photo to Fabric workshop at the Southwest School of Art:

The workshop is Saturday and Sunday, June 18-19 from 10 am to 4 pm. We'll be working both with digital media and with photos as a design inspiration for paint, stamps, color palettes and composition.

Class Sessions: 2

Maximum: 10

Location: Surface Design Studio | Navarro

Take your favorite photos and use them in original fabric art - both directly printed on your own fabric and as inspiration for a fabric collage to stitch later. Bring an assortment of photos, print or digital (on disk or flash drive) to the first class in order to select those that work best with each technique. You'll learn to make two different kinds of photo prints on fabric using an inkjet printer, and also enlarge, simplify and transfer a photograph to a larger wall fabric art quilt format, for later quilting or stitch work at home. Please see SSA website for a materials list. Bring a lunch each day.

Spring and Summer Workshops at El Cielo Studios

Here is a link to a downloadable pdf brochure with the dates and topics for new workshops at El Cielo Studios.


  It's my pleasure to share my home and studio and a nurturing environment for your creative journey -- and the  workshop is less than what you'd spend for a bed-and-breakfast weekend alone! I hope to see you sometime this spring or summer for a weekend of inspiring and creative work and play here in the beautiful Texas Hill Country.

Nurture your creativity as you come away from a weekend with renewed energy, new  materials and techniques in surface design applicable to fiber, ceramics, jewelry, painting and mixed media work. Susie Monday leads artists’ retreats and workshops throughout the year at her studio near Pipe Creek, Texas, about an hour from downtown San Antonio. 

El Cielo Studio workshops are designed with the needs of the participants in mind;  free time is scheduled throughout the weekend for reading, reflection and personal work in the studio. You are welcome to bring projects in process for Susie’s critique and for peer feedback in an environment of trust and respect. You’ll share meals, poetry and stories, music and advice for living an artist’s life. Enjoy the 25-mile vistas from the deck and strolls down the country roads. A spa and pool, and large screen media room are also available to participants. The fee for each workshop retreat is $175 for a 2-day event with discount for early enrollment. Comfortable accommodations (double and single rooms with baths and shared bath rooms) and meals are available from $15 - $30 per workshop. Most supplies included. Call 210-643-2128 or econtact me through the email form on the sidebar of this blog.

Sign up early (at least 30 days in advance with a $25 deposit) for a $15 ndiscount on the $175 fee. Workshops generally start with an optional Friday night potluck and fun activity or two, then continue through 3-4 pm on Sunday afternoon. Most supplies included.


May 13-15

Markmaking can be what distinguishes one person's work on paper or fabric from another's - their personal style. Using color, line, shape, rhythm and textures, students will explore traditional and new media as well as techniques for personal markmaking. Techniques to be covered include deconstructed screenprinting, stamping, using paint sticks and monoprinting with gelatin plates. No matter what your experience level, you'll gain confidence in working with layered media and find your strongest media for the marks that make your work unmistakably your own. 


June 3-5

UFO, “unfinished fiber object.” Bring along work that needs finishing, needs one more layer, needs some concentrated time and attention (or work that’s stuck for need of constructive critique). Enjoy the resources of the studio and the advice and support of peers. We’ll customize the techniques to the tasks at hand.


July 29-31

Making time to play with odd-ball materials; learning to focus upon artful tasks at hand -- sounds like opposite sides of the coin? At this exploratory and full-of-play weekend, we’ll explore the relationship between the time, play, art and focus. Where does time management intersect with open-hearted fun? Expect bubbles, playdough, sparklers, jello, yoga and seeing the world from new angles and attitudes. 


August 19-21

Embrace your inner goddess of summertime. Design and make a small art quilt “altar” for kitchen or dining room with tools and materials that depend on heat, sunlight and passionate delight: sun-printing, vegetable prints, fusing, hand and machine stitching and “found” fabrics from attic, thrift store or kitchen closet. We will recycle napkins, tea towels and other like objects and design a thermofax featuring a meaningful symbol, favorite fruit, icon, saint, culinary heroine, angel or other meaningful design as the centerpiece for the altar. (This workshop has an additional $12 fee per person for the altar boxes that the quilts are stretched upon.)


This spring and summer I also will be teaching occasionally at the Southwest School of Art: June 18-19 - From Photo to Fiber (using various techniques to design art quilts from photographs), August 1-5, mornings, New World Kids: for parents wishing to nurture creativity in their children.

I am also teaching a course for teachers: Fiber Arts for the Classroom at Southwest School of Art on July 23-24 (The wrong date is in the SSA catalog, I had to change the date after it was printed.)


Flying or driving in from afar for one of these weekends? Or just want some solo supported work time in the studio? Add one or two days of instruction in the studio for learning techniques that you are interested in. Each custom designed workshop and night’s lodging and meals costs $225 per person. Limit, 2 artists per session Many of Susie’s workshops go on the road! Please write for available dates and fees.


“A workshop at Susie’s is always money well spent.  I learned techniques I have read about but never tried ... I also now feel confident that I can make art quilts!”

“This workshop was a fabulous, uplifting, nurturing environment to create in. The journaling was particularly helpful, I would definitely recommend it to a friend.”

“This weekend was totally awesome! I am humbled by Susie’s talents, her teaching abilities and her hospitality. I will come back as often as possible.”


Sitting and staring

Today, I'm reminded of the baseboall great Satchel Page's oft quoted," Sometimes I sits and thinks and sometimes I  just sits." An unexpected delay of a work-related appointment has given me the gift of a hitherto unplanned afternoon. Yes, the studio needs a good sort. The garden is (perhaps riskily) calling for seeds. I have really been planning to go through and file all the piles of receipts and GET MYSELF ORGANIZED for the new year (hardly new anymore, you might note). 

But I find myself sitting and looking out into damp, gray between-winter-and-spring air and light and I just sit.

Sometimes its good to sit.

The creative life is full of adventure (even if it only shows up on the inside of your eyeballs.) When one is a self-employed artist, there is the ever present tension between amking art and making a living and it takes a lot of juggling to keep it together sometimes. I, like many of us, simply like action, I live at full-speed-ahead.

And then I sit.

You (I) need both. You (I) must let minutes wash over us when we can. Remind ourselves that time is finite; in 100 years (unless Singularity DOES come to pass, or the Mayan calendar ends us all in a bang) everyone you know and everyone you don't know who is walking around here on earth will be gone. And so, no matter how important it all seems, it is just a drop in the bucket when you look at the big picture. So let the drops fall where they may for a few hours. Sit. think. or just sit.

One thing I am thinking about is some of the thought about romance that I am reading in Barbara Lazear Ascher's wonderful book Isn't it Romantic; Finding the magic in everyday life. Here's a quote to ponder as you sit today:

"The romantic has to believe the bread crumbs were left as a trail, that the dots will make a whole....Faith doesn't require answers but a trust that if we dare reach out a hand another one, unforeseen will receive it. That we will be made whole. The ulitmate romance. Exactly as Michelangelo painted it in the center of the Sistine Chapel ceiling."

And Yes. I am puttering around in the studio today and making some progress on the annual clean, sort and toss that I force myself to do in order to avoid a manditory appearance on some reality show or another devoted to hoarding. But I am doing so very, very softly. Like the air and the gray heavy skies. Like the seeds underground waiting for the next increment of warmth. Reminding myself to think a bit about the spiraling fossil of an ammonite once alive, then dead, buried turned to stone, washed up again on a different shore.

(P.S. Speaking of nature, the next El Cielo studio retreat/workshop is almost full-to-the-brim. If you are thinking about attending  send me an email through the contact form on the sidebar. $160 if you pay before March 1. Potluck on Friday night through Sunday afternoon, most supplies included.)

View from home and El Cielo Studio.



March 25-27

Find color, shape, form and inspired design for new surface design tools at this spring-is-sprung weekend in the blooming Texas Hill Country. We’ll do sun prints, leaf-inspired thermofaxes and screenprinting with dye, flour paste resist and more.

Art with CAYA -- Youth Ambassadors


The week flew by with work at Bamberger Ranch and then at Southwest School of Art with the CAYA group, Texas host kids and families and the year-long residency group of SEED teachers. On this post, we just wanted to share some of the graphic and visual forms we worked on -- you can see more photos of the various aspects of the program, and the kids at work, on the Posterous SEED blog, if you're interested.

This is what I love about these graphic forms, and why I think they work as collaborative art projects:

First,  limit the palette in use  to some degree -- kraft paper brown, black, white and red  construction paper were the choices here (We loosen up on these color restrictions as the day goes on, figuring that the repetition will hold the general design together).

In the projects, we emphasize cutting over drawing or sketching. First, its less intimidating for kids who don't think they are good artists. Secondly, it keeps things simple and strong and bold. Black cutout letters and shapes are the bones for any little fussy stuff on top!

The t-shirts start with cutout "logos' for air, earth and water. Each kid makes a logo. I gang them together reduce each to a grid that will fit on a thermofax and the kids get to print their own shirts. Then, with colored fabric markers, each one can individualize and personalize his or her design. Again, the black ink on white shirt holds the whole design together.

The "dream towers" included collage work (each person cutout  a large word that described a personal dream, then collaged it with magazine pictures), a few notan designs, etc. Again, the color palette holds it together. I used the model of the Eames "house of cards" as patterns for the large foam board cards. These notch together with slits and make relatively stable and sturdy set/exhibit pieces that can be easily stored, recycled with new images with a new group, and infinitely rearranged. Since our final exhibit and presentation was in a gallery where we could not attach anything to the walls, these towers provided display space for work -- and they could be quickly assembled and disassembled and moved easily in the van or even a passenger car backseat!

The black foam  board cards were just taped into triangles (for stability) and stacked on top of each other. Kid wrote their recipes and remedies and cures for issues facing their world on these with chalk -- again, the boards can be wiped clean and reused. The blackboard form was fun, gave shape to the thinking and message, and was un-intimidating since if one made a mistake you could erase and do it again. And I love the black and white with the other forms.

The mask forms are simple paper bag masks using limited colors and mostly cut out shapes and forms. The kids (each in their group of either water, earth or air) chose a creature or element to personify as a mask and to "speak" for -- their assignment was to be a voice for those without words -- the animals, plants and elements of nature that depend upon survival with our solutions for the difficult problems facing the environment and our stewardship of the world, our partnership with the rest of the world. We used recycled packing materials from our lunches and other meals in these, as well.

After years  (and years) of doing collaborative (and quickly produced) art forms with kids and adults with all kinds of content, I do have my bag of tricks and approaches that help with visual strength and form, but still give everyone the sense of personal contribution and expression. I think that providing a few "rules" in terms of setting a strong format, limiting materials, and structuring the work experience all add up in the end.

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.



Chihuly Tower Artarama

The Chihuly Fiesta Tower is back after being un-installed for library renovations at the Central Library in San Antonio. We're putting on a little mini-version of the citywide celebration that led up to the tower's installation. If you'd like to participate (or volunteer helping kids make some color, shape and light-related art -- no glass-blowing possible here!) please just show up -- or drop me a line on the contact form. Hope to see you there. 

Welcome back, Fiesta Tower!

 In October 2009, Dale Chihuly’s colorful glass sculpture, Fiesta Tower, was disassembled from its display location in the Central Library and placed in secure storage during roof work and replacement of the Central Library’s skylights located directly over the tower.

Now the Fiesta Tower has been reinstalled and the Central Library’s second-floor atrium will shortly reopen. To celebrate the Fiesta Tower’s homecoming, the San Antonio Public Library will host a family craft event from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 23, in the second-floor atrium at the Central Library, 600 Soledad.

During the come-and-go event, local artist Susie Monday will guide participants in creating their own Chihuly-style works of art. The event is free and open to the public. One hour of free parking is available in the library parking garage with validated ticket.

A gift of the Russell Hill Rogers Fund for the Arts through a grant to the San Antonio Public Library Foundation, the Fiesta Tower was originally installed in the Central Library in 2003 as part of the celebration of the San Antonio Public Library’s 100th anniversary.