Archive for March, 2011

Shiftin’ “IT” – How I Do What I Do

March 28, 2011

“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.”

– The Cheshire Cat, from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland

"Tangled Web #5" ©2010 Ayn Hanna "16x10" Textile Painting (cotton fabric, cotton batting, cotton thread) mounted to 24"x18" canvas

One of my readers recently asked, “How are you able to get your art done while also juggling a family and full-time day job – How do you do all that you do?  This seems to be a pretty popular question, so I’m going to try to answer it.

Lucky for me, I’ve always been a good planner.  And, I’ve also had some good training in project planning, organizational development – strategic planning and visioning, and graphic recording (drawing and writing down plans/outputs from meetings in organized ways).

I am currently a Shift-IT coach-in-training.  Over the past year I have been working to complete the coursework to become a certified Shift-IT coach, facilitating several clients through the Shift-IT personal strategic visioning and planning process.  I’ve been using the Shift-IT process on my own strategic visioning and planning too.

The Shift-IT process is a set of 7 process steps and 17 visual map templates – a strategic planning process for individuals – designed by Christina Merkley (aka “The Shift-IT Coach”) to help individuals make “shifts” in whatever areas of their lives they want more satisfaction with, and to identify, soften, and soothe the internal resistance we often have to achieving those shifts.

How I do the things I do

In a nutshell, here’s what I have found works for me to achieve my goals (and how I have used the Shift-IT process for my own planning):

1. DREAM BIG: I start with developing a clear vision of my goals – who and what I want to be and have by a certain date in the future.  Within the Shift-IT Process, this step is called “Focus on your Future” and one of the key outcomes is the Magnetism Map (Clear Vision of your Future).

2. CREATE A “TAKE ACTION PLAN” and WRITE IT DOWN: I use a framework for planning out my major strategies to achieve my vision goals, with detailed tasks, dependencies, and timelines associated with achieving the strategies brainstormed and WRITTEN DOWN on sticky notes, which I then group and arrange on the wall.  Within the Shift-IT Process, the applicable map is the “Take Action Plan” where you identify your big action areas (strategies) and then write down the “mini-tasks” needed to achieve them.

Take Action Plan

3. MEASURE PROGRESS to achieve GREAT RESULTS: Any tasks that haven’t started yet sit on the left hand side of the wall.  Tasks that are in progress are moved into the middle of the page, and adjusted to the right as they near completion, and then completed tasks are moved to the far right of the wall. I am a visual person and I love being able to actually “see” the progress I’m making as sticky notes move across the wall to the right!

My dynamic 2010 Take Action Plan

4. REPEAT STEPS 1-3 to keep revising my Vision and Plan as I accomplish goals and new goals emerge:  As I complete tasks and strategies, new goals emerge (We’re not the same people now that we were yesterday or even 5 minutes ago).  One of the coolest things about achieving goals is how new goals-new rockets of desire-emerge along the way….we’re never finished creating our next selves!

5. HUSTLE and NEVER GIVE UP:  Work smarter and enjoy the journey!  Always get back up, dust off, check parts, take note of new learnings, and move on.

Proof it Works

I have achieved AMAZING results in the progress of my art career over the past year and I attribute a good deal of this to using the SHIFT-IT process.  This SI process is powerful – it’s like putting rocket boosters to whatever “IT” is you want to shift – I’ve experienced it personally and had the privilege to witness it with my clients as well.

A few highlights of achievements that I have accomplished (or will before 2011 is complete) with my art career that just one year ago were mere goals and tasks written on sticky notes stuck to my wall:

1. I have had work accepted into several local, regional, and national juried exhibitions, received my first award, and had my work sell during the show.

2. I held my first ever (and now annual) open studio show.

3. I have been accepted into the Fort Collins Studio Tour event to be held in June 2011, so now will be hosting 2 Open Studio Shows in 2011.

3. I created a website AND a blog AND a Facebook Fan page for my art, and on April 6th, I’ll be celebrating my 1 year anniversary of my blog.

4. I will be teaching my first Visiting Artist Workshop, Art Cloth: Unique Hand-Printed Fabric, this summer at the Ah Haa School for the Arts in Telluride, CO.

5. I have been invited to participate in a 2 person show at a local gallery space in Fort Collins in the fall this year.

This is a quick overview of how I approach goal setting and action planning.  There’s certainly more to it than can be captured in one blog post, so if there’s interest, I may dive into more details in further posts.  Thanks for reading and joining me on my journey!


5 Easy Tips for Exploring Fabric Surface Design Techniques

March 10, 2011

"tribal" art cloth ©2011 Ayn Hanna, hand-dyed cotton fabric with silkscreen print

Early last month I got to attend Judith Traeger’s “Exploring the Surface” workshop which was a program offered through my local Rocky Mountain Creative Quilters’ Guild.  Judith is a very well-known, internationally exhibited quilt artist and teacher, and one of the group of founders of Denver’s Front Range Contemporary Quilters Guild (FRCQ).

It was such great fun to get to play all day long for 2 straight days with a myriad of fabric surface design techniques – stencils, screen printing, stamping, mono-printing found objects, and texturizing (with paint, paint sticks, rollers, sponges, texture plates).

The images above and below are a large yardage of fabric that I created by screen-printing a single stencil repeatedly in a “registered” sequence, to create an all over pattern on the cloth (above) and an experiment of printing 2 different stencils randomly around 1 piece of hand-dyed fabric (below).

art cloth experiment with 2 silkscreen stencils printed in repeats ©2011 Ayn Hanna

5 Tips for Exploring the Surface

I have a pretty extensive printmaking background already, so much of all the great information that Judith covered in the workshop wasn’t really new to me.  This was a 2 day gift I gave myself to be able to meet Judith, experiment and play and enjoy being around other artists from my local guild.  I did learn some new things and was reminded of some things as well.  Below are some tips that I thought might be helpful to others:

  1. The best needles to use when quilting tops that have a lot of paint on them are either top stitch (90/14) or jeans/denim (size 16) needles.  Either of these should adequately handle stitching through painted fabric.
  2. There are a wide range of water-based paints that can be used effectively with a silkscreen.  Any paint that has a polymer plastic base will do (including regular old house paint).  We used water-based pure pigments mixed with a polymer base. The key is to adjust whatever paint you decide to use to a proper consistency (using appropriate base/medium) to be able to print with it.  When acrylic paints dry, they are permanent and will long outlast the lifespan of the fabric they are printed on.
  3. Sunlight dishwashing GEL can be used as a discharge agent to remove color from fabric.  Once the gel is set, you need to wash it out with water and then soak the fabric in white vinegar either Anti-Chlor, Bleach Stop, or Hydrogen Peroxide to stop the bleaching action.  See this webpage for more details about ways to neutralize bleach on fabric.  (Thanks Nora for this corrected info!)
  4. When preparing your silkscreen frame by taping all around it with duct tape to protect the wood frame from water/warping when you wash the ink out of it after printing, it’s best to let the screen sit overnight after taping and before printing, to allow the tape to “cure” before getting it wet.  I also think using the new “gorilla” water proof duct tape is most preferable to use for silkscreen frames, since it truly is waterproof once applied.
  5. An effective way to create depth in a 2D art quilt is to start with a pieced top base layer (background), use silkscreen, painting, and stamping to create a middle ground, and add applique, stitching, and embellishments as the foreground.

my first silkscreen stencil on fabric ©2011 Ayn Hanna

And above all else, (as Judith says), always bring a sense of humor to what you are doing.  I sure enjoyed the workshop and Judith’s refreshing approach to teaching – Take one of her workshops if you get a chance!

My Creative Process and Allowing Another Way

March 3, 2011

My Creative Process

I’m having one of those “in the flow” moments…… where words to describe my working process – at least the way it worked in creating my “Another Way” piece – seem ready to spill out.

"Another Way" ©2011, Ayn Hanna, 28"x12", Textile Painting

Allowing myself to become, following an intuitive path, comfortable and enjoying that this is what needs to be, without really knowing what comes next.  Something wonderful about the easy-ness, good energy, warmth, and kindness toward self that helps open, relax, reduce stress, and expand breath.

Ideas flow, about learning, exploring, loving the art/mark-making, the meditative unfoldment and expansion of a thought, which evolves and becomes a thing, a real physical art object.  And this newly created artwork has come forth, through a dance, back and forth, to and fro, between my own heart and mind and this object, in it’s becoming.

"Another Way" state 1: discharge paste painted on hand-dyed fabric

The exhilaration of moving through the unknown, taking chances, risks, trying things out, listening to what it wants to become, then getting distracted and disconnected, whoops, what happened there?  Now I’m not sure, not loving this, thinking this may not even work out.  But, not ready to give up on it, I’ll keep trying, and see what happens.

We keep going, and, now I’m lost, tired, not liking this and it’s time to stop for today.  I’m really confused, unsure of where this is going or even IF it can be resolved.  Tomorrow, the struggle continues, and the day after, and the next after that.  I’ve lost track of how long it’s been, muddling about, I wonder what happened to that clarity that once was.

"Another Way" state 2: hand-dyed fabric discharged, fabric paint, applique

Knowing it may return, in a wiser form, I keep going.  And sometimes, it’s not until just before the piece is complete, that we come back together and I feel my re-attachment to the work again, finally.  And I have changed.  The world seems different.  And with some pieces, I really want to spend some time with my new creations, because we need time to debrief.  And with others, with this one, not so much.

It’s in this process of thought, drawing, visual play, struggle, unknown, searching, wondering, finding, becoming, resolving, and learning that the magic of making art happens.  This is my drug.  I’m hooked on Art.

"Another Way" state 3: auditioning additional applique shapes

Allowing “Another Way”

My creative process for completing “Another Way” was a  struggle, a battle of allowing.  I began with a general thought in mind, and in the end, the finished piece evolved into something very different.  I felt as if I was being spun around in a tornado and there was a large span of time during the making in which I really did not like the piece at all and seriously wondered if it was even going to be possible to resolve.

Would I ever reach a point with it where I would like it again?  I was hung up in that uncomfortable zone of not liking the way it was looking and trying things to make it better which really weren’t helping, putting more and more work into it, all the while wondering if it was going to be for a lost cause.

"Another Way" (detail) ©2011, Ayn Hanna, 28"x12", Textile Painting

It was teetering for a long time on the brink of being trashed.  Then, something I’d try would improve it, and I’d have hope again.  Then, not.  It went back and forth.  I was getting emotional about it, and a little crazy.  At one point, I had a revelation – wow, this piece is such a perfect metaphor for what I’m encountering in my day job AND my mixed up emotions about the major changes happening around the world right now.

In the end, I feel like I’ve grown up in some way.  I stuck with it, even when I wanted to trash it, and ultimately resolved it.  I actually kind of like it, but am ready to let it go.  It’s an odd piece and I have a strange relationship with it.  I’m not all that sure about it, but I think it works.

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