My massage therapist is launching a life coaching practice and will use some videos in her sessions. She had to mount a TV in the space and it looks very out of place in the surroundings. So I made a piece to hang over it. I used her chalkboard for color inspiration but didn’t wish to compete with the images or the words so I kept to simple free-piecing.
What she has written on the chalkboard is interesting, particularly because I am going to try to make a piece fore an exhibit that is themed “Wabi Sabi”.
I was the topic of a nice article in our regional weekly paper. I was especially pleased the at the author did not resort to the tired phrase “not your granny’s quilts..” Charlevoix area resident Kathie Briggs creates eyecatching landscapes and nature scenes, which is common for a northern Michigan artist. What’s more uncommon is that, instead of using oils, pastels or watercolors, Briggs’ medium is fabric and thread.
“I paint with fabric because I’m fascinated by the visual and tactile texture of cloth that is further enhanced by the impression made by the stitch,” she explains. “I enjoy combining my own hand-dyed and painted fabric with a wide variety of commercial fabrics.”
Growing up in the Detroit suburb of Southfield, Briggs was exposed to art at an early age.
“My grandparents sent me to the Detroit Institute of Art for classes when I was really young, probably six or eight years old,” she recalls. “I just always enjoyed doing art.”
After earning her degree at Western Michigan University, she opted for a practical vocation and taught computer science. Briggs had a long and varied professional career before retiring to northern Michigan in 2001, making her full time in a region she had grown to love while spending childhood summers at Arbutus Beach on Otsego Lake, south of Gaylord.
HOW I GOT STARTED
I have always loved working with fabric. For many years I sewed artsy clothing and home decoration projects. About 25 years ago, I became fascinated with fiber art dolls. I created original art dolls and taught doll making at a quilt shop. Through the shop, I discovered artists creating paintings from fabric, employing some of the techniques used by quilters. I was hooked.
THE STORY BEHIND MY ART, MY INSPIRATION
My studio is tucked in the woods and overlooks a small lake between Charlevoix and Ellsworth. No surprise that I find much of my inspiration in the ever-changing seasons and shifting colors of the surrounding woods and fields. The landscape, as well as the abundant northern Michigan wildlife, supplies endless opportunities for study and interpretation.
WORK I’M MOST PROUD OF
The portrait of my dogs, Charlie and Annie. The Jordan River Art Center had a Dog and Pony Show a few years ago. I was hesitant to try because black dogs are hard to depict, but I succeeded, and everyone who sees the pictures knows which dog is which, and both pieces are included in the recent book “1000 Dog Portraits.”
YOU WON’T BELIEVE
I can write with a sewing machine, and I once coached a men’s intramural football team for two years in college. I took a class in coaching football at Western. This was back in the ‘60s and a men’s team asked me to coach them. We made it to the semi-finals the first year with a bunch of freshmen. I come from a football family. My grandfather was Gus Dorais (former Notre Dame All-American quarterback and long-time coach at the University of Detroit. Dorais also coached the Detroit Lions during World War II.) My grandpa would be proud!
MY FAVORITE ARTIST
It’s really hard to narrow it down to one artist, but if I have to choose one, it would be Renoir for many reasons. He said ‘For me, a picture be a pleasant thing, joyous and pretty — yes, pretty. There are too many unpleasant things in life for us to fabricate still more.’ I pasted this in the front of my sketchbook.
ADVICE FOR ASPIRING YOUNG ARTISTS
Inspiration usually comes from doing the work, rather than before it.
MY WORK CAN BE SEEN/PURCHASED
At the Crooked Tree Art Center in Petoskey, the Charlevoix Circle of Arts, Round Lake Gallery in Charlevoix and at http://www.kathiebriggs.com.