I’m sorry I haven’t posted in such a long time.  I arrived in Asheville in mid April on a glorious spring day. The dogwoods were still in bloom soon to be followed by azaleas and  rhododendrons.  It was a wonder to drive from winter to full out spring in two days.

My “stuff” (aka my life) went into storage and I began searching for a suitable house. I found the perfect townhouse but the process of purchasing it, closing the sale and moving in was an adventure I would never want to repeat.  I finally moved in about 3 weeks ago and am still dealing with boxes and repairs.  But its all good.

The studio space is wonderful.  Large, open and with great natural light. There’s even good storage space but its going to take a while to get moved in and organized. And from where my desk (OK, folding table but I’m going to get a desk) is positioned I can look out and view the mountains.  Once my space is set up I will be excited to share photos.

With all that has been going on there hasn’t been much time for art and the stress is not conducive to creativity.  But last night a few of us got together to form the Asheville Surface Design Group.  Our first meeting was a hands on gelli plate activity lead by Lisa Heller.  It was so much fun to play with fabric, paint and texture again.

gelli rubbing 2

And this has convinced me that no matter what needs to be done around here I still need to feed my soul with some hands on art activity, and not to worry about coming up with a finished product but just to enjoy engaging in the process.

gelli rubbing 1


Filed under surface design, Uncategorized

Swan Song

swan finished full

Swan Song 36″ x 25″

The summer of 2001 was a special time.  We were finally building our dream house on Lake Marion.  I spent the summer in the apartment over the garage; Bill came up on weekends. So I was alone on 9/11.  But not quite alone.  A juvenile Trumpeter Swan was hanging out on the lake. I began feeding him and he got used to me sitting by the lake.

I took many photos and have depicted him in fiber art a few times.  I made this last piece in January.  The house sold while I was finishing it.

The lake ice went out much earlier than usual this year.  Even though its still very cold the lake is full of migrating waterfowl.  The loons have returned and I am so happy to have caught sight of one. My swan never returned to the lake but I will take this one with me to North Carolina.  And it seems like a good image for my last post from the 45th parallel.




Filed under nature inspired, Uncategorized

Moving South…Finally Packing

I should be packing but I want to reestablish my blogging habit so here goes.

Yesterday I closed the sale of this house. I’m relieved that its finally over. I so clearly remember purchasing the first of the three lots nearly 35 years ago. Thirty years ago we built the garage & apartment that was our vacation get-away and later my studio.  We did a lot of the work ourselves and I remember every detail.  Fifteen years ago I supervised the building of this house from that apartment. It was such a fun and exciting process.  Then converting the apartment to the studio.  We loved it here.  But its not the right place for me now. Time to move on and take my memories with me.


And my relocation plans have changed.  For the better but it suddenly complicated everything .  The house in North Carolina sold!  I am so relieved.  It was right for us but wrong for just me.  Now I will rent a small furnished cabin and store almost everything I am taking with me.

Little house

The cabin is small and very basic but the setting is lovely and the location ideal for house hunting.  Setting up a makeshift studio will be challenging but I will figure it out.

The packing seems endless and more complicated since most things are destined for storage.  I am closing out a long chapter and starting a new one. I don’t know what is ahead but moving forward is the right action.


Filed under Uncategorized

Forest Fire


27″ x 20″

A forest fire can be destructive but it can also renew a forest with new growth. Some species, such as the Jack Pine, require the heat of a fire for their seeds to germinate.  I tell myself this to put some positive spin on my new piece.  I made it in response to an assignment to illustrate movement.

Last month I began a year long online master class with Elizabeth Barton.   Each month Elizabeth presents a concept via an essay with examples of artwork illustrating the principle.  Each participant produces 3 sketches based on the concept and we need to turn them in by the 10th of the month.  They are posted to a private blog with Elizabeth’s critique and we choose one to develop.  We have another 10 days to produce a block-out mockup of our piece and submit it for comment.  The finished work is due by the end of the month.

One of the things I love about this class is being able to follow the progress of each student’s artwork.  Each student has her own style and methods.  No two pieces resemble each other at all.  Since its all on our blog I can spend lots of time studying the photos and reading Elizabeth’s comments and suggestions.

In January we explored contrast and I will share my January piece at some point.  I submitted it to a show and while there is no restriction about showing it ahead of time I’ve decided to see if by some wild chance its accepted.

I found the February assignment to be challenging.  For some reason I wanted to try a subject I had not explored and to treat it in a somewhat  abstract way. I’m not sure where the idea of the forest fire came from.

The fire in the background was a lot of fun. Nothing like hot colors in drab and dreary February.  The trees gave me fits until I realized that I was falling back on my very literal tree shapes that did not work with the abstracted background.  I took another look at how Patty Hawkins suggests trees with simple shapes.  All my fabric choices seemed too heavy and then I recalled a very old piece Ghosts of the Forest and decided to try organza.

Kathie Briggs SAQA  Ghosts of the Forestl

Ghosts of the Forest 2006

I finished in time.  March & April might be tricky but I am really going to try to produce one new piece each month


Filed under abstract, free-piecing, nature inspired

Moving South

The “Litle House in the Big Woods” sold last week. If nothing goes wrong I’ll be closing in April and heading to Asheville.  For now I’m planning to move to the house we purchased in 2014.  Its been rented out but the tenants moved the last week so unless it sells before April it will be my temporary house.  Just don’t need to take on another large house with acreage and all the maintenance that requires.  But at least I have a landing space.

house front

Sometime soon I will be migrating my website to a WordPress platform and incorporatig my blog.  It will need a new name since I’ll no longer be living on the 45th parallel. 

Lots of time to think about it but in the meantime I have a lot of packing and planning to keep me busy through the rest of winter.  And some time in the studio. I am working again.  I won’t have a lot of time for art right now but I know that I need to carve out a few hours here & there to feed my soul.


Filed under Uncategorized

Portals Become a Series

Having the first “Portal” hanging on the design wall must have influenced the two pieces I started this summer. I meant to post weekly about my progress but got sidetracked as I worked toward a deadline for a Fiber Artists Coalition exhibit entitled “Wabi Sabi: Appreciation of the Imperfect.” which reflects the Japanese aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. I felt the “portal” was transient since it appears to float and this piece would be a good candidate to enter.  I set about working on additional pieces for the show.

I continue to gravitate toward greens, grays and browns.  Probably because that’s what I see living in the woods.  At some point I noticed doors and windows in the constructs. I didn’t consciously plan them; they just happened.  Thus, Portals became a series:

Portal #2 Through the Forest

Portal #2 Through the Forest 32″ x 25″

The next piece was more deliberate.  Two memories influenced the doorway and the branches obstructing entry: an abandon temple in a Balinese forest that has been taken over by monkeys, and the steps leading to a Mayan temple ruin.  I didn’t attempt to find my photographs since I was aiming for the feeling rather than a pictorial likeness.

Portal #3 Enigma  20" x 25"

Portal #3 Enigma 20″ x 25″

So now the first piece is renamed and also photographed with proper lighting.  All three will be exhibited together in Wabi Sabi.

Portal #1 Transition 21.5" x 22"

Portal #1 Transition 21.5″ x 22″

And now I will turn my attention to the Blue Door.  Another Portal.


Filed under abstract, Exhibits

Out on a Limb

Sometimes making a public declaration has helped me face a difficult task.  Getting my studio habit restarted has proved to be difficult for many reasons, one of which has been lack of enthusiasm for a concept. I’ve played a bit with color and while I love abstraction I still want to work with imagery.  I finished the binding and sleeve for a piece entitled “Portal” that I made well over a year ago and pinned it to the design wall. In studying it I got thinking about another piece “Doorway to the Future” that I made for the Mercy Education Foundation.  Both featured doorways.

Portal 72 dpiDoorway to the Future 72 dpi

Over the years I taken a lot of photos of doors, doorways and passages.  They interest me for many reasons.  A door can mean many things including entry, new beginning, mystery, opportunity.  It can be open, closed, locked. One series of photos that kept coming back to me was a blue door in Cotacachi Ecuador. I love the aged and worn appearance, the soft blue of the door and the contrast of the old nails and lock. So I will use this door as the subject of the next piece I start.  There are so many directions I can take with the composition.

DSCN2800 DSCN2801 DSCN2802Tomorrow starts a new year for me and I am determined to begin digging myself out of this hole. So I commit to work on this idea and to post my progress. I will try to post weekly to keep accountable to myself.


Filed under Uncategorized

April Accomplishments

Jenn's Mirror

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”.

Jenn's quilt 72 dpi

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..” Northern Express 1 Northern Express 2Poppies Again 72 dpiCharlevoix 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.


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.


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.


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.”


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!


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.


Inspiration usually comes from doing the work, rather than before it.


At the Crooked Tree Art Center in Petoskey, the Charlevoix Circle of Arts, Round Lake Gallery in Charlevoix and at

1 Comment

Filed under abstract, free-piecing, Published

“The 100” – Winter Solstice

FFAC2015logoThis year 100 fiber artists were asked to create artwork that will be given to the first 100 donors who pledge $100 to the American Cancer Society through Fiberart For A Cause.  This goal of $10,000 will bring the total raised by Fiberart For A Cause to a quarter million dollars.  The fundraiser begins on February 4, 2015.  Details can be found of the Fiberart For A Cause website.

“Winter Solstice” was created specifically for this Fiberart For A Cause fundraiser.

Winter Solstice 12" x 15"

Winter Solstice 12″ x 15″

Winter is a time for nature to rest in anticipation of new growth in spring. The winter solstice marks the change from the days becoming shorter to the days becoming longer again. It can be a time of monochromatic landscapes that invite reflection.


You can see many more of the donated artworks on a special Pinterest Board.


Filed under abstract, free-piecing

Holiday Market and “The 100”

CTCA Holiday display 2014The Holiday Gift Market is open at the Crooked Tree Art Center in Petoskey, Michigan.  The format is different this year.  Rather than galleries set up like the usual holiday craft shop, the gallery artists were invited to participate and our “gift” items are displayed along with our gallery art.  I will not claim credit, however for the large ceramic vases but I think they look good with the quilts.

“Salvage-Selvage” an exhibit by the Fiber Artists Coalition opened at the art center this past weekend and I will get to the Crooked Tree again soon to take photos to share with you.

I have moved my sewing machine, cutting table, etc and some of my supplies from my studio to the house for the winter. I have winterized the studio so I don’t have to heat the building but I can still get access to supplies (wearing a coat, hat & gloves).  And with the sewing machine set up in the den its not as big a commitment to spend a little time sewing.

I am pleased to be an invited artist for “The 100” to be held on Wednesday, February 4, 2015. The goal for this fiber fundraiser for the American Cancer Society is to raise $10,000 in one day.

How? All the details are here:

I have been making small constructs that might, or might not, be used in a new piece I am making specifically for this event.

small constructs

Quite a contrast between the brights and the neutrals.  The neutrals reflect how I feel right now and the brights project how I want to feel again.


Filed under Uncategorized