American Family Album series

Victor and /Frances, art-quilt, 28"x36"
Two more pieces from my American Family Album series..... In my previous blog post the little boy in the art-quilt entitled Maffei, is depicted above, all grown up.  When I consult with clients commissioning their own family art-quiilts I always make sure they are passionate about the imagery.  Often people bring me the highest quality photo they have of their subject, thinking this will work best for my creative process.  But believe me, I'd rather work with a less perfect snapshot and have the artwork truly speak to the heart.  My expertise in digital restoration can go a long way to helping those old photos.  And's art, much of the beauty is in the patina!  Personally, I love this photograph of my grandparents!  It was snapped prior to their simple wedding in Galveston, Texas, where they lived and raised their family.  My grandmother had been a very young widow with a small daughter.  Because of this she could truly relate to my own years as a single parent and we became very close, even living together for a time several years after my grandfather died.  I loved hearing her stories of their meeting and courtship.  My grandpa was wonderfully crazy about my grandmother and it showed!  I know that my idea of what constitutes 'a happy couple' comes from spending so much time around the two of them. My husband Phil is so like my grandpa in that way. When out of the blue he complements me for the tiniest things, I smile and think of my grandparents marriage.  Phil simply adores me...and I thank my grandparents for modeling that kind of love so that I could recognize it when it came my way.

My mother, portrayed in the next art-quilt, was the couples third and last child.  The central image in this piece was taken from a black and white engagement photo that always sat on her dresser along side a Navy photo of my father.  In the digital process of manipulating the central photo for printing on fabric, I purposefully chose odd, somewhat subtle hues of lavender, gray and green. Remember, this is art, have fun with the colors.  In commission pieces my clients have to trust where I take the imagery for the finished piece.  While I consult extensively with my clients before beginning, the photos speak very loudly to me during the creative process!   The ability to listen to where I am being guided by the work is central to my work, and I believe it is what makes my pieces so compelling.

Depicting my mother 'through the years' was my way of documenting the milestones in her life; childhood, confirmation, graduation, marriage and the last photo, from her seventieth birthday which was celebrated at the time I made this piece for my series.  There are a lot of creative ways to do this, but I wanted the central image to stand out prominently, so I chose a very simple straightforward approach with this art-quilt.  This piece is amazing in person and always receives rave reviews when exhibited.  Those wonderful 1950's style photos are so striking...but then so was my mom, so I know much of the excitement about this piece is because the subject is so captivating.  Recently I edited a video of my parents young years and each time my dad watched he would announce to anyone in the room "how beautiful my wife" was.  Indeed.

My hope is that these posts reviewing the American Family Album series helps those considering their own family commissions.  But I truly love it when someone shows up with nothing more than a stack of photos and treasured memories they want creatively conveyed. My best advise is this, don't over-think the commission.  Often the best part of my job is to assist clients through the process of coming up with the story that simply wants to unfold.  Personally I believe that it is those in the photos that primarily guide the creative process..... whether they are ever physically with me or not!  :)

Here's a few more from the series....