Monday, February 27, 2012

Black History Month in Tanzania

Myself and Karen Grissette at the U.S. Emabassy Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
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Two years ago this month, I had the awesome experience of sharing the history of Black History Month(as celebrated in the U.S.) at the U.S. Embassy Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Never thought in a million years that my journey would take me to such a place or that such an opportunity would present itself. Originally, was instructed to prepare for a 15 minute presentation(there were others on the program) but after arriving at the embassy in Dar for our initial meeting I found out that I was the presentation and they were asking about my artwork(which I hadn't brought on the trip) the deodorant commercial says..."never let them see you sweat".

Marie Cidosa, Director Bagamoyo Living Art Centre

Students from the local university in attendance
With the help of my husband who was so willing to fish through my unorganized computer files and send photos of my artwork and my children who remain my greatest cheerleaders(they gave me a crash course in powerpoint presentations prior to my departure for Tanzania) I was able to create a presentation which not only addressed Black Hiistory Month but my evolvement as an artist as well.

Years ago as a young girl scout I learned that one should always be prepared! You just never know where the next stop on your journey will take you.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Craftsy - January: Slashed Blocks

O.K. so I'm finally transitioning from "mental quilting" to the real deal and I'm so excited. I'll share my blocks as I go along....believe there's two each month. Did I mention that is offering the course free online? Well, if you've been wanting to quilt or just want to brush up with some new squares come on and join the class! Go to if you're not a member the site will require you to sign up with your email address. Next click on online classes and scroll down to The Craftsy Block of the Month with Amy Gibson(the only one marked FREE).

Asterisk Block

Wonky Pound Sign
By the way did I mention that my seam ripper has become my best friend? Yeah, we really have bonded over the first block and trying to get the darn lines to match up.  For a moment thought I might become an online quilting class "dropout" but I'm glad perseverance won out!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Positve/Negative Designs

"Inside/Out Squares" was the name of the project I first introduced to my young students after reading an article by Jane Dunnewold in a Quilting Arts Magazine some years ago. I was so intrigued by Ms. Dunnewold's designs created from black construction paper(believe it was to help with creative brain block in quilting when trying to think of new designs) that I immediately knew it was worth sharing with my classes.

For my students' sake I called it "inside/out squares" because you're basically cutting out from one side of a square and opening that cut portion like a door, thus inside/out. If you visit Dunnewold's site at there's a free tutorial titled, "The Expansion of the Square."

Art In the House students share designs

Once students caught on there was no stopping

Even Mr. P enjoys the exercise

Friday, January 6, 2012

Sources of Inspiration

Here's some people and things who inspire me....who or what inspires you? Send me a note I'd love to hear from you.

Me and my great grandmother Julia Jackson
Cookie jar doll circa 1960's created by my grandmother that sits in my studio

My grandmother Luanna Patricia Sykes
  1. My Grandmother....Luanna Patricia Sykes
  2. The bible....some of the best stories about life and source for life direction
  3. My birthplace....Georgetown, Kentucky (especially sitting on Aunt MeMe's front porch) 
  4. Gallery and museum visits....always make me run home and get to work creating
  5. My mom....Katherine Roberta Sykes of the best story tellers I know
  6. The artwork of Romare Bearden, Aminah Robinson, William H. Johnson, Elizabeth Catlett, Betye Saar, Elijah Pierce and Alan Rohan Crite
  7. Children....they're always honest and their approach to art is always fresh and untainted
  8. My family....such encouragers and so full of love for me
  9. The writings of Maya Angelou, Sharon Ewell Foster, Claudia Mair Burney, Langston Hughes, Paul Lawrence Dunbar