I met Colleen 10 years ago when I took her workshop on cloth doll artistry and I was so inspired by her work and teachings that I made a complete turnaround in my craft life. Since then I have been impressed with the depth and breadth of her talent.
Colleen’s Professional Biography:
I am a mixed media figurative artist, incorporating my love of quilting, bold colors, textures and printing in non-traditional sculpture. I studied art and design at the University of Chicago and Stanford University. My work has appeared in publications such as Art Doll Quarterly, The Cloth Doll, Soft Dolls and Animals, Finishing the Figure by Susanna Oroyan, and Cloth Doll Artistry by Barbara Willis. I have won awards in the Manteca and the Antelope Valley cloth doll shows, and in the Hoffman Challenge. By invitation, I’ve sent pieces to the Twisted Thread shows in England and Ireland. I participated in the exhibit In Celebration of the Doll at the Houston Quilt Festival for several years, and the Petaluma Arts Council’s exhibit Art of the Doll. I’m also an invited guest in their upcoming exhibit Journeys Through Light and Dark: Dolls as Tellers of Stories in Petaluma, California, July 23rd – September 25, 2016.
Colleen’s Personal Story:
I was born and raised in Liverpool, New York, the third oldest of eight children. This is where I learned to be responsible and independent. There I attended a local junior college for Dental Hygiene. I worked in Dentistry for 14 years, but eventually went back to school for a degree in Art and Design. One of my professors made a deep impression on me when he told me that he spent 90% of his time working on the business end of his art, and only 10% of his time actually creating art. I realize now that I am fortunate to have been able to be a “domestic engineer” all these years, and to have the luxury of exploring several art forms without the concern of having to sell my work. (I am still on my “starter” husband of 44 years!)
I feel a little bit scattered at times, but I’m always curious as to how something is made. After looking at something, I often say to myself: “I can do that”. This has led me to phases of quilting, knitting, felting, beading, creating millefiori in clay, learning to do flame work in glass, making wearable art, silk dyeing, gold casting, lithography, mono-prints, photo silk screening, ceramics, painting, paper-arts, and finally, to combining many of these for mixed media art.
When I first started making figures in cloth, I took many classes and learned from the best. I’ve been blessed to live in the Bay Area, surrounded by creative women who have shared their knowledge and influenced me in my artwork. I have since developed my own patterns and taught doll making. In recent years, I have had the opportunity to teach Stanford students the art of sewing, and I have consulted with teams from the Extreme class (design for extreme affordability) at The Design School.
My quest for knowledge hasn’t ended. I’d still like to learn to weld and to do woodturning. I find great satisfaction in visual thinking and finding creative solutions to design issues. The journey into the unknown is exhilarating! I may have a general idea of what the final outcome will be, but invariably something magical happens along the way and things turn out a bit different and better than I could have imagined. I always think there is a bit of serendipity to everything creative.
Life is difficult sometimes. However, I find laughter with good friends and a bit of whimsy and color go a long way in making it better!
Thank you to Wanda and to all of you for taking the time to look at my work. It is much appreciated.
COLLEEN’S PROM DRESS
Last month I showcased Zanaib Nia Green and she shared her beautiful and unusual yellow crocheted prom dress with us. I had so many comments on it that when Colleen sent me a picture of her prom dress, I felt I just had to share. Here is Colleen’s prom dress, modeled by her daughter. Her love of color and pattern appears to have always been a part of her.
COLLEEN’S FABULOUS ART DOLLS
RAW EDGED PHOTO QUILTS
This hassock/tuffet is strip-quilted on muslin and pulled over a foam cushion.
COLLEEN’S ART TO WEAR
Nuno felting is made by forcing wool roving into silk.
MIXED MEDIA PURSES
The face purse was made in a Sally Lampi workshop and it’s definitely a conversation piece.
This glass necklace has about 60 individual clear glass beads that were made with a torch. The glass rod is heated to the point that the glass melts, so it can be pulled like taffy. It is looped back on itself to make the bead and then pulled away from the remaining rod. At that point it is heated all over under the torch to smooth the edges. Then they are all put in the kiln to be annealed. This is the process of taking them up to temperature again and slowly cooling them down to make them stable. (There was a bit of a learning curve here, with the beads dropping off and burning holes in my apron!) Finished, it looks like rock candy and gets compliments whenever I wear it.
The torn pieces in the images below are monoprints done on a metal plate with inks and pulled through a press; each print is one-of-a-kind, but you can use the ghost of the last print in the next picture.
COLLEEN’S GARDEN ART
TOTEMS AND GAZING BALLS
CERAMIC WALL ART
Our ladies have been busy preparing their art for our OPEN STUDIO event in June, so I don’t have a lot of their current work to show you this month. Suzanne, my mosaic buddy, has been preparing for her show and our event at the same time. Donna, Bonnie and Zanaib have been working on blank mixed media cards that are so beautiful they are worthy of framing; this is in addition to their knitting, crocheting, jewelry making, art dolls, and more. I will be showing my mosaics and totems. I have been making purses, small bags and fabric jewelry for more than 10 years, but my new passion has taken over! My inventory of approximately 100 textile pieces will be marked down 35% and available in our sale room.
We hope to see many of you in June because we love meeting you and showing you what we have been working on.. Next month I’ll have pictures for those of you who couldn’t make it.
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