On Creativity

the creative muse at play

Why fit in when you were born to STAND OUT? ~~~ attributed to Dr. Seuss

my studio cat muse

(free vector graphic )


To accept ourselves as Artists.

No matter what medium we use, we are all Artists with different skill sets who are at different stages of development and who have a unique voice to sound out.

You understand this best when attending exhibits at shows, Art centers or galleries. Everyone's voice is revealed in their Art. I gain knowledge and appreciation most by viewing Artists' works IN PERSON. It is enthralling to be up close and study another's work which has moved me in some way. No photo can do a work more justice than seeing it in person.

Art is about connecting. What does your voice look like?

Creativity takes courage ~~~ Henri Matisse


Everyone's approach in the creative process is different. Mine is a S-L-O-W movement forward what I call my turtle mode of being because I simply like to take my time. I have discovered that, for me, the planning stage takes as long if not longer than the construction stage. This is my PLAY time, which I absolutely relish.

What sparks my creativity is a challenge, whether it is an outer challenge by an organization or one self-made. Challenges, in the form of a Call For Entry with an organization, S-T-R-E-T-C-H me creatively, offering me an opportunity to express myself in a myriad of ways. I love to look at a theme from a different perspective and portray that angle.

To have a work accepted for a juried exhibition is beyond thrilling. To have your unique expression regarded by a larger audience, and to connect with others on a broader level is very special.

Challenges I give myself are completely on my own terms with no deadlines. They expand me when I am ready to try something new without any pressures.

Our works, ultimately, are extensions of ourselves.

the race toward deadlines, yikes!

(clipart world)

my preferred way to travel


When you are authentic, so is your art ~~~ Sarah Ann Breathnach



I am a member of SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates), an international organization promoting Art Quilts and the Artists. Each year there are 15 - 17 Calls for Entry for exhibitions SAQA will produce whether regionally or globally. They provide a prospectus with detailed instructions regarding the theme for the exhibit, size restrictions for Art works, shipment and dates for submission and notification.

The global exhibits often tour for 3 years. These juried Art Quilts travel to other continents and will be seen by people in different countries. What local, regional or global exhibitions do is provide greater exposure for your work and create spaces for conversations to develop by the audiences who view your Art.

What challenges you?

The above screen is interactive. You can navigate the entire SAQA site using the screen above.

I shut my eyes in order to see ~~~ Paul Gauguin


I only work on Calls for Entry where there is sufficient time for me to complete the work. I give myself 3 to 4 months so I can complete (and enjoy!) each part of the process. While it is the challenge which prompts ideas, I also wish to stretch myself with each one and incorporate into the piece, in some way, something new or different whether it be a new technique, an unusual color combination or a different composition.

(clipart world)

(free clip art)


I will ponder a theme, and an idea will pop into my head. I usually will make a quick draft on a piece of paper and leave it on my desk. Each time I am at my desk, I will spend time staring at my draft. This often continues for a few weeks.

These are the quiet moments of meditation and reflection where other notions or insight come to me regarding the design, color choices and execution of the piece. I will also create a draft on my computer noting all ideas for future reference.

I will even take my initial drawing with me to bed and ponder it before I go to sleep or upon awakening. Each time I make a change, I allow the incubation process to continue a bit longer.

Time is needed for the evolution of an idea to flow naturally and fully.

The job of the Artist is always to deepen the mystery ~~~ Francis Bacon

my magic wand

(clipart world)


Artist Statements are required when submitting Calls for Entry to shows which Art related organizations sponsor.

After a challenge sparks an idea, I kindle the fire by writing an Artist Statement about the work. While for many, this part happens after they create a work, for me, it always is done BEFORE I begin the physical process of creating a piece since it provides me with a focus and direction. All I do from then on will be in alignment with that focus.

When embarking on a project, I ask myself: What do I want to convey? The Artist Statement relays what was on my mind at that time. Usually, it presents a commentary on topics or else an interpretation of abstract concepts since my work often illustrates ideas.

Writing the Artist Statement awakens the 'composer' within me. I can now flourish with 'wand' in hand and direct the piece into being.

Art is a line around your thoughts ~~~ Gustav Klimt

(clipart world)


~~~ An IDEA inspires me and prompts me into ACTION ~~~

1 --- Planning (designing and drafting)

2 --- Preparation (cutting and fusing fabric, creating embellishments)

3 --- Construction (sewing and quilting)

4 --- Finishing (the binding or facing, tabs or hanging sleeve, label)

5 --- Submission (photography, call for entry and/or website upload)

Creativity is contagious ~~~ Albert Einstein


I often use graph paper to make drafts since they provide me with a scale for all the elements of the design. I then continue the incubation process allowing time for anything else to come to mind.

If the Art Quilt is not too large, I will draft it in actual dimensions on white 18" wide butcher block paper (one of my FAVORITE things) purchased in bulk on a roll.

draft on graph paper of STRANGER THINGS IN GREEN

full size mock-up of STRANGER THINGS IN GREEN

Sometimes, I will cut out the major abstract elements from colored construction paper to get a better sense of the effect a design will have. It also allows me to play with different arrangements.

I place drafts on a design wall that lies along one wall in my Quilt Studio. Together, the 3 pieces create an 87" wide by 90" high design wall. Being lightweight, it is easily reversible. It comprises 3/4" foam core board on which I sprayed adhesive to affix black batting on one side and white batting on the other. Batting allows small pieces of fabric to lie flat on it without pinning.

The Design Wall is my best friend in the Quilt Studio. It is my mirror and barometer for creating an optimal Art quilt.


After finalizing a draft of my design, I begin to audition fabrics for each of the elements. This is another incubation period where I place fabrics on a table, then, on my Design Wall and stare at the various placements until I am finally satisfied with the choices. The colors and composition of the piece must feel right before I continue.

fabrics sorted by color for STRANGER THINGS IN GREEN

fabrics pinned on Design Wall for STRANGER THINGS IN GREEN

batting/backing/ binding choices for STRANGER THINGS IN GREEN

Another time frame includes fusing and cutting out pieces in preparation for sewing.

I will then spend time formulating how I will sew everything together and in what order. This is important if I plan on using a particular quilting design in areas or any embellishments.

I will also decide the batting and backing for the Art Quilt and what fabrics I will use for any binding or facings, for tabs or hanging sleeve and label. I will check to be sure I have the right colors and weights of thread and will choose what fusibles, if any, to use.

The greatest gift I give myself is time, whatever it takes to allow each stage of the Creative Process to incubate fully and naturally toward perfect completion.

The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt ~~~ Sylvia Plath


An extra bedroom (11' x 12') is my Quilt Studio. 4 windows bring in natural light. A rolling work station stores my sewing machines, pressing, drafting, rotary cutting mats and tools. I sew on a cantilevered table with shelf storage below for bins and an easy access large rolling thread storage cabinet above.

I use two 30+ year old Bernina sewing machines for piecing and applique work or for doing minor free motion quilting. I also have a sit down long arm machine for any extensive free motion quilting.

A small closet has bins on the floor and wire shelving to the ceiling, and is adequate for storing fabric, batting and other quilt related items. 2 large dressers hold future projects and small finished quilts.

Quilt info and inspirational ideas are stored in a large file cabinet near my computer desk. A smaller file cabinet holds bulky items: irons, distilled water and (another FAVORITE thing): several different size reusable lint rollers.

I often sew and quilt in spurts before or after work. These extra mini-sessions each week allow me to easily finish longer term projects.

My Quilt Studio is simply my haven.


Solid neutral backgrounds (white, gray or black) upon a flat vertical surface (interior wall or Design Wall) with excellent lighting are required when submitting photos of your Art quilts into judged or juried exhibits. Photos of your Art must be clear and show details (quilting, etc.).



I will pin either a large white pressed percale sheet or else press a very large piece of charcoal gray felt or black fabric against the batting on the Design Wall when I am ready to photograph my Art Quilts.

I display an Art Quilt on the Design Wall hiding any pins and use natural daylight bulbs for for overhead and studio lighting when taking photos of my Art. I use an older DSLR camera (purchased on eBay) which has the higher resolutions to take the required images for submission or publication.

While many well-known Art quilters use professional photographers, I find that my 'amateur' set up is fine. My total investment for camera, design wall and studio lighting was about $325.

When on a budget, DIY rocks!

Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort

~~~ Franklin Delano Roosevelt



What I love about this Art quilt is that it totally reflects ME. While it mirrors the agony and ecstasy I almost always feel in the process of creating Art quilts, this one, most importantly is the birth of my Joy: my being able to express an abstract concept, on multiple levels, in my own unique way. To explore and do what you love is such a gratifying feeling.


This is my first original Abstract Art design in my first Abstract Art in a Series whose theme is: 'DEEP AND SIMPLE'. I desired to make a 3 panel quilt with tabs and challenged myself to draw 3 shapes I really like with each to be used in a panel.

I first drew a serpentine shape followed by a hashtag type shape and finally a teardrop shape. Seeing that the first 2 shapes, when split in half, mirror one another ~~~ it brought to mind the upside down world in the Netflix series STRANGER THINGS but I preferred the idea of the conscious and unconcious realms being separated and worked the design from that viewpoint.

With yellow-green as my primary color scheme, the idea of a circle encompassing all 3 panels had to be in the opposite color: red. A mirrored teardrop brought to mind the infinity and mobius strip symbols. All flowed from there.

I began to see each panel illustrating the flow of raw potential in the process of creativity, from contrast spurring desire and creating synergy which awakens opportunity and results in calls to action. The 'squared' black binding expresses the physical realm in which all occurs with the multiple smaller black tabs revealing the interconnection of everything.

The world of reality has its limits, the world of imagination is boundless

--- Jean-Jacques Rousseau


Stepping outside of my box can be me either doing something major or doing something very minor.

So, how is the STRANGER THINGS IN GREEN Art quilt different from my others?

Major: first time doing a multiple panel quilt

Major: first totally original abstract design of an abstract concept

Minor: first time allowing some fused applique motifs to have raw edges

Minor: first time using a heavier quilting thread (12 wt.) for echo quilting

Minor: first time using a layer of felt in addition to batting

When we S-T-R-E-T-C-H ourselves, we are changed in the process. We grow and learn. With each project, I like to expand myself in some way.

When you finally examine your works, your unique style will appear.

(from Pixabay)

( from Pixabay)

Fulfilling my dreams fulfills my Spirit ~~~ The Chopra Center

(from Pixabay)


1 - I love the challenge of relaying concepts visually using the textural mediums of fabric and thread.

2 - I love the look of tabs on quilts (where the exposure of a rod provides another decorative element) and feel that the panels evoke a deeper sense of mystery to the whole composition.

3 - I like balancing colors and individual elements of of a design between 3 panels.

4 - I really like the effect of the heavier quilting thread.

5 - I really like the stability felt, as a batting, gives and how the quilt surface remains flatter because of it.

6 - I will make this Art quilt into a series and continue forward using several of the same elements.

It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop ~~~ Confucius



To persevere is to conquer your fears.

A huge learning curve that remains for me is understanding and learning the photographic process which is like learning a new language ~~~ but for me it is over and over again.

The very first quilt I entered in a SAQA challenge was accepted. I was overjoyed but then was crushed when I was notified that I needed better photos for a catalog because there were shadows and no clear detail shown of the quilting, and I needed to submit them within 2 weeks time. OMG!

Long story short, I purchased studio lighting and got a DSLR camera online. Then, I spent every waking moment the final week learning how to use the camera's different settings and what to do about lighting, etc. Not fun but I was determined to make it happen and finally, after much travail, succeeded.

This was about photographing ONE PULSE.

If I had not persevered, ONE PULSE would not have been included in the Textile Posters global exhibit --- which is now touring for 3 years, I would not have gone to Houston to see in person its debut at the International Quilt Festival --- which 3 of us did, and it would not have sold --- which it did the very first day of the Houston show.

All I can say is that PERSEVERANCE PAYS OFF !

Love what you do and do what you love ~~~ Ray Bradbury

African Daisy photo by Jon Sullivan







African Daisy photo by Jon Sullivan

To inquire about an Art Quilt, go to the Contact Me page

May Art connect us. Thank you for visiting susannahotchkiss.com


All text and art quilts, unless otherwise noted, are the copyright of Susanna Hotchkiss

Artist Member