Detail from "Rain Dance," an original quilt by Sherrie Spangler

Friday, March 30, 2012

Desert neutrals

Step into the desert
at high noon
when light washes
the world dry and still.

A lizard blends into the sand ... a bird leaves its mark ...

Twisted plant fiber becomes a basket ... or art.

Workers at the Living Desert in the Coachella Valley, CA.

The land provides material for human shelter in the form of woven sticks and adobe bricks.

Adobe wall at the Moorten Botanical Garden in Palm Springs.
Dried fan palm leaves form a roof to block hot sun.

In a palm oasis fed by water seeping up from the San Andreas fault, magnificent native California fan palms (Washingtonia filifera) have beautiful, intricate patterns on their trunks.  Actually, they're more closely related to grasses than to trees. Either way, they have beautiful patterning.

Mature leaf stems of California fan palms are armed with thorns.

Also in the oasis, sand and rocks form a collage in shallow water (above) while in the drier desert mountain foothills a rock (below) is swirled with rich colors to rival any abstract painting in a museum.

Rock in the Santa Rosa San Jacinto Mountains National Monument.

Pebbled bench seat in shades of brown and gray.

I love the desert -- the sand, rocks, prickly plants and sunshine. My time here ends in a few days, but I have a backlog of blog posts ready to bring back warm memories.

Have a colorful day

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Darlene: A Jewel in the Desert

Darlene Goins and her fabulous jewelry
at Art Under the Umbrellas.

My husband dropped me off Saturday at Art Under the Umbrellas in Old Town La Quinta, CA. It was another sunny day in the desert and I was feeling in my element -- my beloved desert air, sunshine, art ... what could be better? THEN I got to the first booth and IT GOT A LOT BETTER!!!

I had stepped into "Darlene's Divine Madness"
There was this explosion of bold, wild, my-kind-of-color jewelry, and an even bolder, wilder, colorful woman named Darlene Goins and her helper, Randall Weidner. Randall was wearing a lime green shirt and a spectacular necklace that screamed FUN.

Darlene was like a hundred bottles of champagne all being uncorked at once, an explosion of bubbles and sparkling light. And she was really nice -- when my cell phone died she let me use hers so I could relocate my husband and get home.
"Too Much Fun" by Sherrie Spangler.
I made this art quilt years ago, but it could've been based on Darlene.

At first I thought Randall was there to add some business-like decorum because he seemed a little more grounded with the customers, then this happened:

Palm Springs artist Randall Weidner.

Decorum flew out the window. Take a look at his web site: Like me, he's all about the color. I especially like his gallery where he does realistic subject matter but shifts the color wheel so nothing is the expected hue. And he has a quirky play on words with his collages of old Life magazine pictures. (Being a writer, I love fun with words.)

He and Darlene both exhibit at the Desert Art Center at 550 N. Canyon Drive in Palm Springs, I don't think I'll have time to get there before I have to go home, but I hope to be back next year.

Cool blues and greens balance hot desert sun
in some of Darlene's necklaces.
Darlene sold her first piece of jewelry 42 years ago on the set of Hollywood Squares. She did promotion for some of the companies whose products were featured on the show, and she started selling her creations to the production people in between tapings. (I can't even imagine her energy level 42 years ago if she still has this much now.)
A desert jewel to rival any blown glass art.
This desert bloom that I shot at the Living Desert Museum reminds me of some of Darlene's jewelry with its striking bold shape and coloring.

Darlene makes her own clay face pendants.

Randall shows some of Darlene's necklaces.
Randall's shirt is the exact color of this California fan palm that I shot at one of the palm oases that I hiked through. (I'll do a separate post on the oases later.)

A glowing fan palm at a desert palm oasis.
The beads and shirt remind me of desert greens;
the desert plant below could be a necklace
... around and 'round, life inspires art.
The desert's natural necklace.

I bought these necklaces and earrings from Darlene.
I love all of her jewelry, but the piece that spoke loudest to me was the glass corn necklace (modeled by Dave) in my favorite yellow-green. Its colors and clustering design are pretty close to the plant above. I also couldn't leave without the beautiful necklace with the big yellow beads and clay face. You just have to smile when you're wearing something like these!
As I made my fourth and final pass through their booth, we lined up for a corny suck-your-tummy-in-and-try-to-look-skinny pose. Too bad I couldn't suck my arm in. I sure hope they'll be here if I come back next year!

Me and my colorful, artistic fun new desert friends.

Have a colorful day!


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

More desert art: Mad hats and raku PJs

"Mad Milliner" Della Goheen and some of her hats.

Sorry I'm so far behind on posting more La Quinta Arts Festival photos, but I've been REALLY busy sitting in the sun and eating Mexican food! But now I'll get back to business for a little bit and show some more fun stuff from the show.

Above is Della Goheen, the mad milliner from Olympia, WA, less than an hour from me back home. Della's hats are like fanciful birds about to take flight. She dyes banana fiber into the most luscious, rich colors and shapes it into lightweight graceful swirls and curves that seem to float around your head. I wish I could have afforded about a dozen. You can see better photos of her hats on her blog:

Collage artist Agnes Copeland.

Next is Agnes Copeland, a collage artist and painter from California who sported this saucy hat and flower. Her art is pure happiness. I bought some cards featuring her sunny colors, and the one below is titled "Over the Beach."

Here's a quote from her brochure that might interest those of you who are artists:

"I've found that one way to grow is to repeat the same subject. I've done this one composition (buildings with steps) more than 100 times. It's a challenge. At first, I'm looking at an object ... but then the object is in my mind. As you replicate it, you simplify. Or you correct or figure out a better way of doing it. If you repeat it over and over again, you KNOW your subject." -- Agnes Copeland

Hasuyo Miller of Temecula, CA, and her raku pajamas.
Sticking to my apparel theme, here is artist Hasuyo Miller with some of her "Raku Pajama" pieces. You can read about her techniques and see much more of her work at her web site,

Inspired by my two days of art in the flowered and grassy park, I pulled out my embroidery project and posed a block with the petunias on the condo patio. Nothing like California sunshine and flowers to rejuvenate the creative juices! (I hear it's STILL raining in Gig Harbor.)

Miss Lizzie wanted to get into the action, so here's a photo of her looking better than in the last post:

Have a colorful day

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Desert art: Photography

For today's dispatch on the La Quinta Arts Festival, I'm focusing on photography. (Sorry about that pun.) There were 20 artists listed under photography, but these two really caught my eye -- one for his luscious flowers and the other for his unique "low aerial" landscapes.

Photographer Roger Isabell of La Quinta, CA, with his "Pink Mary Rose."
Roger Isabell, above, has the good fortune to live in La Quinta, where he nurtures his own rose garden as well as photographing flowers where ever he finds them. (His brochure is titled "In Search of the Perfect Flower.")

He takes digital photos, isolates the parts of the images he wants to keep, and either prints a single gorgeous bloom (like the one above) or combines them into incredible arrangements that you would swear were oil paintings. Go to his website, , and prepare to be blown away!

I fell in love with the "Pink Mary Rose," above, and bought a smaller matted print. While I'm here on vacation it's going to stay propped up in front of my television, because I'd much rather look at it than a TV screen.

Photographer Steve Keating of Port Orchard, WA, with his aerial landscapes.
Steve Keating's booth initially caught my eye because it looked like the bottom photo was taken at the Nisqually wetlands up in my neck of the woods in Washington. Turns out, it was! And Steve lives just up the road from me in Port Orchard, WA.

When he said his work is "low-level aerial," I mistakenly thought he meant from an airplane flying at low levels. What he actually does is raise his camera on a telescoping pole up to about 50 feet. He says he likes panoramic shots because that's the way we naturally see the land around us. Take a look at his website,, for some more incredible examples.

AND, he just opened an exhibit back in Gig Harbor at Brix 25, where you can see his work in person and have a fine dinner.

More desert dispatches coming soon!

Have a colorful day

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Liebster Blog Award

I am honored to have been awarded the Liebster Blog Award by Karen Musgrave, great quilter, author of "Quilts In the Attic," teacher, blogger, and ringleader of the vintage fabric challenge that I recently blogged about.  And that's not all! You can check out Karen's blog at This award is given to bloggers who inspire you and have less than 200 followers. The Liebster Award takes its name from the German word meaning Beloved, Dearest or Favorite. About me, Karen said: "Whose humor and kindness I have been blessed knowing." Thank you Karen! I do try to always inject a little humor.

As part of the tradition it is passed along to 5 bloggers that have motivated and inspired.
To accept the award you must:
1. Link back to the person who gave it to you and thank them.
2. Post the award to your blog.
3. Give the award to 5 bloggers with less than 200 followers that you appreciate and value.
4. Leave a comment on the 5 blogs to let them know that they have been offered this award.

And now for my 5:

1. "Idaho Beauty's Creative Journey" The "Idaho Beauty" is the only one of my five bloggers who I know in person. She does meticulous work and gives detailed accounts of her latest experiments and plans. If you love the mountains of the American West, you can also get a photo fix at her blog, since she lives in Idaho and is inspired by her surroundings.

2. Annette at "Too Many Ideas" I love how this Aussie starts every post with "hiya." I could listen to Australian accents all day because they sound so cheerful, and even though I can't "hear" Annette I always enjoy reading her posts from Down Under.

3. Deb at "More Whiffs, Glimmers and Left Oevres" Besides using my colors, this blog is dreamy, quirky, thoughtful and fun. I know I can always count on some bright color here.

4. Pam at "Art of Being Pamela" I don't think Pamela ever sleeps -- it seems she is overflowing with creative, colorful projects every day in ADDITION to working as a nurse. Lately she's been doing wonderful things with artists journals and some really fun bags.

5. Ladybug at "Ladybug's Lair" OK, so Ladybug isn't a quilter, but she found my blog early on and we've been following each other ever since. She does beautifully written posts about life in general illustrated by her stunning photographs of nature. Sometimes her posts make me laugh, sometimes cry, but mostly they bring me peace. She's well worth following.

It was hard to choose just five, because I have dozens of favorite bloggers who continually inspire me. I hope you enjoy getting to meet them.

Next up here will be some artist profiles
from the La Quinta (CA) Arts Festival!

Have a colorful day

Friday, March 9, 2012

Party pants, Take 2

Greetings from the desert!

Last March, if you'll remember, I tried to fly down to the Palm Springs, CA, area for six days to stay with friends and escape the Northwest rain. I was all set to wear my new desert sunshine shorts, a.k.a. "the party pants," but AlaskaAir's computers crashed that day and all flights were canceled. So I sat home in the rain and blogged about what could have been:

But this year I made it,
and I'm staying a MONTH!!!

Old Town, La Quinta, CA

I'm wearing the sunshine party pants right now with a purple t-shirt. (Thankfully I haven't gone out in public yet today.) But yesterday I wore my favorite art-show-orange dress to the La Quinta Arts Festival, and I posed with this painting that matched me:

Painter Oluf Nielsen and me in front of one of his pieces
at the La Quinta Arts Festival.

I'll do a separate post later on the art show, because it was fabulously colorful. It goes through Sunday, so I'll try to get back again tomorrow. I'm taking photos of the artists with their work and I let them know it's for my blog so I can make sure they don't object. (Putting other artists' work on your blog without their permission is a hot topic, so now I always ask first. So far no one has said no.)

I'm still working on these embroidered and beaded circles, which I started just for last year's trip. You can read about it here: I haven't touched them since last year, but I'll update you as I further embellish them while lolling in the sun with iced tea and chocolate chips.

Parting shot of little Lizzy, who belongs to the friends I'm staying with. The desert air is so dry that her hair stands on end from static electricity after we rub her.

Have a colorful day!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Pink Rain and Chocolate Rabbits

"Pink Rain and Chocolate Rabbits" (30" square)
By Sherrie Spangler

I finished Karen Musgrave's challenge quilt, and here it is! You can see photos of the other quilts at Karen's blog:

My quilt, "Pink Rain and Chocolate Rabbits," is a garden patch that's home to chocolate rabbits who feast at the Hershey Kisses foil wrapper spots in the garden. (More details on that in this post

This one (above) escaped through a tiny gap that I left in the hot pink fence.

Here's the gap in the photo below, left side. Actually, there's a gap because I didn't feel like turning corners anymore with the binding strips. That's one of the Hershey Kisses wrappers in the bottom half.

This was a really fun challenge, which began with vintage curtain fabric provided by Karen. You can see four pieces of it in this last photo. I overpainted some of mine and dipped some in strong tea. We had to include this fabric and use techniques from Rayna Gillman's new book, "Create Your Own Free-Form Quilts."

Have a colorful day