Weekly Art Project: Midpoint Review

It’s Wednesday which is reveal day for my Weekly Art Project.  I have my piece for Week 27 completed and ready to share but will save that for tomorrow. Instead, in this midpoint review I will look at the results of my poll, announce the winner of my celebration giveaway, address some questions that have been raised in the comments and generally reflect on the project so far. The link up for your weekly art project is also included at the end of this post.

Poll Results

The votes are in! Thank you to everyone who left a comment and/or voted in my poll about which textile sketch from weeks 1-26 you would like to see me make in a larger size. There were two clear front runners – Week 26 Cockatoo Feather and Week 4 Seaweed with 11% and 10% of the votes respectively:

With viewers having so many pieces to choose from,  I am not surprised that the balance of the votes were widely dispersed. Here’s an overview:

midpoint review and poll resultsSome of my personal favourites performed well in the poll, others not so much (eg Seagrass and Bottlebrush).

I have done my own critique. The poll results haven’t changed what I propose to focus on but have caused me to reflect on some pieces a little more kindly. When you have memories of the trials and tribulations of construction, it can skew your perception of the work.  Similarly, if there is a mismatch of what you had in mind versus what you created, this can colour your view. It is interesting to get feedback from others who do not have these filters but of course they may have their own biases 🙂

Apart from Grevillea, each of these textile sketches represents a first effort completed in a limited timeframe. As such, it is only natural that some pieces are better resolved than others.  I also recognise that I am still getting used to working in a 6x6in format. Early on, I started a grevillea-inspired piece. My design was way too complicated for working at this scale and I abandoned it. When I revisited the subject, my Grevillea sketch was more pared back.

Grevillea-abandoned pieceOverall, I see this project as an opportunity to experiment. I embrace the less successful compositions as a learning experience. The textile sketches are designed to be stand-alone works but it’s also very rewarding to see the collection all together.

Changing Scale

I am keen to explore some of these designs on a larger scale.  How big? probably up to 1 metre and retaining the square format. I have already started this process behind the scenes. Pigface (week 1) was the jumping off point for a 12x12in variation:

Pigface 6x6in© Brenda Gael Smith 2017 Pigface © Brenda Gael Smith 2017
Pigface: 6x6in (left) and 12x12in (right)

I then went on and made Karkalla (90x90cm) which has been selected as a finalist in the 2017 AQC ChallengeMade in Australia: Flora & Fauna. I will share the story of Karkalla in a future post.  In the meantime, here is a detail shot of the centre which features freeform cross-stitch – one of my favourite hand-stitching motifs:

Karkalla-detail-Brenda Gael SmithKarkalla-detail

I machine quilt my weekly textile sketches.  This is partly a matter of time but mostly because small-scale pieced works have lots of seams that are not conducive to hand stitching. My design focus is on abstraction – simplifying lines and shapes to depict the essence of the subject. I don’t plan the quilting ahead of time but seek to complement the designs. About 20% have pebble texture background quilt. The balance incorporate dense, linear stitching. Grevillea includes some zig zag stitching and Tidelines has radiating stitching lines in different colours. Working larger offers more stitching possibilities.

Exhibition Plans

I have a solo exhibition coming up in 2018 and I will be creating works in different sizes and price points.  My weekly textile sketches will form part of the exhibition. This has implications for both design and presentation.


In terms of content, my project parameters are to create a textile work in abstract form reflecting my surroundings at Copacabana. I have plenty of inspiration, here’s a page from my project journal:

Inspiration ListingWhile united by a sense of place, this inspiration listing covers lots of different physical forms. I didn’t set out to achieve a tight series but,  now I have the exhibition, I do want it to flow visually. This means I will be less likely to explore dramatically different motifs within the context of this project.

Similarly, I didn’t set a rigid palette as part of the project parameters but I am looking for a cohesive colour scheme overall. Not surprisingly, the emerging palette reflects my surroundings including the golden sands of Copacabana beach.

To my eye, there are a couple of pieces so far that cause me to hum the Sesame Street song:

One of these things is not like the others, One of these things just doesn’t belong,
Can you tell which thing is not like the others…

The second half of the project is an opportunity to smooth out any visually jarring elements. If I introduce further colours, I will endeavour to include them in more than one work so that the eye travels around.

Expanding upon the “geek tools” that Kathleen Probst shares in her Working in Series online workshop, I keep an Excel spreadsheet that:

  • notes the share date and title of each textile sketch;
  • classifies each piece by broad subject matter (birds, flowers, trees etc); and
  • records the main background colour for each piece.

Weekly Art Project SpreadsheetThis helps me see the profile of the overall collection and highlights areas that may be fruitful for further exploration.


I compose my weekly sketches to fit the full 6x6in scale and use a cardboard cut out frame to audition my work-in-progress and ensure the design fits the space:

Grevillea work in progress

In my weekly blog posts, I display my work in a Ribba frame from IKEA – one photo shows the textile sketch on top of the map and the other photo shows the work under the mat. I only have one frame and swap out the textile sketch each week. As the window in Ribba mat is only 13x13cm (5.1 in), this sometimes results in unsympathetic cropping:

Week 16 Weekly Art Project - Seagrass by Brenda Gael Smith Week 16 Weekly Art Project - Seagrass by Brenda Gael SmithWeekly Art Project - Week 25 - Flannel Flower Weekly Art Project - Week 25 - Flannel Flower

Mostly I prefer to see the work on top, edges and all, but this is not a strongly held view as I like the clean edge finish too. I will determine the exhibition presentation of my weekly art project in consultation with the gallery. If I go with under the mat, I will increase the size of the window so the designs are not abruptly cropped.

This to-scale mock up shows 52, 15x15cm textile works mounted in 23x23x4cm shadow box frames. Works may be presented chronologically, thematically or by colour.

Sample Exhibition Presentation

Sample Exhibition Presentation

Another approach is to mount each work on 6x6in stretched canvas (see my tutorial on how to mount textile art on stretched canvas).  Either way, I am planning on compiling a print catalogue that features inspiration images for each textile sketch.  (Incidentally, in a quest to improve my photography, I am currently undertaking the 52 Week Photo Challenge with Ricky Tims. I now have a much better understanding of all those buttons on my SLR camera and photo processing using LightRoom and Photoshop. Ricky’s thoughtful critique and general enthusiasm makes it both educational and fun!)


For more thoughts on framing, take a look at these blog posts by Meredith Woolnough:

Making Time

Interestingly, the two highest polling works Cockatoo Feather and Seaweed were among the quicker ones to create as my muscle memory for creating these forms is well-established. Just because these pieces are small, it doesn’t necessarily mean quick. As I have settled into the project, I have found that each piece takes me 4-6 hours from first cut to final stitch in the facing (excluding blogging time and updating the Copa Abstractions website gallery). This mostly fits my personal timetable but some weeks are a stretch as I juggle other creative projects and family, teaching, curator and volunteer commitments. Your mileage may vary. To maintain momentum, I suggest that you scope your creative projects to fit your life rhythms. Rather than completed stitched works, your project may be sketches, paper collages, single layer compositions or smaller units of a larger plan.

making-time-sheila-beerMaking Time – Sheila Beer – a matter of time

Taking time, finding time, wasting time, needing time, marking time, doing time, time flies. My art practice proceeds in small increments, a few minutes at a time. These precious few moments are often used to make stitches on small pieces of paper or fabric. Over time, a collection is built up and a finished work comes from the accumulation.

Finding time is a myth. Nobody can find time. It is elusive. However, anybody can make time. Making time is tangible. That time is the very tangible matter of time.

For my celebration giveaway, I will be sending a copy of the a matter of time catalogue to Susan Stitch who remarked:

My creative/productivity tip is to set a timer for one hour (or even a half hour) and to do nothing but create for that period of time. When the timer goes off I have permission to keep going or stop (depending on what else is going on in my life) – Susan Stitch

I look forward to seeing YOUR weekly art project. Remember, new participants are welcome to join in at any time. Be sure to link back to your specific blog/social media post so that we can learn more about your inspiration and process.

Weekly Art Project Link Up: 29 March 2017

Congratulations to those of you who started the weekly art project on 1 January. Give yourself a pat on the back for getting to week 13 of 2017 – that’s a quarter of a year!
[inlinkz_linkup id=706146 mode=1]

Join the Weekly Art Project!

  1. Join the Weekly Art ProjectMake a pledge to participate – you can do this privately but there is power in a public declaration.
  2. Define the parameters of YOUR own weekly project*. Write it down somewhere!
  3. Record your results.
  4. Share a photo via the link up that I will post on my blog each Wednesday. (The link up for each week will stay open for 14 days.)

* Your project can be in any medium and size. If you would like to explore working in a 6x6in square format, download the Weekly Art Project Design Sheet to develop designs at this scale.


  1. Susan Stitch says:

    WooHoo!!! Thank you!

    I really appreciate today’s post — I love seeing ‘behind the scenes’ info on other people’s projects.

  2. I really enjoyed and appreciate the process detail you provided in today’s blog, Brenda. I am especially inspired by your Inspiration List. Thank you!

  3. Thanks Brenda for the insight into your valuable reflective approach to your work.
    Also I am interested in the way you will finally present your work particularly because I am not sure how to present the eight palm trees I have done – they may work as a quilt or whether I should present individually. I have decided to try just piecing them and worry later! I think I am leaning towards a wall quilt.

  4. That’s a very in-depth post on your process and your thoughts up till now. I’m enjoying watching you work through this project.