Blog Hop Interview: Liz Kettle!
02 Thursday Feb 2012
Today I have the fabulous opportunity to chat with fiber artist Liz Kettle. I’ll get to meet Liz in person at Art & Soul Virginia, where she’s teaching four classes on stitching, needle felting and fiber arts. I’m totally intrigued by her gorgeous stuff, mostly because I don’t do any kind of fiber arts aside from a bit of felting. And Liz has a very cool approach to teaching and art, which makes me want to sign up for all her classes and let her lead me by the hand into the wonderful cozy world of fiber arts. Here’s Liz!
Sara: You talk a bit on your website about “being brave”…how does this sentiment come about in the workshops you teach? Is being brave about art something you consciously incorporate into your classes?
Liz: Being brave is an important aspect of making art. There is a quote about leaping off the cliff and building your wings on the way down in reference to being brave about creating art. I am not the cliff leaping sort so I like to show students the steps that are carved in the cliff. To create an environment that encourages bravery I break techniques down to the most basic elements; each step is simple so it is easier to take each step. I also share my mistakes and failures as well as my successes to help remove the mystique that talent is something you are born with rather than a skill that is developed. I encourage everyone to leave non-critical mistakes in their work….sometimes the mistake becomes the favorite bit. I believe that it is important to create a safe, nurturing classroom for sharing and taking risks. I encourage students to listen to their intuitive heart whispers and allow their voice to sing rather than create something identical to my work.
Sara: How has your artistic style developed over the years, especially in terms of your teaching?
Liz: My teaching, writing and my art work all feed each other. Sometimes an idea for a class forces me to invent or learn techniques that become a major part of my art. Sometimes a student’s question will spark a stream of ‘what if’s’ that help me push the boundaries of a technique and when I am writing a book the need to break every step down helps me to question why I do things the way I do and is it the best way? When I create class or book samples I try to work in a variety of styles and that influences my work as well. I very rarely used pink in the past but since I know a lot of people like pink I kept making samples that had a bit of pink and before I knew it I was loving pink…especially when it plays with orange! Teaching helps to keep me out of the creative rut. Of course, it also creates an eclectic style but I am a Gemini so that fits.
Sara: Tell me more about one of your classes specifically–what techniques students will learn, how you developed the project, what you’re excited about.
Liz: It is hard to choose one because they are all like my babies…but, let me tell you more about Stitch Dancing. I first learned this technique from Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn, two amazing British artists. There are a lot of things I love about this class but the main one is that each and every student will have an original piece even though they all use the same pattern. You could use the same pattern for 10 years and never create the same piece twice! The other thing I like is that the end product looks so much more complicated than it is. It allows you to be-or at least look like- a stitch genius right away! There are two main techniques: creating thread lace on the machine and hand stitching into the piece. Thread lace seems difficult but once we break it down to the little steps it becomes very simple. I love adding hand embroidery and beading to these embroideries and we get to use my favorite art supply—Thread!
Sara: You talk a little on your blog about fiber arts groups that you belong to. How does the idea of community come into your artistic life…whether that’s a “regular-meeting” kind of group, or a “meet twice-a-year” kind of community like Art & Soul?
Liz: Artistic community is very important to me. People tend to think of me as an extrovert but I am equally an introvert-maybe it is that Gemini thing. I could stay in my house and studio for a week or more and not need to go out. Being with my tribe gets me out to talk to fellow artists, share techniques, troubleshoot problems and brainstorm. We speak the same language and share a love of creating so our meetings are energizing and stimulating. My favorite part is always when we share what we have been working on. I’ll see how a friend used a color combination or a different approach to a technique and those ‘what if’ questions start flowing again. We also hold each other accountable when needed and support each other in life as well as art. Bigger communities like Art and Soul may be a bit less intimate than my small groups but are incredibly energizing and just being with so many artists who love what they do and what they are learning is amazing. To me it is like a glimpse of nirvana.
Thanks for stopping by, Liz, and answering all my nosy questions! Just wait until I grab you in the hallway at Art & Soul so I can see those beautiful class samples in person!
If you’re interested in learning more about Liz’s workshops at Art & Soul Virginia, check out the class descriptions:
Thursday & Friday, March 1 & 2: Needle Felted Mini Journal – 2 evening workshop
Monday, March 5 (evening): Abstract Landscapes in Fiber
Friday, March 2: Stitch Dancing
Tuesday, March 6: Simply Bodacious Book
Oh—and don’t forget to comment on this post to be in line for an exciting Art and Soul goodie bag full of mixed-media loveliness, including batik fabric and ephemera, provided by Artistic Artifacts Annex.