“Living The Life” by Kathy Zieben

The first 2016 quilt challenge theme is “The Orient Express”.   Being able to experience a world of timeless glamour and romantic adventure would be such a blast!  Boarding such a luxurious train and traveling European cities would be awesome.  Perhaps one day I will get to take a journey on the world’s most famous train.  I would definitely take my camera and capture everything that I might see!

I wanted my quilt to show the opulence and richness of the people who might take this kind of adventure.  They are definitely “Living The Life” and seeing the world.   Using the letters of the name, ORIENT EXPRESS, I decided to think of what would describe such a worldly travel experience.

O is OPULENT                               E is EXPENSIVE

R is RAVISHING                           X is eXtravagant

I is IMPROVIDENT                      P is PROFUSE

E is EXCESS                                   R is RICH

N is NOBLE                                    E is EXORBITANT

T is TACKY                                     S is SPLENDOR

                                                        S is SPOILED


My quilt began with a paper collage showing my interpretation of an Asian theme.  The collage was photographed and scanned onto fabric. It was machine quilted and hand embellished with beading.  Do you think these people are “LIVING THE LIFE”?

“INSIDE US ALL” by Kathy Zieben



What does the quilt challenge “Fine Line” mean to me?  It means there is a fine line between everything that we do (something or something else).  I am sure you have heard of all the expressions like:  clever or stupid, love or hate, genius or insanity, pleasure or pain, and courage or foolishness.  My thoughts went to a topic that was recently in the news, Transgender.   Bruce Jenner made this subject forefront in everyone’s minds when he decided to become Caitlyn Jenner.   Whether you are happy to side with his struggles or totally against this path in his life is beside the point.  I feel that we each have a little “boy” or “girl” inside of us all.  There is a fine line between male and female.  When I was growing up I loved to play in the dirt, participate in physical sports, or just be outside all of the time.  Most of my girlfriends were inside reading books or playing with dolls.  That labeled me as a Tomboy.  There were many boys that were labeled as effeminate or cowardly because they liked to play with dolls, didn’t like sports or wanted to sew.  They were called Sissies.

This quilt was designed to show how each boy and girl has both sides inside them and that is OK!!!

I started with a paper collage dividing each face into both genders.  The collage was photographed and scanned onto fabric.  The unicorn and rainbow fabric border the quilt.  Did you know that it represents a sarcastic expression of wellbeing referring to impossibly perfect conditions where everyone’s happy and nothing goes wrong?  Life is more than putting labels on people!  It is INSIDE US ALL…


How does time get away from me?  I am on this computer all of the time but I just don’t stop to post my thoughts anymore.  I need to get better and try and be more disciplined.  Ok, enough of my self bashing…

Lately I have been busy dealing with aging parents and my own sore back issues.  How does one grab a laundry basket and pull a muscle in your back?  It seems so stupid yet I DID THAT!!!  Maybe the answer is to NOT do the laundry anymore. Unfortunately that isn’t practical.  But after visiting a wonder chiropractor, I am almost back to my “old” self.  That was a scary adventure in itself.  But I liked it because we solved the pain without heavy drugs which I don’t like to take.

Perry and I were able to escape to Colorado for a few days.  Getting out of the Houston heat was so wonderful!  We spent one night in Breckenridge.  Since there was a beer festival going on we decided to go check it out.  First day in that high altitude and it didn’t take long for one small beer to make me feel pretty good.  HA!  Here are a few pictures that I took from our day there.


One thing I noticed were the pretzel necklaces.  Everyone was wearing them so they could bite into it between tastes of the different beers.  I guess they cleansed your palate.  He didn’t look so happy about me taking his photo.  TOO BAD…


Lots of interesting characters!



We stayed at a lovely Bed & Breakfast called The Fireside Inn.  It was one block from the main street in town so you could walk everywhere.


The next day we drove to Aspen for four nights.  Rode the gondola to the top of the mountain so we could enjoy the Sunday noon Bluegrass concert.



Everyone was enjoying the sunshine and the great music!

More to come…

“WORD OF MOUTH” by Kathy Zieben

The latest challenge that was presented to our group was called sticks & stones.  My interpretation of these words goes way back to the children’s nursery rhyme we all grew up reciting. It persuades the child victim of name-calling to ignore the taunt and remain calm and good-natured.   (Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me)

While it seemed like a good practice to use on the playground, words can actually cause pain and suffering that may never go away.   Not only saying words to hurt someone face to face, but now there is cyber bullying and texing!

My quilt is called “WORD OF MOUTH”.  It began as a collage of words radiating from a head surrounded by shredded paper.  Sometimes we feel like our brain is on overload from everything we hear.  I scanned the collage on fabric, quilted and embellished it with beading.

Just remember to think before you speak.  Know that your words can cause harm!

word of mouth

word of mouth upclose


Everyone I know has the problem with collecting objects.  Whether  it is clothing, collectable objects, or family treasures, how does one decided what to keep or what to toss?  Having someone come in and organize for you is worth every penny!!!  Do you remember the guy on Tv named Peter Walsh?  He was the clutter organizer.  He would point out that clutter clogs the mind.  When I heard him say that, it set off a light bulb moment for me!

When my friend’s house flooded, I was there to help them sort out their things.  We threw away water logged stuff and packed up  boxes with items that could be saved.  She was so happy to have my help.  But the only problem was weeks later when she started thinking about some of the stuff that we did throw away.  There are no “GO BACKS” as you know in trash…It only hurts for a second when you throw it in that black garbage back and then you have to forget about it.  

Alot of the things I have in my studio, I never touch.  So what motivates me to keep the stuff?  I think being an Artist puts you in a separate category.  Possibly one day I will use it in a project.  Hopefully one day I will give it to someone who needs it.   Perhaps I just like looking at it.  WHO THE HELL KNOWS why we collect certain things????

Have you ever seen the show “Hoarders” on TV?  I know that I am NO WHERE close to having the illnesses that those people have.  Emotional depression, family issues, or illness is what has gotten those people where there are.  There was a point in time where I could have seriously crossed the line with my many collections!!  But I also like to be very organized, neat and tidy.  I don’t like clutter!  So I organize, organize, organize all of the time!!!!  I don’t want my family to deal with my “stuff” when I am gone.  So if you can’t do it yourself then pay for someone to come in and do it now.  You just never know what tomorrow will bring.  

The photos were found on the internet and not taken by me.


Garage inside. Old broken car, shelves with tools and stacks of things.


Photorealism in Acrylics

Eight weeks ago I signed up to take Photorealism in Acrylics Painting through the Glasscock School of Continuing Studies through Rice University.   What is photorealism?

Photorealism is a genre of art that encompasses painting, drawing and other graphic mediums, in which an artist studies a photograph and then attempts to reproduce the image as realistically as possible in another medium. Although the term can be used to broadly describe artworks in many different mediums, it is also used to refer specifically to a group of paintings and painters of the United States that began in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Inspiration came from artists such as Wayne Thiebaud, Audrey Flack, Ralph Goings, Chuck Close, and Janet Fish, just to name a few.

In order to explore the narrative possibilities of still life we captured images from Whole Foods grocery store, hoping to get that one shot that would be good enough to paint!  One reason I wanted to take this class was to be able to use my photography skills in my art.  Using a grid system, we learned to transfer our imagery to canvas.  But then the hard part came.  How to paint something that would look real?  I decided to do an ear of corn for my first attempt.  My painting became more of a “mixed media” piece of art because I used fabric and thread to complete my project.

Here is the final product that I will present in class today.

IMG_3174 IMG_3173 (1)

“CORN” acrylic painting on canvas, fabric, thread

16″ x 20″


Recently we were out in San Diego and La Jolla visiting our daughter and soaking up the sunshine!   We had some delicious food while there, especially breakfast foods!  I love that about traveling, not cooking and getting to eat all your meals out!  Thank goodness we walked almost everywhere we went otherwise the pounds would have started to pack on.  There are so many wonderful walking trails which are so hilly.   And don’t forget the beautiful beaches and walking in the sand.  That is a great workout, too!

This first picture was from Cody’s in La Jolla.  It is on Girard Avenue.

IMG_9557_2This breakfast was from The Coffee Cup on Wall Street.


And my favorite food I discovered was an Acai Bowl at Turquoise Coffee in Pacific Beach on Cass Street.

IMG_9737So if you have an opportunity to make it out to San Diego and La Jolla, you have my recommendations for three restaurants.  I wish I was there right now!!  I am ready for some breakfast…