"Everyone, I think, needs such a place to bring a sense of magic to life. For many it seems impossible."
Gladys Taber

Monday, April 25, 2016

Returning to the Needle

A work in progress

I have been working on a beautiful sampler 
for months now.
It is titled
"Quaker Seasons of Friendship"
and was created by Designer Pat Ryan
a Crown & Thistle Design.
I first saw it hanging on the shop wall
my local needlework shop.
(An amazing shop that I took for granted for years)
I chose a beautiful hand-dyed vanilla linen
and variegated hand dyed silk called Berry Cobbler
by BelleSoie

My sister and I both began the piece on the same day,
she has completed and framed hers already
and it is a beautiful accomplishment.
I on the other hand am just a quarter of the way done ...
I am savoring each stitch.
 I have also learned that I can't "stitch along"
with anyone.
I must go at my own pace.
My timing is my timing.
I thought stitching with my Sis would motivate me to stitch more.
It did in the beginning . . .
But I did learn that, I don't want
to stitch under pressure or deadlines,
or along someone else,
it just doesn't work for this little stitcher!
My needlework relaxes me
and I pick it up whenever I can find the time.

This sampler was to be my return to needlework,
after a very long journey away.
Hard to believe that in 1990,
I was the founder of the
Tidewater Sampler Guild,
where women who loved stitching, 
antique samplers and their history
used to gather
here in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
I stitched for years and then slowly 
let my life get in the way,
my focus had changed.
Wow that was over 25 years ago!!!!!!!

I've realized now
that sometimes we must walk away from something,
in order to return to it.

So in between working three days a week,
teaching Zentangle®, Tapestry weaving,
raising Josie (my 8 month old Lab)
and loving on my three grand babies,
finding the time to stitch is a sweet luxury!
I did find time to sew this adorable
pin cushion to add to my needlework box,
I love it!
The linen I stitched on had the polka dots on it!

Pattern by The Scarlett House

This past weekend I attended the
Dyeing to Stitch Spring Fling Retreat
at the beautiful
Greenbrier Country Club.
The guest teachers were the design team
Barb Adams and Alma Allen   
and they were so amazing!
Two creatives who are the best of friends
and share the love of the needle!
How delightful these ladies were!
How lucky we all were to get to spend time with them
right here in Virginia Beach!

Barb and Alma

We first created an adorable pin cushion box.
It was a lot of fun and lots of laughter
could be heard around the tables!

When our boxes were complete,
Kits were handed out and 
we began stitching the pin cushion,
that will be tucked inside.
(here is what the finished piece will look like)

During the retreat we were also give two other kit designs.
I've got a lot of stitching to do!

Sampler Kits

We created our own pin designs for our cushions
and had fellowship around the tables
with other needlework "enthusiasts"
I plan on making more of these!

My pin designs

I am so glad that I attended this event.
Ann and Pat worked so hard to create
an incredible experience for all who attended!
They sure did succeed!!
My goodness the treats kept coming,
one surprise after another!
The highlight gift was a handwoven basket
created for each attendee,
by 1803 Ohio Farm Basket ... a treasure!!!

The food was delicious,
the teachers were stupendous,
the atmosphere was happy and joyous,
the attendees came from all over the country.
New friendships were made!
We ended with a count of 97 for dinner
on Saturday Evening,
the perfect ending to a perfect day!

Thanks to Ann and Pat
Dyeing to Stitch
for a wonderful experience!
One I know I will not forget.
I am sure I speak for all the attendees!

There were over a hundred attendees
to this wonderful weekend.
I heard so often throughout the day
 how lucky we were to have
such an amazing Needlework Store so close by.
I have taken that for granted over the years,
not any more!
Ann and Pat work hard to keep their shop
well stocked with the latest in materials, fibers,
tools and patterns from amazing designers.
They have an open door "You are welcome here ...
pull up a seat and stitch with us for awhile" 
feeling to their establishment.
Apparently that isn't found much in
needlework stores these days.
It was good for me to reminded of that.

I know the saying
"What goes around comes around"
is used an awful lot.
This statement couldn't be more true for me
and my stitching life!
It was always there,
it went away
and now I have returned to it,
I have come full circle.

My stitching treasures

I continue to pursue the Arts that soothe my soul,
Knitting, Stitching, Tapestry Weaving
and my Zentangle® process.
I am always finding moments to calm my heart,
feed my soul
and find joy in the quiet still moments!
I am just so happy to have found
those individuals that share the same passions as I do,
the fellowship makes it all so worth it!

Donna Lee

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Art requires my best creative effort

My watercolor original "Serenity"

I've been trying to design a Tapestry for
my large loom for weeks now!
I'm eager to start weaving my first large Tapestry!
"Felicity" (my Dryad floor loom) and I
have been getting used to each other for awhile now.
So the time has come to get serious about
all I have learned with my weaving!

I began looking through magazine and catalog pictures,
(Anthropologie and Sundance are my favorites)
 my very own photos, and looked at cards I had saved.
I was searching nature, my collage work,
going through my old art journals
for ideas, designs and inspiration.
I finally re-discovered
a watercolor I had painted
many years ago!
It was totally inspired by my favorite
Watercolor Artist,
I had taken a workshop on her techniques
in Newbern, North Carolina in 2008.
My heart skipped a beat
and I knew that I had found
the inspiration for my Tapestry!!!

I have always liked to journal my thoughts and ideas.
I have different journals for different things.
So I began spending some time trying to decide
what I wanted to do
how I could make it all work.
Could I perhaps decide on a title? 
 What design techniques would I be using? 
I wasn't even sure if I would be weaving
my tapestry straight up the warp or sideways 
for the best weaving design.
Thanks to all the tapestry weavers
in my student Facebook group,
I will take their wise advice and
actually weave the entire tapestry
There is so much to think about within
the weaving process long before I come to my loom
and can actually start weaving my piece.

This is going to be such a learning experience for me,
I can hardly wait to get started!

 A small sketch with my notes

I began to free form sketch
a cartoon for my tapestry on a large
sheet of 25 x 36" paper.
(This will be the actual size of my weaving)
The next step was to loosely paint
the colors that I wanted in my weaving!
I would primarily be using roses, oranges,
greens and some white/beige for the birch trees.

Working on my Cartoon

Close up of my cartoon sketch

The next step for me was 
deciding on my color choices for the weft.
This took me awhile,
I just began picking skeins of colors.
I left them on the loom and
observed how they blended with each other.
I kept coming into my studio for a fresh peek
 to see how the colors were interacting,
then finally made my choices.
I can't wait to blend the yarn colors
and weave them into my design.
 Weaving those green leaves will be my favorite!
I can already visualize the hatching process.
I will primarily be using Harrisville Highland yarn,
and setting my tapestry at 8 epi (ends per inch)
with a beautiful linen warp.


Once the cartoon was sketched and watercolored,
my cartoon was sewn to the woven header on the loom.
Now that my yarn colors and fibers were decided
I wanted to try a color wrap.
 I had learned this process in my Tapestry Class

My color wrap on foam core board

It has all slowly and carefully come together!
I love the design process
and it does require my best effort.
What Art process doesn't?
I want to do my best,
create my best work
and that requires thought and planning.

Tapestry weaving has taught me
patience for sure,
it isn't a quick art at all.
Perhaps that is why I love it so much!
It is so worth the effort that is put into it,
including all the weaving samplers
I created to get to this point!

Practicing on my Mirrix Loom!

I have been working on my online course
with the amazing and talented
Tapestry Weaver,
she has taught me so much!
I love online learning and going at my own pace.

There are some amazing Tapestry Artists
in the world today;
each adding their own creative style
to a very old art form.
Each is willing to share their talents and knowledge
with others through the online community;
for that I am truly grateful.

So yes, my Art, whatever it is
requires my best creative efforts.
Reaching a little further,
going the extra mile,
not taking any shortcuts,
and being proud of the end result.

This Tapestry hasn't got a name yet,
I am sure it will come to me with all 
the hours we will be spending together.
I promise to keep you posted!
The Watercolor Original was entitled "Serenity"
perhaps that name will carry through to my Tapestry.

 Whatever comes your way this week,
give it your best, you won't be disappointed.
Take the time to explore something new,
and don't be afraid to try,
it's how we grow!
With all the time that went into planning my Tapestry,
I wonder just how long it will take to weave it??????

Donna Lee

Photo taken May 2015 ... I've come a long way!

Friday, March 25, 2016

What a difference a day makes

One day to the next!

I'm always trying to learn and grow,
some days are better than others!
Each day is a learning experience,
if only I will take the time to observe 
my world around me!

Mornings are the perfect time for me,
I wake up early and I am full of energy.
It is when I can accomplish my best work!
As the day moves on, I find myself
more tired and depleted of energy.
(A feeling most of us experience these days)
Then frustration moves in because
I didn't do what I expected to get done,
and the cycle of "Whoa is Me" sets in.
I could wake up the next day,
and accomplish so much in so little time,
What a difference a day makes

Writing is important to me,
yet putting pen to page,
or even coming to write a blog post,
is sometimes a chore
and I never want that to be.
Writing for me is allowing my very own
heart thoughts to spill onto the page.
Words come one day and then they don't the next,
What a difference a day makes!

Staying in tune with my mind and heart
allows me to be fully aware of where I am
 in that exact moment.
It certainly can change from day to day.
What a difference a day makes!
When I find myself running at a fast pace,
I am feeling as though I have let myself down.
I am no longer taking the time to enjoy 
what is right in front of me.
That saddens me.
All kinds of thoughts and negative emotions set in.
Do you find that true for your own life?

Each day is a gift.
It is an opportunity to grow a little deeper,
or just remain the same.
The choice is certainly ours to make.
Each day changes something in my own life and in yours!
Recognize those moments when
the shift is happening.
Think about what you need to change or work through
Recognize What a difference a day makes!


Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Pressing the Restart Button! (already)

Me ... Myself and I

I have been thinking a lot lately ...
about so many things.
Where I want to be, what I want to accomplish,
the Pounds I am gonna lose, the Art I am gonna create, the Tapestry I want to weave,
the Poetry I have yet to write and so much more!

The new year is here and we are already into its 3rd month!
I look back in my journal to re-visit
my goals and dreams
I've slipped a bit ... haven't you?

I started out doing great then life happened!
Work, family, commitments, health,
raising a puppy and so much more.
I feel I am a bit hard on myself,
but I thought I would be doing better at this point in 2016.

Whenever I am overwhelmed,
a trip to the ocean is always my Restart Button!
This past Sunday afternoon was my time to restart! 
Many of you know I live in Virginia Beach, VA
the ocean is about 25 minutes from my home,
and only 5 minutes from my work,
yet I still can't find the time to get there!
So this Sunday was a gift.

Taking in the beauty at 1st street

I just needed to sit still,
walk quietly and breathe in
the beauty, the sound of the waves,
and feel the brisk chill in the air.
I needed to STOP and I did.
Sometimes we don't recognize when we need those moments,
and we just keep pushing forward,
Sunday was a gift for me,
a much needed present to open.

I have a thing for writing words in the sand,
things that matter to me.
I photograph them and make cards.
Here was the message that came this time . . .
It seems to be right where I am in my creative life these days.
I am totally immersing myself into Tapestry weaving
loving every moment I can spend at the loom.

My message to myself that day

We all need to stop, recharge, restart.
Don't be so busy that you don't recognize those
moments in your life.
Trust me your spirit will let you know,
and your precious body will give you signs
when you need to begin again.
Refresh yourself, take moments to do something different,
be still and quiet,
meditate on all good things.

When you look around there will always be
a gift from the universe
reminding you ... You got this!!!
This was mine

My reminder

So the week has started anew
and I am feeling much better about things.
I needed to pause, to think, to re-arrange
the thoughts in my head.
When we are clear headed we
can tackle just about anything ...
even the ups and downs of raising a 7 month old
labrador puppy ...
named Josie Grace
(the love of my life)

Chillin oceanside

Have a very blessed week
Slow yourself down
Breathe in freshness
Treat yourself to something new
Remind yourself
"You got this thing called life"

Donna Lee

Monday, February 22, 2016

Attending Workshops ... Learning all the time!

Day One work

Last weekend I traveled to Charlottesville, Virginia
and attended a weaving workshop
with Tapestry Artist and Teacher Joan Griffin!
It was an amazing time of learning for me!
Her studio was beyond amazing,
with inspiration and color everywhere!
I soaked it all in like a sponge!
My iPhone was clicking away
and my photos were taken with Joan's permission.
They continue to inspire me since I have returned home.

 Fiber Stash

 Amazing Colors and Organization

Her Tapestry Bobbin collection

Charlottesville is exactly three hours away from my home,
so her workshop was certainly within reach for me.
She only offers her workshops a few times a year.

The night before I left, Virginia Beach had snow,
and the night I returned home,
Virginia Beach had snow again!!!
Charlottesville is north of us, and they did not get snow!
I felt like the traveling mercies were definitely watching over me!
I was meant to be there!

We learned how to warp a copper pipe loom,
(something I wanted to experience and work on),
we talked about fibers and warp setts.
I learned how to weave my tapestry with the front facing me on the loom,
I had been weaving my work with the back facing me on the loom.
It was good for me to experience both weaving styles.
Every weaver has their own preferences
We studied color, different tapestry techniques, blending fibers,
design, creating a cartoon, inspiration
and so much more.

Demonstrating warp setts

Joan shared her incredible design process,
showed us examples of tapestries hanging on her wall,
and what it took to design these beauties.
She shared her tapestry library, her thoughts, techniques and her own resources!
We listened to beautiful music while we wove . . . it was pretty magical.
I remember saying while we were weaving ... "others are out working on their
Saturday, and here we are weaving together, listening to beautiful music and
enjoying this very moment."
The experience will remain in my heart for a very long time!
I have even found the wonderful piano station she shared with us,
for my own personal use at home.

 Every design concept thought out carefully

One of her beautiful wall tapestries
(more can be viewed on her website)

 All of Joan's tapestries are nature inspired

Joan lecturing about her design process

I am a firm believer that workshop experiences,
whenever available to me,
are a must.
Of course, cost, travel, time always have to be considered.
Workshops teach us to travel out of our comfort zone,
learn new things,
meet new people,
learn to stretch ourselves creatively,
and along the way in the process
we are adding new things to our own creative toolkits.

Joan opened her studio to us so warmly . . .
we had access to all of her amazing tapestries,
her incredible large tapestry loom,
her fiber stash
and so much more.
Thank you Joan for a great experience!

My workshop space

Demonstrating a cartoon behind the warp

 Joan lecturing and sharing ... we were eager to learn

Class samples to ooooh and ahhhhhh over!

I came home and brought the copper pipe loom home with me,
to finish up my project.
I enjoyed it so much it didn't take me a week to complete
my class sample.
Now I will always have a reminder of a wonderful
weekend away to learn!
I'm ready to begin something new right away,
while all the info is still fresh in my brain.

My finished sample before cutting off the loom

I never want to stop learning new things,
meeting new teachers and seeing how they work.
Something way down deep
keeps stirring me to grow, to learn,
and always seek more!
Workshops are a great way to seek out knowledge,
and grow from each experience and instructor.

I am totally in love with the Tapestry Weaving process.
I began this journey over 35 years ago,
abandoned it to pursue other arts,
and now I have come back full circle!
I'm learning, growing, designing and
getting comfortable with it all.
I know now that this Tapestry journey
will take a long time to perfect and I'm ok with that!
I have no regrets for the time I lost, only an eagerness to learn more.
I feel like I am finally home again.

Counting steps carefully

I know when I am teaching my Zentangle® workshops
to others, I want them to have a wonderful experience.
To take away a desire to create more when they leave me.
Whether taking a three hour workshop, a weekend long,
or even a week or two . . .
Don't be afraid to try something new,
learn from your instructor and classmates,
grow  ... stretch your mind and your heart.
I love learning ... don't you!

Have a blessed week!
Reach out to a long lost friend!
Do something different along your life path this week!

Sending Love, Light and all good things to you
Donna Lee

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Where we Create . . . finding our own special place

Happy lights are a must!

I have always thought
that where we create our art
is as important as
what we create.

Created for me by Deja New
(in the Outer Banks)

There is always a sense of wonder
that comes over me when I enter
my little studio,
I feel at peace and excited
about what is about to happen
before I know it,
hours have passed
and I have totally been in the moment.

 Painting completed currently on my easel

My forever treasured Flora Bowley piece

My studio is my third bedroom
(which used to be my son's bedroom)
I took it over the minute he moved out and bought his own home!
(He always jokes me about that ... I was moving in before he totally moved out!)
My Daddy and I painted the walls while listening to our favorite
Frank Sinatra music
and slowly but surely,
all of my art stuff was finally in one place!
I will always carry a happy memory of that day,
just me and my daddy fixing up my art studio!
I treasure it even more now since he has passed away!

My yarn cabinet!

Inside yarn stashes

There is my weaving loom and all the fibers,
an art table for painting,
a book shelf for my large library,
a daybed for resting and reading,
carts, cabinets, lighting
oh my .. The feeling that comes over you,
when your room becomes a place of your very own ...
A place to step into at anytime
and know good things will happen there!
Oh My

Meet my "Gracie"

Every studio has to have an Ikea cart, right?

My studio has evolved with time,
new tapestry loom moved in, old one moved out
my paintings and artwork on the walls,
more books bought,
mementos from retreats
and gifts given by precious friends,
always precious reminders of a great experience.

My Donna Lee created especially for me 
by the amazing Mindy Lacefield

My photo frame created at Art and Soul
Catherine Anderson's technique

D is for Donna

Having a creative space is so important,
and I realize not everyone is able to have
a room of their very own.
Try to carve out a little corner,
somewhere in your home,
to fix it up and make it your own.
Make it as special as you can!!!!

"Bloom" by the amazing Mandala artist Kathy Rose
(Of course it has little dragonflies all over it!)

Window adornments for gazing

Every studio needs a creative library

My prayer flags by Lori Portka :)

Hope you have enjoyed my photos,
I wanted to share my special place with you.
What a joy it is to walk into my creative space,
feel the creative energy,
shutting the outside world away for just a little while
and work on something that is calling me!

Share with me your studio stories,
I would love to hear about it!
Here is one of my favorite pieces from my studio ...
Remember to always
Scatter Joy 
whenever possible!

My smudging feather created by Mindy Tsonas

Donna Lee