Nature is my inspiration

If you know my art work though it is not photo realistic, it is based on nature. I have dealt with what I have started calling artist’s block, like writer’s block, due to the gloomy feeling from lockdown. I found if I just got outside for a walk or sit on a park bench I was able to shake the dull drums. It got me to start exploring the many, many different parks in my part of the country. I could stretch my mind into what was around me by getting out of my four walls. I highly recommend a walk in the woods especially if you have never been on that path before.

Last month after what was a very cold week the weather broke into a sunny, sunny warm day. Getting my morning errands done early I decided to check out a local park in the area. I started the walk, looking at the bare trees along the pavement when I came to a raw path leading into a a forest. I am sure it was set up as a bike path but I was intrigued as to what was new to discover, a path not yet crossed. I put on my favorite classical music playlist and started my journey.

Instantly it was about 10 degrees cooler as I started on the dirt path. The trees were tall and the path was well tended but with no new leaf growth on the trees. I love being able to see these “skeletons” of trees. To see what is underneath before the green leaves appear gets my creative juices running.

It is amazing how the twist and turns in the branches of what we see as a straight tree is seen at this time of year. Also the depth of movement and structure can be seen clearly. I was busy taking in all this, clicking away on my camera when I heard a rustling of leaves. I look over to see two deer abut 25 feet away. They were not startled to see me so I just kept still while they grazed. It was so unexpected I was in awe for this moment.

After the deer moved on I continued with my walk going deeper into a ravine that then lead uphill. Thus making the trail a loop. I continued to take in the twists and turns of the trees but then found an area of felled trees that had been down for some time. Long enough to have moss growing on them. To think we believe we have the idea of recycling as humans. This bit of nature, coming from something that is rotting is true recycling.

I did enjoy seeing things like this on this new path and am happy to say my artist block is gone, gone, gone. These pictures will be added to the overflowing file of ideas for another piece of art. And an added bonus is the built in exercise.

I have two art quilts accepted at the Jones gallery for their April group show. The first is Holmes Street Sunrise which is the banner picture for my site and Holmes Street Sunrise #2.

If you happen to live in the greater Kansas City, Mo area you can attend the opening on April 2, 2021 from 5:00-9:00 pm. It will be at the Jones Gallery located at 1717 Walnut, Kansas City, MO in the Crossroads Art district. You can also see the show from Wednesday, March 31st to Thursday, April 29th daily 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The gallery is closed on Sundays.


Time goes by and then you arrive at a standstill., not knowing how long it has been and how you got to where you are today. I have not written for sometime but have been occupied by how 2020 has changed my everyday life and my artistic practice. My last post was this year, a week before a lockdown in my area due to Covid-19. Yet I know we can all say it feels like it has been at least a century since March 2020.

My standstill came with the lockdown, not being sure what was happening, how it may affect my everyday and the total oppressiveness of uncertainty. Being shuttered inside was not very different than my everyday life. Being retired from “normal work” and being an artist full time means you stay inside to create, create, create. However, I do use nature as my muse and without being able to take my daily walks took me down a path of numbness.

After way more binge watching TV shows than I care to admit I pulled out my picture files on my laptop looking for inspiration. I did some sketches, then began a few small works to get my squeaky joints oiled in my embroidery skills. I then set to work a large landscape bigger than my usual 11 X 14 size. Get myself out of the funk by trying something new.

I wanted to show a field of crops in the front, a dark middle field with the contrast of a bright pink , red and yellow sunset. Picking out the fabric to start with was fun, I have enough to last me at least 10 years it seems. Then I went over the colored fabric with fabric markers and Inktense colored pencil. Picking out various threads, I set up a large quilting hoop in my stand and started stitching. Now I am not saying I wasn’t still binge watching TV but at least I was stitching while watching.

So this was a beginning of what I did to work thru my creative slog. I see stitching as another form of mark making for my art quilts. This picture shows the foreground up close. I used fabric makers to indicate the rows of crops, using the orange color from the sky for highlights. The needle is long because the fabric is dense and layered.

I started the the sky color after I completed the crop rows. Sunset and sunrise are often in my art. There is a beauty and brightness from nature during these times that I am trying to capture. To show the joy of the new day and celebration that the day has ended in beauty. I began with a batik that has a pink base. The color is all over with no breaks in the clouds, bright and ranging to a yellow at the horizon. I added brighter pinks, yellow and orange to the sky fabric. I then wanted to darken the pink color so picked up some dark pink tulle. Cutting it up and using gel glue to put it on the sky area simulating colored clouds. Backing away from my table it all seemed too much, so as a good friend of mine says I “put it in time out”.

A month later I pinned it to my wall and looked with a critical eye. There were blank areas that did not add to the picture. It had areas of marks that were very interesting leading to dullness. The middle area was fine in the tint and color but needed something. Yet the most upsetting thing to me was it was TOO big. Out came my scissors with a renewed vigor. I know many would say this was too drastic but I was sure I could save it. Or if I couldn’t then I would know what not to do.

I cut down one side and the top and part of the bottom. I then found some printed fabric images of different sized barns and glued them to the middle. They were also adjusted in color to go with the sunset mood. This helped to give a visual hint to the depth of the dark field. I must have done well for I am happy to say it was accepted for the virtual show of the International Quilt Festival in Houston, Tx. for 2020. “Sunrise Crops” will be part of the In My Mind exhibit and can be viewed from December 3-5, 2020 at

Sunset Crops 36 X 26 Fiber collage, fabric marker, Inktense colored pencil, tulle and hand embroidery. $600.00

Busy, busy, busy

For an artist who wants to enter art shows this is the time to get busy. Honestly I have looked over so many calls for entry since January, that I am getting a bit dizzy. For those who know me personally they can’t tell this from my “normal” way of being. No comments from the peanut gallery.

Part of being an artist is the desire to be accepted for your art. That can come from acceptance in a prestigious gallery or a well known national show. An artist has to keep up with current trends and colors that are wanted. I understand that 2020 is the year of  blue and the llama. I can work the color into my art work but not sure about that llama. However maybe I should consider this subject for the wool on a llama is very curly and interesting. Also you want to show a consistent growth with new work. This means a lot of the show listings ask for your work be no older than two to three years.

This can be a challenge because it is hard to just keep coming up with new art. I do have a storeroom in my mind and computer memory of new ideas. More ideas than I believe I will be able to create. Yet life and eating does become necessary. I have also wondered why the age of the work is so relevant for art shows. Honestly you can do your masterpiece one year and if you have the opportunity to show that masterpiece comes about 4 years later it is too old to be considered for some shows.

So it was with great surprise that when I entered a show that had no “age of work” restrictions, my work got accepted. One of the two art quilts accepted is what I consider as a masterpiece.  I completed this work in 2016, it really isn’t that old but happy that the juror saw the wonder in this work. It is based on a picture I took on the way to my bus stop one morning in the spring. Sunrise and sunsets have fascinated me for  many years. The bright colors, the stark contrasting dark silhouette of trees against orange, red, purple and yellows in the sky. All this just gives me joy and true wonder in our amazing nature.

This is what I saw that morning, pulling out my phone to snap as many pictures of what I was seeing unfold as quickly as I could.

I was intrigued with the bare branches in dark silhouettes in contrast to the colors blooming in the sky. I was taking enough pictures that a curious neighbor approached asking what I was doing. When I pointed to the sky she mumbled ahh, I thought you were casing my house! I chuckled and went on my way. Looking thru the pictures I found these three to be most intriguing. I then set to work using all as a stepping off point to get to my impression of the colors and joy I felt seeing this unfold.

Here is what I now call my masterpiece – Holmes St Sunrise.


You can see the bright color thru the trees with the foreground all in shadow. I used many strands of black embroidery thread in ever decreasing thickness as I stitched further and further up the tree branches. I used some gray and blue thread too but as you can see mostly black. Yes that is many hours of stitching, the straight stitch, on this piece. Yet it became very meditative while I listened to my T.V.  As I switched to thinner and thinner thread, I realized that I would need to go even smaller in my mark making.

Out came my fabric markers and I lightly sketched in the smallest of limbs on the tops of the trees. I just loved working on this piece so much so it is the background on my home page. I thought it would stay hanging in my studio cheering my day of ever ending new art. Much to my surprise it was accepted to be included in a group show based on scapes, landscapes, seascapes, cloudscapes, skyscapes, riverscapes, or cityscapes. Yea!

I also have one of my seascapes accepted-Lime Green Seaweed. This has a lot of hand embroidery also as the stitching I use mimics fan coral and seaweed.   I just love how the beads look like spotted minnows.

Lime Green Seaweed

On another note, these two pieces of art were not accepted into a totally different exhibit that had no created age limits, along with my most recent art quilt. As my art teacher mom used to say, “All they can do is say no”.

The show I was accepted in is here in Kansas City, Mo, at the Hilliard Gallery. It will open with the Crossroads First Friday on March 6. The show runs through Earth Day on April 22, 2020. I will be there for the opening so come by and say hi if you can. Opening Reception March 6, 2020,  5-10 pm,  Hilliard Gallery is located at 1820 McGee, Kansas City, Mo, 64108.






“It is the dim haze of mystery that adds enchantment to pursuit.”

– Antoine Rivarol

I am back after way too long. My life has been very busy with new art, group shows, personal and family developments but I am back here to share my progress, my art and my joy for life thru my art with you.

Create has been a defining word for me all my life. To create what is always swirling in my mind. To create new and wonderful art and the theme for me in 2019 is to create the life I have always dreamed of for myself. This creation of a new life included a move to a new living space that has room for a studio along with living space. I had to declutter and decide what to move to my new space. That took more time for me than I thought. It is hard to decide what to toss and what to keep. As a quilt artist that collages many fabrics, thread, yarn, beads, charms and what ever else I can use I had a lot to sort through. Add to that there is meaning for those personal things that you have kept in a closet for 30 years or so. Yet why are they still important when they have been stored for that long?

I had to be judicious in my selections for my new space is thankfully smaller. Besides the question of why I still needed to hold on to that high school scrapbook, I had to be real with myself asking if I still had a need to keep that scrapbook. I am a lover of history but honestly if I no longer remember the events that are kept in the scrapbook then it is time to let it go. Life is so much lighter and free for me now, though I honor the path that took me to this point.

I also was busy creating new art for a group show with my fellow fiber artists that was on display for May thru July this year. I still am in love with the wonderful colors in the sky of sunrise and sunset. I decided to do a series of smaller pieces in this style for the show. Such fun to take the bright and intense orange, yellow and purple in a sky scape. Then show trees, boats and landscapes in shadow so the bright colors are sparkling.

Here is Spring Trees. I used layers of batik fabric fused to a stretched canvas, color adjusted with Inktense water color pencils then stitched in the trees with embroidery thread in various colors and thread types.  This piece is small, 18 inches long by 6 inches tall but it was challenging to keep to this minimalistic style.

Jackie Keirnan Hale,Spring Trees

I had taken some pictures of a tree in early spring. The twist and turns of the limbs just fascinated me. This tree had been thru many thaws and freezes making many marks on it’s shape. I used this tree with a bright yellow orange sunset for this piece Spring Beauty. It is 6 inches wide by 12 inches tall with various thread colors and weights. I am so amazed by the light lavender colored silk thread. It changes color based on the color it is laying next to. It appears gray and soft with just one strand but you can still see the purple within the thread.

IMG_2381 (Edited)

This last piece, Purple Spring, I have shared before. I was honored to have it accepted in this years International Quilt Festival, Houston, Texas in the landscape special exhibits. I had not planned on going back to Houston so soon but just had to see my first acceptance for this acclaimed show. It is 36 inches wide by 38 inches tall. This is my largest art quilt so far therefore no hand embroidery at all on this piece.


So you can see I have had a very active year behind the scenes of this blog. It has now extended into 2020. I am very happy to announce that I will be teaching an embroidery class May 1, 2020 at a conference, Fiber Fusion, here in the Kansas City area. Coming from a family of teachers I love sharing my knowledge and showing how I use basic stitching to create art. I approach teaching embroidery as a technique or method to express your desires to create. If you can thread a needle and make a mark with that thread you are creating.

In my class, participants will learn several embroidery stitches which can be incorporated into art quilts and other fiber pieces as a way to add design and textural elements. I will teach you how to do the feather stitch, chained feather stitch, French knot and colonial knot, honestly they are different, drizzle or cast-on stitch, lazy daisy stitch, chain stitch, stem stitch, buttonhole stitch, fly stitch, and bullion stitch. Boy you will have a full tool box to use.

Once students have a handle on these stitches,  I’ll show you how these stitches can be altered to your own artistic vision. You will see how beads and thread thickness can effectively be used to add texture. I’ll have several examples of my work to share. I will  provide students with muslin, embroidery hoops, needles, scissors and thread to use in the class. I will be more than happy to meet you in person and share the fun and create with you. Below is the link for the conference. Check it out the link below and let’s create together.

Fiber Fusion edited


New pathways

I realized the other day that I had not posted much to the blog this year. I have had some changes to my life that have taken me away from my regular routine. Change for some is scary but I find it to be constant in life. You can use those changes to grow or decide to take a different path down the road of life to just see what happens.

This weekend I am away with some friends enjoying good times at a lake house. Always invigorating to have no real agenda and just “be” in nature. Last night we went out to the boat dock to see the lunar eclipse. It was not late enough to actually see it eclipse but the moon was so bright and beautiful. It is amazing how small you can feel when you look up to watch the sky. Yet that feeling doesn’t scare me it actually makes me look at nature in awe.

I believe it is the smallest things in life that can easily be dismissed or ignored that once looked for can add true wonder to life if you stop to look. I was weeding in the yard the other day and found some interesting patterns in the grasses I was pulling up.

The heart shapes in the leaves are what first caught my eye. Then seeing the spread of the grass underneath all from the center in a wide circle made me stop to take this picture. I pondered how wide and far reaching the patch on the side walk looked from this view. It is a world in itself, sprawling out to the depths of its own universe. Yet if I had not looked down, I could not have appreciated the beauty and connection to me.

So I stopped longer to look for even more small wonders.

As my day continued I found even more wonders in the grocery.

Just look at the patterns and swirls in this cauliflower. Of course the bright green caught my attention first but this truly is amazing to look at. But before you think I have gone way too far into weird thinking I will share this for a laugh.

A very tasty cherry butt? I just had to share.

I also want to share my next art opening with those in the greater Kansas City area. It is a group show with eight other very talented and diverse fiber artists. This group has been very supportive, encouraging in every way and fun. The show will open on Thursday August 2, 2018 and run the whole month of August. Here are the details check it out if you can.

Tim Murphy Gallery 2018 Postcard (1).pdf_page_1

Tim Murphy Gallery 2018 Postcard (1).pdf_page_2


Just have fun

That is what a good friend of mine told me recently, just have fun. We were talking about art, how I go about starting a new piece. Often I will use a combo of photos that I have taken. I then go thru my ever growing fabric stash to audition colors and patterns together to find the feel I am aiming for in the piece. Once I have collaged these down I have a canvas so to speak to add to.

At this point I start applying my colored pencils to adjust any color on the fabric to fit the mood of the piece. Hand work with thread, silk ribbon, sequins and bead work is usually the last step.

As I explained to my friend she asked if I had ever just started a new piece of art with no planning. Perhaps a color in a fabric inspired me and I just ran with that without any plans or photos. In other words did I just have fun creating without any preconceived idea or plan? I said no I had not, perhaps because of my need to control things or that it is in my soul to produce art that represents something real.

So of course my friend challenged me to just have fun with my next piece of art. I will admit it was scary at first. I had no road map so would this new method be useful? Would it be a waste of time and materials? Or could it be the start of something new and different?


I have said before that I get my inspiration from looking at nature and taking pictures which I then use to create my art quilts.  Often this is the way a piece of my art gets started but there are times that a color or a piece of fabric inspires my imagination. It just clicks, I see mountains, oceans and full landscapes in commercially printed quilt fabric. So when I had the chance to take a road trip to attend the American Quilt Society spring show in Paducah, Kentucky the mecca of quilting,  I jumped at the chance.

I started with a trip to quilt store to outdo all quilt stores-


I admit I was so excited to shop that I showed up on Sunday, the only day that this shop is closed. Checked the front door for the hours, peeked into the store then went back to my hotel to wait till Monday. I showed up at opening and bam right inside the door my favorite fabric designer and on sale no less! Looking thru the isles and isles and more isles I found more inspiration than I could have imagined. I knew this store was big but dang they had more colorful and interesting fabric than I thought.

Three hours later and many, many choices to delete from what I selected, I settled on pieces that I knew I would use, two batik fabrics that had wonderful color and could be cut up to colage along with a print that I have used before but in a peachy color I have never seen before. I have so many new ideas running thru my head along with the image overload of all the fabric that I had to go back to my hotel room to take a nap. Here is my selection.


I then went to one of the many quilt shows in the area. More inspiration from a selection of art quilts done for the National Parks system. There were all depicting national parks from the southern region of the United States. I was happy to be allowed to take pictures for they were very impressive.


IMG_1267 (Edited)

IMG_1268 (Edited)

I was able to get to the International Quilt museum after my rest. This is a wonderful place to visit anytime of year, they have a rotating permanent collection along with special exhibits.  No photos are allowed inside but it is an excellent collection.  Please consider this museum yourself if you are in the Paducah area.

I took a trip around the old town of Paducah. Lots of little shops full of antiques, clothes, a tea shop, another fabric shop, artist gallery and just for the week of the show a book store from the American Quilt Society. I am crazy about books of any kind and they were selling for five dollars a piece. If you bought five then you got a sixth book for free, so of course I picked out five. Lots of new ideas from these books too, how am I going to decide on what to start?

That evening I had a ticket to the “sneek peek” of the show. This gives you two hours to see all the quilts that were chosen for the different juried exhibits of the show including the winners in each catagories. You also get first choice of the vendors wears before the general public. There were plenty of folks at this sneek peek but not as many during the regular show hours, well worth the extra cost. I am in awe of all the precision and creativity in each “sane” or reqular quilts.

I then head to the second floor for I have been told that is where the art quilts are displayed. I am not disappointed in my delight to see all the creative and ingenious art. Wow, just wow is all I can say at first. I was so excited I have to admit I forgot to get most of the names of the artists of these beautiful pieces of art. What do you think?





IMG_1282 (Edited)

Lastly there was a special exhibit of art quilts done all in denim. Yes I said denim, so many colors of blue that one can see. The artist is Ian Berry a skilled artist using only a single color pallet of used jeans. It is so amazing what one can do with prue talent.

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Lots of pictures for such a wonderful time. Now to get off the computer and take this inspiration by the horns and create.


How far have you come in a year?

I was talking with a group of friends recently while doing my best to actively listen. As my friend who was lamenting her progress on a project paused I asked her to reflect on how far she has come from that time last year. It stopped her long enough to turn the conversation into gratitude for what she had accomplished. We all were happy to add things she had forgotten herself. Needless to say the mood lightened and we were all laughing and smiling.

I have not posted for sometime due to some family and life changes. During that time I lost my muse, my interest in creating art on a regular basis. I spent some days and weeks beating myself up for this void. Then it just occurred to me to stop, take a breath and take into account how far I had come this year. Life is never a straight line but this viewpoint for me pulls the mind into gratitude and fills my soul with joy.

With that I have started two new pieces and am getting back into the swing of things. I think it would be fun to show a review of my art from the beginning of this year to now also. So here we go.


Keirnan-Hale Fireflies




Another sunrise 

We are all encouraged to live in the moment. To cherish life as it comes to us each and every day for no one knows what will happen tomorrow. I try to do this each day, to see the abundance of life and have gratitude for what is before me. To appreciate the single moment of the beauty of nature and express that in my art has been a driving force.

I want you the viewer to see nature as I do in all it’s glorious wonder. I find I have a fascination for sunrise and sunset pictures. It has to have something to do with the rich and colorful skies. Yet I believe it also takes me directly to seeing things in the moment for the sky can change so dramatically in just a second. 

I have completed another sunrise art quilt from pictures I took one early March morning in my neighborhood. I wanted this piece to focus on the colors of the sky ranging from yellow to dark rich red. I started with some commercial batiks that had the colors I wanted to use as a base moving from the orange to a green grass for the base. Collageing the two pieces of fabric together it appears I could have used just the fabric but thought the stripes of color in the sky were too predictable. 

Working over the entire area of the sky with colored pencil I added clouds and definitions to the colors already printed in the fabric. You can see I blended the grass line into the sky lightly using orange and red over the green of the fabric. I am really liking the way this is coming along at this point. 

I wanted the foreground to be in shadow to further inhance the brightness of the sky. I first positioned a dark green fuzzy yarn on the fabric to indicate a line of grass. I then layered two pieces of fine black tulle netting over the bottom half of the piece for a shadow effect. I then fused dark gray and black building shapes in the middle ground.  At this point I was able to gage the position and size of trees that were behind the buildings. I decided to use a very dark blue embroidery floss for the tree limbs, going all the way down to one strand of floss for the smallest limbs. You can see my faint pencil layout of a light pole on the right and a tree overlapping the building on the left. 

I then used various twisted dark green threads on top of the green yarn and over the bottom of the buildings to add texture and depth. I let some of the orange in the grass area to peak thru giving it a reflected light effect. Using colored pencil I added dark features of windows along with a touch of orange on the buildings. I also enhanced the yellows and reds in the sky with a watercolor pencil. I had to stop to allow this to dry before I could stitch anymore though. 

I started the light pole using a needlepoint thread that is a mix of wool and silk in a muddy gray color. I love the sheen of the silk in this fiber making it look reflective just like metal. I did a satin stitch at an angle so it would appear three demensional. This took a bit of time and patience to keep it all aligned but not flat. Once I got to the top I switched to a smaller spun wool in an earthy gray for the standard that holds the bulb. Using the same wool but in a whiter color I stitched the bulb making it a satin stitch also. Decided it wasn’t convincing so lightly went over the bulb area with a yellow watercolor pencil. Using a small brush I set the color into the fiber with water. 

As this was drying something started to bother me about this light pole. It has the right proportion, I really liked the shape and the placement as it makes the eye move to the sky my main focus. Still couldn’t figure out what was wrong. I pulled out the camera took a picture and adjusted to just black and white. 

I immediately saw that the base of the light pole was too light for the rest of the picture. Out come the watercolor pencils again. Using a black pencil to lightly go over the thread, blending it with water. This method of going to black and white is a very old technique used by the masters in paintings. Often they would start a work completely in black in white. Then the actual color was layered in a wash over the black and white painting. 

Trying out thicknesses of twisted pearl cotton thread I laid in the rest of the trunk in black. I just love how this mimics tree bark. I decided it needed a shadow so added a very dark blue pearl cotton thread. This turned out very well. I wanted this tree to stand out against the brilliance of the sky. I decided it would be a well worn tree, one with unusual curves, bumps and appear as it survived lightning strikes. 

After adding many smaller banches with thin black thread moving upwards and a bit to the side for movement I decided it was complete. I like it a lot yet as most artists I can see a few things I would do differently. Perhaps there will be another sunrise to work out. Dang that would be three making it a series. This one will be Holmes Street Sunrise #2. 

Green leaves and weeding 

I really don’t like to weed but with the rain that came pouring down last week everything sprouted overnight. Not a good time to have the lawn mower die either.

The rain broke two weeks of oppressive heat and humidity making for a wonderful day to be outside. As I began to trim the wandering vines and volunteer trees that are an unending battle, I begin to notice distinct leave shapes and colors. It always surprises me when you take the time to look you really can see beauty in the common everyday things.

Of course I had to take pictures for reference later. This common weed is just about spent with it’s light colored seedlings waiting for a strong breeze.

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There is precision in the direction of each seed. Lined up all in the same upward direction, one across from each other. However looking closer I see some are bigger than the other and not nearly as precise as they appear.

I move to another part of the yard to find what appears to be a weed from the fern family. No I am not any kind of plant authority but I like looking at plants. Leonardo believed that you had to truly observe something before you could even try to replicate it in art. I like the shape of these plants and they would be good to remember for my next landscape.

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Okay I will just show you the rest of the pictures I took before I bore you all to tears.

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So as you can see everything is green around here right now. I am awed by the various shapes, sizes and texture in each leaf. Something I admit I usually just pass by each day. But just in case you want some color here is a picture found on line of some colorful flowers, peonies I do believe. 

This color and the wild looking greenery just may show up in my next artwork. I certainly have several reference photos of green leaves to consider including now.