Karen Miller

Trying to find my groove…

Tree Photo by Karen D. Miller

The past couple of weeks have certainly been interesting though a bit short on the productive side.

In there was March Break and a week of single parenthood.  That didn’t leave me with a whole lot of time to make art but I did still manage to get some stuff done.

The problem was that I spent an awful lot of time working on something that in the end didn’t work.  I know that I am supposed to look at that not as time wasted but as lessons learned but really, it was frustrating.

I had turned my attention back to the three-panel piece and I agonized over the sky.  And then agonized some more.  I sketched a gazillion sketches in my sketchbook to try to figure out what I wanted for the sky and nothing seemed to be just right.  I have a particular vision for the piece and everything seemed a little flat.   Then I latched on to the idea of a night sky.  I previously said that I have never done a night sky which my husband has pointed out isn’t true- my “Ghost Trees” piece has a night sky.  But I kind of see that as more of a pitch black sky rather than a moonlit night sky.  Anyway, I was really excited about this moonlit dark blue night sky.  I went out and bought a whole bunch of new yarn in the colours that I thought I was looking for and spent my evenings hooking it into one of the panels.  And then at the end of last week I realized that it just was not working at all.  I liked the sky- but it did not go well with that particular piece.  No matter how much I tried to fool myself into thinking that it did.

So, out came the night sky and after some more agonizing I think I have come up with a new plan of attack.  But in the meantime my husband took me through a very instructive exercise with regards to our show in October.  I fail miserably when it comes to thinking spatially so while I know how much my space allotment is for the show (we are dividing it up equally between the five of us) I couldn’t really visualize it.

With a few pieces of painter’s tape we mapped it out in the family room and laid out the pieces that I have so far and to my surprise I have almost filled my space.  Which is good because that means I am on top of it but it also means thinking a bit more critically about what it is that I want to take with me.  And the other realization is that the three-panel piece would take up too much of my space.  This has caused me to re-think my priorities as there are a couple more pieces that I do want to get done for the October show.  So the poor ill-fated three panel piece has come off of the rack once more and I have sketched up the next piece.   It will get done, I swear, but just not now.

In other news, in case you didn’t see it on Facebook, I wrote an article for the TAFA (Textile and Fiber Art List) design series “Decorating with Textiles.”  Check it out here to see how I decorate my home with my hooked rugs!







Photo by Karen D. Miller

Inspiration Photo #7




What:   Not one, but two photos of different tree bark.  Though both are a little blurry.

Why did this catch my eye:   I have recently become fixated on these two photos of tree bark.  I can feel the wheels slowly turning as I puzzle out exactly what I am going to do with them.  I have an idea, I’m just not entirely sure how to execute it quite yet.  Although these aren’t the best photos, they still capture the fabulous texture and patterns on these trees.  It is not tree bark that should go to waste.

I am completely tired of winter photos now.  If spring doesn’t come soon I may have to delve into old photos I have taken, which would defeat the point of this exercise but really, this winter thing is becoming ridiculous.



I committed to posting 40 inspiration photos on the blog in 2014.  The purpose of this exercise is to get me out of my comfort-zone:  finding inspiration in my everyday surroundings.  This series will continue throughout the year.

Hand Hooked Rug by Karen D. Miller

Heading West….

Hand Hooked Rug by Karen D. Miller

Heading West- 15W x 11.5L; detail

Well, unfortunately I’m not.  But I am pleased to announce that my piece “Heading West” is going to be in the Focus on Fibre Arts Association  (FFAA)  ‘Prairies’ Exhibition in Alberta!

The exhibit will be on display at:

 Enterprise Square Faculty of Extension Gallery

10230 Jasper Ave. in Edmonton

from May 4 to 30, 2014

The Hallway Gallery 2nd floor

May 4 to Aug 30, 2014

DOW Centennial Center

Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta

from Oct 2 to Nov 28, 2014

I sneak peeked this piece last Fall but didn’t show you the whole thing as I made it specifically for this prairie-themed show.  It measures 15″W x 11.5″L and was designed and hand-hooked by me using a variety of wool yarns on rug warp.  The wheat field in the foreground was done using, you guessed it, silk sari ribbon which I sewed to the piece for added texture and movement (I love using this technique!) and then I hooked some recycled silk sari yarn at the bottom of the wheat.  It is framed in an antique Eastern Ontario window frame.

When I first told my husband the title of the piece he immediately pointed out that the prairies are not “west” for everyone.  But since I have always been east of the prairies, it made sense to me and the title stuck.  🙂

Very exciting!  Now I have to get over the fact that this piece is travelling further West in Canada than I have ever been…..One day I will have to rectify that!


Fungus Transformation….

I was not supposed to keep working continuously on this transformation.  My plan was to alternate between it and my three-panel piece.  But I became fixated on it.  Completely fixated.  So I thought I should just press on and finish it up and then I could let go of it and return to the three-panels without my mind being somewhere else.

Just a reminder, this is what it looked like before when it was “Fungus Adventure”….


And here it is now as “Tree Fungi”….


I really like the transformation.  The fungi is much brighter and bolder.  I kept all of the original fungus unless it fell outside of the new perimeter that I had created.  But I punched up the colours- taking out a lot of the browner shades and I threw in some splotches of red to catch the eye and make it that little bit more funky.   I tried SO many background colours.  I can see now why originally I went with the brown as it was so hard to choose a colour.  And then it kind of occurred to me that it wasn’t the background colour so much that was a problem but that I kept putting a flat background on the piece.  It needed some movement and interest.   The background now can be interpreted as either a mimicry of the movement and shapes of a fungus or hinting at the tree that the fungi are attached to.  It is totally up to the viewer as to what their interpretation is.

I still need to figure out how it is going to be finished.  Ideally I would like to frame it in a round frame….I’ve put that notion out there and my husband hasn’t run away screaming yet (he makes most of my frames) so it may still happen.

In the meantime, it is back to the three-panels now that I have gotten this piece out of my system!