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Reflections of My Artistic Voice – Guest Blogger: Christina Fairley Erickson

December 12, 2018

Advanced Studies in Experimental Stitch – Level 3 Exhibition – Blog 5 – last in  series.


I remember back in early 2011 going to the Quilt Museum in La Conner and seeing the “Four Embroiderers” exhibition.  This was the work of four of Gail’s diploma students: Marjorie Bachert, Maura Donegan, Sandra Little and Lisa Harkins.  I remember thinking at the time, “who would want to be called an embroiderer?”  Then I saw the incredible work on display and knew that there was something very different going on in this program.  Through many years of attending exhibitions at Gail’s Center for Creative Arts, I’ve seen her students progress into developing their own individual artistic style, which has been my goal.

While all of the work of the four embroiderers was incredible, Lisa Harkins’ work particularly inspired me.  Her 3-D Stumpwork birds made quite an impression on me and I took her Stumpwork course at Gail’s Center twice over the last several years.  My great blue heron piece “Focused Intent” is my own rendition of taking Stumpwork to a large scale piece.  

I’ve developed my theme of “The Water’s Edge”  over the last few years.  In our Level 3 Art & Design class, I focused on seaweed.  In Level 3 Experimental Stitch, I’ve challenged myself to move into more complex pieces, as well as moving up to the shoreline.  I’ve also enjoyed learning Goldwork (metal thread embroidery) and working more abstract pieces, in addition to my pictorial / representational work.  With all the stitch techniques I’ve learned over my years of study with Gail, I now proudly call myself an “embroiderer” and I can see my artistic voice reflected in the work I produce.

Developing a Tree Theme …. Guest Blogger: Barbara Fox

December 3, 2018

Advanced Studies in Experimental Stitch – Level 3 Exhibition Blog #4

I love all aspects of fiber arts; from the first thread piercing the fabric to finished piece–starting with an idea, developing that idea and then producing the final product. It was then, in my quest to satisfy that passion, I came upon this amazing

center to further develop that passion.

Level 3 Advanced Experimental Stitch has been both challenging and enriching every step of the way. Each student is encouraged to create a body of work expanding on a theme. I chose to develop the tree theme which has been the common thread throughout my studies at the Gail Harker Center for Creative Arts. The natural world has always played a part in my fiber arts study.

Working in an individual way creating work that is unique to my style has been very rewarding. Gail has a gentle way of supporting us and encouraging us to “really look” at our subjects. It is with this teaching method that I have learned to expand my artistic reach. This has truly been an enriching two and one/half years.


© Barbara Fox


l hanging – Fabric manipulation, applique and Hand stitch © Barbara Fox


closeup of tree hanging © Barbara Fox © Barbara Fox


Trees- Trapunto and Darning © Barbara Fox


Forest Floor – Fabric manipulation, applique and Hand stitch © Barbara Fox


Closeup Forest Floor – Fabric manipulation, applique and Hand stitch © Barbara Fox


Panel © Barbara Fox


Small tree panel © Barbara Fox


Darning Trees © Barbara Fox

Art and Stitch – How in the World Can I Do That? Guest Blogger: Marilyn Olsen

November 25, 2018

Advanced studies in Experimental Stitch – level 3 Exhibition – Blog 3

As you will see from my exhibited work, and/or hear my short talk, my five-year study with Gail and Penny has truly been a path of inspiration.  Mark Twain claims that there are really no new ideas, only old ones seen in a new way.  Sherlock Holmes became famous for his admonition to Watson, “You see but you do not observe.” 

And I guess I would describe my path of inspiration as involving both of these concepts.  During my working career, my focus had always been on the written word, so, not surprisingly that first color class was a real physical and artistic eye-opener for me.  Wow!  Those colors can be produced in so many different mediums, and combined in so many ways.  Talk about old ideas seen in a new way! Then, on to the amazing ways colors can be altered to create such visual impact.  Studying old ideas in the works of a wide variety of artists taught me not just to see but to really observe.  How in the world did he or she DO that?  And, better yet, how could I do that?

The other component of the Harker experience, of course, has been the opportunity to spend so many, many hours with such wonderful friends, to see not just my mind being opened to new ideas, but to see theirs blossom in so many other ways. 

Mark Twain, Sherlock Holmes and Gail Harker have helped me on my path to inspiration both now and, hopefully, into the future.

Design and Stitch – Hours and Months Guest Blogger: Nancy Drake

November 11, 2018

Advanced Studies in Experimental Stitch – Level 3 Exhibition – Blog 2

This class, which has combined constant design work as well as hand and machine stitch, has been quite a challenge, while also being quite inspiring.  Over and over, I’ve had to look again, tweak this or that, look again and tweak again.  When I look back at how many hours and months went into one of these projects I’m amazed.  All the skills and techniques we learned in the previous classes are put to use, especially the design work.  I think the ability and the choice to use and reuse the elements of design in whatever project I work on is one of the very best things I have to take away with me.  Nancy Drake


Getting Ready for an Exhibition

October 29, 2018

This past week, a group of students (Level 3 Advanced Studies in Experimental Stitch) met to prepare their artwork to show in the La Conner Country Inn. This last session is used for last minute finishing up artwork, exhibition study and to evaluate all assessments.  The completed items are only one component of creation. The process and documentation is another. Penny Peters and I thoroughly enjoy looking at the notebooks and sketchbooks, seeing how the student and the projects have grown and matured over the time period of the course. The next few blogs will feature our graduates: Marilyn Olsen, Christina Fairley Erickson, Nancy Drake and Barbara Fox. I know that you will enjoy them.

Making Art at The Lux in La Conner

October 6, 2018

In September our level 3 Art and Design class (Heliconia) met for their 6th – 5 day session. Students were working on individual projects this time as they are getting close to their final exhibition session in the New Year.  Organic flowing designs were made using inks as we worked with a new medium.   We all enjoyed the hospitality of Rebecca Strong at the Lux in La Conner, on Morris Street,  in a newly refurbished light and bright art space.  Here are a few photos from the class:

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New Beginnings

September 25, 2018


Gail working with Level 3 Advanced Experimental Stitch student Marilyn Olsen in August 2018.

It is the first day of Autumn as I write to you about our busy Spring and Summer and plans for the autumn and New Year.  Don and I have sold the Barn, the place in which I held classes and we also lived in.  It took until mid August to organize our studio, office tools and equipment into nearby storage and to pack up our house belongings.

Barb Fox working on one of her assessment pieces for L3 Stitch.

The La Conner Business community has generously stepped up to offer us space for class venues.  Ongoing courses started up again at the end of Aug. in the Channel Lodge, The Lux (a new art place) and La Conner Country Inn. What great settings with incredible accommodating hosts.  I am writing to each ongoing class about their new locations. Of course students are welcome to stay where they like during their time in class or may like to book at the venue the classes are being held in.

L3 Advanced Stitch students Christina Fairley Erickson, Nancy Drake, Marilyn Olsen, and Barb Fox (with Penny Peters) will be having their student exhibition October 26-27 in La Conner.






The website and blog have slowed down during the move but new courses, classes and exhibitions are in planning stages and will presently be announced on the website.  Meanwhile we are also exploring new options for a single dedicated venue. For those of you who may not have experienced a class with me, you will find that my classes and courses are developed to bring out the hidden creator within you.  As Henri Matisse once said:  Creativity takes Courage. Come and discover for yourself.  If you’d like to discuss a class you are interested in, send me an email!

Gail Harker

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