January 9, 2015
Natalya Aikens’ innovative mixed media class will kick off our 2015 Fiber Arts season at the Hudson River Valley Fiber Arts Workshops. Her Computer + Stitch = Art Quilt Workshop is March 22 to 28, 2015.
How long have you been teaching and what got you started teaching? I have been officially teaching since 2009. I got started because a very insightful soul by the name of Pokey Bolton, the founder of Quilting Arts Magazine, thought I had something to teach and asked me do a workshop DVD. Previously I had written several articles for her magazine and had gotten a taste for how it feels to show others how to do something creative.
What is your favorite part about teaching? My favorite part of teaching is the interaction with the students. I love seeing the “aha!” lightbulb going off in their eyes when they have grasped a concept or seen a new way to make their art. I also love the fact that I learn something from my students each time. It’s maybe something new I figure out while trying to help them solve an issue, or they figure out something themselves and share it with me and I had never thought of approaching the issue that way. It’s always a win/win when teaching or learning.
What would you tell your prospective students are three best reasons for taking a workshop? The number one best reason of course is learning something new! Especially if it is out of your comfort zone.
The second reason is the interaction with the other students. You always learn from each other as well as from the instructor.
And number three is the creative atmosphere of the workshop. When there is so much creative energy around you, you cannot help but feel inspired and energized for your own work.
What are you currently working on in your own art? For the past year I have been concentrating on taming a new found material for me. I am working almost exclusively with recyclable plastics (i.e. plastic shopping bags, plastic packaging material). I love working with the colors available and most of all I am enjoying the challenge of making trash look like treasure!
I am also focusing on my home portraits. I love the challenge of working with materials provided to me by the owner of the home. People really get a kick from seeing their ephemera transformed into their home’s portrait and I am enjoying their reactions.
Where is your art currently being exhibited? My piece titled The City is touring with Quilt National 2013. There are a few exhibits planned for 2015, but I cannot share the details yet.
What is your favorite art quote?
From Twyla Tharp’s Creative Habit: The routine is as much a part of the creative process as the lightning bolt of inspiration, maybe more. And this routine is available to everyone… Creativity is a habit, and the best creativity is a result of good work habits.
I try to behave as though this is my mantra….
Describe your studio. My studio is a converted one car garage in the basement of our home. When we added a garage onto a different side of our home, we closed up the original, put in windows and made it my studio. It’s cozy with plenty of light, inspiration of the walls and a large art book collection. I have fabric and supply storage off to the side of it.
Three Berninas keep me busy stitching: my workhorse of a home machine that’s close to 30 years old, an industrial one that I indulged in about 10 years ago, and a serger which is used mostly for my costume work. I have a large folding work table on wheels, and one of the walls is my design wall. Even though I seem to have plenty of space I am known to occasionally take over the dining room table when things get busy….
Name five of your “can’t do without” tools/products. 1. My grandmother’s thimble. 2. Matte medium. 3. My 30 year old Bernina. 4. My camera. 5. My Epson printer.