We’re so thankful to have Gloria Loughman returning for another fiber art workshop this year! Her workshop, The Textured Landscape, still has spots available and will run from August 26-September 1, 2018. Well before her workshop and in fact, right before she left on a quilting cruise – Gloria took a moment to share more about her background and approach to art with us.
Q: What was your path to becoming a full-time working artist?
GL: When I was growing up I like to play every sport available. I loved to run, climb trees, swim, sail and it never entered my head to sit still and paint or stitch. I actually failed needlework in year 7 when we had to stitch two samplers by hand and after that very negative experience I thought I would never attempt anything to do with sewing.
After finishing high school, I went to University and trained as a teacher of mathematics and physical education. Later on I went back and studied to be a teacher of students with special needs. It was after the birth of our second daughter, my husband surprised me one Christmas with a gift of a Bernina sewing machine. He now maintains it was his ‘biggest mistake’ as I set off to make cute clothing for our daughters and later on formal dresses.
In 1988, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, still in my 30’s it was a tough time in our lives but as I was recovering from surgery and chemotherapy, a friend invited me to a quilting class. I loved the whole process. The precision cutting and piecing, choosing colors, fabrics and patterns, designing my own traditional quilts etc. After making quilts for our family and lots of wall hangings, I became frustrated that I knew nothing about color or design so I enrolled in a Diploma Of Art which I did by distance education. It was a really busy time as I was teaching at school 4 days a week and busy doing my course the rest of the time. I had no time for making quilts. Once I had finished, I began making my large landscape quilts and then things have just progressed from there. What an incredible journey it has been!!
Q: Do you work on multiple pieces concurrently or focus on exclusively one at a time? If the former, how do you balance that? If the later, how do you decide which one to start next?
GL: I tend to work on one project at a time although I am always thinking about the next one. I tend to work in a series whether it be technique or theme based. When I have been working on my books, I sometimes have more than one project on the go.
Q: How do you come up with ideas to begin something new?
GL: This never seems to be a problem. The problem is being home long enough to work through my ideas. I travel a lot. We love going camping in Australia, especially in the wildness areas. We also love wandering through old cities taking photographs. It has to be one of my favorite pastimes that I share with my husband. Taking photographs of old crumbling buildings, unusual color schemes that clash and I would never think to put together, close ups of unusual and fascinating textures …
So I am never short of inspiration and then it comes down to experimenting with a way of producing this image in fabric. I love art that is semi abstract and leaves the viewer filling in some of the spaces. This is what I am trying to pursue in my won work at the moment rather than reproduce a realistic copy of my inspiration.
Q: What keeps you motivated to continue making art?
GL: I just love time in the studio and then I love sharing my techniques and ideas with others. I think I will be making art for the rest of my life and as I am nearly 70, I probably should stay home more and spend more time in the studio. Because I am away so much teaching classes and camping in Australia with friends, my time at home in the studio is precious and I value every minute of it. Sometimes it is just playing and other times it is working long days on a project. Always a treat!!
Q: What’s the biggest “risk” you’ve taken in your journey as an artist? Creatively, in a business sense, or in life?
GL: I think the biggest risk I have taken was to leave my position as a team leader in a special school setting in a secondary school to teach quilt making. Our youngest daughter had just left school and we were supporting her at University in Melbourne. Financially it was quite a risk but after having breast cancer, my husband and I decided to take a chance and see how things worked out. It was a great decision. My husband is retired and usually accompanies me as we travel to so many amazing and beautiful places. We have friends from so many countries around the world and we even get the opportunity to host some of these friends at our home in Australia. We feel very fortunate.