Monday, November 16, 2015

Home from Art Quilt Tahoe

I took a really great class from Rosalie Dace at Art Quilt Tahoe this earlier this month. I felt very inspired and supported in my artwork. I had been stuck in a certain aspect of it for a very long time, but finally gave myself permission to become unstuck! Sometimes what it takes is a supportive atmosphere without the distractions of everyday life. All of the wisdom of our teacher, plus discussion of the group, changes and expands the creative awareness of each of us! 
Now I'm back home, reconnecting with family, folding fabric and  putting it away, finishing quilts for longarm clients. And, I have this quilt on my design wall, and it's a constant reminder of why I keep going as an artist with something to say. It's a reminder of my voice that is constantly showing me the way to greater expression and more connection with Spirit and to others of like mind.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

A New Frida

 I made the "Frida" Quilt a few years ago and it was one of my favorites. Then it went to a collector; the same with my Embellished Portrait," so I used both images in this new quilt by having them printed at Also, I've been developing my longarm quilting skills and want to do that as much as possible so I'm using solid colors in large areas so that the stitching will show up more. Recently, I was reading a book about Modern Quilts and was inspired to incorporate a courthouse step design into this quilt. (see below)

"Frida" (with a smile)
"Embellished Portrait" 

A combination of the Frida quilt and Embellished Portriat after printing on fabric via  and pieced together.
Piecing the quilt top together so far!

Thursday, February 26, 2015


  "Elf Quilt is part of a series of Quilted Portraits I've been doing for a few years now. I've been teaching this process to many groups in my studio and to quilt guilds all over the country, which I continue to do because it's such a fun process to play with. I love to see the experiences of happiness and satisfaction of students when they discover the faces and patterns emerging on their quilt tops as they arrange the shapes of fabric, embellish with various colors of thread and add buttons for eyes. Many, who otherwise have lots of UFOs, say that they will finish this project! One nice aspect of this work is that, even though you can make all sorts of faces, you can also design any shape you want into your quilt, including flowers and houses, cats, dogs and abstract modern designs! 
Japanese Flowers

I love to teach my Quilted Portraits (Sometimes called Puzzle Interchange Technique) workshop, especially to quilt guilds. Please pass the word on to anyone you think might be interested. Also, I love to share the process with you in my convenient online class at

Monday, January 19, 2015

Why Does Art Matter?

When I was a small child, even before I was in kindergarten, I would often wake up in the middle of the night with brightly colored visions of animals floating around my room. The next day as my mother was straightening my room in the bright, sunlit morning; I saw all of the animals floating around again, just as they had the night before, only in pastels rather than bright colors. One time, I was afraid at night and on my way to my parent’s bedroom, as I walked through the living room, I encountered a huge life sized elephant. I must have figured that this was normal because I was so young, and life went on as usual. As I look back on my years in elementary school, I realize that I had very few verbal skills and that my mind did not connect the same way as my classmates. But I did have a talent for art. Since I was five years old, I considered myself an artist. My parents told me that my kindergarten drawing was beautiful and I believed them. I never forgot it! I think there must have been natural talent inside me that attracted feedback from friends, neighbors and teachers reinforcing the belief in myself as an artist. This became my identity and who I was. My life depended on it! In junior high and high school, the little girl named Therese McMahan had her picture in the local paper a few times, and there was more recognition for her artwork through the years.

"Walking Home from School" mid 50's

But the problem was, she expected approval from people and if there was no prize or compliment for the beautiful creation, she felt unaccepted!! My art was everything to me; it meant more to me than just being good at something. It was my way of connecting with people, perhaps in an unbalanced way, since I was so shy and had no other way of expressing what was inside me. I could draw something, but I couldn’t say it using words! I depended upon others to talk about what I was doing, but I could not think of a way to say it myself. I could see that my artwork was beautiful to some people, but I had such low self esteem and I felt so different from other kids that I had to reject my art, unless someone else liked it. I just didn’t believe in my self. Other people had to tell me it was ok.  
I'm the cute one (as my mom said) on the lower left.

I’m wondering if any of you ever feel this way about your own art. Finally, after being a practicing professional artist for more than 50 years I’ve found a way to use my heart as a coach. I no longer pay any attention to my inner critic.

As you can see, I’m no longer the little girl, Therese McMahan; As an adult, I’m Therese May and I may choose my own style. What I do now is give myself permission to act from my heart in whatever I’m doing and let go of attachment to what others think. And I want you, too, to experience the creative freedom to be yourself as an artist. I encourage you to give yourself that same permission.

Cuz the more you do your own work just for you, the happier you’ll be and the more authentic you’ll be when you create for someone else. The choice is to give yourself freedom to do you. Each one of you is a unique expression and your style is like your DNA. You may learn techniques and materials from teachers, but like penmanship, with practice each of you develops your own signature style. The same is true of artwork, when it’s done from the heart and from the Spirit it’s totally you. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Jack Walsh Collection at the Texas Quilt Museum

The Jack Walsh Collection, curated by Sandra Sider is up through December 21st, 2014. My quilt, "For all the World to See" is hanging on the upper right. I wish I could be there to see the show, but I'm happy that Sandra sent me these great photos!

My quilt, "Pregnant Winter Tree" is hanging on the right, next to Terrie Manget's piece.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Me, Gary, Dennis and Blacky

This was me, Gary (he lived upstairs from us) and Dennis (my older brother) in the back yard in Westfield, Wisconsin; it was cold, but not too cold; you can see the bare winter trees but we weren't wearing any mittens. The two boys were laughing and showing off while I was deeply studying something in my hands. Maybe I was working on an art piece even at this early age of about two. You can see our dog, Blacky in the foreground with his tongue hanging out and his eyes and teeth showing in contrast to his dark coat.