Featured Artist Q & A:
Louise Thompson Schiele
A Stitch in Time
After many years in corporate America, fabric artist Louise Thompson Schiele threw out her suit and made fiber art her full-time passion. A baby boomer and native of California, Louise cuts, stains, and manipulates cotton, muslin and more to create representational and abstract designs that draw from personal experiences and photographs from times of yore.
Read on to learn more about her captivating stitchery below:
1. Before becoming a full-time artist, you worked in corporate America. How did you end up falling in love with textile arts?
From an early age I was involved in sewing and over time, my passion for textile arts has grown. My mom was a seamstress, and with four young girls to raise, she created our wardrobes as money was tight. I was given formal sewing lessons at the tender age of 10 and have been sewing since. My sisters and I used to create quilts and one-of-a-kind clothing and sell at outdoor festivals under the name “Hand Maids” during our teens and twenties. Once I was married and had a full-time career, I continued creating wall quilts, owned a quilt store in Town and Country Village in Sacramento and became a professional artist along the way. When I retired from FedEx in 2002, I was finally able to work as a full-time studio artist and continue to do so to this day.
2. You describe your sewing machine as a “drawing pen.” How has your sewing technique developed since you began?
The sewing machine is like an extension of my arm, like a paintbrush is to a painter. I can carefully outline and shade the images I work with as well as fill a fully open area of color with thread to create a secondary image or set a mood to the overall surface design of the piece of work. As a beginner sewer, I was very careful and precise in using my sewing machine. After years of using a sewing machine, I drive my needle like I drive my car: fast and furious.
3. Describe your fiber collage work in three words.
Unique. Colorful. Mindful.
“Time Travelers” get the psychedelic treatment through Schiele’s meticulous sewing technique.
4. What stories/messages do you hope to convey via your works?
In my current collage work, I’m sharing what life was like in different eras in time. I start by finding old photos, scanning them into my computer and then printing them in larger sizes in black and white to cotton. I then colorize the images with colored pencils/pens, cut them out of the fabric and fuse them to dyed/commercial fabrics. Lastly, I’ll machine stitch the images onto a fabric, bringing to life a hidden story with my refreshed finished work.
Besides this type of work, I also create one-of-a-kind collage pieces of landscapes and images to share the color and beauty that I see.
5. How has Sacramento influenced you professionally and artistically?
I have lived in Sacramento for 43 years, so I guess I can say I’m a native of sorts…I’m a native Californian for sure. Growing up in a small Northern California town (Redding) and moving to the big city of Sacramento has certainly given me the foundation for my career as a property manager and now as an artist. Many opportunities are available all over this city: you only have to look for them and act on them for success.
6. Which materials do you enjoy working with most?
I purchase a bulk amount of white or bleached muslin and colorize with dyes, fabric paints, print from my computer, stain ’em, cover them in glitter, etc. You name it, I’ve probably done it. Fabric gives me the choice to do any type of embellishment I want to create my end product.
7. Have you experimented with wearable art?
Wearable Art was huge in the ‘70s and ‘80s and I was there doing my part for sure. I’m not talking T-shirt art — I’m talking full ensembles, long coats and more…fully embellished with hand work and machine sewing. Any wearable art I had is now owned by the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles and are featured from time to time in their exhibit displays.
“Three Amigos” is an example of Schiele’s more abstract work.
8. Do you share your fiber collage techniques knowledge with others through workshops or classes?
I have taught many workshops over the years in quilt making, hand quilting, applique, surface design, fabric painting and much more. At this time of my life, I leave all of that to those who have the energy to travel and teach. I prefer to work solo in my home studio as I have so many ideas I want to work on.
9. What is your favorite quote or personal mantra you live by?
I have a few but my personal favorite is: “Everything in life is preparing you for what will happen next.”
10. Where can we see your works and what can we expect to see from you in the future?
Currently, my work is on full display through the Artists’ Collaborative Gallery in Old Sacramento. I also exhibit in and around the US in individual fiber related exhibits and/or art exhibit invitationals. Keeping my gallery exhibit fresh and fun takes a great deal of my time as well as volunteering my time to assist in the overall operations of this gallery. I also do a considerable amount of commission work for customers and clients and put on solo exhibits from time to time.
Keep up with Louise:
Sacramento365 Artist Profile
Artists’ Collaborative Gallery
Interview by Sacramento365’s Content & Social Media Coordinator, Jamila B. Khan.