Saturday, June 15, 2013

Continuing Interview with Deidre Scherer & Mary Pal

                          Deidre Scherer

 From Deidre's series: 
Surrounded by Family and Friends

 "Do you sometime find the subject of your work depressing"

“No, I have been drawn to the subject of age because it was rarely presented except in derogatory ways. As a culture we see so much violent death in media, news and entertainment when actually most of us will experience a normal, supported and comforted end. I wanted to show the reality, beauty and experience that come with aging. 

Because of my work, I have been through Hospice training. As with a Doula who assists a mother through the birth of a child, holding a hand and listening during death is like being a handmaiden to a very important part of life. People are often taken off balance when viewing a birth -the same thing with death. A few months ago, my father (aged 98) registered no pulse, no blood pressure and then came back the same day.  When asked what he experienced, he said, “It was more real than real”.  We are bereaved when we lose someone, but what we witness is something precious.” 

                           Mary Pal
 Question:     Does place impact your art?

"It does not impact my portraiture, but it does some other subjects I’m interested in. 

Because I am asked to teach the cheesecloth sculpting technique, and because some students find portraiture daunting, I designed a class where the cheesecloth is sculpted into a tree and this is placed on a simple painted background.  Thus another favorite subject matter is once again open to me – landscapes.  I will be teaching in England this summer and plan to spend some time in the Cotswolds, photographing the landscape, and hope to incorporate more cheesecloth landscapes into my portfolio".
  JBW     24" x 18"

     Would you call your work a series?  If so what is the catalyst that tells you when to move on to something else?

"The portraits are a series, and while I am drawn to other subject matter – landscapes, nudes, animals – I know I will always return to the human face for its ineffable allure".

 Gaia in Repose  18" X 24"


      Are there any surprises in store for us in your work?  If so would you share them with us?

"I hinted at it in my last answer.  I am just completing my first nude and I enjoyed working with the sensuous human form".

Thermal Mask       24" X 18"


       In looking at your web site I see some colorful portraits, very different from the two-value portraits you now create.  Do you still work in that genre or are you now devoted to working in two-tones?

"In the past year, I was a member of an international online group and every six weeks we were tasked with completing a piece that responded to a particular challenge.  For one, I took a photo of myself with my iPad, and used the thermal filter in Photo Booth, then recreated it in all those crazy colors of cheesecloth.  I love color! Color is fun".

Question:   I love Sizing Up.  While the portrait alone is strong, the red background really makes this piece of art stand out. How or why did you decide to use the red? 
Sizing up can be see in the book  People & Portraits

"When I saw the original photograph by a very talented young Tennessee photographer, Clint Colbert, I was struck by the expression on the homeless man’s face.  His eyes were filled with suspicion, and I sensed some anger, so the logical colour choice was red. I didn’t think about it for long.  It just felt right". 

 Is there a time you can’t be creative?

"Oh, lots!  I have three grown kids who come and go from the house in various stages of moving out, I sit on a Board of Directors which demands more hours than I ever imagined, I work part-time for a national non-profit, I teach fiber art workshops, and find there are seemingly endless demands on my time.  In those pursuits, I am creative in other ways, but that doesn’t get art done.  So when I carve out some precious time in the studio, I’ve had hours for inspiration to percolate, and never sit there twiddling my thumbs.  It’s just a matter of deciding which project in my brain wants to be completed first".

    Who influences/influenced you?

"Without a doubt, the greatest influence in my life has been Studio Art Quilt Associates. Joining SAQA connected me with fiber artists around the world and put a wealth of knowledge at my fingertips.  In fact, it was in making some challenge pieces for a SAQA exhibition that I stumbled upon my cheesecloth technique. That year, I went to my first SAQA conference at the opening of Quilt National, where a cheesecloth portrait I had donated to their annual auction was displayed, and I was greatly encouraged by Martha Sielman, the Executive Director, to pursue the technique.  Eventually I became a regional rep so I could help local fiber artists develop their skills and knowledge, and ultimately I was invited to join the Board of Directors.  Now I have wonderful SAQA friends all over the globe and I continue to love being a member of an organization that is the most influential force in the fiber art world today".
    Do you have certain hours set aside each day to work or do you work only when you are inspired?

"Oh, that sounds heavenly!  Well, I hope that dream will be realized very soon.  This past year was particularly arduous – I allowed myself to get involved with too many committees, too many hours of work outside the home, too many group challenges, and a heavy travel schedule. I was completely deadline driven. I recently dropped all those commitments and am anticipating a wonderful year where I can once again schedule in studio time". 

       Did you aspire to be an artist from childhood?  If so, do you have formal training?

"I am completely right-brained in my pursuits and always have been.  I excelled in art at school, and when it came time to register for university, was astonished I could apply for a BFA! But my parents counseled against it, assuring me I should get a degree that would lead to lifetime employment and that I could pursue art later in life.  That is exactly how it worked out. SAQA is the BFA I never got to take.  Life is too short to have regrets, so I now make the most of every day and revel in the moments I have to create art".        

I hope you have enjoyed reading this interview and seeing the work of these two talented artist.  I loved putting it together.  


  1. Wonderful interviews, Marilyn. I so admire both of these artists and it was great to hear more from them.

    1. Thanks Norma, I really enjoyed putting this together.

  2. Wow! Thanks for sharing this post.
    The book looks amazing.
    Thanks for the chance to win it.

  3. What a wonderful interview with Mary Pal - I am always just in awe of her work and her innate talent in creating the most diverse and beautiful details in the pieces she shares with all of us. While the portraits are amazing - each one so specific and special in their own right, the new work she is doing with the nude is very exciting. Cannot wait to see more. Thanks for bringing this to us, Marilyn and I would love to add a copy of the newest book from Martha to our Textile Design Program Library at St. Lawrence College in Kingston, ON Canada...
    Bethany Garner

    1. Congratulations Bethany. Get in touch with me with your address and you will have the book for your library.

    2. I loved your interview with Deirdre Scherer. I was once a hospice nurse and hospice nursing is a gift to the caregiver as well as the patient. We need to have the courage to embrace all aspects of life. Deirdre's work has a beauty that helps us to understand that.

  4. Marilyn, your interview with Mary Pal was fascinating to read, especially since I was privileged to meet her and spend time with her at the SAQA Santa Fe conference a couple of months ago. I've been in awe of her work with the cheesecloth portraits and know she is a dedicated and giving person, sharing her expertise freely. I'm glad she is carving out more time for her own creations after some very busy times helping others.
    Martha Ginn

    1. Martha, I meant to post more and for some reason my IPad wouldn't let me. I was so happy that she agreed to be one of my interviewees. I love her work and have since I saw my first piece. I met Mary in Houston two years ago and I think I was so dumb-founded that I was tongue tied. So this gave me the opportunity to ask her questions. She and Deidre were very accommodating and patient.

  5. Interesting interviews. I love both artists' work. Thanks for the giveaway!

  6. Interesting interviews with both artists! I come from a more "traditional" quilting background but I'm also drawn to the art quilts. It's so great learning about all the talented and inspiring artists. This book looks amazing and can't wait to see more!


    1. Jodi, I can't say enough about this book. It is not only eye candy but holds great information.