intentional white space

intentional white space

By Patricia Belyea

SEATTLE WA  White space is something designers love. It’s the empty space in a composition that creates a focus, as well as allows the eyes to rest. Typically, as quilters, we fill our quilt tops with non-stop visual delights. And we fill up our time with non-stop busyness.

Last year, I made a decision to create some white space in my life—to focus more on what I love to do and also create more downtime in my fast-paced schedule. I have become intentional in saying no. Here are some upcoming ways that this decision will affect Okan Arts and my quilting:

NO MORE OKAN ARTS WORKSHOPS & RETREATS For seven years I coordinated and ran week-long and weekend Okan Arts Workshops and Retreats near Seattle. I met amazing quilters and enjoyed every bit of the experience. Taking these events off my plate means less administrative work throughout the year for me.

NATIONAL TEACHING I am now teaching at guilds and Woodland Ridge Retreat in the coming year. So I will still be teaching! This new direction is great for me as I get to drop in and just be the teacher.

OKAN ARTS ONLINE SHOP The Okan Arts Shop in Seattle will no longer be open to visitors. It will function as a stockroom and shipping center for the Okan Arts Online Shop.

NO MORE GIVEAWAYS I hosted the last Okan Arts monthly giveaway in December. It would be hard to beat that giveaway of a Sashiko 2 sewing machine with an extension table and Aurifil thread set—with 1988 entries! Giveaways involved asking manufacturers for goods, photographing the products, setting up the event and posting online, and then shipping out to the winners. So, less work each month for me!

BLOGGING I won't be giving up blogging as I love to communicate. You can expect blogs about the interesting people I meet, the textiles I adore, and the projects I am working on.

E-NEWS For those of you who have signed up to be on the Okan Arts e-newsletter list, you will still get a little missive each month. That's where Victoria and I catch you up on published blogs, shop news, and workshop info. I understand that most of you open it to see the video at the bottom from Japan!

SEATTLE HEADQUARTERS Our Yellow House in Seattle will continue to function as the permanent address of Okan Arts. Victoria will take the helm as the mistress of the house—taking care of online orders, coordinating the sales of Sashiko 2 machines, and doing the company books. I will maintain a bedroom and workspace in our family’s city home.

QUILT MAKING Starting in April, I intend to spend as much time as possible at our remote country home in eastern Washington. This is a wonderful place for me to make creative quilts.

MY NEXT BOOK I am working on a book about creativity for quilters. I’m looking forward to moving that project along.

JAPAN TOURS This month Victoria and I are taking a small group of quilters on our inaugural tour: 2020 Tokyo Quilt Festival & Japanese Textile Tour. If all goes well, we will continue offering a January tour.

I’m working to make more time for quilting and writing. I’ll report back in a year to let you know how I’ve succeeded with my vision and how I’ve failed.

How about you? Are you creating a focus in your life this year by saying no to some existing activities?

Process Photos from It All Adds Up, a quilt by Patricia Belyea:

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  • Patricia Belyea
    Marian—Great to hear from you. Yes, I will continue stocking yukata cotton if I can buy it at the right price. Yes to adding you to the 2021 list for Japan. PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    Hi Terry—The block is made by cutting up a piece of yukata cotton. The fabric I used is no longer available. PB

  • Marian Brischle
    So glad to hear of your plans to take some time and enjoy creating new quilts and perhaps a book. Looks like we’ll be able to view the Yukata inventory on line and you will continue to stock it. Hope you are having a great time in Japan. Please put me on the list for future Japan trips. Happy New Year!

  • Terry
    In the Intentional White piece there is a block #8 with red ,green and yellow in it is this a yukata piece if so is it available.

  • Patricia Belyea
    Kathrin—Exactly. It’s always a good time for everyone to review what’s on their plates and what they really want to eat! PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    Rosemary—Thank you so much. I hope you are up to some creative endeavors in this new decade. PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    Judith—I hope you visit some quilts guilds and meet the amazing quilters of the Seattle region—Quilters Anonymous, Seattle Modern Quilt Guild, Contemporary QuiltArt Association, Block Party Quilters and more. PB

  • Judith Preston
    Looks interesting! I’m in Seattle area Aug.1st thru Oct.10th. I’m interested in what is going on during that time..

  • Rosemary Newman
    Best wishes to you as you enter a new phase in your creative life.

  • Patricia Belyea
    Hi JoAnne—Great to hear from you. So glad you are doing well and finding a happiness balance in your life. Thank you for your support. PB

  • Kathrin
    Good for you, Patricia!

    All those changes sound like they will not only work well for you but also your followers.

  • JoAnne M
    Good for you Patricia. Focus on the things you love…I streamlined my life too….and say “NO” to many things that cross my path. Extra time in my life to focus on the “loves” in my life make me appreciate life even more.

  • Patricia Belyea
    Alice—I love Maine. So nice of you to travel to Wisconsin for my workshop! We are both going to enjoy five days immersed in complex curves! PB

  • Alice
    So glad you’re teaching nationally. I’ve already signed up for Woodland in August…. meet you half way across America…. flying in from Maine!!

  • Patricia Belyea
    Edlamae—My website is NOT going away. I am still a quilter, blogger, and shopkeeper. I’ll just be doing less activities that require a lot of administrative tasks. Less time at the computer! Thanks for your support, PB

  • Edlamae Thompson Baird
    Sorry to see your website go away because it has given me such inspiration. However, I wish you well on your new life adventure.

  • Patricia Belyea
    Are You Kidding—Can I assume that you are referring to racial classification? It doesn’t seem that the idea of giving oneself space and time works for you. PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    MJ—Don’t think I’m disappearing! I’ll still be up to lots of creative shenanigans. I’ll just not be up to so much administrative work. You can still look forward to blogs and e-newsletters. PB

  • Are you kidding?
    White space for white people?

  • MJ Buckingham
    I appreciate your decision to give yourself more “white space.” As always, you are mentoring many of us who are just learning how to give ourselves “permission” to create and be creative. Best wishes, Patricia!

  • Patricia Belyea
    Suzanne—Thank you. Life is good for me. I’ll continue blogging so you’ll continue to hear from me. PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    Cunagin—We are very blessed that we can make choices. My decision are based on what I want to do—which is truly a luxury that not everyone has. Enjoy every bit of your retirement. As many of my peers say, how did we ever find time to work? PB

  • sooz
    Kudos to you to take care of your needs…and your family.

    Good Health is not a given, and while you have yours…live Your life.
    i have enjoyed following your journey from the fabric in the garage having your shop.
    i hope to see you one of these days …i also admire bonnie hunter and actually
    ran into her in Japan. ( US resident). May the wind always be at your back.

  • Cunagin Karen
    I’m so excited for you, Patricia. This is a good plan.

    I retired at the end of summer (from teaching continuing educations classes — 26 years of fiber arts and quilting), and moved from California to Oregon with a similar intention. I haven’t seen my machine since late June (yikes), and I’m learning a new pace and contentment in the midst of waiting for spaces to be completed…
    Isn’t it wonderful that we can keep learning and making good choices?
    Blessings on you!

  • Patricia Belyea
    Linda—Thank you! I will definitely be blogging about the upcoming tour. And giving everyone pointers on how to get there on their own—by traveling with a buddy and following my itinerary. Japan is a really easy place to visit. You don’t need to wait for me to take you. See you there! PB

  • Linda W
    Good for you! I’m a big fan of “do what you love” and let the rest go. I’m retiring in a few months and I’m planning on a life full of sewing, yoga and friends. I’m looking forward to your new book and a blog about the tour you’re leading to Japan (and already fantasizing about being part of it in 2021!).

  • Patricia Belyea
    Thank you Pam. I really like exploring the creative process with fabric and piecing. So my decision feels great. This is a very personal post and I can add that my choices will give me more time with my husband Michael. PB

  • Pamela Voorhees
    So totally get it… Life is too short. It’s so easy to load up life’s plate with “musts” and “shoulds” – and never get to what you truly, soulfully want/need to do. Less is definitely more – and more fulfilling. By the way, I really love your quilt above. Although I saw it on IG and FB while on my phone, I just love really seeing it here and on a large computer screen. It’s just so cool. All the best, Pam.

  • Patricia Belyea
    Donna—One of my greatest cheerleaders, thank you. PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    Go David! While I do less, I expect you to do more! PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    Jeannie—Thank you! PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    Joana—I agree. Things can shift quickly, especially in the last 1/3 of our lives. Come to one of my 5-day workshops—I promise to bring as much fabric as I can in my suitcase. PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    JoAnn—Best wishes to you, too! I hope you have a great year. PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    Brenda—I really enjoy blogging so you’ll continue to hear from me as I move forward. Thank you for your support! PB

  • Brenda Bailey
    I support all of us in taking white space in our lives! i know i need to. i love your quilts and hope your blog will keep showing us these artful beauties.

  • Joana Mains
    One of my wishes was to visit your shop in Seattle but I so understand your decision.

    I love your choice to create some white space in your life to focus on what you love to do and create more downtime. I recently suffered a retinal detachment during a trip to Portugal. My sight was saved but it made me realize how quickly ones life can change and I decided to live a life filled with love,joy and possibility. I wish you well and look forward to your new book .

    Nbest Wishes

  • JoAnn B Freed
    My best wishes to you. You have an amazing site that includes and invites all of us. I canʻt wait for the new book and hope you have a wonderful new adventure.

  • Jeannie
    I applaud your decisions to focus on things that bring you joy and less work. Life is too short.

  • David Owen Hastings
    Wonderful, and congratulations, Patricia! You are my inspiration… white space is indeed an lovely thing!

  • Donna DeShazo

    If anyone deserves some “white space,” it’s you! Best wishes….