Residency at Hypatia-in-the-Woods

Like many artists, I enjoy getting away from my daily life and periodically indulging myself in an artist residency. In August 2021, I spent a heavenly two weeks at Hypatia-in-the-Woods located in South Puget Sound, south of Seattle, WA.

Hypatia desk
Drawing desk at Holly House
Hypatia cottage
Holly House in the Woods
Artist in the doorway of Holly House

This is a residency of one – my favorite type! Many artists and writers who come to my residency program in Mexico, 360 Xochi Quetzal (see link below), are looking to not only connect with their creative work but also connect with other colleagues for feedback and to expand their professional networks. For me, an artist with a team-based practice, having time alone was extremely appealing. Don’t get me wrong, I couldn’t function without my team. But as a basically introverted person, I love my own companionship and this was a wonderful opportunity to spend time alone to think, work and rejuvenate.


Artist drawing Scarlet Macaw
Suzanne Shaw and Deborah

Named for the third century Greek astronomer, philosopher and mathematician, Hypatia-in-the-Woods was the brainchild of the late Elspeth Pope, a Canadian writer who was influenced by the mission of Hypatia Trust in England. She decided to create a US counterpart and her vision was to provide a safe space to support the work of women in the arts, academia, and entrepreneurship. Elspeth’s husband, Jim Holly, built Holly House, the Hypatia cottage, from trees grown on the surrounding land in Hammersley Inlet. Hypatia-in-the-Woods is run by a large group of volunteers, who all knew Elspeth and most of whom are also writers.

Suzanne Shaw, a Hypatia resident writer and volunteer, picked me up at the Amtrak station in Olympia, WA and drove me almost an hour to a town where I bought enough groceries for two weeks. Then she drove me another 20 minutes to the residency. Although Hypatia is in the town of Shelton, WA, the writing retreat is in the woods about 5 miles from town. Suzanne helped me unload groceries and get me settled in the beautiful cottage.

While some visual artists also attend the residency, from the trove of residency journals, it appears that most of the residents are writers and poets. There was a writing desk on the upstairs loft and this is where I did most of my work. During the two weeks, I did eight new drawings of endangered birds including the Collared Aracari, Scarlet Macaw, Royal Flycatcher, Reddish Egret, Shining HoneyCreeper, Harpy Eagle, Grasshopper Sparrow and Crested Owl.

Drawing of Collared Aracari
Drawing of Scarlet Macaw

My days generally looked like this: wake up and exercise or do yoga, go for a walk, read and have breakfast and then start to draw by 11am. I usually took a nap and also went for an evening walk. The rest of the day was spent drawing. My drawings are very detailed and having nothing more to do except draw, I found myself spending more time on each drawing than I had done previously and this time paid off in better drawings. Sometimes while I worked, I listened to an interview with artists on youtube. It was a tremendously productive time and also deeply peaceful.

Hyaptia artist at library
Artist at Shelton Library public talk

During this solitary time, I had two public appearances. One Thursday evening, other volunteers picked me up and drove me to the Timberland Shelton public library, where I gave a talk about my artwork. The library tech team was able to project my documentary on a large screen (see link below). It was fun to talk about my work and take questions from a very responsive audience. Afterwards, there was a delicious potluck dinner served at the home of the director, Carolyn Maddux.


The second public talk was held in conjunction with a group show titled “Abstraction” in the Manifold Global on-line gallery. This was my first virtual exhibition and I was introduced to the new technology that allows one to ‘go’ to the exhibit and ‘see’ it.  The two curators, Emily Strong and Matthew Pring, facilitated the conversation asking many questions about my art practice and art philosophies. There is a link to that talk in the Resources section below.

Hypatia artist at Abstraction
Artist at Abstraction public talk

One day in the second week, Carolyn, the director, picked me up for a day of hiking the nearby Olympic range. As an avid hiker most of my life, spending time in these majestic mountains was a huge treat.

Hiking in the Olympics on a suspended bridge
Olympic scene
Olympic river
Making it in the Art World by Brainard Carey

 I am also an avid reader and it was a pleasure to read four books in two weeks! One of them is Brainard Carey’s “How to Make it in the Art World.” My big takeaway from this book was to aim much higher in terms of where I want to show and who I want supporting my work. Brainard runs a great artist resource called the Praxis Center (see link below) which offers artists of all levels a large and helpful network.

There is something profound that happens when I am alone for long periods of time. Without the constant distractions of life and the art team, my thoughts run at a deeper level. In a way similar to yoga, where deep breathing helps one to drop down into the body in a different and deeper way, being alone for long stretches at the residency saw a parallel drop down into my thinking and creativity. New ideas bubble up, as do new art marketing strategies. Living in the woods was so healing. On my daily walks down the inlet, I often picked wild blackberries for snacks and for breakfast. The forest smells and sounds made me feel drunk with happiness. I never felt lonely and only wished I could have stayed another week!

Transitions back to ‘real’ life can be difficult. Suzanne Shaw made this much easier by picking me up and bringing me back to Olympia where we spent a gorgeous morning walking at the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge. I am not exaggerating that we saw millions of black raspberries!

Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge
Profusion of blackberries


Hypatia-in-the-Woods Residency:

The Hypatia Trust:

360 Xochi Quetzal Artist & Writers Residency:

Artist Communities Alliance:

Manifold Global:

Artist Talk on Abstraction:

Artist Documentary: Deborah Kruger Art & Process

Praxis Center:

How to Make it in the Art World:

2021 North Carolina Artist Exhibition: A Virtual Retrospective

About: The Raleigh Fine Arts Society (RFAS) is sponsoring a virtual North Carolina Artist Exhibition. This year, due to the pandemic, they have organized a virtual retrospective with new work by North Carolina artists who were juried into previous shows in 2018 – 2020.  Deborah Kruger is exhibiting her new mural-sized piece Accidentals, which measures 92″ x 167″ x 6″.

Dates: April 17 – July 17, 2021

More information about how to tour the exhibition:

Creative Blocks

If you are feeling creatively blocked, my guess is that you are also feeling fear. I can already hear what is going on in your mind. Terrible things like: you are a fake, you don’t have what it takes, your best work is behind you. Am I right?

I have two strategies for combatting Creative Blocks. 

Reflections on the end of 2020

The dualities of darkness and light could not be more exaggerated this year. On a personal level, this has been the hardest year in many as I lost both of my beloved parents. I am so grateful that I had such a special relationship with each of them and that I was raised by two extraordinary people. Later in my life, they became my biggest supporters and I owe much of my success to them…

Creating Beauty in a Turbulent World

At the tender age of 21 I attended the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York City tostudy textile design. I went on to become a wallpaper designer, so the first formative decade of my professional life was dominated by decorative design.
This influence has never left me. During my training and subsequent employment…

The Fine Art of Preparation

This is a special update for my Art Patrons who may be wondering what is on my mind. Being a good planner is a great skill for artists. Since I had a long stint as a CEO of a small company, I am glad to have this skill in my tool box.

My upcoming solo show will be at the museum at PALCCO in Guadalajara in February 2022. Although I still have 15 months, I know that this time will go by quickly and I want to be sure that I finish all the work planned for the show. You can read more about this show in one of my blogs: Part-1:Break A Leg

Sandra and I met this week to discuss what pieces we want to make for the show and created a calendar  to see how we should prioritize this work. It was a little overwhelming.  But it’s better to put it all down on paper and face reality rather than live with free floating anxiety! 

Our projects fell into 3 categories:


Wall pieces


Our Planning Wall Chart

One thing that became immediately clear is that we need to start on some of the sculpture projects right now, which will pull us away from the wall work we are currently doing. For example, we plan to do a much larger installation of the Broken installation. This will require producing a large edition of new plates, bowls and cups

Full image of Broken Installation
Detail Image of Broken Installation

I am behind on drawing the images that we will need for these and need to carve out drawing time over the next 2 months. Our goal is to have drafts of all the new ceramics by early January. We work with a family owned factory, El Palomar, in Tlaquepaque and there is an artist on their team, Patricia, who hand draws each of our ceramic items. (see video below)

Personally, I hate working under pressure. This schedule will allow me to start drawing again in a relaxed way. Sandra can begin to develop the new designs once I feed her the drawings. And we should have a set of work to give to Palomar the first week of January. Our guess is that they will be working on our project for the next 4 – 5 months. This way, everyone gets the lead time they need and we will have all the components of the installation months in advance of the exhibition.

Once we have this project underway, we can turn our attention to other sculptures on our checklist. I’ll be telling you more about them in the coming weeks.

On My Mind Right Now

Well besides the outcome of the election, which is on everyone’s minds in the US, I am actually thinking about other things related to art. Since you are one of my new Art Patrons, I thought I would let you into my head!

Although my first solo museum show is still 14 months away, I know that this time will go by fast. Next week I will meet with Sandra, my assistant, to make a master schedule of what we want to accomplish before the show opens and calendar these pieces so that we ensure that they get done. 

I will write more about that in my next missive. 

I can already anticipate that we will need to do A LOT more printing in order to have enough feathers for all the pieces we plan to make. This week, I had our other assistants, Alicia and Samantha (who are a mother and daughter-in-law), cut 4 x 8” samples that I pinned to the wall. I organized these samples by color and image. Since I am planning to make two white pieces there are three rows of white samples. One row has languages and the other two rows have bird images. Some of them have text overprints and some don’t. The next row is black and has languages in gold ink.Then I started a row of warm colors, a row of cool colors and a row of blacks. 

With all this visual information on the wall, it’s easier to see what I need to fill in the gaps. Sandra is going to Guadalajara on Friday and can pick up more recycled plastic bags in colors that we need. And I can start programming printing for next week that will start filling in the color gaps that we need. 

As you can see, there’s a lot of planning that goes into making the feathers! When I decide to make a piece in a monochromatic color scheme, I need to be sure that I have plenty of inventory on hand before I start working. Since there are so many steps to making the feathers, it would be frustrating to run out of them midway. 

In addition to fusing the plastic bags together, they also need to be primed before printing. Then we print on both sides and sometimes we overprint, so there may be 2 – 4 printings for each set of plastic pages. The next step is sending them out for sewing. This is actually a two-step process. The first step is bringing the pages to a sewer who has a free-hand machine and can ‘draw’ the circular design we have developed on each sheet. We give her a note specifying what color thread to use.  Then I set up groups of two and three sheets that get sewn together in lengths. When these sheets return to the studio I design groups of 3 different designs that are staggered so that each design shows. I sew these on my machine and then Alicia and Samantha cut them into the long feathers with tapered ends.

Stack of printed pages with note to sewer

So you can see, with all these steps, I can’t just ask for something I need and expect to get it the next day! From start to finish, each set of feathers takes at least a week and sometimes more due to the sewers schedules. We are constantly working on this part of the process and creating more inventory. Sandra has trained Alicia and Samantha in how to do silk-screening and now they can work independently. 

I hope you enjoy learning more about the studio processes and what it takes to make my artwork. If you still have questions, please let me know. I welcome getting ideas for new topics! 

Alicia and Samantha silk screening
Layered and cut feathers on the wall
Closeup of the tapered ends of the feathers

Announcing the Launch of Deborah Kruger Designs

Deborah Kruger

I am excited to tell you about the launch of my new line of designer home products. On my new website, Deborah Kruger Designs, you can shop for over 60 items all using details from my artwork.

Whether you are nerdy and like journals, sporty and love yoga, a foodie or enjoy unique décor in your living areas, you will find lots of designer merchandise that will brighten things up this winter. If you’re shopping for new babies or want to wow your friends and family with truly unusual gifts like puzzles and calendars, you can support an artist instead of Amazon this holiday season.


DEK cropped featured

Just to give you an example, here’s my artwork named Turbulence next to four items of merchandise: a yoga mat, body pillow, scarf and journal. On the new website, you can shop by design as well as by category.

Since we are all spending more time in the kitchen during the pandemic, I have designed several coordinated collections that include matching woven placemats, runners, cloth napkins, table cloths, and glasses. 

On the new website, you can shop by design as well as by category. 

Speaking of categories, the new merchandise falls into items for the kitchen, home décor, gifts (we have 26 selections!), baby and yoga:



Home Decor

You can also bring my artwork into your home with ottomans, metal prints, cozy Sherpa blankets and of course lots of pillows.

Happy Shopping!!

Use Coupon Code blackfriday2020 on checkout to receive a 20% discount on ALL items!

Welcome to the Flock! A warm welcome to my new Art Patrons

Welcome to the Flock! A warm welcome to my new Art Patrons

One of the things I love about being an artist is that we transform bits and pieces of nothing into something beautiful and meaningful. It’s the ultimate recycling project.

Thanks to your help, I can now lean into my work in a new and more confident way. I want to tell you more about my process so that you have a view into my mind and thinking. 

There are so many invisible parts to having an art career. Unless you are an artist yourself, you may not even be aware of all of these moving parts. Let me tell you about some of them that you will be funding.


I am blessed to have a terrific team of women working with me most days. Sandra is my full-time assistant. She’s my left hand gal and handles so many details it makes my head spin. Just to give you an idea, she develops graphics for our silk screens and orders the screens from Guadalajara. She keeps the production studio stocked with silk screen supplies, mixes the colors for the other helpers and quality controls their work. Sandra works on grants and exhibition proposals, especially ones in Spanish! Sandra’s Photoshop skills have been invaluable in developing my line of merchandise. That’s just a snapshot.

Alicia and her daughter-in-law Samantha are local women work in the production studio 5 mornings a week. They do silk screening, cutting and gluing feathers to pieces and keep the studio clean and organized. They live in a large extended family who are all grateful that these hard-working women have steady jobs.

Leni is the newest member of our team. She works remotely from Vera Cruz where she lives with her family who were deported from the US. She is a Millennial who knows social media like the back of her hand.

Tyler handles our websites and social media. When I decided not to work with Patreon or the other existing platforms due to ethical concerns, she stepped forward and said that we could create a Patron campaign on my own website. That you are reading this is a testimony to her hard and clever work.

We also work with two local sewers, Eunice and Esperanza, who sew our pages of printing. Although I do some of the sewing, I can’t keep up with all of it. And by now you know how much I like to support women in the community.

We also work with some great guys on specific projects. Dana is a local sculptor, landscape designer and hairdresser (give him all the credit for my hairstyle!).  He builds the forms for my sculptures that are eventually covered with feathers. 

Francisco is the manager of a huge foundry north of Guadalajara. His team built and shipped the crates to Australia and Oaxaca for the Biennales. 

When we get closer to the museum shows in Guadalajara and San Diego, we will need to build crates for all of the work. Some of your contributions are going into a savings account to accumulate for this extremely expensive undertaking.

I have just introduced you to 7 dedicated people who work hard to produce and exhibit my work. Needless to say, I couldn’t do it without them. And I couldn’t sustain these jobs without your support.


Art Supplies

In order to make work of this scale I need a lot of supplies. Chief among them are the silk screen supplies. We are constantly producing pages of recycled plastic bags that are printed with images of endangered birds and endangered languages. Producing these pages requires inks, solvents, silk screens, adhesives, backings, pins (thousands of pins!) staples, foamcore and miscellaneous supplies. When I’m building sculptures, I also need Styrofoam, bubble wrap, iron, paper and glue. For my floor installations, I order hundreds of hand-painted ceramic plates from a local family-owned factory in Tlaquepaque. Periodically, I need to build or purchase additional studio furniture like my standing work table on wheels.

Behind the Scenes

Then there are all the invisible things that an artist needs. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it will give you an idea of what goes on behind the scenes. Let’s start with the website. The site needs to be hosted and projects often require additional plugins so that we can create better images and functionality. This Patron campaign required its own special plugin so that you could easily Join the Flock!

Although I do not attend all my exhibition openings, some of them are important and require flying to various cities around the US and Mexico. Last month Sandra and I flew to Oaxaca to deliver a piece to the Contemporary Art Museum and met various curators and artists. I am a member of several professional organizations like the Surface Design Association and attend conferences at least once a year where I exhibit work, see other exhibitions, meet curators and spend time with colleagues.

Artists require promotional materials. I produce business cards and catalogs. Last year I was fortunate to have my work featured on the cover of a magazine. Since I know that these editions sell out, I purchased 20 magazines so that I could use them for proposals to museums and galleries. 

I’m sure I have forgotten to mention other studio expenses like bookkeeping and accounting, but this will give you an idea about where the money flows. None of it goes into my pocket unless I sell a piece of artwork. When that happens I need to pay the venue 30 – 50% of the price as per the contract. 

With your help, I will be making more and larger work that will command more attention and hopefully open more doors to sales and commissions. Despite Covid and so much turbulence in the world, I remain hopeful that art matters. As a Patron, you understand the power of art to heal, inspire, calm and inform. Thank you for helping me press forward.

One of my favorite quotes is from Winston Churchill: “Never, never, never give up”! 

Thank you! 


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TIME MANAGEMENT: Thoughts for the Self Employed

TIME MANAGEMENT: Thoughts for the Self Employed

Managing time is a never-ending effort for every artist that I know. We are constantly recalibrating the demand from the studio with the rest of our lives.

Folks who are not self-employed often envy our ability to choose and craft our schedules. However, in my experience, self-employment puts an extra strain on planning because all the structure of our lives comes from within. And in some ways, I am a tougher boss than any I ever had! 

Let me take you into my head so that you can hear all the voices calling me and how I attempt to create harmony out of that chaos!

I am in my late 60s and many of my friends are already retired. They call to invite me to lunch and I have become accustomed to saying “I don’t do lunch.” My first challenge is simply creating as many full work days as possible. 

Taking a break in the middle of the day really interrupts my thinking and flow. I prefer to schedule social time at the very beginning of the day and mostly after work or on weekends.

Work you may ask? I thought art was fun! Don’t get me wrong. With your support, I am SO grateful to be able to dedicate my life to my art…at last! I waited a long time for this chapter in my life. But for me, making art is an all-consuming activity. It requires tremendous attention to detail, lots of thinking and planning, physical demand, interaction with my team and sometimes, glorious hours of being in the flow.

Since I am building sculpture now and working so large, I find that being in great shape is more important than ever. Finding time to exercise is a challenge for most people. For me doing exercise first thing in the morning ensures that I get it done. I enjoy yoga, bike riding, weight lifting, calisthenics and swimming. Sometimes I watch a video while I exercise and sometimes I listen to a podcast. When I am bike-riding I love to listen to the Great Women Artists podcast with Katy Hessel from the UK and hear in-depth interviews with or about women artists around the world that focus on their art not their marriages and appearance!

This may surprise you but thinking about food dominates my thoughts throughout the day. I eat about 5 small meals a day. That seems to keep my blood sugar steady and maintain my energy. Since I like to eat dinner with Christian and since I do most of the cooking, I often start something for dinner at breakfast. Then at lunch, I’ll prep something else. By the time 6pm rolls around, I have half of the dinner made or prepped and can easily get it served by 7pm. On nights that I need to work late, Christian steps in and makes something great on the grill.

Then there’s the challenge of the rest of life! Doctor appointments, banking and shopping are big interruptions and most of these activities are during the work day. I try to schedule physical therapy at the very beginning or end of the day. If I can’t avoid going out during the day, I might schedule other errands that never get done on the same day and just get all things interruptions out of the way.


If you are in a relationship like I am, making time for each other is another big challenge. I try to eat as many meals as possible with Christian. At breakfast, we often share our goals for the day and make our lists. If we eat lunch together, it’s a nice time to check in about how our day is going. Sometimes deadlines mean I need to work at night but mostly I try to end my work day by dinner time so that we can hang out. Work often drags into the weekend for both of us but we try to plan some special time together. That might mean a motorcycle ride or seeing friends (outside and distanced of course).

Life in the studio has its own demands. I employ a team of women, some of whom work on site and some who work remotely. Sometimes the social media team needs a Zoom meeting to plan outreach. The two part-time studio assistants need input about screen-printing and other projects they work on at the studio. Sandra, my full-time assistant and I have planning meetings several times a week to set priorities for both of us and make sure that deadlines are met.


Deadlines you may ask? Yep, there’s lots of those. Some are external and some are internally imposed. If I am in an exhibition, in the weeks leading up to it, I often need to submit documentation, paperwork and information for signage. We apply for grants and shows throughout the year, so our calendar is dotted with these deadlines. And right now I am preparing for my first solo museum show. Somehow, I need to create enough large scale work to fill this museum! The exhibition was delayed a year due to Covid and I’m frankly glad to have the extra time. We have a monthly timeline mapped out with goals for when pieces should be complete so that I can keep up the pace of production and ensure that I’ll have enough work by February 2022. 16 months to go!!

Everyone has heard the saying that art is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. The amount of time an artist needs to dedicate to administrative work (applications, social media, blogging, ordering supplies, planning, studio visits, etc) is sometimes depressing. However, it is necessary to having an art career. 


The most glorious days are the ones when the assistants have gone home, Sandra is working on a project at her home office, and I find myself alone and working in the studio. Sometimes I am so thrilled to be pinning feathers to the wall and thinking about my piece that I don’t even listen to music, preferring the background of birds and wind. 

On these days, I enjoy the precious hours of making art and being in the creative flow. I am filled with gratitude and feel that my time and vision are completely in alignment. My hope is that you also have hours of similar pleasure each week as well doing something that you love.


PS – If you are an Art Aficionado or an Art Lover, you can schedule a free consultation with me  to discuss anything related to your art and career. I welcome talking about time management, so feel free to put that on the agenda!

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