Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Patchwork tree fabric collage

I have been working on some blue patchwork backgrounds recently.  I have specific ideas for each.  I finished one of them, which is pictured below.

A couple months ago, I was at Sabyl and Susan's studio, and Sabyl was working on a wood cut of some tree trunks and the stark simplicity of it was beautiful to me.

For days afterwards I was looking at the bare winter branches everywhere I went. I was a bit obsessed. When I started working on my patchwork backgrounds, I knew one of them would be of bare branches.  I love the stark contrast of the trunk and branches against the bright blue sky. 

Embrace the Orange

One of the things that Cas did on the first day of the workshop, was to give each person a color chip and we were to use this color in our work.  She made sure not to give us our favorite color.  I got orange (liquid amber  - a nice yellow orange).  I rarely use orange in my work, but actually like it and was up for the challenge. 

The first few pieces I worked on were orange and a purply-blue, but I found the contrast too strong.  My other problem was that we were working small, and I just made them too busy.  I created four small ones and my favorite one disappeared. I think it fell out of my bag in the parking lot. I guess I am practicing (accidental) art abandonment.

This one is lost:

This one I added some hand embroidery:

I worked on some bigger pieces the next day, one almost completely orange and another almost completely blue-purple.  I think they are a nice start, but I need to work on finishing them.

I also started three other panels in a cream/green color scheme and look forward to working on them as well.

I really liked pushing my boundaries with the orange color.  I know I have some orange in my stash so I will try to include it in other work.  I loved working with the techniques I learned in the workshop and look forward to using it more.  Unfortunately I have a large stack of work-in-progress that needs to be addressed before I continue with these or start other pieces.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Why, not how

One of the things I learned from Cas Holmes last week was, when describing my work, I should talk about the "why" not the "how".   I rarely do this, as I don't even discuss this with myself. I have a vision for a piece of work, and I don't even ask myself why it is important to me or where the idea came from.  I have never written an artist statement since I never think hard about my "vision", my ideas, and why I want to create a certain piece of art.  I don't have a specific theme that runs through my work, except when I specifically create a series about a subject.  Without telling myself to create a series, I would be all over the map with technique, materials, and subject matter.

I have been blogging a while now, and realize I almost never mention my motivation or insight into the "why" of my pieces.  I will still be blogging on techniques I use for fabric dyeing, painting, surface design, etc. But when I post a completed work, I plan on concentrating on the "why".  Because not only will this give viewers a better understanding of me and my work, it will give me a better understanding as well. And maybe soon I can get that artist statement written.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Field trip to Phoenix/Scottsdale

The last two weeks have been a whirlwind and I am just now getting my feet back on the ground.  Two weeks ago we had to organize, clean, and put some stuff in storage so we could get our house on the market.  The For Sale sign went in the yard last Tuesday (we are selling it by owner), then Wednesday morning, I frantically packed a bunch of art supplies and clothes in about an hour and a half and drove to the airport.

My long-awaited class with Cas Holmes was the end of last week at Frenzy Stamper in Scottsdale.  I was very unfocused when I arrived, since I had been dealing with so many things regarding the house before I left.  But over three days, I really left my comfort zone and worked with ideas, colors, and thought processes that were new to me.  I will do some other posts regarding things this, but they aren't posts I can just sit and whip out and will require some searching and time.

In the mean time, here are some photos from my trip.  The Chiluly exhibit at the Desert Botanical Garden was lovely, especially at dusk. A lot of the locals say the previous Chiluly exhibit here was better, with more pieces, but for this tourist, I thought there were a lot.

 These cactus flowers caught the last rays of sun before it set behind the hills.

 The other thing I wanted to do in Arizona is take a hike and get some pictures of Saguaro cacti. We don't have these where I live and I find them interesting.  My Dad did a lot of photography in the 70's and often took photos of driftwood and interesting dead trees, so I took this photo with him in mind.

 There were quite a few flowering cactus along the trail

I also wanted to go to Taliesen West, but it was Easter Sunday and they were closed. So I decided to go to the Heard Museum, their website did not say they were closed on Easter, but when I got there they were not open.  The Phoenix Art Museum was just down the street, so I went there instead. I found this piece very interesting. It is a (dead) avocado tree covered with black velvet. There were many glass birds perched in the tree. They were filled with blue liquid, and after reading the description for the piece, I found out they were filled with Windex, which was a statement about harsh chemicals and the environment.

But still, I find the chemical birds quite lovely.

There was another exhibit at the art museum that really made me think, but I will do another post regarding that.

In closing, here is a photo of the carriages in Old Town Scottsdale. It reminded me of the "Old West."


Monday, April 14, 2014

Spring was here...

Spring was here on Saturday.

Then winter came back on Sunday.

All my blossoms have freezer burn.  I hope I still get more flowers from the unopened buds, time will tell. Last year, a late snow wiped out all of my cherry blossoms before they really had a chance.  I was glad to get one day of loveliness before the snow.

It's been very busy here, getting the house ready for sale, so I don't have any projects to show this week.  I am going to a Cas Holmes workshop in Scottsdale the end of this week, so I will be back next Monday with art from the workshop!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Painted art quilts

I have a bunch of ice dyed fabrics, but was kind of stumped what to do with them.  I thought I'd make some quilts (roughly 16"x 20") and brayer paint on them.  Could be a tragedy, or could be cool, right?

Here is my first one, I really hate this Jade Green color. I do not free motion quilt very often, and I can tell how rusty I am, on these jaggedy looking swirls.  I drew one line of the swirls before I started quilting (not that it helped), but I didn't have much of a plan other than that.

I did measure these circles vertically so they would go from big to small (I drew lines with spacing at about 1 3/4" at one end and 1" at the other), but did not draw the circles ahead of time, or the horizontal spacing.

Here is my work station. I just brayered the paint on. I did not clean the brayer between colors. This took a lot of paint. The amount shown in this picture is laughable, it would probably only cover 2" x 2".

It looks pretty cool.

Here are the swirls. I really like it and think my swirls look better painted, for some reason. When I started, I thought I'd make them white with a hint of color, but I really liked the mix of colors. I may add more paint, and/or hand stitching.

Here are the circles. I do like the mix of colors, but find the pattern kind of boring.  I am thinking of making a much smaller art quilt and mounting it in the middle, leaving about a  4" border all around.

I really like the look of these, but I am somewhat sad that more of the ice dyeing isn't visible. I thought more of it would show adjacent to the stitched lines.

I already have two more quilts made, but think I will try another technique with them, maybe break out the Shiva paint sticks for those.

What do you think?  Do you think the swirly one needs a bit more work?

Monday, April 7, 2014

Mounted fabric collages on canvas

Previously I had made some fabric collages, which you can see on this post. I added some hand stitching, which can be seen here.

I wanted to mount these to canvas to give them a more finished look. Here are some of the finished pieces.

 Here is another detail of my irregular embroidery.

 I added a "bed" of dyed cheesecloth, and stitched some coral on top (from a bead store).

For this one, I had done a back stitch around the coral, then added the gold ribbon, couching it on by hand.  This gold piece isn't cord, it some kind of woven gold tubing, so I put a dab of fray check at the ends.

 Back stitch

I was thinking of adding more to this piece, but my friend Simone likes it "as-is", so I did not add any hand stitching.

It's amazing how the canvas makes the works look more finished and complete.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Red coral embroidery

I have been adding some embroidery to the fabric collages I had made.  I started with this one, and did a back stitch around the stamped coral image.

Here is a close-up.

I loved the way the back looked, even more than I liked the front. I loved the jagged free-form look of the stitches.

So for the next piece, I did my back stitch on the back side, so the jagged irregular stitching would be on the front.

I love the way it turned out.