Friday, November 4, 2016

Autumn Art Workshop with Vera Dickenson

Last month, I attended a 3 day workshop with Vera Dickenson, through the Autumn Art Workshops.  This was in a rustic setting at a 4H camp in Halsey, NE.  There was a bit of "roughing it" at the camp, it has dormitory style cabins with shared bathrooms. But there was electricity and indoor plumbing so it really was not too bad.

The camp only had Wifi in the main building, and it was spotty and slow. It was a great thing to "unplug", as it really made me concentrate on my art making. After dinner, without the internet or TV, there wasn't much to do other than work on art, read, or socialize.

My workshop was with Vera Dickenson, but there were two other workshops available as well. Vera's workshop was listed as mixed media, but it was mainly acrylic painting. We used Yupo paper for some of our projects, which I had never used before.

For one project, we used gel medium and stencils to create a textured surface.  I loved this, and loved how my project turned out.


On another project, we used black gesso, acrylic ink, and transparent glazes. I really struggled with this piece. I should not have used a person (actually a mannequin) as my photo reference as I haven't drawn people lately and it looks very stiff. Also, my glazes weren't transparent enough, so I lost some of the soft feeling that this technique can provide.
I actually liked my sketch better. It accidentally got wet, which actually made it more interesting.

Here is Vera's demo example she created (so you can what I was going for with this technique).

I started some other pieces, but nothing else is finished.

I did love the textured background technique and have come up with modifications to try. I am definitely very motivated to work on these.

I never have liked working on canvas much. I did bring some canvases and canvas board to work on. By the end of the workshop, I  decided not to use these ever again. I hate the texture, it really drives me nuts. I am either going to work on paper, MDF panels, or cradled boards from now on. It's nice to make a final decision on this, as I been trying to make friends with canvas for years and it just never works for me.  I will mount works that are on paper onto canvas (that is on stretchers), as I like the way it looks instead of framing them under glass.

The workshop was definitely a great experience. I focused on art making for three days in a row, with no outside distractions, and no other responsibilities (no meal cooking, no household chores getting in the way). The biggest negative is that I slept horribly most nights, as the beds were hard and had rubber sheets on them, the bathroom door squeaked loudly, and the bathroom light shone into my room (around the edges of the door).  I will definitely take some additional items next year to help sleep better (egg crate mattress topper, eye mask, and sleeping pills).

They already have next year's instructors posted and I'm looking forward to returning!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Cow quilt

Earlier this year, I decided to make a cow quilt. Not a quilt with a cow on it, an art quilt shaped like a cow. 
Meet George. She is roughly 5'6" high and 6'6" wide.

George is raw edge pieced, with fused and stitched circles.

She is mainly recycled fabrics. Her rump is a curtain, you can see the metal grommets for the curtain rod. It was a patterned white-on-white fabric, but I painted the diamond shapes with acrylic paint. In order to get the paints to blend, without bleeding into the unpainted sections, I mixed my acrylic paint with clear aloe vera gel.  Below is a picture of what would happen if I had used water instead. The aloe vera worked very well. I did not add anything else to the acrylic paint as it is an art quilt and cannot be machine washed. I did iron the painted sections to help "set" the paint, with a teflon sheet between my iron and the fabric. It did "smoke" a bit and smelled a bit funny, so I turned down the heat a bit to medium high. I do not think this was toxic, but don't take my word on it. I should have put on my respirator.

This fabric (below) was a purchased solid white twill. I stamped the fabric using a washer. You can see the post about stamping this fabric here.

The top white section is a white cotton tablecloth. The colored belly section is a puddle painted piece of polyester sheer curtain.  My blogs on puddle painting can be seen here and here (not the same fabric, just the technique).

The fabric that looks like small dots (shown below in the middle and used for some of the legs) is a textured curtain. It was white and I lightly rubbed Shiva paintsticks over it, which only painted the raised parts on the fabric. After letting the fabric sit for a few days, I ironed it to set the colors.

I did have a full size paper "pattern" of the overall cow, but just used that to figure out my piecing.

Once all the pieces were sewn together, I pinned it to some batting and free motion stitched it, outline stitching the patterns on the fabrics.

I came into textile arts from a mixed media background. I will be the first to say that I will not pass any tests regarding having a beautiful back side on my quilt.  I did not want to have a binding around the outside edge, and did not want to have to turn down the curved edge of the fabric on the back side, so I used the "pillowcase method" which involves laying the backer fabric face to face with the quilt top, sewing all around but leaving an opening in one section, in order to turn it right-side out. Before turning it, I did add some iron-on stiff interfacing at her head and rump so she would not sag when she was hung.  I then turned the quilt right-side out and sewed 1/4" from the outside edge, all around the quilt. This is really too big a quilt to use the pillowcase method, and there are some wrinkles and folds in the backing fabric.  But she is a beauty on the front side!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Chihuly Venetians at the Alamance Arts Center

I was in North Carolina visiting family and we took a trip to Graham to see the Chihuly Venetians on display at the Alamance Arts Center.

These were mainly smaller works. Here are some photos from the show.

He did have quite a few pieces with cherubs on them, which seemed very Italian to me, but not really my taste. It seems like making glass cherubs would be very difficult.

 There were two larger pieces, this one hung from the ceiling.

And this free-standing piece.

They had a nice video about making the glass which was shown on the open porch.

This was a nice show as you could get really close to the pieces and see all the detail. The art center used to be a house, so it is an intimate setting for the work to be shown.  The show closes on October 15th.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Sunprinting on fabric

I finally made time to do some sun printing last weekend. I wanted to do some large pieces of fabric, which was a challenge. I also wanted to do multiple layers of paint to get some depth to the patterns.

Here is my setup. I lay my fabric out on an insulation board (from the hardware store). My board is about 4' long x 3' wide. My fabric is 6' long x 3-1/2' wide. For the first layer I did half the fabric and after it was painted and dried, I did the other half.

I find it easier to lay dry fabric on the board and wet it with a spray bottle, than to dampen the fabric first. I need to try to get the fabric as smooth as possible and it is much easier doing it section by section with a spray bottle. The fabric was pre-washed and dried in the dryer.  I am using 100% cotton sheet.

Here are my Setacolor paints. I keep them in these plastic containers with screw-top lids. I water them down about 50/50 (half paint/half water), screw the lid on and shake it. Make sure the lid is on tight.

Here is a collection of lace, doilies, stencils, etc to sun print with.

For this piece I layered two pieces of fabric. The bottom layer usually is more muted than the top, after they have been painted and dried. I often do this as it's like getting two pieces for the work of one.

For this first layer, I used two yellows and an orange. I used lace and lace doilies to sun print. They were very soft sun prints, due to the light paint colors.

This is after doing both sections of fabric, size is roughly 6' x 3-1/2'.

Here is a close-up of a doily print.

For the second layer, I painted on red, more orange, and fuchsia. I used stencils and plastic doilies with this layer.

I wanted to soften up the color transitions, so for the third layer, I did what I call Puddle Painting. I pour multiple paint colors onto a plastic lid (from a storage container) and smush my wrinkled up damp fabric into the paint. I will squeeze the fabric a little, unwrinkle it, then ball it up again and smush it into the paint again. I usually only have to do this twice to get good coverage on most of the fabric. I don't want to completely cover up the previous layer. I recommend wearing gloves. I puddle painted the entire fabric and had it span two different boards (since the fabric is longer than the boards). You can see my blog post demonstrating puddle painting here.

Here is the final piece, ironed. I think it's hard to tell how big the fabric is in these pictures. The round stencils are about 12" to give you a sense of scale.

Close up of the final piece.

As I said above, I put a second piece of fabric underneath when I painted the first layer. The colors were a muted yellow and orange on this bottom piece. I just added one more layer of paint to it, to create a more multi-colored piece. I used the puddle painting technique and used primary colors, cobalt blue, red, and yellow. I also included some fuchsia and some opaque turquoise. Setacolor opaque colors will not sun print, but I like this turquoise color and it adds some pop.

Here is the final piece and I think it is delicious.
Here are some close-ups.

I also like the back side, the colors and patterns are more subtle.

Back, close-up.

I think I will be combining some of the front and some of the back in my project.

But I'm not done sun printing.

I did a similar orange and yellow first layer on a smaller piece of fabric. This piece is about 2' x 3'. I layered a lot of smaller stencils on this piece.

I also did a narrow band of fabric that I put lace on top of.

Both these have a top and bottom layer of fabric.

Here is the top layer, after sun printing. I left this piece as is and did not print over it.
Here is the bottom layer.
The bottom layer I printed over using ultramarine blue and more stencils. I do not like the orange and dark blue contrast.  I am not sure what I will do with this piece. Maybe another layer?The area to the right where it was folded up it actually quite interesting.

For the narrow band, I cut it in half and overprinted one of them with red and fuchsia, with stencils.

Close-up. The dark yellow section does have the lace pattern printed on it, it is just hard to see in these pictures. As you can see, the section I over-painted with red and fuschia is quite different depending on the color of the underlayer. The part that looks orange was the darker yellow color like the piece above it.

Here is the lace and doilies I sun printed with. I did paint them some more after printing.
I also painted some cheesecloth, a Japanese inspired 60's fabric, and polyester dress lining. There is a certain kind of polyester that prints the wrinkles in the fabric really well.

More cheesecloth and the Japanese inspired 60's fabric.

I started the large fabric pieces, which were cotton sheets, with the sewn edges still on. They were preventing the fabric from being really flat on the boards, so I cut them off after applying the paint. I will be keeping them to incorporate in my project.

But wait, there's more. When I have my sun printing supplies out, I start looking for things to paint. I made some large fabric collage pieces previously, and decided to sun print a few. These were puddle painted. This is a big one, roughly 3' x3'.  I used a few stencils on it as well (circles and plastic doilies).


This one is 12" x 12". I dripped a little opaque turquoise on afterwards. Puddle painted with no sun printing.

This one is 12" x12". I think I may work on leaving more white on future pieces. Puddle painted with no sun printing.

And I just thought I'd add a few pictures of flowers from my yard. The back yard is more weeds than grass, but I do have these lovelies.
Northern Hibiscus
Surprise lily