Thursday, July 30, 2015

On Location at QBL - Off the Wall Friday

The Abstracted Collage
Greetings from Quilting on the Lake!!  Wow!!  Its been a world wind week here in Judi Blaydon's ARTful Quilt class.  I'm so glad I picked Hopper's Chop Suey for inspiration since it lent itself nicely to an abstract collage.   So first we created our collages which we then made line tracings of.  These were blown up into full size master patterns.  From there we are reproducing the abstraction into fabric. Its as easy as that!  Or actually as hard as that!

The Angst - The Struggle - The Blood - Sweat and TEARS!!!

Okay, so I'm being a drama queen (big surprise), but somewhere around Wednesday, it dawn on me that this was not going to be as easy as I thought.  You really needed to look at the inspirational collage to get your values and colors correct.  It was hard!  But as most hard things, well worth the work!!  I'm happy to say by Friday afternoon my quilt top will be done and ready to quilt!

Not only is the class going great, but my classmates are great too!!  I met a reader in class - Susan Griffin who was inspired by one of my favorite Fauva moment artist, Andre Derain.  I love her interpretation  - didn't it come out great?!  She wanted to use the bold colors of Derain in a straight forward direct manner tempering them with the use of a neutral.  I think she was totally successful!

I'll share my finish piece next time but here is  sneak preview!

So what have you been up to creatively??

Friday, July 24, 2015

Quilt Retreat Prepping 101 - Off the Wall Friday

I'm always a little surprised at what I need to pack for my annual trip to Quilting by the Lake.  I mean, I'm only going to be gone for 6 days . . .How much stuff do I need to bring???
The answer...A LOT!  In fact, even though this is my 14th time packing, its still a bit daunting.  Why??   Because not only do you need to pack all your clothes, toiletries, bedding, kitchen & bath essentials, but you want to make sure you bring with you everything you need to create for a 5 day class.

Now I know that the teacher supplies a Supply List, but let's face it, this only includes the unique items for the class.  Most teachers include  some kind of  all inclusive sentence like, "Bring all the tools and equipment you need to create".  Okay then - that narrows it down.  So I thought I would put together a list of things which will make your life easier in class but forgot to pack.

13 Things You Never thought to Pack for Quilt Retreat & Conference

  • Zip-Lock Baggies, quart & gallon size - the perfect thing to bring home scraps, pattern pieces and odds & ends notions 
  • Paper Lunch bag - taped to the edge of the table it comes in really handy
  • A Sketching Pencil set - Most design classes start with some kind of design exercises done on paper - my pencil set with a good erasure, pencil sharpener and varying degree of lead hardness comes in super handy.
  • A Coffee Mug - No, not for coffee - but to hold your scissors, seam ripper, rotary cutter etc on your table.  It will save you a ton of time if you know where those are and not under the mountain of fabric on
    the table
  • A Water bottle - Sewing is thirsty work and its nice to have your favorite water bottle (preferably with a filter) that can be filled at a near by water fountain.
  • Extra Pins - you'd be surprised on how many pins you go through!
  • Nail File & Clippers - Don't you hate when you get a hang nail?!?
  • Post-A- Notes - perfect to help remember design ideas or leave a note for friend in class
  • Advil (pain killers) - After 10 hours of sewing in a room full of 20 women - who doesn't need an advil?
  • Chocolate - perfect for a Pick-Me-Up  - or to help make new friends
  • Business cards - give them out to all your new friends (made by giving them chocolate!)
  • Mini Spray Bottle - Most conferences supply irons with steam functions but not all sewers like to use steam - so this way  - you can have your iron and steam it too! 
  • Painter's Tape - perfect to hang things, but also for labels
hmmmmmmm, now what did I forget???  Any ideas??  What do you like to bring?

So, what have been up to creatively lately?

Friday, July 17, 2015

Bonnard & Hopper - Off the Wall Friday

Pierre Bonnard
Every year when I get ready for my week at Quilting by the Lake, there always seem like a million things to do.  This year, my teacher Judi Blayden asked us to prepare pre-class homework.  Not only where we to pick the paintings we wanted to abstract but also to do a little research into the painters.

Pierre Bonnard (1867 - 1947)

As a French painter and printmaker, he was one of the founders of the Post Impressionist group, Las
Nabis.  His work, which has a dream like quality, often featured domestic scenes featuring his wife and family.  He used vibrant bold colors to not only express the actual scene itself but also the complex imagery he wanted to express.  He is regarded as the greatest  colorists of modern art. 

Since one of my true loves is to play with color, I think that's why I was instantly drawn to Bonnard's work.  In The Dining Room in the Country, he slides masterly from the cool colors of the exterior to the warm colors of the interior, evoking a sentimental  - at home kind of feeling.  The goal of my abstraction is to play with moving cool colors to warm.

Dining Room in the Country

Edward Hopper (1882 - 1967)

 An American painter whose realistic views of  urban scenes shock the viewer into recognition of the
strangeness of familiar surroundings.  His  realistic  scenes of everyday life  mostly conveyed a mood of loneliness, isolation and anonymity.  He continued with his figurative work although the trend during the mid 20th century was abstract.

I have always been drawn to Hopper's work.  There is always a sense of mystery in his painting which makes me want to ask why are these people so lonely?  I love how he uses architectural lines to solidify his scenes.  The goal of my abstraction will be to play with architectural features and to create a sense of mystery.
Chop Suey

Okay homework done! 

So what have been up to Creatively?

Friday, July 10, 2015

Setting Limits - Off the Wall Friday

Limits.  We all have them.  Limits on how much we work, we play, we spend, we eat etc. etc.  And that's what we explored in this week's lesson in Artist Strength Training class.  How do limits effect our creative life?

Now I'm all about limits.  Limits, to me, equal balance and balance equals happiness.  Whenever my life gets crazy or I get crazy or a little bit of both, its usually because the balance is off somewhere.  And if the balance is off, that means I haven't followed the limits I've set forth in my life.

Anyways, Jane challenged us to set up some limits concerning our art studio life.  She suggested that we place limitations on what we buy/store in our studios.  That part was easy for me.  I set up limits for my studio when I moved in.  I only keep what I actually need to create in my studio.  But with this challenge, I took it one step farther.  I officially moved out my dye supplies out, since I only use them a couple times a year.  They can be designated to another close by closet.

Ready to start Sewing again!

Another limit?  I always make sure that I give the studio a good clean at the end of each project.  I honestly don't know how "stuff" migrates into my small space, but it does.  The now uncluttered room always seems a perfect space full of  potential possibilities.  Plus at the end of  project  - when chaos again reigns, I always think, "Wow, It looks like I've been working hard in here!"  Creating is, after all, messy.

The second half of the lesson concerned that piles of UFO's we all have in our studios.  You know the one - its filled with pieces we haven't finished because we lost interest  or because we were stuck on a section or because it was turning out ugly/awkward.  Jane suggested that we  take a piece and give it a make-over, fearlessly changing it for the better.

Now my pile isn't that big.  Because of limits I placed already on myself, I don't tend to save UFO's.  Either they're working (they get finished) or they're not (they get tossed).  But I do have have a half a dozen sitting there.  The one I chose for the make-over was a piece I did as an exercise for Elizabeth Barton's Masterclass.

You know, I never did like it.  She liked it but deep down I really didn't.  Even after a year, I still don't.  There are parts I like and parts I don't.  So this week, I spent a bunch of time, taking out the parts I don't, changing the fabric on some and cropping the piece.  They really weren't drastic changes but I like the piece much better.  Might even get the gumption up to bind it - grin!!

So I suggest you think about limits you can set up to make your creative life better - think about putting limits on how many projects you start, how many different techniques you use, how many interruptions you tolerate to your studio time, how many competitions you enter, how many commissions you take etc etc.  How can limits restore balance in your life?

So What have been  up to Creatively?

Friday, July 3, 2015

The Rejection Committee - Off the Wall Friday

Clapboards & Lilies, 28" by 16"
"We regret to inform you that your submission,  Clapboards and Lilies,  was not selected. . . " Sighhhhh.  Yes, for the first time in 10 years, my piece for the local mixed arts Lily Festival Art Show was rejected.  Renounced. Refused! Spurned!!

Okay, so I'm a being a bit dramatic, but rejection stings a bit even by the best of us.  It just plays to all the doubts in your head that your art really isn't good enough and the jury really didn't want to let you play with them anyways. 

But really, what hurts more. . . .being rejected by the juror. . . or. . . proving the Rejection Committee in your head they're right?  This week our lesson in Jane Dunnewold's Artist Strength Training Class is about dealing with the self fears that all artists have that our work isn't really  good enough.  Where do they originate?  How do we dismantle them? How can we rise above?

Logically, I've never really had a problem with Jury Rejections.  I mean, if they can't see that my work would benefit their art show, well obviously, its their lost.  My Rejection Committee consists of one essential person - Myself.  I'm consistently telling myself that I'm not good enough - that I will never be as good as <Insert Famous Quilter's Name Here> - that obviously I'm just fooling myself that I'm getting better.

Now normally, I'm not an insecure person.  To tell you the truth, I don't think its really insecurity that is fueling these fears.  Its more like the over achiever in me.  That's the part of myself that just wants to strive to be better and better and better.. . . well. . . until better isn't ever good enough.  And really with art,  what is good enough?  How do you measure  - Good Art?  Since the measure of good art is so damn elusive, that's what my Rejection Committee has chosen to pray on.  I mean, obviously, they are the only ones that know "Good Art", right??  To them,  I'm just a plebeian playing with fabric and thread.

With the Rejection Committee consistently chiming in their two cents, they clearly need to be shut up.  So how do I fire them?  For me, its by stop playing the comparison game.  I need to stop worrying if my work is going to measure up to my peers.  I need to clearly define why I make art.  Do I make it for the validation of artists I truly admire?  Or do I make art to declare the mental expressions that run through my head on a daily basis.

So on that note, I humbly submit this:

Dear Rejection Committee,

   I regret to inform you that at this time, I can not accept your rejection of my work.  I am thrilled that you have been able to submit so many wonderful rejections, but unfortunately, I have found that, as of now, they no longer fit in with  the personal view of my work.  I would encourage you to submit future rejections, but honestly, I don't want to foster any hope that they will ever again be accepted.

My best advice to you is that you find a new endeavor to expend your energies on.


Linking to Muv's...Lizzy Leonard's Vintage Sewing free motion giveaway.

So What have been up  to Creatively?

Friday, June 26, 2015

Hand dyed Fabric Fest - Off the Wall Friday

I'm tired.  When I told my boss that I was going to take 3 days off to dye, she gave me a surprised look.  Now I never get sick of that pun, but I didn't  think I was going to actually die!!   I decided to dye up 36 fat quarters of fabric a day for three days straight.  I'm just finishing up day 2.  You wouldn't think it was that hard of  work but than again who thinks that you have to:
  1. Change over your studio to a dye studio
  2. Take out all the supplies and set them up
  3. Cut up 36 fat quarters of fabric
  4. Choose the colors & make the color recipes
  5.  Measure out the dyes 
  6. Batch up all 36 fat quarters
  7. Rinse out the fabric
  8. Clean Containers & Workspace
  9. Wash the fabric 3 times
  10. Iron and fold the fabric
  11. Repeat all again the next day.
Did I mention I was tired?

But now that I look at the first days work all done, I think WOW it was worth it.  This is the first time I've ever dyed up gradations of muted colors. I got the basic recipes from Linda Johnson's Fabric Dyer's Dictionary.  I don't use her exact procedure to dye, but it was a great help on where to begin to get the colors I needed for my upcoming quilt week at Quilting by the Lake.  Looking over the fabric, I've fallen in love with the palette.  It makes me more excited to go!

Something new this year was I weighed out my dye.  My husband bought a nice little digital stainless steel scale and it worked perfectly for dyeing.  I needed 14.5 grams of dye for every yard.    It made it that much easier to keep the proportions of each color accurate in a dye mixture.   For the most part the colors came out
the way they were suppose to.

Tomorrow I'm going to finish up today's batch of 36 and also do some red solo cup dyeing of the palette. It should be way more random and unpredictable.   Plus if I get some time, I want to do some t-shirts to take with me.  Don't you love when people ask you where did you get your shirt and you say, "Oh I dyed it myself!"  They think you're so artsy!!

One thing I'm really grateful for is my idea to do my dyeing in red solo cups instead of plastic baggies.  This is the 4th year using them and they are still holding up like new.  They are easy to clean, easy to store and you can dye up to a half yard of fabric in them.  Plus, they  give me the nice mottled look I like in my fabric.

Ooops - gotta go - time to put in the soda ash!!

So What have been up to creatively?

Friday, June 19, 2015

More Lilies ---- Off the Wall Friday

You know, some weeks are more bloggable than others around here!  Although I was nice and productive with the Lilies and Birdhouses Take 2 nearly completed - its not very interesting!!  It felt great though to get back to my sewing machine spending hours adding the thread painting to the piece.

 Still as I pricked my finger on the many, many pins that hold down the pieces of rough edge applique, I can see why people fuse!!  But looking at the finished product, I could see texture that non-fusing applique has.  There is a little pucker here and there - a puff of fabric now and again that you don't get with fusing.  Plus I'll never get all the rough edges nice and smooth.  The roughness seems to add just that much texture to the piece.

Just a bit more and the piece will be off to the jury.  Hopefully it will get in!!

So What have you been up to creatively?