Friday, July 13, 2018

Getting Ready for Quilting by the Lake 2018 - Off the Wall Friday

Its that time of year again, when I need to start my research for my upcoming class at Quilting by the Lake.  This year I'm taking a class with Jeannette DeNicolis Meyer called  Sheer Play.  It will be an exploration of layering sheer silk organza using different techniques.  I'm really excited since I've been wanting to take this class for years now and just am getting the chance now.  To me what is so exciting is that we can play with creating texture and using light wherein traditional quilting with the three layers (cotton, batting, cotton) light doesn't play into the piece.

One of the things we are going to explore is
Bojagi or Pojagi (depending on who you ask).  It's the Korean tradition of the wrapping of gifts or important objects in decorative fabric.  This evolved throughout time into a specific technique of sewing together scraps into these wrappings.  Fiber artists today use this method because the seams create such an interest element in their work.  Sometimes the seams are placed very intentionally while others are more random.

The whole thing excites me.  The idea of using seams to create line and texture.....of adding the element of light to a piece and how that will change how a viewer sees the piece as the day or display changes....the idea that we will paint white silk and bring it to light.  All  - Very - Exciting!!

Once I realized I was going to take this class last summer, I was looking at seams in a whole different way.  This is a piece that I made during QBL last year from the back side - with the sunlight going through.  So interesting.

Anyways - as always - you'll see how the class goes!!

What Have You Been up to Creatively?

Friday, July 6, 2018

Let's Talk Texture - Off the Wall Friday

Texture is defined as the tactile quality of a surface.   Most of us being fiber artists and quilters are tactile people.  We love to touch.  I mean really, have you ever walked into a fabric shop and not spent the whole time touching?  But in relation to our art, it's so much more than how things feel.

So let's break it down.


Real texture is how the piece actually feels.  Working with fiber and quilting you can easily achieve by 

Stitching, Thread painting, Quilting
Seam placement
Applique/Reverse Applique
Different Types of Fabric
Fabric Folding, Layering
Painting /Surface Design


Implied Texture is a bit more tricky.  This is the type of texture that the viewer sees with their eyes rather than feels with their hands.  Some different ways the artist can achieve this is 

Use of line, marks
Clever use of value
Repetition of shape

Okay, so I know you're saying to me "Nina with everything else I have going with making my own art you want me to worry about texture too?"  And the answer is YES!!  It's so important!!


Create visual interest or focal points
Create contrast within your composition
Help maintain balance in your piece
Convey Emotion and Set Moods

So next time sit down to your own original work, take some extra time for texture.  You'll be glad you did.

So What Have Been Up to Creatively?

Friday, June 29, 2018

4 Quick Art Quilt Tips - Off the Wall Friday

I thought it was time to start a new monthly series of posts on tips that will help with the beginner art quilter and maybe the not so beginner art quilter.  .Some may be practical, some philosophical, some a little bit of both. Please feel free to chime in on your opinion or advice whenever you want.  Also, if somebody wants me to highlight a guest tip just email me and I'll include it in a future post.


Research on Edward Hooper
I can always tell when I look at an art piece if the artist has researched its topic.  It just seems to give the piece more depth, more emotion.  Now what do I mean about research?  Well if you are working figuratively make sure you have plenty of inspirational photos or pictures of what you want to create.  Look at how other artists have handled the topic.  Explore different viewpoints.  Explore the history and context of the subject you are making.  If you're working abstractly,
research different compositions, palettes, themes.

Edward Hopper Painting that I made a collage  art quilt from
My daughter, now a junior at university (how did THAT happen) showed me how important this was.  Every time she has to portray a new character in a play she does her "Character Work".  She gets a little notebook and starts researching all the ins and outs of the play and character.  She uses that information to draw from as she's giving her own rendition of the part.  This can easily be transferred to figurative art.

So before you start a piece...... Research


Now, let me tell you after 25+ years of quilting, I've created a lot of scraps.  Did I save them all?  NO!  But, I did save enough to be helpful.  My quick tips to save scraps is I organize them into two groups.... Commercial Fabric and Hand dyeds.  Then the groups are separated into gallon size zip lock bags by color.  Only save workable size pieces.  "Workable Size" is different for everyone so you'll have to figure that out.  Then I keep all the zip locks in a nice pretty basket.  I've
tried a bunch of different ways to save scraps but this  - for me - has worked out to be most low maintenance as well as useful.  When I need a scrap - I grab the bag that is the right color.  While I'm working on a project, all the scraps go into a zip lock when at the end I just sort them into the right color bag.


Jackson Pollock Quote
This is one that I have to keep reminding myself over and over.  Stop making art the way others think you should make art.  Stop working in a manner that others thing you should do.  Work in the way you WANT to work.  Since most of us aren't professional artists, we are in this for the joy of creating so we don't have to justify our work to anybody.  Now of course this is easier said than done because really why make art if you aren't going to share.  With sharing it, its human nature for
you want it be well received.  But at some point you want to balance the part of you that wants acceptance and recognition with the part of you that wants to do work exactly the way you want to work.  I highly suggest you give more credence to the latter than the former.

To prove my point, I've been pretty busy in my studio lately doing.....wait for it..... a traditional quilt kit.  Yes, they literally give me the fabric and the pattern and tell me exactly how to make it. So NOT originally work !!  GASP!!!! I haven't shared it here here since its nothing earth shattering but I've been having a BALL!  I forgot how accomplished I feel when I see all the pieces come together properly.  Plus, I'm honing all the piecing skills that can be later used in my own work.....if  when I get back to it.

4.  HAND DYE YOUR OWN FABRIC  (at least once)

My life got so much easier once I learned how to hand dye my own fabric.  For the first 10 yrs, I resisted the urge to dye. It seemed VERY mysterious and VERY complicated.  I mean, really, what did I know about that???  Not to mention, there was a thousand different set of instructions out there on how to do it and none of the materials were readily available in Erie, PA!  Once I finally screwed up the courage and said enough is enough, I got the stuff, picked some instructions and made up my first batch.  It wasn't that hard and it made my life so much easier.

Now don't get me wrong, hand dyeing is a LOT of work.  But, once you get the hang of it and come up with methods that work for you, its really not hard.  Plus its so much cheaper than buying hand dyeds.  Since I don't have a wet studio, I tend to dye a bunch of fabric once or twice a year.  I dye gradations of colors which come in super handy  when I'm doing a piece that needs a lot of different value.  I also, do improvisational  dyeing with my Red Solo Cup Method (which I swear pretty much anybody can get great results).   Plus if you hate doing it and find it too much work or too messy or really both, you can at least say, I tried it once.

 So What Have You Been Up To Creatively?

Friday, June 22, 2018

Off the Wall Friday

Friday, June 15, 2018

Creative Vacations Pt II - Off The Wall Friday

This week I wanted to continue on with my journey through the country's folk art schools.  The more I researched, the more I realized that these schools offer a lot of different types of experiences.  The one thing they all had in common was that they offered an immersive creative experience perfect for a vacation from everyday life.

Clearing Folk School, Ellison Bay, WI

  • Large 128 acre rural property in the woodlands along Green Bay
  • Rustic comfortable dorms-double rooms, no TV, Radio, Laptops allowed
  •  Cell phones usage is limited to two designated areas (not in the lodging, classrooms)
  • $1200/double private bath plus gratuities
  •  Independent study/retreats are available each session
  • Writing, philosophy, Yoga are offered with the normal Art classes
  • Several hiking trails exist on the property

Peters Valley School of Craft, Layton, NJ
  • A rural area campus located in the Delaware Water Gap
  • Campus is split with a two-mile distance between the parts
  • Very "No Frills" accommodations are offered with a pay per night fee structure
  • Art quilt classes are offered occasionally
  • Class tuition varies with class
  • $1200/double approximately since room/board/class costs all vary
  • 5 Day sessions run Friday - Tuesday
Pocosin Art School, Columbus, NC

  • Small town main street location 
  •  Small three class weekly sessions offered March - October
  • One riverside lodge available with singles, doubles, quads (all doubles have bunk beds)
  • Individual air conditioning, wifi, bath - nice common areas
  • No meals are included, 24/7 communal kitchen with restaurants near by
  • Art quilt classes are offered
  • $1200/double with tuition but no meals
Which leaves us the granddaddy of all the Folk Art Schools ...
John C. Campbell Folk School, Brasstown, NC
  • Large extended campus in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains
  • Offers year-round classes - 880 last year in  48 subjects!
  • Class size is limited to 12
  • Evening programs are offered in storytelling, music and demonstrations
  • Many types of accommodations are offered at every price point
  • $1300/double with a private bath 
  • Large well-appointed classrooms with plenty of light 
  • Inter-generational classes are offered (one adult/one minor)

 Now if after reading all about these schools, you think  - wow  - I'd love to try this but I don't have the money, let me mention that they all have scholarship and/or work-study programs that all ages are encouraged to apply for. In the past, while I was raising my family, I was the recipient of two scholarships.  Both times, the process was painless and I was truly blessed with the experience.  For that matter, I'm still considering trying a class as a work-study because that sounds interesting!

This Arromont's Amazing Library
Hopefully, these posts have sparked your interest in trying out a folk school.  I had mentioned them to my husband several times over the years, but until I literally opened up the Campbell Folk School catalog in front of him and told him to read  - he never considered it.  Now, he can see the possibilities of what fun it would be to take a class in maybe something other than our chosen media of fiber and wood.  Or maybe just pick something in those catagories.  Really as you can see from these schools there are a plethera of choices!

So What Have You Been Up to Creatively?

Friday, June 8, 2018

Creative Vacations Part I - Off the Wall Friday

My husband and I have decided we are all " Disney'd Out".  I mean, ten days at the Happiest Place on Earth, would probably be enough for pretty much any couple.   What we did discover though is we like vacationing together.  So I was tasked to come up with our next destination.  Now you wouldn't think this would be so hard because there are so many great places to go in this country.  But, I needed to find that had enough to do to keep us both interest without totally exhausting us and didn
My classroom at Arrowmont
't involve mountains or beaches (since he doesn't like beaches and I'm not that keen on mountains).

Finally I decided on a week or two at a Folk Arts School.  In this country there are several to choose from all with their own take on what a "Folk Arts School should be. Now for you that don't know, a Folk Arts School is a school that offers classes from weekend to a week to several weeks in all types of hand arts all in the same week.  Most offer woodworking, ceramics, metalwork, Fiber (Weaving, Paper, Needlecraft) and glass.  Here is a snapshot of some that I researched using the 2018 season as a guide.

Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, Gatlinburg, Tennesee
  •  Has a Rich 100+ history
  •  Located in a tucked away spot off of downtown Gatlinburg
  • Some housing on campus in dorms or rustic "doubles" rooms
  • Hotels/ restaurants within walking distance 
  • WiFi and Air conditioned
  • Has a great Library and Gallery
  • Classes mostly run Spring through Fall, 20 classroom size
  • About $1200/ week each for two people (room, board, tuition)
  • Offers Art Quilt Classes periodically
Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, Deer Isle, ME

Penland School of Crafts, Penland, North Carolina
  • Located on a large rural campus in Blue Ridge Mountains
  • Summer and Fall one week sessions are mostly offered
  • Several choices for rooms on campus are available
  • Evening activities are offered as well as a library, gallery
  • About $1650 for a double (private bath)/week (no air conditioning)
  • A very spread out campus but provisions are made for mobility issues 
  • Studios are open 24 hrs a day

 This post is getting long so I thought I would break it up into two parts!!  Hope you find the information helpful and if you would like me to feature a school you know of in next week's post please let me know!

So What Have You Been Up to Creatively?

Friday, June 1, 2018

Color Palettes of the Masters - Off the Wall Friday

Its been a while since I talked about  color and choosing a palette.  One of my favorite ways to do that is to pick a piece of art I love and use the colors in it to be the starting point of my own palette. That said, I don't think I've ever done it with famous painting.  But really,  what better way to study color than to look at how the masters have put them together.

Here are some examples I thought you'd enjoy. . . . . . I used Color Explorer to break out the colors

Cafe Terrance at Night, Vincent van Gogh, 1888

The Flower Carrier, Diego Rivera, 1935

The Ninth Wave, Ivan Aivazovsky, 1850

The Boat Trip, Mary Cassatt, 1883

Cardsharps, Caravaggio, 16th Century

In the Bazaar, August Mackey, 1914

Ya know this is getting a little addictive... I really could go on and on. Its super easy to do
  1. Google a famous Painting or Painting site
  2. Save image of the painting                        
  3. Go to                          
  4. Click on "Image Color Import"                 
  5. Upload the Painting Image                        
  6. Enjoy the Palette!                                      
You can refine the palette or enlarge it as much as you want.  With Cardsharps I had to enlarge the palette for it to capture the gold and the burgundy which I felt was essential to that painting.  So this is NOT full proof but it will get you in the right direction.

I really am going to have to pick a favorite artists and analyze all the palettes of my favorite paintings!

So What Have You Been Up to Creatively?