Sunday, March 30, 2014

Series Ideas

I recently got the book, "Visual Guide to Working in a Series" by Elizabeth Barton. I just had to use my 50% off coupon at Joann's Fabrics. Working in a series on purpose (see previous post) is a whole 'nother ball game, than accidentally working in a series. It is taking some thought, as to theme, ideas, and techniques. I have been brain storming, and got out a sketch book. I finally thought about clocks/time. I like working in pencil and drawing thumbnail sketches of my ideas.
Notes, ideas, and words also get scribbled on the drawings. The book talks about parameters, focusing on certain points to have cohesiveness in your series. I wrote, BOLD numbers, PARTIAL Circles, CLOSEUPS, Graphic SHAPES. I also like the HIGH CONTRAST in the work Elizabeth does in her book, it gives a strong graphic quality to her work.
After doing more sketches, I worked on word associations, listing the hours of the day, and related activities. Next were words for different times of day, dawn, twilight, midnight, dusk, etc... and different phrases that use "time," nap time, military time, time for change, over time, half time, etc...
Then the final thought of the day ... "It is important when drawing a clock, where the hands are set, what feeling does that time evoke, why is it that particular time?" I was excited and wanted to jump right in, so I sketched out my first pic, full size in the 5" x 7" sketch book.
I made a quick mock up in magazine papers, I cut free hand and made the collage of papers, I wanted to create motion of the twist of the stem, and high contrast with the background. Another consideration was to make the case of the clock reflect light. Now to make it in Fabric. What do you think, please leave a comment.
The next thumbnail sketch that I tried, did not look good colored in crayon, so I went right to the magazine papers. In the 5" x 7" sketchbook, my idea was of a digital wrist watch and the segmented metal band, I wanted it a little more abstract. Abstract IS NOT my thing!! My first try had solid color papers of red and orange with a yellow frame, not good. The solid colors did not work, I over laid them with more textured colors of red & dark rust. Then the yellow band stood out too much, so I used a darker orange. Now, I did not have the high contrast that I wanted, so I used a heavy black Sharpie to outline it all. So playing around with papers, saved me lots of fabric, trying different combinations. I think I like this technique, but I need to cut up more magazines for my pallet, I did not have the colored papers I needed. For experimental work in a series, I'm glad I tried something new.

I am linking this to Nina=Marie's "Off the Wall Friday" click on the badge in the right hand column.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Geometric Design Fun

At our March Fyber Cafe meeting, we had fun doing a design exercise with geometric shapes. I stole this from another group's blog, Kathy Schmidt in the UK, links at the bottom of the post. We each started with Six 5" squares of bright fabric, with fusible ironed on the back, such as Steam a Seam or Wonder Under. Then the two darkest value we cut once, to use in the background, the remaining squares we cut into other smaller geometric shapes, about 4-6 pieces from each square. We cut rectangles, strips, squares, lot of circles, crescents, snakes, many different triangles, stars, eggs, etc... I provided a yard of black solid cotton, to use as a background, and we placed the larger pieces first, then the cut shapes.
We were allowed to place pieces on top, under, overlap, and all over the black fabric, you could move other pieces, we played a long time, every so often moving two steps to the left, so you worked on a different section. At the end we each removed two pieces! The idea was to consider design options, balance, value, line, repetition, shape, color. After everything was in place, we stood back and gave it a good look. We wanted a little more of the black/negative space to show. Paper was placed on top and it was rolled up, to take home and iron all the pieces in place.
As I ironed it, I fussed a little, mostly on how they overlapped and to even out the black space. After ironing, it was cut up into 16 sections approximately 8" x 10" some of them cut straight, and some wonky. Each artist will receive a piece to play with, cut up, repiece, add or subtract, extend, cover over, alter, or embellish. Just to have fun playing with color and design.

I am linking this to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Friday" click on the badge on the right column to see what other wonderful artists have been doing this week. Kathy at Quirks Ltd. in the UK has a blog on their groups efforts on a green background with organic shapes click here, scroll down to Jan 21 also check out their geometric pieces on a black background scroll down to Nov 22

Saturday, March 22, 2014


Housework?? You ask what is that? It's something that gets in the way of my quilting and gardening. We've had beautiful spring weather and am I outside enjoying it? NO! I've gotta clean house 'cause company is coming. Spring break is here (I drive school bus), and instead of quilting and relaxing, I get to clean. At least it is family we want to see, and we'll have fun, but still... house cleaning...really! I work a split shift, drive kids to school, and several hours later, take them home, so I have about 5 hours in the middle of the day, to be creative. I would much rather quilt/paint/embellish/print/etc... then clean, any time, any day. But then I suffer the consequences, I have to get all the cleaning done at once. So it is really my fault, I'm a great procrastinator!!!! My husband usually vacuums and does the bathroom, and his own laundry, yes, I am lucky, but since he is sick, I've gotta do it all, including taking out the trash and mowing the lawn. Whine, whine, whine, stop procrastinating and get back to work Amy! our local quilt guild show is coming up in April, so I'll get something finished for that soon. Come and see it, the best show in Southern Oregon! at the Douglas County Fairgrounds, Roseburg, Oregon, April 11, 12, and 13.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Working in a Series, My Journey to be an Art Quilter.

An artist, Sherry, in our Fyber Cafe group, was concerned with the idea of working in a series. She has gotten a new book by Elizabeth Barton on the subject. She wanted to know if any one wanted to work through the exercises with her. If you had asked me last week, if I worked in a series I would have said "Heck NO!" Not me, I have never done that purposefully, have I? But hindsight gives me a different perspective, I have indeed worked in many series, over my long years of quilting. Hindsight did not just slap me in the face, it wacked me upside my head.

Even before I called myself an "Art Quilter," I suppose it started with "Watercolor" quilts. Once you start cutting up 2" squares to blend, you always have leftovers. So you make another quilt, and another, using up and cutting more squares. I tried to find different ways to blend the squares, shading patterns, and using them as backgrounds for applique.
This led to a similar technique of using two inch squares from one fabric to create wreaths and bouquets. You needed a special fabric and I taught classes in this technique.

I have always loved to applique and Elly Seinkewizc's Baltimore Applique appealed to me. I started making 3-D flowers, and my own patterns, and advanced to Kumiko Sudo's 3-D Japanese style flowers. I taught many classes on hand making flowers, beading the centers of the flowers, got me to like embellishing.

My quilting adventures transformed into the journey to become an "Art Quilter." Using raw edge applique, I succumbed to the idea, that it was ok to have a fraying eyelash on the edge of my applique patch, instead of the crisp precision of Baltimore applique. I followed Susan Carlson's approach to making fish, a series of fantasy fish, five trout wall hangings using hand painted backgrounds, I worked in a series as I explored fabric painting, adding layers of foliage for depth, and telling a story with "Ashlee's Toes." Two bass quilts followed and the tropical fish and reef series followed next.
My underwater ocean art quilts grew more and more complex as I added corals, new fish, octopus, building a complex landscape and ecosystem of a coral reef. Turtles, dolphins and whales followed, with rays of light reaching to the depths. I found that I loved to embellish as I sewed on real sea shells to the sandy bottoms. I explored this style for a long time, playing with light, depth, layering, color and composition.
I continued to use raw edge applique for quiet a while, as my hands got more arthritic, and I could not hand sew as much. I still love the look of hand applique, and use it for very special work, but it is not practical for me anymore. A series of landscape art quilts followed. I forgot about these, as many of them sold as quick as I could make them. Trees, scenery, deer and other critters, walled gardens, deserts, lakes and forests, this subject is endless. It is definitely working in a series, how could I not think that? I collected "landscape print fabrics," trees, rocks, textures, wood, leaves, grasses, a huge stash of fabrics collected as I made this my go to technique.
At the request of a quilt shop owner on the coast, I made a series of Lighthouse wall hangings, to sell in her shop. They were purposefully made as I collected photos of Oregon Lighthouses, created patterns, and hand painted skies. As I worked out perspective, design, adding foregrounds and hand painting backgrounds, and adding embellishments. I just thought of this as working in a favorite technique, my go to style, each was an original design that I created to make art. This is a series and I am an artist!

For the last several years my "Goal" was to use my photos in my art quilts, in as many ways as possible. I had made traditional photo transfer quilts of my Dad's Dahlias, family photos, and a 50th anniversary quilt. But now with my new digital camera, I wanted to use my original photos in art quilts. You can see the transition as I explored the series of floral quilts, thread painting my photos and creating a collage of landscape photos.
I never thought of it as working in a series, it was just my goal. Thread painting a photo, I say "if the photo is worth a 1000 words, it is certainly worth a 1000 yards of thread!" Now I have begun to use my photos for patterns, as the basis for my applique quilts, creating situations from my photos that tell a story, or details of my own garden flowers. A whole new world of art has opened up to me, as I continue to explore themes, techniques, styles and new ideas. Manipulating photos in Photoshop is my next "Goal" as I learn to use the program more thoroughly.
One author asked in her book, "What is your style?" Something that is recognizable as "Your" quilt art. I never thought I had a style, I jumped from one project and technique to another, to the next project. I have many projects going at once and not always finishing them, before jumping into the next that catches my attention. Then one day it dawned on me, my recognizable style was my intense machine quilting/thread painting with rayon threads. It complimented my landscapes, portraits, florals, photos and painted/printed projects, tying them all together as "My Style." I think this also ties my series together, as I explore each technique and each theme. Wether I call them sets, goals or favorite techniques, it is still "working in a series." So a series becomes and on going project, as you add to it, revisiting a favorite technique (Gelli printing) or a favorite theme(undersea coral reefs) or starting a new series, 3-Dimensional work, from my photos of nature or the beach. I'm really looking forward to the next new series!
P.S. I also have series in Vintage Fabric, Reproduction 1920-30's, Silk Flowers & Fairies, Stained Glass, Hand Dyed fabrics, Fabric Painted Portraits, Floral Applique, Oriental Fabrics & Shashiko, Gelli Prints, Scrap Quilts, Silk Ribbon & Crazy Quilts, Redwork Embroidery, 40 years of exploring this ever changing world of textile arts. I hope you enjoyed this journey I have taken over the years to create the artist that I am today. Beginning with a class in hand piecing with Roberta Horton when I was in High school in the early 70's to Playing with technology like Photoshop in the new millennium. Thanks for checking out my blog!

I am linking this to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Friday" click on the badge on the right to see what other wonderful textile artists are doing.