Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Seeing The Familiar With Fresh Eyes - Art Group Monday

My art group hasn't met since October, and even then it was only a couple of us attending. Yesterday's meeting with near full attendance was a great way get the art year rolling. It's really easy for a group like this to devolve into a show and tell only exercise with an emphasis on finished work, and we've definitely had meetings like that. Not this meeting, as perhaps we hit that refresh button of mine after not seeing each other for awhile. And the photo above shows what is my first project of the year, and my first opportunity to try out this resolution word of refresh. I've received my assignment for a new slice quilt with those Wisconsin quilter friends of mine, in which I promised them I would loosen up my approach this time - same basic project but with a different image and a chance to hit the design refresh button! Already, old habits have me choosing fabrics to match the photo, but one of the quilts shown at this meeting got my mind thinking in a different (fresh) direction. You'll hear more about that later.

Also shared is the beginnings of that baby quilt I need to get made. I haven't gotten any farther than what I've already reported about drafting and altering the block design, but I did pull out the stack of "lavender" (but actually purple) fabric dyed last year that I plan to use for the background.

Rebecca had baby quilts on her mind too plus using them to get back into the groove of quilting on her longarm machine after breaking her wrist almost a year ago. As with any good baby quilt, it has some really fun motifs in some of the fabric. She pointed out that the sheep look a bit like donuts if you don't look closely.

She was the only one of us to take advantage of the recent snows to do some snow-dyeing. I don't think my camera captured the colors very well. She also shared an indigo dyeing kit she plans to break into once the weather warms a bit and its ideas for folding fabric to create interesting designs in the finished product.

She was looking to recreate a sherbet color she'd achieved last winter to use in this Flamingo quilt. It uses a curved block made with a specialty ruler and technique, and Rebecca, seeing the ruler, wondered if that block could create interesting designs in her art quilts. Seeing the pattern for the flamingos convinced her that it could.

Finally she shared a piece of African batik given to her by her sister, who bought it while on a medical mission to Zimbabwe. It is a beautiful piece done on a nice weight of fabric, but her question was, what do I do with it and those big design motifs? I have my own collection of African batiks and that is ALWAYS the issue it seems. My reply was my standard: use it as backing. But a better suggestion was to consider cutting the motifs out of the fabric to rearrange into larger motifs on a different background. 

Terrie dug out some old unfinished work that began life as samplers for a class she taught. Both of these are wool that need to go the next step to the felting process. She noted that one has many layers of wool and that she broke many needles trying to felt it by machine. In the class she had her students doing the felting by hand and thinks that is how she needs to proceed to finish it up. She also mentioned that one of the students was allergic to wool. Any suggestions for how that person can learn about the needlefelting without working with wool?

Terrie continues to be inspired by the daily drawing that some of us have done in the past (not in my case but others still are). She showed us the latest work in her sketchbook, a combination of trying out different designs for freemotion quilting and developing pattern designs. She said she'd started adding notes beside the drawings such as where the inspiration came from, what she liked and what didn't really work. She's got quite the reference book that keeps growing, even though she admits the drawing does not happen every day.

Besides being a quilter, Terrie has several business ventures including pattern designing, her quilting books, machine quilting service, teaching and running a small quilt shop, all out of her home (Moose Country Quilts). And so she is often ahead of us in knowing about new products and fabric lines. This day she was sharing the new Hoffman digital panels from their Spectrum series. I've had some questions about how the all-the-rage digital fabric prints actually hold up under use as no one seems to be addressing this openly. So Terry will see what she can find out.

Terrie also shared this older piece that was an experiment in depicting a scene using a non-fused collage technique. This is the quilt that got me thinking differently about how I might approach my slice quilt.

Because yesterday was a no-school holiday, Meg's daughter, Adele, got to join us, which may be more of a treat for us than for her (although she is always very attentive while we talk and occasionally offers insights). Now a Junior in high school, Adele has been wowing us with her drawing skills since our very first meeting. She does draw daily, I think almost exclusively on the computer now with the aid of a Wacom tablet, so let us scroll through what seemed like an endless collection of images. I asked if she ever printed them out, and she answered, rarely. She does share on instagram though. Ok, what young person does not?

Mom Meg came with a technical dilemma and a need for ideas. I mentioned when showing her piece for the fiber exhibit that she is working out ways to present her individual "quirkies" that make up the vignettes she's been attaching directing to the wall in a more user-friendly way for collectors. Not entirely happy with the results of temporarily attaching them to cloth stretched over stretcher bars, and wanting to provide more depth, she wanted to know what we thought about an idea which struck me as "turning the framing routine inside out". In essence, I think she is moving towards a shadowbox type of presentation, with three different levels - the thread-painted background, elements in front of the background and an element or two attached to the edge (or face) of the frame. Much discussion ensued and she came away saying the wheels were turning and it had been very helpful. We'll see where she takes this next.

I think that does it for our January meeting. It definitely felt like a kick-start to the new creative year. And hello to Rebecca's quilting friends in Wyoming! I know I fell down on the job of reporting these meetings last year so you could see what she was up. I'll try to do a better job in 2018!

Saturday, January 13, 2018

POAC Winter Exhibit: Abstracts

"Upward Drifting" & "Winter Wind Song" by Bob Lindemann
I know abstract art isn't for everyone, but I think some of it appeals to me because of  its visual link to some of the fabric I love like handdyes (I often look at a painting and think, and now it needs some stitch and maybe beads...) or because of my interest in the block designs in 1800s quilts (op art before op art became a thing with painters). With that in mind, here are the pieces in the abstract portion of the winter exhibit (aptly named "Beyond Form") that had me taking more than a quick look. The two above are large watercolor paintings that fit the category of looking like fabric I produce myself. By the late Bob Lindemann, the one on the left is "Upward Drifting" and looks like it uses the technique of scattering salt on the wet paint, something I've done when sun printing fabric. The blues and greens migrating upward and into each other are magical. The other is called "Winter Wind Song". Because of the terrible reflections in the glass, I wasn't able to get straight-on shots of either so I hope you can see what I am describing when you click for a larger view. I wasn't aware of Lindemann's long history with POAC until I did the google and found this article in the local paper which also features another one of his beautiful paintings.

"Petal" by Jeff Rosenkrans

I don't expect you to understand the appeal of this painting from the photo. It looks like not much, I suspect, unless you are standing before it and feel the brushstrokes gently arcing upward pulling you with them, the subtle shifting of hardly visible lines of color shading from yellows to oranges with some green interspersed. I doubt it would have the same effect if painted on a smaller canvas, and the fact that I was viewing it on a grey rainy day may have had something to do with the way it made me sigh and drink it in for as long as I did. Or maybe my appreciation was partly due to some very close-up photos I've taken of rose petals where I could study the delicate veining one seldom notices. At any rate, I found myself thinking, "Bravo!" for not mucking up this simple idea with too much detail. Sweeping colors rendered with a delicate touch.

"Waves on a Golden Shore" by Leslie Gadsby

This one drew me in with that wild splash of white, spray from a crashing wave, I decided, although just the shape and form leading the eye upward toward the echoing darker shape and teal blue above it was enough for me, no identification of what it really was necessary. But as I looked around the edges of the white, I noticed many subtle details in the background to confirm that initial impression. So much to look at in this painting by Leslie Gadsby.

"Besa Del Sol"

Here's another painting by Jeff Rosenkrans, but oh so different from "Petal". However, the story behind his process as told in his artist statement ties the two together and increased my appreciation of what I was seeing in this striking geometric design. Is that rippling water mixed in with such graphic elements? Yes indeed, and it was that surprising element that caught and held my attention.

"Winter Forest Floor" by Dan Earle

"Abstract II" by Catherine Earle

I like these last two, one by Dan Earle and one by Catherine Earle and both watercolors, for their placement of interesting shapes and color palette. A part of me envisions designing such images to execute in fabric but somehow I never get quite there. Guess it's time for me to quit looking and start doing the work!  

Friday, January 12, 2018

A Moderate Snow

View out my back door
You've seen the video, but what I was really doing during the snow storm yesterday was trying to capture an unusual way the snow was piling up on some of the branches, forming little balls that reminded me of beads that created an almost lace-like effect. Fortunately, we did not get the amount of snow predicted (it was a wet heavy one), but a "mere" 4 to 5 inches which in comparison to 10 is easy to clear off. Enjoy the photos!


Thursday, January 11, 2018

POAC Winter Exhibit: Miniatures

The Winter Exhibit is divided into three distinct categories: Fiber which you can view in yesterday's post, Miniatures which are not to exceed 10" x 10" in size, and "Beyond Form" or abstract. Today I share my favorites from the Miniature category, starting with this lovely watercolor leaf by Karen Robinson. I'm sure I don't have to tell you why it caught my attention.

Then there's the metal work of Denys Knight, whose work continues to captivate me (I own one of her pieces). Last year she had moved to adding large glass beads from costume jewelry to her pieces, few of which resonated with me. But this grouping captured my imagination once more with the metal trees added on top of undulating backgrounds and her flame technique.

I like the "Sampler" which had richer colors than I think the photo shows. And more tree scenes! Click on any photo to see detail and read info on gallery cards.

As an aside, this is my view today - another storm that will last all day and perhaps leave as much as ten inches of snow in its wake. Frankly, I like it better than the rain earlier in the week . . .


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Return to the Fiber Exhibit

Are you ready for some art? I made it back to the winter exhibit this week with fully-charged battery in my camera! As promised, I now share some of the other art and artists in the "Rooted In Fiber" portion of the exhibit (see the first pictures in this post. I'm starting out, though, with another shot of Charlotte Campbell's work, the large rawhide sculpture which looked to be turned differently and with better light on it so you can really see the fabulous image she produces using rawhide. (Remember to click on any photo for a larger view to see details and read information on any gallery cards.

You might remember Vickie Edwards from previous exhibits and posts about my art group. In these two pieces she's added interesting 3-d elements, mounted each piece on a painted canvas and placed the canvases in floater frames.

She adds a lot of hand stitching to her work, including on these pieces a blanket stitch to finish off the edges. So no wrapping around the canvas as I usually do when using this method of framing, but leaving a sliver of light grey of the canvas all around.

Another art group member, Terrie Kremer, shared these three music-themed works. Besides her extensive interest in the fiber arts, Terrie is quite involved in music. Check out the clef quilting around the top one, free-motion quilted without markings to guide her. Yes, I am impressed.

Beginning Point: Triangles by Terrie Kremer

Terrie also entered this piece in the abstract portion of the exhibit. I'm afraid my photo is a little washed out and I've done my best to fix it, but still, the green in this quilt pops a lot, is a very lime green. Called "Beginning Point: Triangles" it began as an experiment in a class or at a retreat (I've forgotten the exact details) and pushed her to cut and add and edit and then quilt with abandon to end up with a really interesting abstract design. I'll be showing you more from the abstract section in a separate post.

Work by Sue Graves

Sue Graves is a quilter I met through exhibiting together at these POAC events, and while she still does more traditional quilting than I do, she enjoys stretching herself a bit with more artistic endeavors and working with hand-dyed fabrics. I'm pretty partial to any design remotely like a mariner compass block, so it's not surprising that her "Supernova" caught my eye. I also liked her simple "Checks and Balances" that played with hand-dye gradations and the quilting on both.

Finally, I share this large and dimensional piece by a most diminutive quilter. I met Joanie Renkert through POAC in my first exhibit with them back in 2008. She really is quite short (well under 5 ft) but her fiber art is always BIG, sometimes bigger than she is (as I suspect this piece is).

She generally works with atypical fabrics, often manipulating them and adding 3-dimensional elements. I knew when I saw this it must be hers - talk about having a voice and recognizable style. She's got that nailed!

Stay tuned for a post of my favorites from the miniatures and abstracts in the Winter Exhibit. 

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Ditching the Plan, More Odds & Ends

So much for the big dig-out, I mean, tidying up last week. I did quite a bit throughout the house the first day: tossing a lot of over-the-counter medicines not used anymore with embarrassingly long beyond their expiration dates, clearing a few stacks off the downstairs table, shredding lots of documents and junk mail I let accumulate for months, and last but not least, making a stab at the studio by putting away some rulers, tape and cutting implements. I could not face refolding the quilts to return to their bin, getting hung up on the idea that I should leave one or two out to put up somewhere but which ones? But it was a start (and yesterday all that clutter in that end of the studio is now back in the closet where it belongs).

I failed to continue with the tidying up because I got sidetracked by a too good to pass up coupon deal on blog2print.com. I have this thing about my presence on the internet (supposedly forever but more ephemeral in nature than most will admit) and don't think the chances are good that those who sift through my physical things when I'm gone will think to look for me there. Give me a good old fashioned book on the shelf to assure my longevity, or so I think. Plus I find paging through a book to find something is often faster than trying to track it down on the computer. And because of my penchant for doing things chronologically, once I decided to take advantage of this service that will easily (if not a little expensively) print out my blog, I of course had to start at the beginning - 2005 (with only a few months) and 2006 combined in one book. It took some time to edit out unnecessary posts and comments to get it to a size that, even with a coupon, wouldn't leave me feeling too guilty about the expense (talk about a vanity press!), but the results were all I'd hoped for.

I've let a lot of "deals" pass me by since that first book, but this time it was a particularly high discount and I had some money from a quilt sale I could use towards it. So I spent the rest of the week scrolling through my 2007 and 2008 posts and editing them down for two somewhat affordable books. So much interesting stuff in those two years, if I do say so myself. I'd totally forgotten that I'd played along with a tag that asked questions about my creative beginnings and leanings, the answers not unlike the information in my recent artist talk. If I had remembered, I could have saved myself some time in preparing that talk perhaps, because the answers have not change in ten years. You can check it out for yourself in the post "An Unexpected Distraction." 

And if you have time on your hands, look through the 2008 posts which struck me as particularly full of meaty and interesting things. Snow and lots of it, quotations sometimes elaborated upon or generating thoughtful comments (from readers I no longer hear from and wonder what became of them), taking up of challenges and lots of experimentation leading to successful quilts, my first exhibit with POAC, a train trip to Minnesota for a quilting retreat, beautiful blooms, vistas and wildlife . . . it was a jam packed year with lots accomplished and lots of musings about this artistic life I'd stepped into. I'm glad I took the time to go through it, noting what has changed and what remains the same, and glad it is coming to me soon in book form.

Computers need tidying up too, and there's been some of that which includes actually reading some of the things saved for later. In more catching up on the blogs I follow, I found a couple more posts I'd saved to share with you. I hope you're not tired of Austin Kleon yet as they are from him, things to muse on that struck a chord with me, and might with you too:

Christmas gift from a friend
"How to hide and still be found" acknowledges that artists need their alone time in order to make something worth being found, yet also need to stay connected with their audiences and the world at large. Or as D.W. Winnicott put it:
“It is a joy to be hidden… but disaster not to be found.”

"You receive what you're ready to receive" draws from Henry Thoreau's journal a musing we've all probably experienced, how you may be exposed to something numerous times but don't take it in if it is not currently of interest to you. But once something does get in your sights, it shows up everywhere and you are eager to pursue those leads to broaden your knowledge. This was even evident as I paged through those old blog posts. As Thoreau himself says:

"The phenomenon or fact that cannot in any wise be linked with the rest which he has observed, he does not observe. By and by we may be ready to receive what we cannot receive now."

Hope your New Year is getting off to a good start, you figuring out how to hide in a way to still be found, and ready to receive some new thing that will push your creative endeavors forward.