Sunday, April 29, 2007
Friday, April 27, 2007
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Monday, April 23, 2007
- Apply paint "sun beams" to Chinese poem challenge.
- Paint charcoal batik with white acrylic to mimic fog bank.
- Layer Willow Leaves 2 for quilting.
- Quilt piece made from curved piecing experiment.
- Make journal quilt
Thursday, April 19, 2007
A generation earlier the forest had been represented in the popular imagination as the enemy. The eastern woods, after all, had been the habitat of the godless Indian...Beauty lay in clearance; danger and horror lurked in the pagan woods. The clearances were so extensive and so indiscriminate, though, that even as early as 1818 James Madison was protesting the 'injurious and excessive destruction' of timber. To a generation reared on Fenimore Cooper's forest romances, the miraculous appearance of western woodlands seemed to be a sign of God's forbearance, a second chance for America to understand the divinity inscribed in its landscape.
But however romantic Johnson’s painterly style may appear, his scenes are anything but Edenic. The depopulated landscapes convey willful human abandon rather than untouched wilderness and are subtly entangled with contemporary issues of war and environmental disaster.In the show’s most affecting work, Pines No. 5, Johnson portrays an awkward formation of evergreens, each decked out in Christmas tree lights, boughs heavy with dollops of snow. Softly advancing on the scruffy white ground under a gray-blue haze of twilight, these sad yet beautiful trees suggest an army of soldiers, bravely (or perhaps unwittingly) awaiting their demise. — Jane Harris
To be honest, once the fabric had dried enough to open up, I was pretty disappointed with the results. On most of them, all the paint had run up into the uppermost creases, leaving no color elsewhere, not even in the other scrunched lines. This is not what I remember from the first time I tried this. I wasn't seeing anything of interest. At least, not until I ironed them to heat set them.
Monday, April 16, 2007
- Cut & sew rest of crows feet blocks.
- Process new fabric (wash, iron & store about 12 yds)
- Bind Grid 3 - apply sleeve if time.
- Update documentation files - SP Challenge and Grid 3
Saturday, April 14, 2007
Friday, April 13, 2007
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Trial and error is a very effective way to learn, so remember that if a few of your experiments go awry today. These aren't failures -- they are wonderful learning opportunities! There is a silver lining in every cloud that appears in your life, although some may be harder to find than others. Despite a failure here and there, you cannot give up your quest to try new strategies and see how they turn out. This type of curiosity is a valuable asset that will yield amazing results soon
Today I faced the last of the stitching on Grid 3. The first two in this series had specialty decorative threads couched along the vertical and horizontal lines through the squares. On this one I wanted to try stitching with one of my machine's pre-programmed embroidery stitches. I was pretty sure which of the two King Tut gold threads I would use but needed to try out some stitches.
The darker, more mustard yellow was making me nervous against the pink. So at the last minute, I gave the more muted one a try and it won out as did the undulating tulip stitch. It was the one that most looked like the leaves in the batik squares. Even so, I had resigned myself to not liking the effect once all those lines were stitched. I had no confidence that the yellow would look like it belonged on this quilt.
Once again, I experienced how a small sample can't really indicate accurately what the full effect will be. These lines of embroidery changed the whole complexion of the quilt, and for the better. Relief!
And once again, I've let a quilt take me on a roller coaster ride. From excited to disappointed, to encouraged to discouraged, from this is great to this isn't working to hey - I think I like this quilt. It's not the most exciting one I've made, but it has a pleasant quality to it. I tried taking pictures outside since the digital camera seems to balk at capturing the colors accurately inside, but these seem even worse. Full view with better color to come once the binding is on.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
I've been slogging through a book by Simon Schama call "Landscape and Memory" and a slog it has been. This is not an easy read, particularly if you aren't familiar with European history which the author apparently assumes you will be. Lots of arcane references and foreign phrases, but I persevere because the tenet of the book is to connect ancient myths and landscape to our most basic social instincts and institutions. Since so many of my quilt themes of late center around nature, since landscape is such an integral part of my daily life, I figured it was worth a read.
Today's reading centered around Germany and highlighted a modern artist named Anselm Kiefer. His work is totally unfamiliar to me, yet it appears that my last journal quilt enlisted a device that he himself used. I quote from Schama: "In 1974 he drew on the national reverence for both wood carving and woodcut engraving to produce a series of prints in which 'Germany's facial types' were seen barely emerging from the grain of timber." Well, they do say nothing's new under the sun. And I didn't presume to think my idea to use a wood grain patterned fabric to thread paint my portrait of a wood worker was a unique one. But I didn't expect to run across such a similar idea.
This is from Kiefer's Hermanns-Schlacht book completed in 1977.
Here is another way he invoked "...the darkest grove of history [having] his block-heads emerge from the grain of German timber." Trees, especially the oak, were a big part of his art, his German heritage.
I had another surprise coming. Hermanns-Schlacht opens with this black & white photo that he took at the edge of Varus' forest. Schama describes it as "...a screen of white birches, thin and cage-like, barring the entrance (and the exit)...behind the line of birches, an infinity of blackness." I see stands like this now, those straight birches so rigid compared to the undulating ones I was used to back in Wisconsin. But I had never thought of them as barriers.
Towards the end of the chapter, Shama ties in Kiefer's works and political inclinations with the "cultural force of myth and magic..." more involved than I want to get here. But there were a few things he noted that I found worth thinking about:
"To be sure, myths are seductive things. A truly disconcerting number of those who have spent their lives codifying, narrating and explicating them have not gone unbewitched by their spell."
"So how much myth is good for us?...The real problem - what we might call the Kiefer syndrome - is whether it is possible to take myth seriously on its own terms, and to respect its coherence and complexity, without becoming morally blinded by its poetic power."
"Of one thing at least I am certain: that not to take myth seriously in the life of an ostensibly 'disenchanted' culture like our own is actually to impoverish our understanding of our shared world. And it is also to concede the subject by default to those who have no critical distance from it at all, who apprehend myth not as a historical phenomenon but as an unchallengeable perennial mystery. As the great Talmudist Saul Lieberman said when he introduced Gershom Scholem's lectures on the Kabbalah that became Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism: 'Nonsense (when all is said and done) is still nonsense. But the study of nonsense, that is science.'"
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
I mentioned a bit ago that I was trying out some new stamps and painting too. Here are the results so far.
Here's the ink I used with the stamps. I don't like to think how long I've had this without trying it, but the reason I bought it was because it specifically mentioned it could be used on fabric.
I started with three squares of hand-dyed fabric about 7 to 8 inches square. Last year when I was playing with paint, I used a little that was left over to experiment with a squeeze bottle tip. The results on those two were less than spectacular - one problem may have been that the paint was too thin. The third square was one I'd been using a little like a drop cloth - testing a stamp or using up ink on a stamp in no particular pattern. Let's talk about that one first.
I had no clue if I could do anything with this one. But leave it to me to finally see a landscape in it. I few additions of the pussy willow stamp look like tall reeds or weeds to me. I can see the round hump of a mountain in the background, and a nearer slope to the right. I decided to stop right here and the rest of the landscape will be picked out in stitches.
I really was quite disappointed in this next one. The crosses and squiggles just didn't look as great as I'd hoped. The blue looks bland. It seemed a good candidate for the pussy willow stamp. I'd envisioned using this stamp as an overall design with staggering so that's what I tried here. I like this a lot.
But it needed more I felt. So the next step was to apply some paint. I used these two Versatex paints - cherry frost and orchid - painting them in curving bands using a one inch foam brush after wetting the fabric. I'm not crazy about the metallic flecks, but overall, I think this is an improvement and I can stop here.
Last is the square with the diagonal curvy lines. Again, this did not play out as effectively as my mind thought it would. Maybe the square stamp would work over it. I'm thinking I want to build up texture and depth, no one element really shining forth. Obviously, if I plan to use this stamp this way, registration is an issue. I'm wishing it didn't have the heavy square outline. It definitely needs darkening with paint so I used the same as on the previous one, trying to make swirls and blotches.
Saturday I got out a different set of paints to see if I could darken this up again. I used two Setacolor paints - Oriental Red and Moss Green. The red looked quite dark in the jar, but once I mixed it up and dipped my probably too wet foam brush in it, it didn't change the overall color very much. Will have to do more to this one, I guess.
After the fact, it occurred to me that I could darken the red paint by adding another color - the moss green. I didn't apply it to my square, but instead, pulled some additional scraps of fabric and used up the little that was mixed on these. Here are my trays of scrunched and twisted scraps, ready to go out in the sun in the hopes of getting some sun printing effects along the creases. Results on these to follow.