Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Kaleidoscope Effect

One of my favorite effects to play with in Corel Paint Shop Pro is the kaleidoscope. I choose a picture, open up the effect and start running through randomized settings, letting the program adjust the 8 different modifiers that create the kaleidoscopic manipulations. Click on the picture below for a full size view of this screen capture of my program in progress. The little cube that looks like dice under the preview window is the randomizing button.

The results vary widely and sometimes with little recognizable connection to the original design source. All kaleidoscopes here started with the photo of my nephew and cousin AC.

I've done this enough now that certain results are recognizable, regardless of what photo I start with.

That is why I was puzzled when I kept coming up with such similar patterns as I worked with the photo of my nephew and cousin AC.

I realized that because I wasn't paying attention, I'd stumbled upon a different way to use the effects Normally, I keep hitting the random button until I see something I like and hit "ok." I then save a copy, undo the effect, and start again. This time, I'd saved a copy, but forgotten to undo the effect before beginning again, so the effect was now working off the last effect. This gave me ever more intricate designs with less and less of the green and red of the original picture as I continued saving a copy without undoing the previous edit. Very interesting. Here are some more variations showing the increasing intricacy (click for larger views):

Saturday, September 26, 2009

"Imagine This" Virtual Tour

Last night was the opening reception for the POAC Exhibit "Imagine This." It was well attended and as always, I loved getting direct feedback on my work. They found this little space between door and window on the second level for my Bishop's Close art quilts. I printed up a brief explanation of their inspiration along with June's painting, and many were entranced by the story. One woman stopped in her tracks and said, "I've been there!" She admitted it had been 15 years, but she used to live in Portland and thought I'd gotten the feel of the place. Cool!

Before the reception, I quickly took some pictures of some of the other art in the exhibit. All media were represented, included jewelry and sculpture so there was something for everyone. Above is the color version of the artwork used on the promotional postcard. It is silk batik by Carolyn Doe. She is a master of this technique.

I particularly like this multi-panel painting by Betty Billups called "Last of Sandpoint." It is a stretch of Sand Creek as it flows through town that is being transformed by a highway project. Gone now are those cottonwoods and the thick rope generations of kids used to swing out over the water. She hit upon the idea of painting in panels after finishing a large mural and realizing she'd need a truck to transport it. This was one of my favorites.

Another favorite was the work of Stephanie Bozich. I thought this was acrylic, but it is oil She leaves no brushstrokes or texture whatsoever on the canvas. Very powerful pieces.

On the left is work by Bonnie Shields called "Plan Your Work." She is well know for her humorous art. On the right is digital renderings by Stephen Wylie.

These photographs are by Nancy Russell.

The papier mache artists never fail to amaze and amuse me. My apologies for not getting the artist's name. I didn't quit catch the encaustic work on the right, but it was lovely.

The rest of my pictures include a variety of mediums that show how wide ranging the art and subject matter of this exhibit is. Well, worth seeing.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Enjoying Extended Summer Weather

Oh, it was WAY too nice to stay inside today. I think we broke a record with our 86 degree high, and if it weren't for a few splashy trees like the one above, one would have no clue it was officially autumn.

So rather than head for the studio, I headed for the car. I've been meaning to take some pictures in a certain area of town, and today seemed a good day to do it. This iconic landmark is perhaps the tallest building in Sandpoint and can be seen from several miles away. Difficult to get a clean shot of it what with all the power lines draping around it. It has made its way into many a local artist's work.

Then there's this tipsy garage. It's been leaning to left ever since I arrived here and probably is not in danger of toppling over any time soon.

On the way back to the car, I noticed this tree. With all those 90 degree angles, it was as if the tree had thrown up its hands over something.

Once home, I watered the garden and picked more plums and a few tomatoes. Mmmm...fried green tomatoes.

Then I took my lunch out onto the porch and read a bit, but I was too antsy to while away the afternoon being unproductive. While it is not starting something new as I thought I might today, it is something I haven't picked up in awhile. This is the first rendition of Azalea Mosaic which was my "sit outside with the dog" project of last summer. I made good progress and it allowed me to stay outside enjoying the warm weather.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Tackling the Plums

Remember my baskets of plums from last week? I managed to ignore them until today. Surprisingly few had spoiled in the interim. I made up a batch of plum chutney, 5 half-pints worth, and as long as the canning pot was out, I stuffed the rest into jars, poured hot water/sugar mixture over them and processed them in a hot water bath for 20 minutes. That's nine pints, fewer than I canned last year, but enough as far as I'm concerned. Looking forward to getting back in the studio tomorrow, perchance to work on something new.

"Imagine This" Opening Reception

I delivered the 2 Bishop's Close art quilts today that will be in this "Imagine This" exhibit. A lot of art was already hung by the time I got there and all I can say is "Wow!" If you're in the area, I hope you will stop by.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Bishop's Close From Afar

"Bishop's Close From Afar"
copyright 2009 Sheila Mahanke Barnes

After fits and starts, distractions and diversions, I have finished my second textile piece inspired by June Underwood's challenge painting, "Sunbreaks at Bishop's Close". It breaks two of my rules - being a somewhat predictable response given a play-on-words title - but I love it anyway. And it's really not like my usual work. I don't think this necessarily represents a new direction, but it has been a bit of fresh air to work on.

I promised a bit of blow-by-blow recapping of my process complete with pictures, but I managed to delete the majority of them from the camera before they got downloaded to the computer. You'll just have to have good imaginations while I explain a few of the techniques I employed. I started with June's painting above right, the photo above left taken at Eagle Rock Gardens at Bishop's Close (is this where June did her plein air painting?) and my rough drawing, which I finalized and darkened with a Sharpie. (You can see the beginnings of this idea - a quick sketch on a transparency centered over a print out of the fabric - here.) I taped that master to the patio door window, and moved the second piece of tissue sunprinted fabric over it until the colors fell in the best places of the design. Taped over the master with the light coming through, now I could trace my design directly on it with pencil. Then I added the "water" using a machine reverse applique technique. The batik was placed right side up under the painted fabric and pinned along the pencil lines. I stitched along those lines, then carefully cut away the top layer close to the stitching to reveal the blue batik.

I was pretty sure that just quilting the lines of the trees and bushes would not give me a heavy enough line, and that I would need to stabilize the top before satin stitching along the raw edges of the reverse applique so I ironed Sulky Totally Stable to the back of the entire top. Once the satin stitching was done, I trimmed away the excess batik from the back, set my machine for free motion embroidery and stitched in the trees and bushes using a zig zag setting. and moving the fabric side to side. The outlines of the bench were done with a straight stitch with the feed dogs up - I know, but I wasn't secure enough about sewing straight lines free motion.

And then it was time to remove the stabilizer, layer and quilt. I went back over each of the embroidered lines and added the shading to the bench. The water got the usual wavy lines mixed with jagged ones emulating leaves floating on the surface as in the photograph.

My absolute favorite part of the quilting is this bridge. I spotted it in the background of that photo above and thought it would add some depth as well as mystery to the design. The bench, admittedly a bit quirky in its angling, was incorporated after spotting benches in other pictures of the Close. I'd told June at one point that I wanted to get across the meditative aspect of these gardens, and the bench is my way of inviting the viewer to sit a spell and contemplate.

After steaming and marking the outer edge of the quilt, I applied binding as I did to Bishop's Close Meditations. (see this post) I'm treating these as companion pieces and I wanted the same fabric to bind them both for consistency sake, even though a dark binding would have set this off perfectly while being too much for Meditations. My compromise was to couch a navy decorative braid along the binding to create a faux piping. The special braiding foot was a great help.

Of course, I didn't come to this decision easily. I laid the two quilts out together and considered how the second one would look without the faux piping. Okay, but ever so much better when the braid was laid along the binding. So the real question was, do I add the same to Meditations? Yes, I really had to, which actually improved it a lot, I think. It's binding was already turned and sewn to the back, so it was harder to couch the braid evenly right next to the binding. Definitely do the couching before turning the binding to the back.

"Bishop's Close Meditations"
copyright 2009 Sheila Mahanke Barnes

Here is "Bishop's Close Meditations" in its revised state (see this post for specifics of its development)
. Both Bishop's Close quilts and June's painting are 16 x 12 inches. As always, clicking on any picture will open a larger version showing more detail.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Struggling with TAP

I have been remiss in following up on my mystery pictures here. Terry guessed correctly that it is a close-up of a rose, while Felicity had the most creative vision, seeing it as bacon. (I alluded that there might be something in it for the correct guess, but I think both of you deserve a little something, so keep an eye on your mailbox.) A less cropped version is above along with a rotated close-up. These two photos figure in my recent experiment with TAP.

Transfer Artist Paper or TAP is advertised as a superior transfer medium. Think t-shirt transfers and all the things you dislike about them, and TAP is supposed to be a big improvement. I wanted to believe everything I've read about it, because there are times when I would prefer not to run fabric through my printer to transfer a photo or photo manipulation. I was especially intrigued by the claim of "No Hand!" and the fact that the ink from the printer is "fused into the fibers of the fabric. It virtually becomes a part of the material." This theoretically makes the transfer virtually permanent. It struck me as TAP is to normal transfer paper as procion dyes are to fabric paint. Sign me up.

But all is not rosy in the world of Tap (pardon the pun). My initial experiment with the product has not gone well, and I find the claim of "No Hand" totally false, at least the way I define "No Hand." But if the other claims hold true, I can overlook the "hand" issue because the feel of the transfer is smooth and flexible unlike others I've tried. I printed the rose duo sized at 2" x 3" and transferred it to a scrap of the Setacolor-painted fabric used in my Bishop's Close piece. I wanted to see how opaque the image would read, but as you can see, the underlying colors of the fabric shadowed through. (Not TAP's fault - I pretty much expected this.)

The real problem showed up on two images with dark areas. Above is how the transfer paper looked when it came out of my Epson Stylus Photo RX500 inkjet printer with the original image just below. You may have to click on the picture to see how the black ink around the windows bled and how ragged all the details are. I used the recommended printer settings (plain paper, medium quality) but obviously, this isn't working with my printer.

The other image printed out on this test sheet of TAP was the kaleidoscope manipulation for my nephew's block (see this post). I printed it out at the full 8-1/2 inches, confident that it would work per everything I'd read, but as you can see above, the bleeding was particularly bad on this one, rendering it unusable. (I wouldn't have liked it for that block anyway because of the change of hand.) I transferred it to fabric anyway. The smaller transfer had done its thing well, with the paper easily releasing, but on the larger piece, it buckled in one spot, creating a break in the transfer in the section shown above. My ironing board, apparently, is not firm enough, and next time I'll use a towel on the kitchen counter. I also discovered that the paper must come off right away. If you let it cool even slightly, the paper continues to grip.

One thing I can say about TAP is that the color transfers beautifully - saturated and true. The photo above is the same image printed directly onto pima cotton treated with Bubble Jet Set which definitely looks duller and a bit washed out. If I can solve the bleeding problem, I think I can see some applications for this product, but it is expensive and it would have to be on something where adding stiffness to an area (similar to the stiffness of Wonder Under fusible) would not be an issue for me.

I'd love to hear from anyone who has tried this product, especially if you have any tips that could help me overcome my struggles with it.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Another Block for the Freedom Quilt

It's time for another block for the nephew. He is turning 13, and until earlier this year, he had not met my late husband's famous trumpet-playing cousin, Allen Vizzutti. But that was rectified at a state jazz festival where AC (as the family calls him) was a featured artist and the trumpet-playing nephew was an eager participant. Can you tell the nephew is excited about all this? What a perfect event to commemorate in his 2009 block.

I wanted to do something more interesting than just transferring a photo onto fabric used in a traditional block. So I cropped the picture as you see at the top and started running it through the kaleidoscope effect in my PaintShop Pro software. Using the random button (letting the software change the various settings) on a picture with people produced some pretty gross results - a two-headed nephew, a cousin and his Siamese twin, something that looked like a bare behind - yikes! But eventually I stumbled on one more like what I had in mind.

But now I realized I should have cropped my photo square, so I started over, noting the settings that gave me the usable results. Something was off - Oh, the number of "petals" is odd. I switch that from 9 to 8, and experimented with adjusting other factors until I came up with two possibilities. The one above ended up being rejected, the other one was printed directly onto pima cotton treated with Bubble Jet Set.

The largest square I could print on my Epson inkjet printer is 8-1/2 inches, so I set it in a classic Puss in the Corner block setting. After much auditioning for just the right green and just the right red, I was ready to add some words to the block: both participants' names, Yamaha, which is the brand AC represents, and the nephew's school name. After much thought, I decided it would be easiest to compose those words to size on the computer and print them out mirror image onto freezer paper. Once the paper was cut into strips the exact size of the strips bordering the center (including seam allowance), words perfectly centered, I could iron them to the wrong side of the fabric, flip it over, place over a light box and ink them onto the fabric using a Micron Pigma Pen.

And here's the finished block - I love it and I think he will too!