Friday, March 25, 2016

Spurred Into Action

My art group met on Monday, which as usually spurred me into a late flurry of activity last week so I'd have things to share and get feedback on. So yes, despite no blogging about it, I have been getting a few things done in the studio. For instance, I finished cutting my leaf cluster block, rather fascinated with the design building up in the background. Those lines may or may not transfer, depending on how I ink the block - one of the characteristics of linocuts. I was waiting to blog about it until I'd had a chance to do a test print (ran out of time to do that before the meeting), but since this post is sharing what went on at our meeting, I'm letting you see it now. Expect to see this again in action.

Then there was that epiphany I believe I mentioned regarding Adrift. So excited to try it out but kept working on other things. I definitely wanted feedback if it worked at all so hustled to fuse two batiks together, one having these beautiful sprays of leaves to cut out. But would the cut-outs look right up in that corner where I've been stuck, the one where I could see branches or something. The leaves are on a dark blue background so I left a bit of that along the edges as I trimmed, knowing that if it didn't look right I could cut it away. I put the first spray up and . . . oh my yes!

The only problem is, these leaves change the feel of the piece. I no longer think those sheer leaves I meant to float on the water part (and giving the quilt its name) look right - ditto for the yarns I'd started cutting for the grasses along the bottom. Such is the journey a design idea may take and I think I just have to give in to it since those new leaves bring such life to this piece. Now note that arrow on the right.

It is pointing to a place on this strip of "test and paint expend" fabric where I'd tested a commercial stamp. I'd put it up there because a few weeks back I'd seen two photos on the internet showing these bushes with the bright red stems. I saved this one but can't seem to locate the other that was taken not far from where I live showing these bushes right along the water's edge, a splash of color against the drabber winter backdrop of dry grasses and leafless trees. More than the bright color struck me - I wondered if this was the answer to helping the viewer sense how wide an expanse of water I was seeing in my piece. Later, I had one of those accidental moments when I realized I actually had a stamp that might duplicate this look. The sample helped me see if the size and look were right. I decided they were. I stamped some bushes on the quilt right as it hung on the design wall - oh my, such an atypical thing for careful tentative me to do!

So by the time I showed it at art group it looked like this. Not sure the bushes look quite like I envisioned and I may add some stitch there but I like that I have the stamping as a base. Still need to do some arranging and perhaps adding of the leaves in the corner but the group loved that solution. They also agreed that the other leaves may have to go or be altered and we continued to puzzle over how many and how to group those floating leaves. The strands of yarns have been placed there only to show a thought of how some of the leaves might be "behind" the grasses which I am not planning on extending up that far. At any rate, exciting progress and more work to be done.

Now to the rest of the group. Robin has been playing with a new collage technique which is based on deconstructing old books. It is amazing what an aged look these all have.

The collages are built up on small gesso board, a product I was totally unfamiliar with but think I might like to try for mounting rather than stretched canvas. If you too don't know what that is, here's a source with detail description and pictures. Here you can see Robin has used not only the cloth from the book cover but pieces of the webbing used to hold the spine, something one doesn't see until taking a book apart. The writing is cut from old family letters.

She also incorporated bits of text from the books. In this case, we are amused by a bit of advice from an early 1900 book on Christian etiquette.

And this, she stressed, was the key to success, a mixing of the two allowing collage pieces to be moved around a bit before the glue takes permanent hold. Yeah, how often do we get that bit of text or photo in just the right place on the first try?

Meg of the giant tree has put aside her fabrics for the moment for sketching and making up color charts and general experimentation with various paints and pens. On these pages she is working on sketching the same figure from different angles and in different poses. 

She has a long-term goal of writing a children's story illustrated with her fabric "quirky" kids and animals, etc. so there will be a need to repeat a character turned in different directions. She noted this was much more difficult than she anticipated.

She's also been trying to work up in sketch a bird nest that can be added to her giant tree in the exhibit (she's already added a bird as our spring is progressing to that point). I'd brought along the latest Quilting Arts Magazine to show her two articles in there showing two approaches to making bird nests for/on art quilts. Frankly, I found them a little boring and dull (where are the bright strips of yarn and fabric birds incorporate into their nest building if they find them in your yard?) but thought it might give her some ideas. This discussion led Robin to get out a big wood box where she'd stored masses of yarns and embroidery threads gotten for a song from two male tailors shutting down their business. Yeah, Meg and I had some fun picking through that - she for her nest, me for my grasses!

We were successful in wooing Cheryl (who we discovered at the Triple Threat Exhibit) to the meeting, who arrived eager to get some help with this piece that's been on her design wall for at least a year. The base fabric is one she snow-dyed, the machine quilting some of her first (with an old machine that she now realizes held her back), the heart-shape silk flowers ones she deconstructed and reassembled on the top.

Once the final arrangement is in place, she will tack each flower with a few mono-filament thread stitches, then add beads in the center. What she needed ideas for was the quilting around the outside, how to flatten out the bubbling center and if the arrangement of flowers could be improved. We lost no time diving in with input and think she is a great addition to our group. She is pretty much self-taught in the art quilt part which she is relatively new to, but not afraid to experiment and go for it. See her current work that was in the exhibit here.

Well, this should keep you for awhile. Sadly, I must turn my attention and time to doing my taxes which will limit how much progress I'll have to show here. But I'll be back! 


Susan Sawatzky said...

I wonder about cutting some more of the batik leaves for the water but putting them behind either tulle or netting to dull them down as though on the water for a time?

The Inside Stori said...

Very inspiring post….love your leaf block!

The Idaho Beauty said...

Susan, I AM considering cutting singles of those maple leaves for the water and we discussed that at group, but hadn't thought about them with some kind of sheer to knock them back. Good thought - thanks!

Group was divided on whether the other leaves could still be used and mingled with the new ones. I'm less sure about that but we shall see when I get serious about this piece again. Back to taxes - I didn't get very far today, more organizing than anything. Really DO hate working on them...

Mary, happy you were inspired! Hope that block prints impressively. :-)