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!


The Inside Stori said...

What an inspiring bunch of artists that gathered. It’s fun to see and share works in progress as well as finished work, esp. if members are open to asking for suggestions and willing to share their stumbling blocks on their finished work. Sometimes it takes awhile to find the right fit of members. Large groups (meaning 12 or so) have so much to offer but focusing on details is often lost. That’s why I esp. love our Fiber Junkies group of 6……smaller allows for more exchange of ideas. I’m lucky to be in both kinds of groups.

The Idaho Beauty said...

When we formed this group it was specifically for support, sharing of resources/information and quasi-critique, as in hey, I'm really stuck here; what do you see that I'm missing? And you are right, that only really works in a smaller group such as ours. But if someone thinks they can only show finished work, then they miss that opportunity for input while it can be applied. We love to see the progress in a piece over the course of several meetings, perhaps even from conception, through many stages to the final result. Sometimes things happen fast in the studio though, like with Rebecca's baby quilt, and though it is not an art quilt, there was much she learned in the process of making it that she shared and it sparked questions from us. I love that about our group - such diverse interests and points of view artistically and a willingness to talk about it candidly. That's why I sometimes felt empty after a meeting where it seemed more of a show and tell of finished work only, finished because the meeting was coming up (although impending meetings ARE a good incentive to get to work on something). I enjoyed my time in larger quilting groups - as you say, they too have a lot to offer. There's room for all kinds and sizes of groups, that's for sure.