Friday, December 28, 2007

Lessons Learned

My parents left yesterday and my in-laws arrive tomorrow, but I've managed to find a bit of time to play. I used Neocolor II pastel watersoluble wax crayons to add color to a piece of pink-on-pink floral fabric. I didn't know what to do next, so I cut up the fabric and added some red lines because I wanted to emphasize the red roses I had outlined in the fabric. It looked like a garden trellis at that point, so I quilted a rose in the center, but ARGH -- it looked awful! The thread was too light to stand out and it made the middle look like a mess.

What to do? Well, I decided to subscribe to one of Jeanne Williamson's personal rules as she went through her journaling process: " I could not throw out the original piece and start over with a new one if I didn't like how it was turning out. I would not obsess over the aesthetic of the piece - the goal was to create." (Jeanne Williamson, in the introduction to her book, "The Uncommon Quilter") With that in mind, I went over the quilting lines with a red crayon, then a brown one, to consider how the piece might have looked with contrasting quilting. Surprisingly, when I finished with the brown, I started to like the piece better. After misting the quilt a bit with water to soften the lines, the rose started to look like graffiti....which suited my mood. The end result: another piece for my Flowers on Pink series called "Rose Graffiti". My journal and series should chronicle lessons learned / failures as well as successes, right?

Just in case you're curious, here's what the original fabric looked like:

Thursday, December 27, 2007


Since my sewing space is doubling as a guest room right now, I haven't had a chance to get in and create. However, I am doing some "work" ..... I'm trying to be more observant. I've read in numerous articles that it's important to really look at the world around you to absorb what you see and, perhaps, to get some inspiration.

Well, I've taken that to heart and I've been admiring / examining the dwarf pine trees I purchased to decorate our table. They stand about a foot tall and are covered in the tiniest branches and needles imagineable. They are the most beautiful chartreuse I've ever seen. It's not a color I'm normally attracted to, but this is just so lush and wonderful that I'm going to have to find a way to use it. The trunk is hidden beneath the density of the tiny branches. While these trees aren't hardy enough to live outdoors all year long, I'm going to try to keep them alive long enough to put them on my porch when spring gets warm. Until then, they'll keep my table looking well dressed.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Found Objects Challenge

Each month my friend, Natalya, and I are participating in our own challenge. We're creating new pieces of art that are a minimum of 6 x 6 which utilize the two found objects we've shared with each other. For this month's challenge we dug into our purses to see what we would find: two Ricola lozenge wrappers (Natalya) and two tokens from a children's amusement center (me). The wrapper and the token then had to be used in each of our creations, though they could be altered.

Natalya made a wonderful piece by painting some stretched canvas with swirls and then capturing the painted token and wrapper on the canvas with some stitched tulle. I'm hoping she'll put a picture up on her blog soon. On my piece, I used glitter dimensional paint on the token to cover up the verbiage. I painted the wrapper and wedged it between two pieces of fantasy film. After that I just played for a while, ending up with an abstract that, I think, looks a bit like a star fish. The "arms" are made from Angelina fibers and the batik was altered a bit with paint, using the mesh from our mandarin orange box as a stencil. I contemplated adding beads, but after I put the yarn along the edges, I decided against it. I think I'll call this "Sea Strings". My eldest likes the piece very much, but would prefer I call it "Skunk". She thinks it would be provocative to have pretty artwork named with phrases that evoke ugly imagery. An interesting concept..... I do wonder how that would affect the viewers impression of the art. What do you think?

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Tree in My Backyard

I often wonder what to do with the smaller pieces that accumulate as I experiment with techniques and styles. Well, due to a time crunch, I used one such piece called, "The Tree in My Backyard" as a birthday gift for a dear friend. She frequently vacations in Maine and this piece really seemed to evoke the feeling of being there. I mounted it on a mat and set it in a frame that had some depth to accomodate the pine cone at the top. My girlfriend was thrilled to receive it and I was very touched to hear from her husband a few days later, telling me how special it was and how much he liked it as well. What an ego boost to have people tell you how much they appreciate your art!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Second in a series

I found some time yesterday to create a new piece. I wanted to try out the Extravorganza I had recently purchased. I used a photo of Queen Anne's lace I took this summer and manipulated it in Microsoft Word. (I don't have PhotoShop, but I can imagine how fun it must be to use.) I thought the photograph looked really exciting with the contrast level set to high.

I printed the picture out on Extravorganza and chose a pink fabric to mount it on. It looked a bit plain, so I thought I'd add a dash or two of red paint to complement the red that emerged in the manipulated picture. A few splashes of color looked silly so I went to town, dotting the fabric with paint using a toothpick.

I was undecided about whether or not to bind this piece. I think it would have looked nice with just a scalloped edge. However, I do like the way this binding looks as well. Surprisingly, this binding is the reverse side of a piece of fabric and I think it is a good match because of its more muted colors.

As I worked on this piece, I thought it could become the second in my Flowers on Pink series. I've decided that each piece needs to be 8 x 10 (regardless of orientation) with flowers as the focal point and pink somewhere in the background. We'll see if these loose "rules" will be enough to hold a collection of pieces together as a cohesive group. This new piece is called "Flowers on Pink #2 - Queen Anne at Dusk".

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Starting a blog

At the urging of my friend, Natalya, I've decided to start a blog. I'm hopeful that the need to keep a blog current will be enough incentive to get me to the studio. It seems I can always find other things to do.

I expect that my blog will primarily be my creative journal, with ocassional tidbits about my life. I'm trying to figure out what I like to do and what I can do with my art.

Here's a photo of a small piece I completed last month, entitled Flowers on Pink I. I think it might be the beginning of a series. I painted the fabric in the borders with Setacolor paints and Neocolor watersoluble pastel crayons to create the blotch. I really loved using sashiko threads for the french knots in the borders. I think Jane Davila and Ann Fahl provided me with some inspiration.
This is the first art piece I've ever created - just for the pleasure of it - without a deadline or an objective. Everything else I've done has been made as a result of a challenge, a class, or the Journal Quilt Project. These have all been fabulous experiences, but it's fun to try to branch out. I hope to do so more often.