Friday, October 31, 2008

Inspired by Nature

This summer, though my eldest daughter hobbled about from her foot injury, we went on our planned family vacation. Because she wasn't too mobile, we had to change our activities a bit. One day, we girls ended up taking a plein air oil painting class with a local artist. My daughters had each dabbled with oil paints in school art classes, but I've never touched oil paint before. We enjoyed our day immensely. Although we all sat on the terrace of the lodge, I think it's interesting how we were each inspired by different things. Now that I'm looking at the paintings we made -- I'm considering framing my daughters' art as gifts for the girls -- I thought I'd share them with you here. What do you think? Have any of you tried oil painting?

My youngest was inspired by a puddle:

My oldest was inspired by the hills in the distance, but changed the palette:

I was inspired by the cool shape of a dead tree:

I'm still inspired by trees, as you can see by my two recent journals. For this one, I photocopied some colorful leaves onto fabric, did a bit of outline quilting, then colored over it all with pastel crayons to give it a softer, painted look.

I used scraps here to create a background, covered it with mesh, then quilted all around to capture the pieces. I highlighted some areas with metallic paintsticks and glued some skeleton leaves on top.

Hope you all had a fun and safe Halloween! I'll be sad to take down the decorations.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Here's What I've Been Up To.....

Busy, busy, busy .... that's the only way to describe things around here. That's the reason I didn't get a chance to post last week's journal. Last week, I was perusing the "Go Green" Quilting Arts issue and was inspired by the menagerie of five inch squares created for the challenge. In turn, I took out the final sewn scraps I had from my Tropical Bubbles challenge piece and joined them into a square. I followed up with branches made from an orange plastic bag and leaves from a green one. I had the bird print lying about my room, so I put that in, too. (The print was made from an etching on a styrofoam butcher's plate.) This was fun to do.

I've been thinking a lot about my blog and my artwork lately. I imagine that my blog can get pretty boring to look at sometimes because it seems I primarily post about my journal quilts. Some are lovely (some are not!), but that doesn't make for particularly compelling reading. Unfortunately, these little pieces are often all I have time to do. I think they're very helpful for me -- they get me to create and I try new things, but I think I've become too focused on them. They leave me little time for anything else. So, for the remainder of the year, I'm going to try to be a little more light-hearted about my journals and try to use them more as I intended: as exercises in creativity. And, I'm going to try to find some time for larger pieces.

With that in mind, here are two pieces that are on my design wall (I don't recall if I've shown them to you before). Please pardon the pins and basting you see in the pictures. I'd love your feedback. This one is waiting, I think, for the perfect sheer to augment the rectangles -- all cut from a larger piece of fabric printed using gelatin plate printing. I'm hoping some of the fabric I bought last week in the city will be perfect.

This one is waiting for me to sew down the irregular border pieces. I think I'm going to add some big spool shapes after that.

And this is a piece of fabric I painted today. I had a few minutes to spare and decided to play. I must say that I so enjoy painting fabric. It's the one of the few things I feel comfortable doing without an end result in mind. For this piece I sprayed water all over the scribbling I'd done with Neocolor pastel pencils so the colors would bleed. Then I stenciled on top of that with painsticks. I confess I love how this turned out.

Friday, October 17, 2008

My Teenager is Jealous of Me

Yep, you read that correctly; my teenage daughter is jealous of me. Why? Because I went into New York City yesterday and had a chance to stop in Mood Fabrics of Project Runway fame. The sales person explained that the show's become so popular that it's now pointed out on some city tours. And, even if designers were shopping, Mood closed the store for an hour while the PR contestants ran around to find their fabrics so no one got in their way.

And run they had to. The store is HUGE! You really have to go in there with some sense of what you're looking for because they have everything! Bolts of fabric from $5/yard to over $100; buttons; belt buckles; and things I have absolutely no clue what they're for. Here's a picture of just one aisle of perhaps fifteen, on just one floor of the store. WHEW!

If you're ever in New York City, make a quick stop at Mood. For someone like me who's never been in the design industry or made clothing, it was amazing to see all that's available. The staff is nice and knowledgeable, too. I've promised my daughter that I'll go back with her. Until then, I'll linger in the virtual aisles. Did you know they have a website: (No affliation here, just excited about a fun day!)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Overly Ambitious

My friend, Natalya, and I challenge ourselves to create pieces with found objects. Natalya has finished hers. She's patiently waiting to reveal her piece until I'm finished, but she posted a teaser on her blog a few weeks ago.

I, on the other hand, am struggling with a vision in my head that is proving to be absolutely insane for me to try to create. I don't know what I was thinking! The trouble: it's too small and intricate for my unpracticed hand. Well, I've certainly lived up to the "challenge" part of this exercise.

It's also taking me longer to make than I anticipated ... and I'm pokey to begin with. Besides which, I'm no longer sure if what I'm making will support what I want to do with the found objects! (I'll tell you what they are once we post our finished pieces.) But here's a sneak peek, just to validate to myself that I've actually made some progress.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


Here's my journal for the week, inspired by all the beautiful leaves that have fallen from the trees. It looks nothing like what I had envisioned, but I certainly learned a lot in the process.

I started by gathering leaves during a walk and photocopying them onto Extravorganza. I was surprised to discover that the leaves really didn't look too distinct and the colors were a bit faded. As a result, I placed the Extravorganza over a piece of bright yellow fabric -- to liven it up a bit. It looked great. I also placed a piece of handmade lime green paper under it; it created a background that made the leaf lines more crisp. I decided to use gel medium to adhere the Extravorganza to the fabric and paper.

Perhaps this is where I made my "mistake". The colors bled and the paper looked dull. I don't know what happened; do you? At any rate, I stitched on some wavy lines in a beautiful lime green thread and outlined a tree in a vibrant burnt sienna as a fill-in since the fabric couldn't carry the piece. Both of these got lost. I tried to darken the body of the tree with paintstiks(no success) and fabric markers (marginally better). Finally, I tried color pencils on both the paper and tree. At least this helped make things more visible. I finished it with some orange stitching with sashico thread.

I was stumped at each turn with this piece and it looks nothing like what I had originally set out to create. I had hoped to create something that expressed the richness and vibrance of all the fall colors. I'm really not sure how I feel about the end result. I think it has a sad feel to it. The colors look mushy and dull. The green paper looks too big compared to the tree I ended up stitching to use up space (a mistake, perhaps, to try to free-hand sketch a tree?). Ah well; thank heavens this is a journal.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Christmas in October?

I have a tradition to needlepoint ornaments every year for each of my children. If all goes well, I have them ready when we decorate our tree at the start of the season. Well, I've just completed this year's ornaments in time to send them off for finishing. Yep, that's what I've been doing -- needlepointing, as opposed to quilting. I'm posting just little tidbits of each of the ornaments, just in case my children decide to check out my blog; the ornaments are supposed to be a surprise. Each of these was stitched entirely with metallic thread, save for just a spot in some holly leaves; I used embroidery floss there. The metallic is harder to stitch with, but the glitter and shine sure look lovely on the tree. It will be back to quilting tomorrow, now that these are done!