Tuesday, March 29, 2011

WIP Update

Here is my progress on the large coral piece so far... it's coming together nicely! I only tacked it together by lightly ironing some of the fusible webbing, so I can still make changes if I want to. I'm already seeing one area that I think needs some adjusting, but all in all, I'm liking the variety of fabrics and how the darker and lighter shades work with each other. I think I'm going to paint the background a watery aqua color and then add some colorful fish and other sea life. I'm also thinking of layering water-like sheers over the top of it all and quilting and embellishing it with metallic and other specialty threads. Wish I had more large blocks of time to work on it! Coincidentally, this year's theme of the Art Quilts Lowell show (at the Brush Gallery in Lowell, MA) is The Sea. Even if this piece is not done in time, I have several other sea-themed things I could enter...

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Weekend Down Time

The busy winter session of preschool programming has finished up, so this weekend I'm treating myself to some down time. On Friday (my one full day off), I spent a few hours working on the coral in the large piece I mentioned in the last post. It turns out, four orange fabrics were not quite enough. I found a few more in my stash, and altered some with inks and paints to make new lighter and darker shades. It's looking good, but requires a lot of concentration and is a bit tiring to work on for long periods of time. I took a break last night and today, by getting into Sara Gruen's latest, Ape House. I had loved Water for Elephants and Ape House is also very absorbing. It is set in modern times and is more suspenseful than WFE, so I finished it rather quickly. One of her main points in the book is how much like humans the bonobos are, and it makes you want to go to a zoo and observe apes and primates more closely. A great read, if you're looking for one - likable, believable characters, quick realistic dialogue, an intriguing plot.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring in the Air?

Or are those snowflakes? This is what greeted us this morning, the first full day of spring! This winter just doesn't want to give up! The forecast for the week is calling for more scattered snow showers, so I guess I'll have to wait a little longer for spring weather, no matter what the calendar says. Wishfully thinking, I created the birthday card below for a friend whose birthday is this week. It's nice to be playing with some warm colors when everything still looks so gray and cold outside!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Miscellaneous Catch Up

Here are some of the things I worked on this week. On Wednesday evening, I hosted the "Creative Playgroup" for women at the Mahopac Public Library. We made jewelry with shrink film (remember "Shrinky Dinks?"). Above are some of the earrings I made as samples. As you can probably tell, we used rubber stamps and "StazOn" inks, which are permanent even on plastic. The backgrounds were colored in with colored pencils, except for the black pair on the top. Last weekend I was afraid I wouldn't have enough materials for all the people who signed up (I actually had 17 people registered!) so I took a trip to Michael's craft store and got another package of the shrink film which had a variety of colors (10 sheets, 2 of each type for only $6!). The challenge with the black, bright white and almond types is that they're opaque, so you can't trace through it, and not a lot shows up on the black. You pretty much have to use paint pens or metallic inks. The black pair above was done with paint pens, but we had a lot of success with the metallic inks as well. The ladies had a lot of fun playing with all the materials and watching them shrink in the toaster oven. (Hmm, when am I going to get that Etsy shop open, anyway...?)And here is my weekly 8x10 study, the tenth one I've done (I think I'm behind one week). I got the inspiration for this while walking the dog with my daughter a few weeks ago. As you can see, it was still snowy, and we're walking past these tangled branches, when suddenly we notice a flash of blue. It wasn't just one Eastern Bluebird, there was a whole crowd of them! They looked so bright and beautiful sitting among the dull grays of the late winter landscape. Then in church that Sunday, the gospel was from Matthew, the part about the birds and flowers not worrying about food and clothing, and how God loves us more than these. So I decided to combine the two events into a weekly art piece. I photographed some bare branches in the snow, printed the photo with a laser printer, and transferred it to the fabric with CitraSolv. Then I added the bluebirds I cut from a piece of blue "papercloth" I made a while back. I stuck them on using gel medium and added a few stitches for details. Then I wrote part of the bible verse underneath with a calligraphy marker.And finally, a work in progress. I've been trying to really get going on a large piece I promised I'd make for a friend (it's actually one of my annual goals). I wanted to do this fantastic stand of orange antler coral we saw growing near Trunk Bay on St. John this summer, with all kinds of fish all around it. Of course, I didn't get a photo of it (I think we had used up all our underwater disposable camera shots by then) so I'm trying to just approximate it from memory, and with other images of antler coral I've seen. I have four shades of orange fabric with a small print on it. I drew a sketch of the coral and refined it until I was satisfied. Now I'm in the process of figuring out which branches should be which shade of orange, and how to put them all together! It's kind of like a huge puzzle and I can only work on it in short periods because it's a bit of a challenge. I hope I have more time to work on it today and over the weekend. Happy Friday, everyone!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Spring Rains

It seems like in the last three months, we've been getting all the precipitation we didn't get last July (see this post here). We have had major snowstorms and now major rainstorms. Here's some photos of how the neighborhood was looking yesterday. There were standing puddles in the streets and rivulets, rills, and rivers running down the sides of roads.

It was actually quite pleasant to walk along listening to the birds sing and the little streams bubbling along next to us.

Another benefit to the rain: all the bulbs are finally making an appearance! Here are some daffodils,

some mountain bluebells,

And some hyacinths. Can't wait to see the flowers!

And as promised, here is the postcard I created for the 3rd Great Big Stitched Postcard swap. The theme was love, and I've been noticing lately that love in the movies is often portrayed as a feeling, but love in reality is an action. It's what you make a conscious decision to do everyday. I thought about including images like a parent getting up early to prepare breakfast or pack lunches, or grocery shopping, or cleaning, doing laundry, helping with homework, going to a job - all the things we do directly or indirectly for the people we love. But since the postcard is only 4"x6", I settled for a simplified version of love in action. Here it is!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

News Flash!

Salley's coming! It all happened so quickly! I e-mailed her this morning suggesting our library gallery as a venue for her traveling exhibit, she e-mailed me back in the afternoon, and it's all arranged! Her gorgeous work will be on display for the months of July and August 2012 and she'll be doing a presentation at the end of August! I'll actually have the chance to meet her and ask her all the millions of questions about her process. I'm so excited! My 14-year-old daughter said, "You're as excited as my friend Amber was about meeting Justin Bieber!" YES! I AM! Salley Mavor is like a celebrity to me!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Absolutely Amazing!

Today I got to pore over the amazing creations by Salley Mavor in her latest masterpiece, Pocket Full of Posies. If you are not familiar with this phenomenal artist, she makes these enchanting scenes out of felt, stitching (mostly, if not all by hand), beads, and found objects. These very detailed scenes are full of these lovely little characters she creates with felt, wooden beads, wire, thread, etc. This is a book of nursery rhymes, so the characters are all quaintly dressed, with details like acorn caps, embroidered dresses, and tiny shoes. There is an annual award called the Golden Kite given by the SCBWI (Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) for their choice of best picture book, and this gorgeous book won it for 2010. It is a well-deserved honor. The time, talent and incredible workmanship of each page is just mind boggling! Visit her website (click here) for some samples of this unbelievable art. Be sure to see the "About Me" section (click here) for her astounding "self-portrait"! This piece alone would be a lifetime achievement, as would the artwork in Pocket full of Posies. I can't imagine the number of hours that go into each figure, each dress, each leaf, each complete piece! The 51 pieces of art from this book are currently in a traveling exhibit... I wonder if it might travel down to the Mahopac Library to hang in the gallery there... I may have to see if I can arrange that - Wouldn't that be fantastic?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A little Love from Australia!

Here is the fantastic postcard I received in the Great Big Postcard Swap organized by Beth Nicholls. It was created by a talented fabric designer named Saffron Craig, who created this beautiful work of art using her own fabric line called "Magical Lands." Apparently she has a new line out called "Imaginary Flowers." Check out her blog by clicking here. I just love her happy colors and shapes, don't you? I think this may the best thing I've ever gotten in a swap! Tomorrow I'll share the one I sent out - I just mailed it this afternoon (it's on its way to Australia) - fun!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

PAC Member's Show

Today was the opening of the Putnam Arts Council member's show. You can see my piece, "Rhythm of the Earth," hanging here amid some paintings.

Below are some other pieces that were on the same wall, a little further down. A couple of them are also collages - the one in the center on the bottom row, and the one in the left corner. The first one looks like it was created by cutting intricate snow-flake-like designs out of colorful magazine pages and arranging them into interesting designs. The other consisted of a flattened out bakery box and the red and white striped string bakeries use to tie their boxes closed. (Hmmm - once again, I'm not sure I get it...).

On the right is another view of my piece. As you can see, it was way off the ground. I wish it had been hung lower so viewers could see more of the detail, texture, and embellishments. On the adjacent wall there's a brown mixed-media piece which was called "What we leave behind." It was made up of lots of discarded toys and other miscellaneous found objects. I found it interesting to look at, but I think I would've liked it even more if they weren't all painted the same color. I suppose in painting everything that dull brown, the artist may have intended to reduce the objects to simple shapes and to make them look more like garbage and less appealing, kind of an environmental awareness thing.

The sculpture on the floor was also interesting - created out of wire and tissue paper. My daughter and I were surprised to see the artist wanted $3500 for it!
I'm still trying to figure out how an artist can come up with a value like that. Are they so well known and their work that much in demand? Did it take that much time? Were the materials especially costly? Or are they just trying to make their work seem more valuable by putting a higher price on it?

Here is a shot of the crowd. It was pretty well attended despite the heavy rain we had today. In this shot you can also some of the variety included in the show. To the left is a large metal wall hanging. It consisted of two layers of metal, a sort of heavy screening in the back, with a front piece that was cut out with a vine-like design.
In the foreground is a woven vase that was somehow layered on the outside with colorful silk.

Here are some more shots of the art in the room. We really have quite a few talented artists living right here in Putnam County, if I do say so myself!

Friday, March 4, 2011

A breakthrough for me?

Today is my first day off from work with no kids at home in a long time.
Of course, I have tons of things to get done like grocery shopping, cleaning, and baking, but I forced myself to sit down at my worktable and do one of my weekly 8x10 sketches. I actually started this a few days ago and haven't been able to make much progress on it. But I just finished it and now I think, maybe I'm onto something here. It combines three basic techniques: raw-edge applique (using fusible webbing), free-motion thread sketching, and ink painting. I think the combo is nice! It highlights the important elements of the picture and allows the background to stay in the background. It's also quicker to do than using all raw-edge, fused applique, and maybe more interesting because of the combination of techniques. I scanned it in before I added the ink painting (to the right) so I could compare it with only a black and white background, but I like the color. Any comments?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

New Growth

Wow, March 3rd already, and I'm just doing the first post of the month! I've been on the lazy and indulgent side lately, still don't feel much like exerting myself more than necessary to do what I must do (make lunches, walk the dog, go to work, run errands, cook dinner, blah, blah, blah). Still tinkering with little things like postcards and jewelry and cleaning and organizing, without much to show for myself. I'm looking forward to better weather, but I'm afraid that will only make me want to get outside for longer walks and maybe some yard work, which will mean less creative time. But the thought of New Growth is inspiring in itself, no? I know I'll get motivated again soon...