Friday, July 31, 2015

Changing Direction

Sometimes, you don't have to go looking for inspiration, sometimes it finds you!  Last week I took an afternoon walk in lovely Stonecrop Gardens in Cold Spring, NY and found myself contemplating the graceful lines created by the tall stems in the bamboo grove.  The bamboo is easily 30 feet tall here, and creates a very shady and secluded alcove.

My daughter and I sat on this stone bench in these peaceful surroundings, just breathing and listening to the breeze rustle through the bamboo leaves.

Without even really thinking about it, I realized these graceful stalks might be the perfect subject for a piece of art with an 18"x36" size requirement!

Of course, I don't want to abandon my "Summer Blues" project, but I have a feeling this one will go much more quickly than that one seems to be going.  (I kept much of that piece on my design wall but folded up most of the extra blue fabric and left it in a neat pile on the corner of my worktable where I can see it and will be reminded to finish it!).  Then I pulled out some green fabrics . . .

I think these will do nicely!  I did need to make a quick run to the fabric store for some more Wonder Under, felt, and a sheer green netting that I think will make a nice backing, which will actually be seen through the spaces between the bamboo stems (this is supposed to be innovative, right?).  Here's what I've got going on so far...

Stay tuned!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Small Steps

 This week, despite a very busy schedule at the library, I've managed to spend a few minutes here and there playing with my supplies.  The other day, I stitched this little sun on a sky-printed fabric.

And this morning, I stopped into Michael's just to wander around and see what I could find.  I picked up this set of clear acrylic alphabet stamps, some PITT pens (one large one in white), and a new mixed-media journal.  When I got home, I started to play!

For some reason, when I placed this photo onto the batik ripple-print fabric below, the words ". . . life is but a dream"from "Row, row, row your boat" popped into my head and I knew I wanted to stamp or print them on there somehow.  The acrylic stamps I got were perfect!  I didn't mount them on blocks, but just cut them apart and painted the letters with white acrylic paint.  I must say, I'm very pleased with the results - it's the exact feel I was going for.  

I had also sketched a rowboat, which I traced onto the fabric using a light box and an air-soluble marker.  Then I painted in the boat, leaving the fabric below to act as an outline, so the boat looks almost translucent and kind of dreamy, like a memory.  I'm not sure yet how I'll stitch on the fabric photo; I'm mulling over the various options.

 Here's a close-up of the boat.  I'm really happy with how it turned out.

I think this all ties into my feelings about summer in general.  I'm probably not the only one who looks back with great fondness on the summers of childhood.  So as I'm exploring what summer means to me, different images and colors are floating up to the surface of my mind and memory.  I'll just keep going with it and see where it takes me...

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Summer Blues

The last few days have brought us beautiful sunny weather, so I decided to try making some innovative sun-printed fabric for my innovative project.  I splashed some diluted Setacolor paints onto some prewashed, damp fabric, then lay it in the sun and covered it with various flowers, ferns, vines, and pieces of lace.  I covered a portion of it with an acrylic plate to keep the plants flat.  Then I waited.
After a while, I couldn't resist taking a little peek.  It seemed to be working.  Under the leaves, it's lighter, as the sun draws the paint away from the areas in shadow.

Here is the fabric after the paint was completely dry and the plants and things removed.  I've had better results from sun printing, but I did get that great clear fern print in the right corner.

I decided to augment my white shadows with actual plant prints.  I gathered some more leaves and flowers, some diluted white acrylic paint, and a brayer.

The resulting prints added some clearer detail, interest, and depth to the fabric.

I've also been stitching these daisies in the evenings, so . . .

I now have a good selection of collage materials to use in the "Summer Blues" quilt, including an old photo of my sister and myself on vacation (circa 1967?) printed on fabric, the back pocket from an old pair of jeans, and the laced edge of an old cotton summer shirt I used to wear.

I even started looking through my ribbons and rick-rack to see if any of it might be included.  It's a start!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Seeking Inspiration

 As I've been going about the busy-ness of daily life (senior prom, end of school exams, prep for summer library programs, graduation, fourth of July, keeping up with the house and garden), I've been mulling over ideas for my next piece.  The only requirements are that it measure 18"x36" hung vertically, it can be considered "innovative fiber" (the title of FANE's next show), and it must be finished and photographed by Sept. 4th.  So the sky is pretty much the limit as far as subject matter, materials, color choices etc.  Maybe it's too wide open and without a hook to hang anything on, I find myself searching for inspiration.

Spending so much time outdoors and being a nature lover, I usually look there first.  My DH and I have been building these stone steps through the fern hill in our backyard (well truthfully, he's been doing most of the work... those rocks are heavy!) and they might make a nice subject rendered in fiber.  It would fit the vertical format as well.  I could put some inspirational words in there as well, something about climbing, working toward a goal... hmmm, a possibility...

Plants and their infinite variety are always inspiring.  I love the bright fuchsia of this astilbe

 and the rich deep reds and pinks of this coleus.  But for some reason, these colors don't resonate with me enough.

Greens are more my style.  Maybe something in the fern family?  Ferns are so graceful...
I looked through back copies of Quilting Arts magazine to get ideas, (lots of great inspiration there, and suggestions to make my work more innovative)
 and I visited the blogs of several inspirational artists, including Jane Lofazio and Jamie Fingal.  Very inspirational!

Of course, I also went through my stash to see what jumped out at me.  As usual, I was drawn to the blues.  That bright daisy print in the lower right of the photo just looked so happy and summer-y.

I finally settled on making my next piece convey the happy, carefree feeling of summer, with a palette inspired by the sky and the daisies!

Now that I have a little to go on, I can start working a few minutes a day, even if it's just to place some fabrics on my design board and move them around, paint or write something on fabric, or take a few stitches.  The fun can begin!