Monday, February 28, 2011

Back in the saddle again----

Yes, finally I was able to  spend the day in the studio.  I took breaks, even took an hour out for a short nap (while glue was drying).  For inspiration, I used an article out of Cloth, Paper, Scissors, issue 34, January/ February 2011, by Wen Redmond , titled Fabric Collage Mail Art.  I haven't made post cards in a couple of years, but my goal was simply to get back into the studio and actually make something!  I incorporated my two copies of the 1815 etchings, one of the gelatin prints I had made in December, some candy wrappers, and some scraps of fabric. 
 All of this was fused onto some industrial strength interfacing, and then embellished. I used bronze Lumiere paint and two Thermofax screens that I've had for years.  I did some FMQ'g, and then cut the various pieces.  Actually, I quickly found out that the healing shoulder is not up to using a rotaty cutter and had to get DH to help.  Everything was then fused to Flexi-Firm.  I've never really trusted the fusing to hold up to abuse, so  each piece was stitched around the edge.  Then I did some foiling.  Now, I used foils years ago, but in a recent art class was introduced to a new adhesive--Plexi-Glue.  Wow!  This is so much better than the old adhesive.  Mind you, the Plexi-glue could prpbably never be put through a screen, but I was mainly interested in lines anyway.  The final step was to paint the edges with the Lumiere paint.  I've never done this before,but rather like the effect.  In the end I had a small piece to matt for framing, 6 ATC's, and four postcards.  There were a couple of scraps that I turned into business cards.  I often make up scraps into business cards by simply fusing a regular business card onto the back of a pice of fibreart.  I give these to special customers--those who actually buy something, and keep the cheaper cards to hand out on request.  The fancier cards have become quite popular.

But now I'm tired.  It was such an emotional high to actually get back into the studio and produce something--and the shoulder is telling me that it's time to quit.

Sunday, February 27, 2011


Last summer, I bought 11 pictures.  These were prints made from engravings--the correct term may be etchings,but I don't know for sure.  The book was originally published in 1815, but was in very poor shape, and beyond saving.  I would never condone taking apart old books just to sell the pictures.  But the age of the publication puts the pictures in Public Domain, so I wanted to see if there was someway I could work them into my art.  The pictures are very fragile, and badly foxed.  They have tears and even small holes.  Whatever I do, I don't want to do anything that might harm them and ruin them.  So I've spent several months just thinking about how they could be used.

So today, I decided that the least harmful thing I could do, would be to copy the picture onto muslin, and then use the muslin in a collage.  They copy beautifully.  Even on fairly coarse muslin, the print is clear and the details fine.  Since, at this point, I don't plan to get the muslin wet, I haven't worried too much about the type of ink I used, but I did heat set it thoroughly.

I'm very pleased that this went so well.  This opens up a number of possibilities, and I think I finally understand why the ladies on the internet are so excited about the process.

About 7 of the pictures involve portal type of images, and I already have an idea for a hanging based on the portal/pathway concept

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Yesterday I was part of the group hanging a show at a local gallery.  We are a very diverse group that includes painter, potters, fibre and mixed media people, and glass workers.  This means that the pieces that were brought in--60 of them--were all very different.  The person who operates the gallery was able to pull the pieces together and arrange them so that every piece looked its best.  That takes real talent and I was impressed.

All of this made me start thinking about how much of the success of our art depends on the presentation.  I rarely frame my work, mainly because of the cost.  But maybe I should be re-considering this.  I also know that some venues demand that all work displayed be framed, and many fibre artists are affected by this.  Fibre, generally, doesn't frame well.  Lately I've been mounting smaller pieces on painted canvas or using a "gallery wrap", but many places would still require that this be framed. 

The other alternative might be to matt and shrinkwrap pieces.  Another group I belong to offers a separate area to display such work, away from the main gallery.  They are in hte process of planning a show and I have applied to be included in the "shrinkwrap area', but not to display in any other part of the show.  They appeared quite taken aback by this, so well have to see how it goes.

So, right now, other than my usual itinerent shows I have these two venues for display.  We'll see if I sell anything.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A big glass of brandy

This week has been wild, with health concerns taking over from the creative endevours.  But now that's over.  Today was my last scheduled class with a prominant local artist.  These classes have been stimulating, but when combined with the other acrylic painting classes I've been taking, a little ovewhelming. I've had to step back and remind myself why I'm doing this.  I'm comfortable with colour, but had wanted more training in things like composition.  Now I feel like I'm on information overload and need a chance to work quietly to practise the techniques I've learned.  There has just been too much, too fast. The pieces I'm producing do NOT demonstrate any improvement in composition, perhaps even some confusion.  In additon, I'm so busy producing class pieces that I'm not producing any of my own original work.  I need to process all of this, and come up with a plan to carry me over the next few months, until I'm healthy enough to start producing saleable work again.

Tonight was also the occasion of my presentation to the LQG.  It went well, and there was good feedback.  But thank Goodness it's over.  So here I sit with a big glass of brandy celebrating the approaching end of my current commitments.  Salute!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

More Introspection

While browsing my sketchbook, I found a list of goals and objectives from a few years back. Goodness, I was organized--or trying to be organized--in those days. It's interesting to read them over and look back at what I had hoped to accomplish, what I actually did accomplish, and the importance I would give those activities now. At that time, I was determined to establish myself as an artist. Now I see the pleasure I get out of making things and solving those technical problems as being much more satisfying. I don't think I've "given up" my goals as much as those goals have matured. Along with that is my acceptance of myself as I am. This may seem like a small thing to some, but it's a major step for me. so now I'll continue to do the things that give me pleasure, and if those things lead to acceptance as an artist--that's great.

Slow Progress

Got some tidying done in the studio, but Wednesday night I must have hurt my arm while sleeping, so it was back to the sling and painkillers for a couple of days. It's a little better today, but I've learned my lesson.

So DH has been helping me to get ready for the commitments I've got. We made fabric paper and cut it to size for the collage class at the end of the month, and we selected the items for the trunk show I'm doing for the local quilt guild (LQG) next week.

A friend, Brandy, ( has helped me with the show entry that has to be in the mail in the next day or so. Thank you, Brandy! We had been asked to send two pages of personal information to be placed in a binder that will be accessible to people who view the show. Brandy is an emerging author and poet, who is a member of my art quilt support group, Ravenesque. She was good enough to offer to do this for all of the group members who are entering this show. ( Most of the group are also members of the Fibre Art Network-- ) This type of self promotion is something I've never done and I had no idea how to go about it, but she produced two excellent pages for me.

Things are very slowly getting back to normal. I'm in the studio for a couple of hours a day. I'm able to do a small ( very small)amount of hand stitching, and I hope to try some beading in the near future. The painting is going fairly well. Since this is something I do just for fun, I don't have to measure success, in that area, in terms of anything except fun. Sort of nice to be able to think that way for once.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Shot down!

The painting instructor didn't want me to pursue the stepping stones. She felt it was too close to my comfort zone. So we've selected another picture--not one of mine but rather one of my sister's. ( Beth, do I have permission to play with one of your pictures?) This is really out of my comfort zone, but I'm in the class to learn so will forge ahead. It is a portrait of my husband. We've agreed that we can abstract it a bit, if my technical skill isn't up to an accurate representational piece.

But I'm still wanting to try the stepping stones in a fibre context. I've been thinking about the gradation dyeing and wondering if I might to have better control if I were to use fabric paints instead. I want there to be a value change within the outlines of the stepping stones and not just between them--which would be too easy and a bit contrived, IHMO. Actually the final result might be a combination of the two.

Yesterday I was given permission to use my arm a bit more ( I start physio on Monday). There are still restrictions, and I'm still to wear the sling when the arm is tired or painful, but I see a light at the end of the tunnel. Today, I want to get into the studio and clean up a bit, so that I can actually start the fabric painting, for the stepping stones. I also have to make some fabric paper for a class at the end of the month. None of these three tasks will require fine co-ordinnation, so might very well be the first step in getting myself going.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Hit "upside the head" by the muse

In my painting class, the next week's project is to "bring a picture that you feel passionate about" to use as inspiration for a painting. In my search for such a picture, I came across an image taken from a magazine of stepping stones under still water. Thinking back, this concept of stones under water has been at the back of my mind for several years, since spending time on a Cuban beach in 2002. I've tried, with varying success, to create the something from this, working in paint, dye and fibre. I had, more or less, forgotten those experiments over the last few years, but now they are back in mind. I wonder if I can use what I've learned, in painting class, about creating value, to colour fabric. I can see using gradation dyeing as the basic technique. I would also have to dye some strips of fabric, lengthwise, that would be half of each of two consecutive dye concentrations. This would allow for value changes within smaller applique pieces.

I think dyeing,or even fabric painting, if it comes to that, would be within my physical ability,, and I'm sure I have the supplies I would need. So now all I have to find is the energy.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Good choices

Finally had time to work with the beads I bought and the three pieces that I bought them for. They worked! Three of the focal beads work very well on a different piece than I had bought them for--but they work! This is always a worry when I buy things "blind", so to speak. I had taken two of the pieces with me but not the third.

I've found that I can work, by hand, for 30-40 minutes, and then need to take a break--at least for an hour. But this is still something I can look forward to and enjoy. Otherwise I read and eat, watch tv and eat, or play on the computer, and eat.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

things looking up

The arm is getting a little more useful--very slowly. The small piece that was frame-mounted is going very slowly, and the character of stitching is different. I took it off the frame today, and tried to work a bit in my hand--and was able to do it! So we're in business again--slowly and bit by bit. The three pieces I have in progress needed beads. Now I have a corner cabinet three feet across the front and six feet high--full of beads--but I went shopping, anyway.

I love bead stores, but always spend more than I should, so tend to avoid them. It had been awhile since I had visited this store, and things had changed. There was less stock and the prices were higher--but I still found more than I needed. Since I can't yet drive, DH was with me. He's often quite a help, but in an unusual way. He's colourblind, but is a fantastic judge of value. This means that I can show him two items, such as fabric and a bead and ask if they match--and he rarely makes a mistake.

He's also the voice of my conscience. So we have conversations about "wants" vs "needs" when we go shopping. I guess the clerk overheard us. She sidled up to me and whispered "all of those are half price today anyway" So we bought them all.