Friday, June 16, 2017

Catching up

     If you are a follower of my blog, then you may have noticed that I haven't posted in awhile. That's because I've been traveling. Besides enjoying seeing works of art on canvas, I also love to see very ancient works. So with that in mind, first, I went on a trip to Jordan. I've wanted to see the ruins of Petra for a long time and we finally decided it was time to go there. We found the sites of Jordan to be amazing in both their antiquity and variety. The desert in Wadi Rum (where the film "The Martian" was filmed) was spectacular in all the colors, rock formations, and natural history. Also, we got to have lots of fun floating in the Dead Sea. But the highlight of the trip was to visit Petra, a city that was carved out of live rock in about 315 BC. The remaining structures are huge and scattered over a large area. On our second day there, I walked over 8 miles up more than 700 stairs and over a track that passed by amazing tombs.
Me, looking at the Treasury in Petra
     After Jordan, since we were on that side of the world already, we flew to Spain instead of coming directly home. We rented a car in Barcelona and drove around Northern Spain for 2 weeks. We spent the time exploring villages, castles, and cathedrals. What a great experience it was.
     Shortly after returning home, we went away again, but this time much more locally. We went to the west coast of Florida to Dunedin to participate in the opening reception at The Dunedin Fine Arts Center where I had my work, "Rise" on display in the SAQA show "Growth". What a fantastic display at a beautiful gallery they had with live music, good food, and quite a crowd. 
Karol Kusmaul giving a talk about her work in front of the exhibit
New Quilts from an Old Favorite
works from "Growth"

more works from "Growth"

my piece  "Rise" at the lower right in "Growth"
     So now I am home for several months and am busy dyeing fabrics and putting them together for printing and other surface designing.  Hopefully, next week, I can share with you some of the work I'm doing now, but I wanted to catch up and let you know I'm still here. I'm linking up to Off The Wall Friday where you can find other art quilt blogs. Please make comments on the artists' posts to let them know you stopped by. Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Do You Work Large or Do You Work Small?

     Do you have a favorite size range in creating art? I usually make pieces that are about 30 x 24 inches. I like the portrait format most. But the pieces I'm creating for my Art Cloth Mastery class are not like that. They are much larger and either more narrow in width compared to the height than I used to do and some are close to being square. None are the usual size or shape I've worked with in the past.
     And while I'm waiting for dye baths to batch or circulating ideas in my head, I've been working on a daily practice of making small fabric collages. Each is about 6 x 4 inches and felt backed. I'm using up pieces of cloth on which I had leftover from the larger artworks. Doing this has given me a better handle on composing better and faster. Also, they've given me the opportunity to audition what stitching I might want to include on the larger ones. Here are six of them. Some have stitching and some don't yet. I'm considering all of them works in progress.
Collage 1
Collage 2
Collage 3

Collage 4
Collage 5

Collage 6

     And while I was doing this, I decided to do the same thing for my auction piece for SAQA. It's 12x12 inches. This one is faced and is Ecofelt-backed with an aluminum slat with holes for hanging.
Across Time

     The leaf in each one is metaphor for change of all types. I dyed all the fabrics and printed on them with thermofax screens and stamps using fabric paints. The pieces are fused with Misty Fuse and then I hand-stitched. This auction piece will be available for purchase in the SAQA online auction  which begins September 15. The money earned goes to SAQA.
     So now, I find myself working large and small. Large to create the major works and small for practice and more immediate satisfaction. I'm finding both to be fulfilling in different ways. I'm linking this to Off The Wall Friday where you can find other art quilt blogs. Please make comments on the artists' posts so that they know you stopped by. Thanks for visiting.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Can Color Challenge You?

     Have you ever mixed colors and gotten a surprise? I've been doing some color studies to learn more and to get the hues I want for my series. One of the hues I want to get with Procion MX dyes is a mustard hue. I know that they sell a dye color called mustard and it looks close to the hue I want to achieve, but I'm trying to make my colors by using the colors I already have. I'm in the mode of using what I have before I buy more. And theoretically, I should be able to get a nice mustard by mixing the right proportions of purple and yellow. I proved this with a paint study I did. I made a color wheel on watercolor paper and then started with pure yellow at the top and added purple paint little by little and painted a space at the bottom of the wheel with as neutral a color I could get with yellow and purple mixed. On another wheel, I painted purple at the top and went towards the same neutral color at the bottom. Here are the two wheels of reducing color saturation or intensity.
intensity wheels
     I used Profab opaque textile paint for these.  As you can see, I got some nice mustard colors in the top wheel. So I thought if I took Procion Sun Yellow dye (which is the same hue as the yellow paint) and Procion Grape dye (which is the same hue as the purple paint) and mixed them, I would get close to the same hues on the fabric that I got on the paper.
     As you can guess, that's not how it came out. Here are the results on cotton broadcloth.

Yellow with Grape added

The yellows turned more green as I added grape.
Grape with yellow added
The purples aren't too far off the paint samples, just lighter. Isn't it interesting how the paint samples compare to the dye samples? It's all about chemistry. How the dyes react with each other and with the fabric. On silk, it would look even different. Bottom line, I'm still working on mixing mustard. I came close with bronze dye and tangerine, but the tangerine splits out a little too much and gives orange streaks. 
     So while I'm working on that, I've started one of the pieces in the series, because I did successfully come up with the blue-gray that I wanted.  And this week brought good news. I sold my piece Inner Balance 2 to a doctor. He asked me what I did for a living and I told him I was a fiber artist and gave him my elevator speech about art quilts and what I do. He was interested so on my second visit, I took two of my works to show him in person what an art quilt looks like. He bought one of them. What a nice surprise. 
Inner Balance 2
     The other good news is that my piece Rise was juried into SAQA's exhibit Growth. It will be in Dunedin Fine Art Center from June 9 - August 18 in Dunedin, Florida.
So I'm continuing with my color studies and creating a wealth of a dye notebook and working on paint studies, too. There is so much to learn about color and I'm finding it fascinating. I'm linking this with Off The Wall Friday where you can find other art quilt blogs. Please make comments on their posts so that they know you stopped by. Thanks for visiting.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

How Do You Study Color?

     When you need a special hue for your work, do you make an educated guess on how to get it? Or do you take some time to do a detailed study to get it very close to what you have in mind? I want to create a color palette to go with a piece I've already created. The background is a bluish gray and I want to create three more pieces that will coordinate with it. I'm using the gray one to represent Autumn and want to create one each for Spring, Summer, and Winter.
The gray one

     I'd like a bluish background for the Winter one but need it to be a dullish blue. I have several blue dyes from Prochemical and Dye Company. I know that if I mix a blue with an orange, I can dull it down. Rather than just guess how much of each dye to mix to get it right, I decided to do a color study and keep a notebook with all the details so that it will be useful for future works, too.
     So I chose several blues that I have and an orange dye named Strongest Orange to do this study. I may continue it later on trying an orange called Terra Cotta, also. I cut up 22 pieces of cotton broadcloth for each test and calculated the amounts of dye to use for my stock solutions of blue and stock solution of orange. Then I dyed the samples, starting with pure blue, various mixes of blue/orange, and pure orange. Also, for each, I dyed a sample diluted 1:10 so that I could see what the pale color of that hue looks like.
     Here are the results showing the gradual change from pure blue to pure orange:
Mixing Blue/Strongest Orange
Mixing Blue/Strongest Orange
Teal Blue/Strongest Orange
Teal Blue/Strongest Orange

Marine Blue/Strongest Orange
Marine Blue/Strongest Orange
Written underneath each swatch of fabric is the recipe I used so that I can reproduce the results. As you can see, I got some lovely browns that I'm sure I'll use sometime in the future. Also, if you look closely, you'll see that the swatches are not a solid color. I purposely didn't smoosh the fabric too much in the dye to get a solid. I wanted to see how it looked if I let the colors split a little, because that is most likely what will happen on the larger cloths I use to make backgrounds.
     From these samples, I think I can choose a blue that will work for a nice winter-themed background. My next study is to find a yellow/orange that will coordinate with the series for a Summer background hue. I'm starting that study with a color called "Curry" and mixing it with "Grape" in the same 11-step gradation I used for the blues. I have my first study with that already soaking in their baggies and the colors are looking very interesting.
     While I'm doing the color study, I'm also spending daily time stitching small collages with leftover pieces of fabrics from my first Autumn series. 
collage 1
collage 2
For now, I'm keeping the collages on the simple side to work with basic composition and color combinations with just a little marking and stitching added. I may revisit them and work them more later.
     So although my color study may take a month or so to complete, for me, I think it will be time worth spending to improve my dye technique and to have a notebook full of hues and how to get them. I'm linking this up to Off The Wall Friday where you can find other art quilt blogs. Please make comments on the artists' posts so that they know you stopped by. Thanks for visiting.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

How Do You Handle Fresh Goals?

 When you have a set of things to accomplish do you just get to it or do you have an organized way to go about getting them done? I just returned from the third session of my Art Cloth Mastery Class in San Antonio feeling so refreshed and ready to go with a new set of goals. In this session, we learned more about color theory, printing, dyeing, composition, layering, and a myriad of other topics. Here is a silk cloth (which I had never worked on before) that I had printed with dyes. It's over a yard square in size.
printed silk cloth
It has a lovely hand to it. I love how the complementary colors overlaid with each other and gave beautiful browns and muted hues. My plan is to cut it up and piece it into a scarf and then to boro stitch it. That will take quite awhile and I have other more pressing homework assignments so it may be several months before you see it again.
     Here are three pieces I took to the class as semi-finished pieces.
Three in-progress works
The one on the left is 24x48 to give you an idea of scale. My plan is that these will represent Autumn and I'll create companion pieces for each one for the other seasons. As I go, I'll come up with a plan for stitching. That will give me 12 pieces for my body of work for this class. Two more sessions to go and the last session, a year from now is our showing of the works. I have a lot of work ahead of me.
     I just returned from class yesterday and am starting my homework today. To accomplish my many goals, I set up a series of notecards on the airplane with tasks written on each that I have to finish before the next session of class in September. I plan to go into the studio each day and tackle them one by one in order to finish. Some are very small tasks, like a daily 20-minute stitching on small collages and some are large like finding the right dye hue for creating backgrounds for the big pieces. It's all feeding the brain and soul to me and I love every minute. Some days, I'll look at the cards and choose what I'm in the mood to do and other days, I'll tackle what needs to be done in order to move forward. I think having those cards will be the key for me to keep it doable without feeling pressured and without feeling like I forgot something.
I'm linking this to Off The Wall Friday where you can find other art quilt blogs. Please make comments on their posts to let the artists know you stopped by. Thanks for visiting.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

When Do You Get Breathing Space?

     Isn't it a good feeling to finish some projects? I've got quite a list of homework assignments that are due at the end of February for my Art Cloth Mastery Class. So when I recently wrapped up one of them and one project on the side I was doing just for fun, I felt some relief. Awhile back, I showed you the beginnings of a purse I started here. Unfortunately, as I worked on it, I forgot to take more photos while it was in-process. I got the pattern for it from an old Threads magazine (August/September 2005, p. 51).  So here is the finished product.
Milagros purse

Inside- it has two pockets

     And, for my class, I've been working on a series with a leaf as a symbol for change. The first one is as finished as I want it to be for taking to the class. I have it backed with ecofelt. The edges are not finished yet. I'm waiting to decide if I want to add some hand-stitching or more printing before I add facing to the back to finish the edges. Notice that I changed my palette? No blues in this one.
Flow 1 (temporary name)
     I'm about half done with the second one in the series which gives me a feeling of breathing room. I know now that I'll get it all done in time. I'm linking this to Off The Wall Friday where you can find other art quilt blogs. Please make comments on their posts so that the artists know you stopped by. Thanks for visiting.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Have You Tried Glue Gun Stencils?

     There are so many ways to make stencils, but have you tried making them using a hot glue gun? And if you have, do you realize how many ways you can use them? This came about for me as part of my daily practice of mark making while I was strolling through Pinterest looking for ideas and saw this one and decided to dig out my old glue gun from the garage and see what they looked like. And when I saw the one I made, I was amazed and had a brainstorm of how versatile it could be.
     I had been sending out for thermofax images of leaves, which was somewhat expensive and I had to wait for them to be made and sent to me. Plus, sometimes, I decided I wanted different sizes and didn't want to have to send for yet another one. So if I could make detailed stencils quickly and cheaply, that would be great! Also, I love the look of eco-printed leaves, but don't want to do that process because I don't want my images to fade over time and I think if I use the right amount of paint with colorless extender I can mimic that look with practice.
     The other thing I wanted to accomplish, was to make stencils that I could use as a background texture on my fabrics when creating layers for imagery. So here is what I did and some samples of what I got. I did almost all of my samples with black transparent fabric paint mixed with colorless extender in a ratio of 1:4 just to see what it looked like. On an artwork, I would probably either match the color of the fabric to blend in with it or use a different color to contrast with it. I decided to collect my samples and put them into a fabric book so the photos here show the samples fused to muslin in preparation for sewing into the book.
     First, I drew pictures of leaves onto a piece of paper.
leaf sketches
Then I placed parchment paper on top of the sketches. I could see the sketches pretty easily through the paper.
parchment paper on top
Next, I pressed out hot glue along the drawn lines. And I pressed the hot tip around putting holes in the leaves in places and making them solid in other places. Then I let them cool.

"drawing" with hot glue

one of the glue stencils
The stencils lifted off the paper easily and were like silicon and held together well. They were not at all fragile. They were very flexible. Not at all what I expected. I thought they would be stiff, thin, and brittle. They have a flat side (the side that was on the parchment paper) and a dimensional side (the side that was face up).
leaf stencils (stained from paint)

texture stencils

     The first way I used them was with my gelli plate. I used a brayer to put down paint on the plate, placed the the flat side of the stencil on the plate, lifted it and then stamped it onto fabric. I did that because it put an even coat of paint onto the stencil. On this first one, I sprayed water onto the fabric to wet it a little first to get a little bleed.

stencil used as a stamp

Then, I put more paint onto the plate and placed fabric on top to get a monoprint.

monoprint done two ways; one by removing some paint around
sides first

left side are the ghost prints from the monoprints
right side is a stamp on dry fabric

Then I put stencils underneath the fabric and did rubbings after loading a stencil brush with paint.
texture rubbings
Another look is a ghostly one by placing the stencil on top and using the stencil brush with a light amount of paint and brushing away from the stencil.

brushing away from the stencil

more brushing away
From one stencil, it is possible to get all these different looks.
front cover of my book by stamping

back cover of my book by stamping

     The covers of my book are pieces from a strip of fabric that I used as a test for the stamps for a piece I've been working on for my Art Cloth Mastery Class. So now, I'll sew the pages together and have a record of the techniques and what they look like. I'll make a separate book for the texture stamps and other marks I've been working on, too. So get out those old hot glue guns and see what you can make. I'm linking this to Off The Wall Friday where you can find other art quilt blogs. Please make comments on their posts so that they know you stopped by. Thanks for visiting.