Friday, June 22, 2018

What Do You Look For In A Book About Creating Art?

     I love to read books about many different types of things. And art books are no exception. But as I've progressed, I'm more selective about which books I want to purchase about art techniques. They must have good photos, good examples, detailed descriptions, and exercises to do in order for me to want to spend time with them. In December, I got a book with color studies in it by Richard Mehl


  I have learned a lot from color studies in the past, but feel there is always more to learn. I've been too busy until recently to take the time to start studying from it, but this past week I settled down and did the first exercise in it. I took a meticulous approach to it and took my time creating a color wheel that I hope to use as reference in the future. I've done color wheels before; some simple ones and one that was more detailed, but this one shows me some relationships that are more complicated. 
     To get the exact colors, I purchased colored papers in a kit called Color-Aid. It has papers in 314 different hues, tints, and shades. They are labeled on the back with codes that tell how much white, black, etc. are in them. Just taking them and rearranging them in different ways is a good study. Also, using them as reference to mix paints is a good study. Because of the price, I was hesitant to buy the kit, but decided it would be so useful to me in many ways that it was worth it. 


     The first exercise in the book instructed me to make a color wheel with the 12 basic colors using tints, shades, and compliments if possible, and to also include a 14-step gradation of white to gray.  I could use paints or paper. I can't pass up a good challenge so I wanted to include as many tints, shades, and relationships as possible. I tried several designs sketched out on paper and got inspired when I looked at a mosaic fountain from Morocco. I like the eight-pointed star and the shapes that can be formed when combining the stars in patterns. It took a while to cut out the pieces and glue them together, trying to get everything matched up. All the shapes didn't match up exactly in the end (which is why I gave up piecing fabric long ago), but I'm pleased with the result. 


     I'm looking forward to exercise 2 about contrasts of dark and light. I'm linking this up to Off The Wall Friday where you can find other art blogs. Please make comments on the artists' posts so that they know you stopped by. Thanks for visiting.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Can Art Be Hung In A Window?

     Have you ever hung any of your art in a window? Usually I wouldn't because I'd be afraid the sunlight would cause the colors to fade. But I have a sliding glass door that I want to mark so that people don't walk into it thinking it is open. (I did that once and almost lost a tooth because I hit it so hard.) I could hang a small piece of metal art or plastic or some other solid one of those clear suction cup hangers. Instead, I decided to try a different sort of fabric art that I'm hoping won't fade.
     I monoprinted regular copy paper with colors of my Prochemical fabric paints. I could have used any type of paint, but I have a nice supply of that in a variety of colors and love it. I allowed the papers to dry. Next, I got a piece of sheer polyester fabric prepared by screening on Color Magnet and dyeing the fabric in dilute black procion mx dye. The dye washed out of the fabric everywhere except where I had screened on the Color Magnet.
     Then I used a technique described in a book by Jane Dunnewold and Claire Benn on  paper and metal leaf lamination to attach the colored papers to the prepared polyester. To get the design, I used a thermofax screen of vines that I had made from my photos to screen on the gel medium to the sheer fabric. After that was done, I applied gold leaf also with a thermofax I had made from one of my photos. Then I did some hand stitching to laminated vines. To complete the artwork, I sewed the laminated polyester fabric to a commercial sheer polyester fabric that had a scroll design embroidered onto it so that when hung in the window, the scrollwork will be visible through the laminated polyester.
Close-up showing the "paper" vines, stitching and gold leaf.
NOTE: you can see some of the scroll work on the under sheer through the top sheer
I put the word paper in quotes above, because the paper is actually gone. It gets washed away in the process, leaving only the paint. But a different look than if the paint was applied directly to the fabric instead of in the lamination process.
Close-up of it hanging in the window



     To hang it, I sewed the top over a painted dowel, attached some wire to the top and sides of the dowel to make the dowel look a little nicer, and hung it from a clear, suction cup hanger stuck to the window. I purposely cut the fabrics beforehand so that the polyester underneath with scroll work would be longer and hang out the bottom.

On the window just after sunset
     I love how it looks in the window. It's size is about 12 x 8 so it still leaves lots of clear window to see outside. And it's character changes as the light changes during the daytime and in the evening which makes it an interesting piece. How long the colors last in the exposure to sun remains to be seen, but since they are applied with gel medium, I expect them to last awhile.
     And I have news... I'm having a solo show of my work this summer in a local gallery. The gallery is an interesting one. The front section is the art gallery while the rooms in the back house a salon. And it is located in an alley of the main street. The alley has a great gift shop, up-scale kitchen shop, and comes alive on Friday nights with food trucks, music, organic farmer's market, and even bat houses from which the bats swarm at sunset. It's called The Blake Elliot Gallery The opening reception will be Friday, June 22, 6 PM - 9PM. If you are in the area, try to come. It should be fun.

Promo for the exhibit
     I'm linking this to Off The Wall Friday where you can find other fabric related artworks. Please make comments on the artists' posts so that they know you stopped by. Thanks for visiting.



Saturday, April 21, 2018

Do You Have A Favorite Product To Use In Making Art?

     Do you have a product that you use often in making your art and that amazes you? I have several products I love to use. Procion MX dyes, fabric paints, colorless extender, thermofax screens, and others. But I just discovered a product that has been around awhile but I never tried called Color Magnet by Jacquard. It is advertised as a dye attractant that magically attracts more dye where it is applied. I was intrigued with possibilities for its use. So I bought some and set up an experiment.
     I took swatches of white cotton broadcloth that I had scoured. And I applied the Color Magnet paste to the fabric through a thermofax screen. I let it dry overnight. Then the next day, I put each swatch in its own ziploc baggie. I mixed up a solution of ProChemical's Procion MX dye called Celery. I chose that color because when I had used it before on folded fabrics, the colors that are in it split to create a multi-colored cloth. And I wanted to use a dye mixture that I knew could split easily to see if it would split using Color Magnet. I made up several dilutions of my stock Celery dye in water with soda ash. I poured each concentration in a baggie with the swatches and let them batch 24 hours.
     The following day, I washed them out and loved the results. And the Celery dye did indeed split a little in the places where the Color Magnet was on the cloth.
Sample A on top is the most concentrated
Sample B is a dilution of the dye in A
There's B again on top
Sample C is a dilution of the dye in B
There's C again
Sample D is a dilution of C
note that it is more brown
     I was also curious to see if Color Magnet would work on previously dyed cloth. So I took a swatch of the broadcloth that I had previously dyed in the color Marine, which is a not so intense blue-green. I screened on the Color Magnet, let it dry overnight and the next day put it into the same dye dilution as Sample C.
the cloth shows it has been overdyed
and the leaf is the same tone of Celery that Sample C has
And while I was doing these experiments, I got another idea. Would Color Magnet allow polyester fabric to take the dye? Normally, the Procion MX dyes wash right out of polyester. So I took a swatch of white sheer polyester and screened on Color Magnet, dried it overnight, and also dyed it in Solution C.
The next day, the whole cloth looked like it had taken the dye. But, of course, when I washed it out, the dye washed out of the polyester...EXCEPT for where the leaf had been screen on with Color Magnet. The dye stuck! And it didn't change the hand of the fabric at all. 

SO COOL!
     So now I have all sorts of ideas to add imagery to my fabrics without changing the hand of it. The downside is that when you dye it, it also changes the background color. But it will definitely have a prominent place in my future works. I'm running more experiments now with different ways of screening Color Magnet on, diluting it, extra applications of it, etc.

     Also, I want to announce that I have a new Website I built with WordPress. I had never done any kind of tech work like that before. The first two days, I couldn't figure anything out and couldn't get text or images onto it. Then, I hired a service called WordPress Live for $150. For that price, you get unlimited phone calls for 1 month and they screen share with you and teach you how to use WordPress. Their goal is for you to end up with a cool website that will attain the goals you want and that you can maintain on your own. Each phone call is limited to 25 minutes, but you can call right back if you want as many times as you want. They limit it so that you will be encouraged to work on your own. It only took a few calls to get me to understand how to use WordPress. It's a very impressive service and I'm not getting any compensation from them to tell you this. I just want you to know about it in case you want to build a website, too.
     I also started an Instagram account where I want to share photos of nature and also to help promote my art. All this from a person, who, back in the day said "Email? I'll never use email. Internet? What a crazy idea. Not for me." Now I try to keep up with it all. I've read tech learning is a good exercise for the brain and helps prevent dementia. Hope it's true.  I'm linking this to Off The Wall Friday where you can find other fabric art blogs. Please make comments on the artists' posts so that they know you stopped by. Thanks for visiting.

Friday, March 30, 2018

How Do You Get Your Business Side Of Your Art Practice Together?

     Do you regularly spend time on the business aspect of your art practice or squeeze it in when you can? My past modus operandi was to just squeeze it in when the mood struck. I've read that to be a successful artist, you must spend at least 50% of your art time on business; marketing, promoting, and managing. Even though I know that, I've not followed that rule.
     But, I'm going to try to devote more time to it. To that end, I've reopened my Etsy  store with my newer works. I spent hours doing the photography for it showing not only the fronts of the pieces, but also the backs. And some photos of it installed. I plan to add more installation photos soon.
     As for my older works, I've decided to get rid of most of them. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with them yet. I may try to cut some of them up and convert them into smaller artworks, or I may just leave them in places with signs that whoever likes them can take them. I plan to take my labels off the back so that they remain anonymous. But I've moved on from what they are and want to move forward with the work I'm doing now. It feels good just to state that.
some of my newer work from The Transformation Series

    My old website is gone and I'm presently building a new one. I installed WordPress and bought a theme for it and am learning how to create the new site. I love being a student, and I've read that learning computer technology is one of the best things to do to prevent dementia. The other good thing to do to prevent it is quilting and art making. So my brain should be in good shape! It may be a month or more before I publish the new website because I'm finding it quite challenging but that's a good thing.
     All of this seems like an appropriate thing to do in Spring; to start anew. In that spirit, I take regular breaks from the computer to go outside and work in the yard. I've started a new color scheme out there (bright blue violet and bright yellow green) and have painted almost 50 things so far from terra cotta pots to window boxes to birdhouses.
Painted Bird Bath
Painted pots with freshly repotted plants


Painted CD installment

Painted pots awaiting plants


Painted window boxes with birdhouses

Painted hose protector

 I've convinced my husband to paint the front door the bright blue-violet, too. And with the leftover paint, I'm going to paint the garage door like the Tardis from Dr. Who.
The Tardis

     So much art to create, but business to attend to first. That's why I have not posted here for so long... I'll let you know when the doors are done. And the website. I'm linking this up to Off the wall friday where you can find artquilt blogs. Please make comments on the artists' posts so that they know you stopped by. Thanks for visiting
     

Sunday, February 11, 2018

When Is It Time To Move On?

     Do you ever get to a point when you are creating art and get stuck? I was working on my series "Transformations" and wanted to create at least two more large works and several more small collages. I dyed some fabrics for backgrounds and started to collect some photographs to use for imagery. But, I couldn't decide on the right colors or images. I tried sketching, painting, and auditioning digital attempts at compositions. After a few weeks, I realized I had lost the inspiration and energy I originally had for this series. And I found myself daydreaming about another series. So I decided to declare to myself that "Transformations" was done. Perhaps, someday, I'll come back to it.
     I'm feeling very good and excited about starting a new series that I may call "Journey". Over the years of traveling that I've done, I've seen a lot of exotic and wonderful things and have become enraptured with many of the cultures I've encountered. I didn't try to create art based on my travels because I'm not excited about recreating landscapes or images of people. Instead, I want to capture moods, styles, feelings, etc. and didn't know how to do that. But my latest trip to Morocco has given me ideas. In the  abstract patterns of the rugs I could see the mountain and desert landscape. In the abstract patterns on the textiles, I could see the plants and architecture.
     So I've decided to use patterns in local textiles as way to express types of journeys we all experience. I began my exploration into this by printing a couple of exotic patterns onto gray fabric with my printer and using Misty Fuse to attach them to pages in my sketchbook. Then I started to let my imagination take me as I sketched and free-associated words and phrases. I used a mind map like this to inspire the previous series.
sketch book pages
Then I used some markers to add color. On the next pages, I'm going to try to come up with ways to use the imagery of textiles to express some of those ideas and develop them into a form I can put on fabric with dye, printing, stamping, and stitching. 
     The other evening, I started a small piece with fabrics I had leftover from dye experiments. I fused them to felt, thermofax printed over them with transparent white paint, and added some stitches just to see what effects I could get.
experiment


     So that's where I am now. In the experimental stage, which I find very fun and full of inspiration. This has helped me to know it's time for me to let "Transformations" go and begin a new journey.
I'm linking this to Off The Wall Friday where you can find other art blogs. Please leave comments for the artists so that they know you stopped by. Thanks for visiting.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Do You Like To Work Collaboratively?

     Have you ever done artwork on one piece with several other artists at the same time? I never had until just a few weeks ago when I was invited to help create a set of art cloths to grace an exhibit at Stetson University in DeLand, Florida, my hometown. It was for an amazing exhibit put together by scientists and artists called  "A Better Nectar". The artist in charge who coordinated the exhibit is Jessica Rath and the artist who was in charge of designing the cloth is Madison Creech.
Cover of the Brochure

     It's about the fact that certain bumble bees pollinate certain plants in a very special way. They hover over the anther part of the flower which contains the pollen and vibrate their wings at just the right frequency to allow the pollen to be ejected out onto them. Honeybees can't do this. Neither can the wind. So these bee species are extremely important to keeping these plants on our planet. Many of them produce foods that are part of our diet.
A giant anther sculpture that makes sound of pollen
being ejected when a person stands in front of it
     Over the course of a three-day weekend, we seven artists practiced printing with screens, designed screens with images of pollen, finalized our design, and discharge printed it onto three purple silk cloths that were each about 4 feet wide by eight feet tall. Of course, since the discharge paste is toxic, we wore respirators when near it and while we printed. And we worked outside in a beautiful courtyard on the campus.
That's me on the right side.
two of the cloths almost finished

Ironing to make the paste discharge
Screening on discharge paste
     The exhibit opened with a reception on three different places on the Stetson Campus the other night. When you stood outside the art museum, they had a portable microscope that you could focus onto anything you wanted and the images were projected onto the outer wall of the building. The purpose was to get you to interact with the microscope and they had some set up inside focused on pollen grains.

An image of a sequin on my purse projected

Stitching from my purse projected

    Inside the art building were sculptures of parts of bumble bees' hives with speakers inside. A choral group had prerecorded sounds to mimic the the frequencies of the bees' wings. The speakers are linked to the weather station at our local airport and switch sounds to match what the bees sound like as they would respond to temperature, wind, and humidity changes in the real world. You stick your head into a sculpture and can listen to the changing sounds in real time. 

Jessica Rath, the sculptor, explaining

     And at the entrance to the science building is the art cloth we created. 
My husband and me in front of the cloths
     The flowers and bee are paper sculptures created by students. Notice the musical score (to represent the music of the bees' wings) printed near the top of the cloths.
     It was a magical night not only because of this exhibit, but also, because just a few blocks away, we attended a mind-blowing M.C. Escher exhibit at Museum of Art DeLand an hour before. 
So, the answer to the original question, for me, is a resounding YES. I loved working collaboratively and hope to do so again. And do come to DeLand to see these two exhibits if you can. The links above will give you the details and dates.
     I'm linking this to Off The Wall Friday where you can find some interesting art quilt blogs. Please make comments on the artists' posts so that they know you visited. Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, January 19, 2018

What Do You Take Photos Of When You Are Out And About?

          When you are walking around in local areas where you live or on vacation do take photos of big landscapes or do you focus on smaller details? When I'm on vacation, I leave the photography of the big picture up to my husband. I'm always attracted to patterns and close-up shots. Some of them get used in my art pieces and some get filed away for possible future use. But a crack in a sidewalk can show me a great use of line or a wall that has peeling paint can hint at an interesting pattern to stitch.
     We recently traveled to Morocco and I was enraptured with the use of color and pattern almost everywhere I looked. Of course, there were rugs galore and I found out from a weaver that she creates the patterns intuitively as she works.
local weavers with rug in process
rugs placed out to show several styles


reminded me of the mountain landscape there


reminiscent of some quilt blocks
     And then there were the mosaics; some ancient Roman ones and some more modern.

looking down


looking up
another quilt block?

even the layout of rocks on the road had patterns

And the clothes blew me away.
two men at one of our hotels
It was one of the most exotic places I've been. I'm still analyzing my photos to see how to use the feel of Morocco in my future art pieces.
     More locally, this week I visited another exotic place; an orchid farm. I was surprised how large it was and how many different types of plants they have. I took many photos and hope to be able to process the patterns of the roots and flowers into thermofax screens. 


at the entrance

love the roots

amazing designs

      I'm going to be teaching a 3-day class at a local fabric shop, Fabrications,  in March. The first day I'll teach how to take a photo and turn it into an image suitable for making a thermofax screen and 
participants will make their images into screens (the shop has a thermofax machine). On the second day, we'll print onto fabrics using our screens. And on the third day, we'll construct small collages from the printed fabrics. Everyone should be able to go home with at least one completed collage.  If you are interested in signing up, click the link above and phone the shop for details.

collages

Many of the images above are from photos I took from my yard and around the house with my iPhone. Between now and March, I hope to use some of the images from the orchid farm in some collages.
     I'm linking this to Off The Wall Friday where you can find other art blogs. Please make comments on the artists' posts so that they know you stopped by. Thanks for visiting.