Thursday, February 26, 2015

Are You Allowed Do Overs In Art?

     Do you ever look at your art that you made and wish you could have a do over? Sometimes I do. I posted about it here where I redid a couple of my pieces. This past week I worked over another one. When I made this piece, I liked everything about it except the monk never looked quite right to me. Originally, I struggled with choosing a color and a fabric for him. I used a color wheel to choose the color, but he always seemed to stand out too much. This week, I took the quilt to a meeting with some art friends and they agreed. They suggested to change the color of him, perhaps make him smaller, or perhaps make him sitting.
     When I got home, I decided to explore what I wanted the piece to say. I made a mind map. I wrote the title, Contemplation, in the center. Then I wrote words and phrases coming out from the center that came to my mind. These are some of them: meditation, balance, passageway, questions, answers, searching, finding, being open to hidden messages. This process was amazing to me because it made me realize that some of the elements that I had already put into the quilt were telling me a story that I didn't realize was there. All I had to do was make it more clear. Here is the quilt before and how it is now. ( I did a blog post about how I made the sitting man here.)


Contemplation (in final form)

I painted veins in the rocks and I couched fibers on the sun to match the patterns in the rocks. They resemble stick figures of creatures and symbolize that nature holds many answers. The patterns of the "bulls eyes" that I put into the ground and sky here and there are the answers that are traveling through the air. The gold "window" in the center symbolizes when a passageway or window opens in the mind when a person is opening up to receiving answers to questions they are seeking. 
     I also redid the shadows. Before, I had embroidered the shadows. While I still like that treatment of the shadows, I think that it didn't work on this quilt. I used Shiva paintstiks to put them on after I painstakingly removed the embroidery.  The last thing I did to modify it was to cut off the yarn edging and put on a pillowcase facing.
     Here's a close up of the sun and the rocks now.
couched with 6 strands of embroidery floss

rocks painted with "creatures"
     So now I'm much happier with Contemplation. I think it delivers its message, the composition is much better, and the symbolism is strong. 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, February 19, 2015

Is There More Than One Shade of Gray?

     Are you tired of hearing about the shades of gray yet? I guess it depends on the context. I needed a sitting human figure for one of my quilts and I needed it to be a gray. But I needed it to be a greenish blue gray. The only college art class I got to take was Painting 101 and I took it only a few years ago. It was a very useful class for my art quilts. We spent a huge amount of time studying gray. We had to mix our own. The teacher could tell if we made our gray by mixing white paint with black paint. That was a big no no. We had to make our grays by mixing cadmium red light with ultra marine blue and then add white. Sometimes you need to throw in a little cadmium yellow if it has a purple tinge. We could make warm grays by having more cad red or make cool grays by having more of the blue. I learned to love all the hues of gray. I actually got (and still do) very excited when I mix a particularly wonderful hue of gray.
     One of the assignments was to paint a color wheel. It took hours and hours to get it right. It was a major homework assignment. I refer to it often to choose colors and to figure out how to mix colors. What a great class to take even though it was nothing about quilts or fiber.
my color wheel from class
      Today, I got out my paints, GAC 900, my gelli plate, some white cotton muslin, and various texture tools.
paints I used today
Notice that I used all sorts of brands of paints. I use whatever is on sale. I do mix them with GAC 900 fabric medium from Golden so that they play well with fabric, though. My first prints were a little greenish, but soon I had the right fabric.

one fabric
another fabric
Then I cut out the figure that I needed and tried it out on my quilt. It looked exactly the right color and texture.
Sitting on white paper
I won't show it yet on the quilt until the quilt is finished. The answer to the question is that yes, there is more than one shade of gray. And it is fun to mix gray. I strongly advise you to buy some cadmium red light, ultramarine blue, cadmium yellow light, titanium white, fabric medium, and play. For fabric, you can use old bed sheets, old shirts, or you can buy white muslin or any other white fabric. 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.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Do You Change Finished Art Works?

      Do you ever look at some of your finished art works and think "I wish I had done so and so"? I was looking at my Screen Door piece and wondering why I left a notch sticking out on the side. I liked it when I did it, but as it sat hanging in my studio, I liked it less and less. It was an easy fix to cut it off and resew the edge shut. So that is exactly what I did. Here is its photo before and after its surgery.



 The next quilt (my rock cairn quilt called Rise) went through more of a struggle. I didn't like the plant that I had sewn onto one of the rocks and I liked even less the way I had sewn roots onto the rock. It took hours to rip out all the little stitches. But I got them out successfully. Then I decided I didn't like the painting on the rock either. I had enough fabric leftover to cut out another rock and I sewed it on top of the other one. Then I researched plants and decided on sewing a lichen so I sketched out several and finally got one I liked. I cut it out of fabric leftover from one of the other rocks and painted its tips the color of rust. I sewed the lichen on a different rock and this time, for its roots, I mimicked the pattern I used in the sun. To me, this looked so much better than before. Aren't we lucky that we can rip things off and do over?

     I have a third quilt I want to make over, but I'm not sure it's possible on that one. Maybe I'll take it to my art group for an evaluation and see what they think.
     On the more fun side, I made an Artist Trading Card for an upcoming class I'm taking with Pat Pauly. I like to trade with other artists. I started with a background of some of my monoprinted fabric, which I included on the reverse side.  I sewed sari silks and a tag from the inside of a garment. Then I did some stitching with black thread which I love to do on my quilts.
Artist Trading Card
     I'm linking this to Off The Wall Friday where you can find other art quilt blogs. Please make comments to let the artists know you stopped by. Thanks for visiting.

Friday, February 6, 2015

What's On The Reverse Side Of Your Fabrics?

     Have you ever flipped over your fabrics to the reverse side to take a look and see what's there? Especially the ones that you've painted yourself? Well, once I decided to use some white crinoline as a base to sew appliqué silk pieces of fabric onto for an art quilt.  (This one, here.) I didn't want any of the white to show through in case the edges of the silks didn't quite but up all the way. So I decided to paint the crinoline first. I used colors of paint that would be similar to the colors of the silks. One side of the art quilt would be cool colors and one side would be warm colors and the center was going to have a female figure in it. I placed a paper cutout of the female figure on the crinoline and used a wet sponge brush and painted with acrylic paints the various colors onto the crinoline. Then I removed the paper cutout and painted onto the then white profile of the female figure. It was a fairly ugly (but functional) piece of crinoline.
     After it dried, it fell onto the floor and flipped over. And oh, my! It was beautiful! The paint had not gone through uniformly at all. It had created a ghostly effect of the female figure. The areas around her had created marbled effects. As a whole, it couldn't be used for a piece of art. It was a shame that it was going to be buried underneath other pieces of fabrics and never seen. But since we are in the digital age, that really isn't the case.
original ghostly figure on back of crinoline

original reverse side of crinoline

     I took photos of all the good parts of it and kept them on file for future use. And that future is now. I sent out the photos to a digital printmaking fabric company and within a few days the fabric was delivered larger than it was before. The colors were true and I was very pleased with it. I hung it on the design wall for about a week and wasn't sure what to do with it. I put it away for about a month. Then I did a few sketches on my iPad from one of its photos and got an idea and out came the rotary cutter.
     I sewed panels of the digitally produced fabric together and then put it on batting and did a lot of stitching. Here's a peak of some of it in-process.
stitching in gray variegated thread

she moves
The crinoline only had a partial head and part of a torso so I had to imagine the rest. Now, I'm working on the rest of the design and a quilting design. So my message to you is that when you paint a piece of fabric, always flip it over to look at the back. You may like the reverse side better. And if you like both sides, you can take photos of the reverse side and have it digitally printed if you want to use it, also. 
     I'm linking this 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 visiting.