Saturday, August 27, 2016

How Do You Help Your Series Along?

     When working on your series, do you ever need a push? I'm working on my fourth piece in my series for my homework in my Master Art Cloth Class due in October. One of the nicest things is that they don't have to be finished. I dyed the backgrounds and added layers on top with fabric paint with thermofax prints and stencils. We are going to critique them together and then can work on them more. They each had strict requirements, however. The first one I did had to be monochromatic. I chose blue-green and I could choose up to 4 colors in that hue. The second one I did was complimentary. I chose blue-green and red orange. The third one was analogous. Again, I stuck to blue-green, green, and blue. And for my last one, it is a value study in blue-green. I decided to stay with the same color family for all four so that I could have fewer variables to deal with and focus on design as I moved from one to the other.
     The theme for all of mine was "Cycles". I used the same design elements in each, varying the values of them to see how that affected their importance in each piece. Also, I changed how often I included some of the elements in each piece. I don't feel that I can show you any of the works at this time. Maybe when I come back from the class in October. Making a map was the last assignment in the creative summer camp I've been involved in. I'll miss it. It has been so valuable. For my map, I decided to make a mind map I made last night to help me along in designing the fourth assignment for the Art Mastery Class.
Mind map in my sketch book
     The large leaf is a thermofax print I'm using on all of the pieces. The spirals are stencils that I'm also using on all of the pieces. The topographic diagram I drew in the sketchbook is an image that I created and am using in various forms on three of the pieces to represent eddies. It was very difficult to get onto fabric in large sizes. Too large for a thermofax screen. In the end, the only way I could think of applying those thin lines, was with freezer paper stencils ironed onto the fabric piece by piece. So tedious, but it worked. I plan on hand stitching a running stitch at the end inside the topographic diagrams.  
     This mind map actually led me to new designs in my head for further work in the series. And a new color palette. So in pushing a series along, a mind map is the way to go for me, using a combination of words and imagery. 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, August 14, 2016

Do You Have An Art Skill That You Shy Away From?

Is there an art activity that you feel that you just aren't good at? I always feel like I balk when it comes to making collages. I may start with an idea or start with a good color palette, but when it's finished, it never looks like a good composition. And when I look at other artists' collages, they always look so together. I study theirs vs mine to try to learn, but still haven't mastered the tricks.
My summer camp creative assignment this week was "Paint the News". Basically to take the newspaper and paint over it, then cut it up, and make a collage. When I saw that the basic assignment was to make a collage, I had two thoughts: One was "Oh no. I'm not good at this." The other thought was. "Oh good. I can try again. And at least there are directions for a starting point."
So I decided to use my favorite colors of blue greens. I painted over a newspaper page, a cut up some pages from a magazine. I really disliked my first attempt and threw it away. The next day, I decided to try again.
attempt #2
I liked this one better, but it still wasn't good enough, so I threw it away, also and I decided that wouldn't participate in this week's activity. The collages that the other artists were sharing online were very impressive, and I was too embarrassed by my attempts to share mine.
Then, one of the artists wrote by hers that she "let the chaos happen." That phrase really hit home with me. So I took my last attempt out of the trash and cut it up and rearranged it.

Balance The News

My response was to counteract the news of violence, stories of bigotry, and people ignoring facts. So I painted over the words on the paper almost completely. For symbolism, I added pages from a crossword puzzle book that could be filled in with more upbeat words. I used cool colors wishing everyone would just calm down and step back to think before they speak and act. And I incorporated one of my favorite themes.
Maybe I am getting the hang of collage. Let the chaos happen. I like that. 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.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Do You Have Tricks For Choosing Colors?

     When you are creating artwork, are you picky about the colors you choose? Do they have to be exactly the right hue? For me, they didn't used to have to be. But now, I have a homework assignment that requires me to work in one color family with only 3-4 hues. And another assignment with complimentary colors. So I'm being very choosy with my colors right now. I'm sure there are many ways to go about it, but I've come up with a way that is working for me.
     I go to one of the big box home improvement stores and pick up paint chips in the color family I want. I hold them up to my background fabric and choose the few that look the best with it. Then I get out my fabric paints and mix up the colors to match the paint chips. I mix them up on an acrylic palette and paint out a square on a piece of white cotton muslin. I also take that original color and add white and paint out a square of that on the muslin, too. I label the muslin with a number for the color like "2A".  The one with white added gets labeled "2B.  I sew the muslin pieces onto card stock and write the recipe for making the color on the card stock so that I can make it again.
Painted muslin pieces
For colors E and F above, I forgot to make their white counterparts. This way, I can remove the card stock from my notebook and hold it up or pin it to a background on my design board and stand back and see how it looks.
     Another trick I've been using is adding colorless extender to my textile paint to get a more transparent look in places when using stencils and thermofaxes. I try it out in different dilutions and keep a record in my notebook, too.
A thermofax print tested with a 1:4 dilution
Here are some prints on my art cloth at two different dilutions.
Two leaf prints at two different dilutions
By the way, the leaves are very special to me. My mother picked the leaves for me about ten years ago when she was still alive and living up in Chicago. I asked her to send me some autumn leaves. A few weeks ago, I needed to make a thermofax of leaves. Since I'm in the way of using what you have, I went through my things and found the bag of leaves she had sent.
     Last night, I needed an image of a leaf in decay so I mixed up paint, got out my gelli plate, and printed away to get an image for a new thermofax screen.
my printing table in full gear
     I ended up using one of the negative prints and inverting the black and white to get a good image to send off for my  thermofax. So, now that I have structured assignments, I'm developing structured ways of looking at color and I'm finding it actually more liberating.
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.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Do You Use Store-Bought Art Tools Or Do You Make Your Own?

     When you need a new tool for making your art, do you go out and buy it, or do you try to make it? Lately, I try to use what I have. Partly to be economical and partly to be gentle on the environment. Now that I'm dyeing fabric, which is new to me and using thermofax screens, which I only did rarely before, I'm finding that I need tools that I didn't have before. I know that I can order them online and they will be delivered in about 2-3 days, but it is rewarding to find things in my studio or the garage that have been sitting there collecting dust and spider webs and finding that they are perfect for the job.
     I love the flag fold pattern on dyed cloth and I wanted something similar with a criss-cross pattern on a narrow long piece. I looked around on Pinterest and other places and experimented with folding paper and figured out a fold that would give me what I wanted. If I used rubber bands to hold it together, though, the bands would leave a mark that I didn't want.
When you need a new tool for making your art, do you go out and buy it, or do you try to make it? 
      My husband had a couple of transparent sheer acrylic sheets in the garage that I could cut with some shears we have, so I cut two rectangles from it and then covered the sharp edges of it with duct tape. I put my folded fabric between the rectangles and put the rubber bands around them to hold them tight so that the dye would only penetrate through the folds and create the pattern. 
shears and folded fabric in acrylic sheets
      The first time I did it, I got the pattern I wanted. You see it here on a close-up photo with some stencils and thermofaxes printed on top. 
fabric is on the left
     The second time I did it, I didn't put enough rubber bands on top of the rectangle shapes, and too much dye seeped in. You see it here in this photo. 
dye bled too much
I'll probably over dye this fabric some time in the future because I don't like how it turned out. But anyway, that is one tool that I made instead of buying. I know that you can buy acrylic shapes for dye resists.
     The second tool I made is for thermofax printing. I have a store-bought rubber squeegie for regular screen printing, but for a thermofax screen, you need to use a much thinner tool or you get too much paint onto the fabric and ruin the hand of the fabric. Usually I just use an old credit card or gift card. But I have some images that are wider than those cards and if I use one of those cards to print them and run the card across them multiple times with the paint to get the whole image, I get a line or lines on the image on the fabric. So what I need is a card that is as wide as the image. Well, there is no card that wide. So I was scrounging around the studio for something stiff enough, waterproof, and wide enough that could be used over and over.
     I came across an acrylic sheet that I use occasionally as a surface for monoprinting. It came from a department store and was given to me by a friend. I have several of them.
acrylic sheet used to advertise cosmetics
     I took one of them and cut a strip off, covered the ends in several layers of duct tape to stiffen it up more, and it works great as a thin squeegie.
new tool
I just put the paint on one end of the thermofax screen and run my home made squeegie across the image once and I get a nice, sharp image without affecting the hand of the fabric very much at all. (Note: I usually mix my textile paint with textile colorless extender.)
How to use the new tool
     Plus, when I use my hand-made tools, somehow, my art feels more original to me, too. I know tools don't make it so, but it's more satisfying to me to know where it all comes from and to know that I thought of how to do it. It somehow makes it more fun, too. Especially if the tools are quirky and wonky as mine will always be ... I don't specialize in engineering.
     I'm very late in posting this particular blogpost. As I was writing it on Friday, a storm came up and lightning struck about 5 times a minute and it went on for an hour! The power went out. When all was said and done, we lost our phone, Internet connection, water pump, and OMG my blow dryer. I had unplugged my sewing machine so it was safe. It took until Monday to get the Internet and phone back. So that's why I'm so late posting this. But I can't complain. So much of the world lives without running water all the time. And our house didn't get hit by the lightning. It was close and it several places in the yard. We do live in the lightning capital of the world. (I'm in error. I meant United States.) That's about the 8th time our water pump took a direct hit. The power company already installed deep rods to ground the lightning. Too bad I can't make a tool to do better than that. 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.