Friday, August 30, 2019

Which Social Media Posts Do You Prefer To Use?

     I can't believe it's been more than six months since my last blog post. I used to look forward to writing it each week. Then it was every two weeks and then it trailed off even more. I've been posting on my facebook page, and my Instagram  page regularly, though. I find it much more enjoyable to post a quick photo and a small phrase or two than to write paragraphs and fit in photos. I don't know what the future will be like for my social media posts, but for now, if you want to see what I'm working on, head over to Instagram. I find I'm not reading that many blogs from others anymore, either. I've found them on Instagram and follow them there. I may post here every now and then or may get back into blogging a lot, but probably not for awhile.
     So what's been going on in my art world? I've developed a love for working with thickened dyes. I use Procion MX dyes from Prochemical and Dye and print paste from them, too.  I love how much control I have with them as to the final color and value that will end up on the cloth, being able to paint, stamp, and screen with them. I did a color study with the pure dyes I have, mixing one color with another little by little to create cloth samples with color possibilities and a record of how to get them.

I printed up yardage using four layers of dyes and a variety of tools and made a set of 12 napkins.

And I made two art pieces using ethnic motifs I found while traveling and converted into thermofax screens. These photos of them are quick ones I did with my iPhone. And I may still add some stitching to them.
top section


bottom section


whole piece  Size is about 36 x 23
The background was made by screening on print paste and letting it dry and then painting on thickened dye. The print paste acted as a mild resist.
     I had printed several other cloths in bright colors to test out the resist effects of print paste and ended up fusing them together and printing on top to create this next one.
side view
front view
And I've been busy getting published. I joined TAFA, Textile and Fabric Artists list, (I'd add a link, but their website is down.),  I was a featured artist in Artsy shark, and I have an article on TextileArtist.org.  
I'm an enthusiastic member of SAQA and have an artwork in their upcoming auction.


     So now, I have several other ideas brewing and experiments going to pursue using those motifs from other countries in a series. I'll be posting my progress on Instagram. If you follow me there, you'll also see photos I take on a bike trail I frequent because I am so inspired by the nature that surrounds me there. I'm linking this to Off The Wall Friday where you can other artists' blogs. Please make comments on their posts so that they know you stopped by. Thanks for visiting.





Friday, February 8, 2019

Are You Technique Driven?

     When you create art, is it concept that drives you, technique, or something else? I used to be technique driven. That is to say, I was trying to learn new techniques and would create art as I learned the new skill. Then I would move on to the next latest greatest technique. That led to me having a good time because I love to learn new things and it led to some satisfying pieces, but it also had me creating pieces in isolation of each other. There was no theme or concept connecting them and they seemed to be in all different styles. I don't view that as a bad thing, though. I was enjoying the process and I was growing.
     In the past few years, I've abandoned several of the processes I didn't love (piecing and heavy machine-quilting to name two). I've also started creating in series with a common theme because it gives me the opportunity to explore the concept in depth and develop it more deeply. I felt that the energy I had for my last series on transformations has run dry and have been playing around with some new ideas for a series. To get going, I deciding to have some studio days doing one of my favorite techniques; thermofax screen printing. I got a great deal from a friend on a thermofax machine which allows me to make screen images on the spot.
     The images I've been working with have been influenced by some of the fabrics I've seen on my trips. I loved the patterns I saw in Morocco and Jordan. I love the fabrics from India. And when I was in SE Asia a few years ago, I collected remnants from the floors of tailor shops because of the beautiful embroideries on them. I've been craving using these global textile patterns in my art, but didn't know how to connect them to a meaningful series without being trite or using cultural appropriation. I photographed the textiles, manipulated them with various apps into black and white graphics, and made thermofax screens of them. And I had a blast printing them onto test fabrics.
On my design wall: top portion are thermofax prints, bottom portion has dyed pieces.
Also on the design wall
experimenting with transparency


     I used the reverse side of pieces of previously worked fabrics that I wasn't crazy about. They were all various hues of blue and blue-green, which turned out to be good because I didn't have to make color choices. It set a limit to the colors for backgrounds and I stayed within the blue family for printing just to see the imagery in different values so that I could focus on the patterns and what they might mean to me.
more thermofax prints
 I pinned them to my design wall to let the imagery sink in over a few days. And then something happened to create a spark. My husband was cleaning out the attic and found my precious old Nancy Drew books. I saved them originally to pass them on to my children, but, as it turned out, I never had any. Rather than donate them somewhere, I thought maybe I could use the paper for paper lamination or use the pages in the book for creating journals. I ripped some pages out and monoprinted onto them.
monoprinted book pages
then thermofax printed

     I laminated them onto some fabric using the global patterns and I loved the way they looked. And the ideas on how to use these cultural motifs just started flowing.
On my printing table:
The two on the right are paper laminated. One on cotton broadcloth and one on poly sheer
The one of the left is monoprinted and then thermofax screened.

  In this case, it was technique that led me to a new direction. I know that creating the new pieces will be a joy because I love the process of screen printing and the images I'm using bring back a flood of good memories. So, I guess for now I am both technique and concept driven. The thermofax printing will allow me to use the imagery I've been longing to apply. By the way I'd like to pass on my enthusiam for the thermofax so I'm thinking about teaching some classes on how to use it. (You don't need a thermofax machine... you can get your screens printed from many places online.) I would teach the class out of my studio in Central Florida so if you are interested, please email me and we can set it up.    Reginabdunn@gmail.com
I'm linking this to Off The Wall Friday where you can find other artists blogs. Please make comments on their posts so that they know you stopped by. Thanks for visiting.

Friday, December 7, 2018

What To Do With Old Work

     Before I revamped my website, I had all my old art quilts on it for sale. They were there for years. Then, when I created my new website, I decided to post only my newer works. The older ones weren't part of a series. They were important steps in my growth as an artist because, in each one, I explored a theme or a technique and I learned about various topics such as color, composition, line, etc. But they weren't important to me anymore. So I put them in my "Gallery Under the Futon". I realized that they were probably never going to be sold and didn't want to gift them to someone who may not be crazy about them. And, since, they weren't characteristic of what I want to create now, I took my labels off the back so that I wouldn't be associated with them. I donated them to Ruth Funk Center for Textiles in Melbourne, Florida. They wanted art quilts donated so they could auction or sell them as a fundraiser to improve their storage facility. I ended up giving them 11 art quilts. It felt good. I hope the money will help them because I love that museum and enjoy seeing the exhibits there. And since I took my name off the pieces, my current art will not be devalued if they only sell for a pittance.
     But I didn't give them all my old art quilts. Two of them weren't worth sharing, so I threw them out. Two more had some promise so I trimmed them down to the parts I still liked. For one of those, it now seemed like a complete composition. It was already backed and quilted but to give it a more arty look, I fused it to ecofelt  to stiffen it up. I cut the edge of the binding off because it didn't seem to contribute to the overall look and then I painted the edges with dark blue paint to keep them from raveling. Now it hangs in my entrance hallway and I'm really pleased with it. All it needs is a name.
Unnamed
     In November, I wrote an article for  HandEye Magazine. They asked me to write why I make art. Writing it, was a good reflective exercise. And two of my smaller works got juried into the exhibit Small Things Considered at Arts On Douglas, a fine art gallery in New Smyrna Beach, Florida.  As its name suggests, it is an exhibit of smaller artworks they do every December with the idea to sell art for holiday gift-giving.
My two mounted on black linen-wrapped canvas

So now, I'm winding the year up with smaller holiday-themed projects and enjoying not having artworks sitting around gathering dust. It leaves me open, mentally, to create anew. I'm linking this to Off The Wall Friday where you can find art blogs. Please make comments on the artists' posts so that they know you stopped by. Thanks for visiting.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Experimenting With A Product

     Do you like to run experiments when you discover a product you've never used? I think I originally became a scientist because I love to do experiments. Now that I'm an artist, I find this skill handy and still fun. The product I'm writing about is called Fiber Etch. I found out about it from Jane Dunnewold when I took the Art Cloth Mastery Class and decided it had potential in my artwork so I ordered a bottle of it. Basically, it destroys cellulose-based materials, which means you can use it to selectively dissolve cotton fabric.  My friend, Angie Knowles, sent me a sample of a silk-cotton fabric she had purchased so that I could try Fiber Etch on it.
     Here's what I did and the results:
1.) I applied the Fiber Etch (which is a thick liquid a little thicker than maple syrup) through a thermofax screen onto the fabric.
the fabric wet with fiber etch
the thermofax design I used
2.) I let it dry overnight.
3.) I ironed it to heat-destroy the cotton fibers where the Fiber Etch had made contact.
the brown parts are where the cotton got destroyed

4.) I soaked it in warm water for about 10 minutes and softly rubbed it with my hands.
5.) I hung it to dry
6.) I ironed it flat and brushed it with a scrub brush (but gently) to remove any stray cotton fibers.

this design was not a good choice since it didn't keep the detail... too much cotton got destroyed.
I redid it with 3 other thermofax screens to try for a more suitable design for using with this product
You can see from the results that this particular fabric is made using silk woven in one direction and cotton in the other, so the result from the fiber etched parts is silk fibers running in one direction with no fibers woven with them in the areas that got etched. This works ok for designs with thin lines or thin shapes, but leaves an area too open for designs with bigger shapes.


7.) I put it in a dye bath of  procion MX dyes ( sun yellow mixed with mixing blue 50:50). (I chose this color mixture because I was aware that cotton turns a different green hue in it than silk does).
8.) Batched it for 24 hours, rinsed it, dried it, and ironed it.
the silk fibers dye a more yellow green and the cotton fibers dye a more blue-green. 
You can see the silk fibers running vertically in the etched areas. 

I had previously tried this product with a poly-cotton fabric in which the all the threads are a mix of cotton and poly. The result is more effective with this type of fabric because you end up with woven shapes in the etched areas, but they are thinner since all the cotton gets removed and only polyester remains. 
The remaining polyester threads (in the etched areas) don't accept the dye; only the cotton does.
So you end up with your thermofax-etched areas staying white
The whole cloth dyes lighter than expected since the polyester part doesn't accept the dye.
I have more things I want to try with this product, but this is a good start and I found it interesting to see how the thread structure plays a roll in the results. I'm linking this to Off The Wall Friday where you can find other art blogs. Please make comments on the artists' post to let them know you stopped by.  Thanks for visiting.


Friday, September 14, 2018

Do You Keep Up With Technology and Social Media?

     If you have a blog or website or Etsy shop or other, how often do you check behind the scenes? Apparently, for me, not often enough. I just discovered that I had many comments on my blog waiting for me to ok publishing them. I was just browsing through the settings on blogger and accidentally came across them sitting there for months waiting for me to approve them. That was a surprise. A nice one that so many had taken the time to make comments. But, in the past, I used to get email notification that someone had commented and then I'd approve it right away. It seems that those email notifications somehow got shut off. So now I went ahead and approved all of those waiting comments. I apologize and will find out how to get those notifications to me back again. Thank you for reading my blog and making comments. It's so nice to know there are people out there who care. I hope that some day I can meet some of you in person.
      I also forgot to take my Etsy shop off of vacation mode. I put it on vacation while my solo show was going so that I wouldn't have any conflict with sales. It's up and operating again. I have been keeping up with Instagram, though. I find that to be very satisfying. I decided to use it to promote my art as a love of nature since my art is always about nature. So on Instagram, I mostly post short videos or still photos of things I discover when I'm out and about on the bike trail and in my yard. I take a rest stop on the bike trail at the same place each time just a few days apart and in that one spot have discovered amazing things and am surprised by the changes that take place so quickly.
A view of the bike trail with cicadas sounding

I'd love for you to follow me on Instagram #reginabdunn if you want some quiet nature interludes interspersed with some art here and there. In the meantime, I'm linking to Off The Wall Friday where you can find other art blogs. Please make comments so that the artists know you stopped by. Thanks for visiting.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Do You Have A Favorite Season?

     Each season has special delights to offer, but is there one that you treasure the most? I'm not sure if I have a favorite, but summers have always been special to me. Perhaps it's because it is the time of vacations. Vacation from school (both when I was a student and when I was a teacher) and vacation with the family away from home. Summer, for me, is a time to flourish; to feed the mind and soul.
     This summer has been no exception to that. I started in May, by getting out into the forest in which I live to remove invasive plants. I don't want to use any poisons so I've been removing them by hand. I go out every other or third day and pull up ferns, coral ardisia plants, and thin out grape vines that are too prolific. While I'm doing that, I discover micro worlds and ecosystems on the forest floor that have a beauty that astounds me. I've found various types of live snails that I didn't know were in my own yard, teeny tiny toads, and listen intently to sounds of birds, insects, and the music of leaves capturing the breezes. One day, my shovel hit something just under the surface of the dirt that was hard and hollow sounding. As I explored, I realized it was rectangular in shape. I even got a little excited hoping I had found a treasure chest. I've lived here over 30 years so it was at least that old because we hadn't buried anything on the property. In the end, it turned out to be roofing material. Probably left from when our house was built. But that's ok. It gave me some moments of fun and adventure.
     In July, I had more adventure when we went on a trip to Cuba for three weeks. We had signed up for a tour. In their literature, they said the group size could be anything from 2-12 people. When my husband and I showed up for the group meeting in Havana, we were the only ones other than the guide. No one else signed up. So we ended up having the tour with our guide in a private taxi! Although, it was very, very hot, we had a great time. I think my gardening in the Florida heat of May and June got me in shape for the trip. The things I liked best about Cuba are the people. They were so friendly and interesting. When we asked someone if we could take their photo, they smiled huge and posed and then carried on fascinating conversations with us. The architecture seems to be trying to reveal stories with every patch of peeling paint and plaster. And the landscapes were stunning from the tropical beaches to the limestone mogotes of Viñales. Since this is basically an art blog, the photos I'll share with you from Cuba relate to that.
Fusterlandia is a place built and designed by artist, José Fuster near Havana.  It is described as Gaudi on steroids.
Fusterlandia, the art of José Fuster

     We had so much fun exploring the house and neighborhood decorated in mosaics. He even honored sewing machines.
at Fursterlandia
At Fursterlandia

     My favorite city was Camaguey. One of the reasons was because the artist, Martha Jiménez , has her studio there. Photography wasn't allowed inside, but the paintings and sculptures there are exquisite. I purchased a small ceramic artwork of hers that is part of her sewing machine series where she honors the work of women. I wish there was a book that had her artwork in it, but I can't find one.
The Longing of My Mother by Martha Jiménez
     Now, well into August, I'm still out in the woods every few days pulling up plants. This is the time for cicadas here and sometimes the sounds from them are deafening, but I really enjoy being out there.
     And, professionally, I've had several things happen this summer. I had an opening reception for my solo show in June and the closing reception is August 24, 6-9PM, at the Blake Elliot Gallery 102 Artisan Alley in DeLand. 386-450-0337. Also, I've had artwork published in the newest book by Jane Dunnewold, Improvisational Screen Printing Second Edition.

A detail of my work in green in the center
My artwork in green in the chapter on stencils


It's a fantastic book full of ways to add imagery to a surface and I'm honored to be included with the other artists in the book.
     I hope to wrap up the summer with a couple of new artworks that are presently on my design wall. And to continue with color studies I'm doing for enrichment.

color studies in paper
     I always dislike seeing summer ending, but also look forward to the idea of autumn being a time to letting go of things that need to go and making room to move forward. I'm linking this to Off The Wall Friday where you can find other art blogs. Please make comments on the artists' posts to let them know you stopped by. Thanks for visiting.




Sunday, July 8, 2018

Where Do You Show Your Art?

     There are many choices on how to share your art with the world. When an opportunity presents itself you have to consider several things. Things such as cost to you, number of people who will see it, security, insurance, chances of making a sale, and overall satisfaction with the venue. I've had individual pieces exhibited with SAQA in static shows and traveling shows. I've exhibited individual pieces in some local museums in shows. All have been rewarding to me personally and I've made some sales because of them. But I never had a true body of work that would allow me to have a solo show. Until now.
     After taking and completing the Art Cloth Master Program with Jane Dunnewold, I finally had enough work finished in the same style that I could call a cohesive body of work. Two of the pieces got shipped to Houston for our group exhibit Many Voices from One to be in the International Quilt Festival this autumn. For the remaining pieces, I found a good local venue. It's the Blake Elliot Salon and Gallery in DeLand, Florida. It's only about five miles from my house so I don't have to ship the pieces. During the work week, it's an elegant hair salon with the art hanging on the walls, chandelier from the ceiling, good traffic, and great location in the center of downtown. On reception nights, the salon equipment slides to the back behind partitions and it is a true gallery space. It's located on a street called Artisan Alley which comes alive on Friday nights (when the reception is held). There are vendors selling organic produce, food trucks, music, an amazing gift shop with a bar, an up-scale kitchen goods shop, bats that swarm at sunset, and lots and lots of people sitting, chatting, and partying.

part of the party outside


part of my exhibit inside
     One of the things that crossed my mind was that salon products may get on my artwork or that people may touch and damage some of the pieces. In the end, I decided not to worry about that. Blake has insurance and having my work seen in public is better than storing it in my gallery under the futon. I'm not sure I'm a good fit for a full-time art gallery because I don't want to be a slave to producing works on schedule as most require. I want to create the work when I feel inspired and enjoy creating it rather than make it feel like it is a job. I retired from working full time a few years ago and want to remain job-free. 
     The best thing about the exhibit was being able to see all the work hanging together, which made me feel fantastic. The works will hang until late August and then there will be a closing reception. I walked in during the week, when people were having their hair done and it was so fun seeing my works surrounding them. The customers are really into the art and love going to this salon for that reason. They sit there sipping whiskey or other drink of their choice while getting beautified. I need to go and take some photos of it set up as the salon with my art. I forgot to do that when I was there.

before the opening

before the opening

before the opening

labels Blake had printed

my artist statement posted near the door

     When the show opened, I was so busy mingling and talking to people about the art that I forgot to take photos of the crowd. I didn't remember until almost before closing at 9 PM.
Blake and two of my friends



     It was a great and satisfying evening for me and I'm so glad that I considered using non-conventional venue to have a solo show. 
I'm linking this to Off The Wall Friday where you can find posts from other artists. Please make comments on their posts so that they know you stopped by. Thanks for visiting.