Saturday, October 30, 2010

Up To My Eyeballs...!

When I was a little kid, I was forever guilty of having eyes bigger than my tummy -- everything (on the dessert table, at least!) looked so good I wanted one of everything. I was only allowed to pick one, because that's what good girls/ladies do, but even early on I wanted more more MORE!

When the autumn class schedule came out on, I couldn't decide if I wanted to play with acrylic paints (Altered Journal class) or watercolors (Sketchbook and Watercolors Journal Style), so I signed up for them both. There is an element of serendipity in the way we've played with paint in the journal class, but I'm fairly familiar with acrylics and haven't had any big surprizes. Watercolors, though, are a completely different story! I don't have a feel for the medium at all yet, but I'm entranced anyway.

I've done more sketching/drawing in the past week than I have in years and find I enjoy it more than I expected. I've got a long way to go before I feel really comfortable doing it and able to capture what I see on paper, but it is good to get over the "I can't draw" mental block. In the class we outline everything with permanent fine-point marker, and then most people add frames or other decorations to the painted page. I like it when they do it, but my frames look yucky so I'm trying other things -- I'm not sure the "sketchbook" style is for me. I do like mixing colors, though!

As much as I would love to play with paints all day, I have to make myself get back to work on class samples for the spring term -- proposals are due in a week or so...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

America's Most Wanted... Skinny Quilts!

Wow! Our "Color Cascade" exhibit was the talk of the Pacific International Quilt Festival, and now we've been invited to display the quilts at another Mancuso show! The photo above led off C&T's blog entry about the show -- great work, Wendy & crew!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Welcome, La Nina

It isn't even November but we've got snow! It won't last long at this elevation because the ground is still too warm, but Mt. Bachelor was expected to get a foot or so... I'm sure I will be sick of snow by the end of winter, but it is fun to see now. Last year was an El Nino so very dry here, but we usually have a wet winter when La Nina comes to town. The reservoirs are quite low, so precipitation is a good thing (can you say "time to sew/paint/bead/play?" -- I knew you could!)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Raven's Journey

My latest altered journal. I'm still getting a feel for the painting step, but I do enjoy the messing around part!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

And Then A Miracle Occurs...

Start with a pretty lousy photo, add an amazing texture, wave your Photoshop Elements magic wand, and this is the result. A million thanks to DJ Pettitt for the mixed media texture -- I can't wait to make my own, but until then, hers is brilliant.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Help Me, Mr. Wizard!

Ever since I finished the blue-violet "Color Cascade" quilt, I have had a terrible time settling on a new project. There are a few things I need to get done fairly soon, but without an urgent deadline, I just can't decide. Beads? Fabric? Paint? Paper? Nap? Shop online?

While I was trying to figure it all out, I cleaned up my fabric closet. The mess isn't driving me crazy anymore, but more ideas popped up! Then I tried chocolate (got happy taste buds, but still couldn't decide!). Took the dogs for a walk to work off some of the chocolate, but no joy. I pulled out fabric for a scrappy quilt project but I'm not in the mood to cut yet. What's a girl to do???

While I was waiting for inspiration, I downloaded some free textures from Flickr and messed around with an image from Wikimedia Commons. An old friend is fond of corvids (crows and ravens), so I played with this incredible image of a raven with Half Dome in Yosemite in the background. The original photo was almost monochromatic (white snow, black bird, just a hint of blue sky) so I used a gray texture overlay and converted the image to black and white. I'm still getting a feel for how well subtle texture on the screen translates to fabric, so I may need to tweak the final image to capture the scratches. Not bad for just playing, though!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Adding Texture (Altered Journal, Part 2)

Fun Fun FUN! I used sequin waste (Punchinella) and two brass stencils to add texture to the front of my journal. I expected to use Golden Molding Paste, but we used heavy body Titanium White paint instead. Now that the front is dry, I'm going to let loose on the back (Sarah glops a lot more paint on than I did). More paint means more nooks and crannies for paint to pool in. That's next week's lesson so I have time to work on another journal between now and then!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Altered Journal, part 1

I've never done much with paper since I have enough fabric in my stash for 20 lifetimes of sewing, but on a whim I decided to take an online Altered Journals class with Sarah Whitmire. The surfaces of her work have such rich, deep color and I can't wait to learn how to do that.

Our first assignment was to prep our journals by roughing them up with a sanding block and giving them two coats of white gesso. Then we collaged cut and/or torn papers. I used some foreign text I got as a freebie from placing an order somewhere and pieces of torn scrapbook paper. Now I'm off to add texture with stencils and heavy body acrylics.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Just in Time Quilt Delivery

Done at last! This little quilt is part of our special exhibit at Pacific International Quilt Festival, and I finished the facings just in time to hand it over to the "hanging crew." It will hang vertically in the show, but I prefer it this way instead. It needs more quilting and might be 1/2" too narrow, but as I always say: "DONE is GOOD!"

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Unexpected Inspiration

I played at my workbench yesterday, ripping magazines apart to create a collaged background. I started ripping from back to front since that's where a lot of articles finish (there's more black on white text there), so I missed part of an interesting article, but started paying attention in time to salvage this image.

The artist, Maria Sibylla Merian (1647 - 1717), was a naturalist and scientific illustrator. Her detailed observations into the life cycles of butterflies and other insects were significant contributions to the field of entomology.

I love the exquisite detail of her work (although I'm not particularly fond of bugs!) and decided to incorporate a few bits into my background. My original goal was a generic background that I could scan and print on fabric, but now the piece is morphing into something interesting on its own. I love those happy accidents!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Abstracting We Will Go...

I'm back from the Sue Benner retreat -- it was a fun experience but I struggled with some of the exercises. I used the photo above for all my work and enjoyed working with those colors, but my poor little brain doesn't make the jump from realistic work to abstraction very easily. It didn't help that several of our exercises were to be finished quickly. I need more time to process a new way of working and thinking...

Sue called our first exercise "bait and switch." We each fused 5 different pieces of fabric and then gathered in a circle. We had to let the person on our left take one of our five pieces of fabric and got one from the person on our right. Repeat in the other direction, and we ended up with 5 pieces, 2 of which were new to us. I had lime green, two pinks, a yellow and orange batik and a dark blue-green batik. Not bad, at least I had a range of values to work with. Then Sue handed us each a magazine photo and I got a hippo... My interpretation is very ugly (it looks like a potato-head cow in bright girlie colors) so you don't get to see it!
Our next exercise was to select an image to work with and do a quick paper collage. My first one didn't have enough contrast so I did a second with random text in the background. I don't know why I flipped the image, but for a quick exercise I like the result.

After that we started in on fabric. The first was supposed to be simplified but fairly realistic, and then we abstracted from there. My first one was passable, but it was all downhill from there! (nope, you don't get to see those, either). When Sue came around, she could tell I was struggling and she gave me a couple of specific exercises, and even did a quick sketch that I turned into this sample:

Not bad, although I only had one black fabric with me. Duh! I rummaged through the communal scrap pile and found a second black for the gills, but the detail is still hard to make out. With the right fabrics and a little more time it could make an interesting quilt.

At this point, I was still floundering and hadn't found a way of thinking and working that made sense. Then Sue showed some of her work and the light bulb went on. I fused a bunch of fabrics in colors similar to my photo and focused on a 1.5" x 1.5" portion of the image (my focus was on a little area diagonally down and to the left of the slug's head). I mentally divided it into a 4x4 grid and built a background fabric on release paper. Then I added little fabric "match sticks" to break up the grid somewhat and approximate the color/texture distribution in my little area. I added some "foliage" and a detail from one of the coral/sponge/gooey bits and this is the result. I did a happy dance when I got this one done and it worked!