Sunday, November 3, 2013

Painted Canvas

In September I took a class with Katie Pasquini Mausopust where we learned to paint canvases, cut them up, and reassemble them to make art quilts.  The class was fantastic and I just loved Katie.  Unfortunately I forgot my camera and had to take pictures with my cell phone.  Now I can't get the pictures off my phone! I'll get that worked out eventually!  In the meantime, I was so inspired by Katie's class that when I got asked to make a memory book for a retiring coworker, I decided to paint and quilt some canvas.  I began by painting a background of colors in acrylic paint.  The result was fairly uninspiring but I intended to stencil over it so it wasn't too distressing.  After hand stenciling two large motif's I realized that doing it this way was going to take FOREVER and I was in a time crunch.  What a great excuse to go buy some of the new Liquitex spray paint.  Whoo-weee!  I spent a fun filled, happy hour out in the sun spray painting through all my stencils and the results came out better than I could have imagined.  The memory book looked great after I quilted it and I made a small bag for a friend out of a remaining piece.  Now all I have left are some small pieces and these photo's.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Far Away Places - Finished!!!

I finally finished the pieces that I started at the Far Away Places workshop in May.  It took me a month and a half, but that's not too bad for three pieces of art.  At the workshop, Michelle advised us to COMMIT. Decide on one thing and commit to it, and the next step will follow.  When I got stuck working on these pieces I tried to follow her advise.  Truthfully, on the project above, I felt like I didn't have a clue and was going to screw it up anyway, so I might as well just do whatever came to mind.  It worked!  I can't say that I accomplished the things Michelle was trying to teach us, but I did end up with a piece that I'm happy with. After working on this piece I found myself with a big desire for more stencils!

My '"far away place" was some sort of mix of Gothic European elements and Indian elements.  Two styles I love.  This piece is 12.5" x 36" in real life.  I blurred out the face because I don't own the photo.  I have no intention of selling this piece or submitting it to an art show, and I don't intend to profit from it in any way. But I am really happy with it and wanted to show it on my blog.  There is a lot of Portfolio oil pastel on this piece, along with acrylic paint and collage.  The acrylic paint goes over the pastel very well, but it scrapes back off the pastel quite easily too.  The substrate is red rosin paper, and many of the collage elements are on plain old photo copy paper.  Considering the delicate (and non-archival) nature of the materials, I felt all these pieces needed to be sealed really well.  The Portfolio's are water soluble so I couldn't brush on a liquid varnish.  I decided to use a Golden spray varnish which worked very well.  I will also frame these pieces so they look nice hanging in my house and are protected from the elements.

When I got back to work on the piece above, I was pretty sure it was going to end up in the trash.  But I persevered and ended up with a piece I like so much that I am going to include it in an exhibition I'll be showing in at the end of the year.  Lynne's approach to things really helped me here.  She said that if something she tried worked well she would usually do more of it.  So I tried to both COMMIT and DO MORE.  Good advice!

Now I'm getting back to work on the pieces I started in the workshop I took with Sue Benner in April.  Sue had so many great ideas for abstraction that I really want to try.  I'm taking at least one more workshop this fall so I figure all of my work for 2013 is going to come about as a result of multiple workshops.  I've been feeling kind of blocked for a long time now, but these workshops are giving me direction and opportunities to learn and to practice.  I have a lot of hang ups about making art, but my one great "skill" is my ability to follow through and to not stop trying.  Making art is a huge leap of faith and I work hard at maintaining my faith that doing the work will lead to better art.  I'll take care of the quantity, and the creative source will take care of the quality.

Michelle Ward does these great Evidence Pages that she often shows on her blog.  She provided us with little labels for us to use in making our own evidence pages from the workshop.  I'm keeping a scrapbook of things I've done and so I decided to make my own evidence pages, including a folder that I could keep mementos of my trip to Connecticut and the workshop.  Here are a few pictures of my evidence pages.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Award of Excellence!!

Graffiti Lillies
I entered this piece in the 2013 Inspire show being put on by 40W Arts here in Lakewood, CO.  This year the shows theme is recycled art or vivid color.  Happily for me I had this piece in the works.  This is made on recycled inter office envelopes, with newspaper, paint, tissue paper, various pens and grease pencils.  I mounted the collage onto a black fabric background that I pieced out of fragments of cloth leftover from some other project.  The background is quilted and trimmed with black satin ribbon.  I think it fits both of the shows themes!  Much to my delight I was asked if they could use my artwork for some of their outreach efforts and I won an Award of Excellence at the show.  My very first award!

Here is the thing about this piece..... it came together rather intuitively.  This never happens to me and finding that inner voice has been such a struggle.  I just wanted to play around with techniques one day so I started layering paint and newspaper on these envelopes and then tearing the paper back off to reveal layers.  When I decided I was done I had a background that I really liked.  But as usual I had no idea what to do with it.  It hung around on my design wall for several weeks while this teeny tiny little voice in my head kept whispering " add lillies made of more inter office envelopes".  I resisted.  Resistance is my specialty.  But I kept getting the same message and eventually I caved in and went for it.  This is the first pieces I've made that my husband genuinely likes.  The first piece that won an award.  Hmmmm.  I'm guessing that that intuitive voice in my head knows what its doing.  Now I just need to learn to hear it better.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Far Away Places Workshop

In May I flew to Connecticut to take the Far Away Places workshop with Michelle Ward and Lynne Perrella.  These two amazing women have been my mixed media heroes for years.  It's hard to believe that in a very short span of time I got to take workshops with the artists whose work I most admire.  Far Away Places was about imagining some distant exotic locale that spoke to your heart.  Some people chose Russia, Morocco, or a fairy garden.  I wanted to play with elements of Gothic European architecture and Indian opulence.  Michelle was our instructor on the first day and we worked on these accordion books.  Let me just say that Michelle is a stenciling wizard!  She also designs amazing stencils and she brought a huge pile of them and let us use them.  Another wonderful artist, Margaret Applin, was also taking the class and she let me use some of her great stencil designs as well.  Michelle's demonstrations and instructions were like a light bulb going off in my head.  Until I got to work, at which point the light promptly blew out.  Sigh.  I get in my own way so badly.  However, I was by no means the only person who did not get their project anywhere near finished.  I love the colors and shapes I've got going here, but I'm kind of stuck on what to do next.  Here are some better views of the front and back panels:

On Saturday Lynne took over teaching and we worked on these long banners.  I ended up working vertically, so maybe mine is more of a panel.  Lynne showed us how she uses Portfolio Oil Pastels to color faces and other elements in her work.  Both Lynne and Michelle make great use of stencils and masks.  It was so fascinating to watch Lynne demonstrate.  Here is my banner as it looked at the end of the day:

Getting this home in a suitcase without getting is creased was a challenge!  One of the things I love about Lynne's work is the rich color and busy-ness.  There is so much going on in her work.  Endless small details to peruse.  After taking this class I can look at her work and understand better how some of it was accomplished.

On Sunday Michelle and Lynne taught together.  We started by making a grid, either by collaging pager or painting, and then added other collage elements on top.

The grid part was easy.  I excel at creating backgrounds.  I just get stuck after that, LOL!  At some point I will add a headdress to the woman and details in their clothing.  Below is a photo of my work space at the workshop:

As with the Sue Benner workshop, one of the best parts of this experience was meeting the other participants.  I had so many lovely conversations with total strangers.  I dug deep down into myself and dragged my inner extrovert out into the light and it was so worth it.  This was my first time going to the east coast and most of the other women there were from nearby areas.  A couple of lovely ladies came from Toronto.  Something about taking a workshop draws a connection between everyone for a few days.  Its a wonderful feeling.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Sue Benner Workshop

Well hey there, I'm back!  My life got rather busy for a while but I'm here now to explain some of what was going on.  First of all, I got promoted to a new position at work.  Yea me!  However, I still have to do my old job at the same time until they get someone hired to replace me.  So I'm a bit overwhelmed at work.  I am lucky, in that I don't have to bring my work home with me, but at the end of a workday or a workweek, I'm pretty pooped.

On top of that I have been taking art workshops.  I'm here to tell you that it is totally worth spending the money!  The first workshop I took was in April, with the fabulous art quilter Sue Benner.  She has been my art quilting hero for a long time and I was so thrilled to get a chance to take a class with her.  The class was put on by the Front Range Contemporary Quilters, of which I am a member.  This workshop was about abstract art.  Sue was incredibly knowledgeable about fine art in general and showed us a lot of great stuff about the development of abstract art.  We focused on the ways in which artists of the past and present have used other artists work as inspiration for their own art.  It was fascinating to see how the other workshop participants approached this idea.  I soon realized that I was taking a much to literal approach to using an image of something as inspiration for an abstract piece of my own.  The results of our first exercise stunk so bad that I won't even show it.  I learned so much from looking at other peoples work.  In the end I started making progress on the piece above but soon realized that I wanted to work with sheers and that Wonder Under fusible just wasn't going to give me the results I was looking for with sheer fabrics.  I decided to put this aside to work on at home, where I have some Misty Fuse.  Here is a detail shot of the part I worked on for a while:

Since I didn't want to continue with the piece above right then and there I started another one (below).  I'm really happy with where this is going.  I plan to make two or three along the same lines so I can try out some different techniques on it, including monoprinting.  I may even print this to both paper and fabric so I can play with it some more.

The rectangles with the black lines are actually paint covered paper towel with black fabric lines fused to it.  I so love to combine paper and fabric!  I took a monumental amount of stuff to this workshop.  Getting ready for it took me two weeks!  When I got home I put away a few things but mostly I just piled the stuff up in a corner and got on with preparing for the next workshop.  I'll talk about that in a separate blog post.

This was my first workshop with the Front Range Contemporary Quilters group.  One of the things I enjoyed most was meeting the other participants.  Everyone was so friendly and helpful.  Some of these women are very experienced and accomplished artists.  We had lovely conversations while working and while sitting together for meals.  A couple of other women on my side of the room were also relatively new to the group and we all got along really well.  We decided to try forming a critique group that will meet once a month.  I've been longing for connection to other people working in textiles and mixed media so I am so happy to have met these people.  Now I feel like I am part of the group and going to monthly FRCQ meetings will be twice as fun.

In parting I have to apologize for the crappy photos.  Since these are "before" photos I didn't worry about setting up optimal photo conditions.  If I wait to have perfect pictures I will never get another blog post done!  When I finish these projects I will work a little harder at photographing them.  LOL!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

State of the art '13 fiber art exhibit

I can't believe I didn't blog about this earlier!  I have two pieces of art in this wonderful show!  As a new member of the Studio Art Quilt Associates I was thrilled to have an opportunity to enter something in a local exhibit.  This is by far the best art exhibit I've had the privilege of being a part of, but I do happen to be partial to textile art.  There are pieces from some well known and professional artist in this show so I felt like I was in somewhat exhalted company.  The artwork included everything from pieced quilting to wholecloth quilting, mixed media work and thread painting.  There are even some three dimensional textile pieces. The only discordant note was that they spelled my name wrong on the labels next to my pieces.  Honestly I wonder sometimes if I should just change the way I spell my name, because no one ever gets it right.  LOL!

Three Page Journal Spread

My blog has been languishing again.  Lately it seems like there isn't enough time in the day to make art, much less to blog about it.  I've got a four day weekend going right now and I'm going to get about one day in the studio.  I made this journal spread a couple of weeks ago and thought I'd finally post the photo.  This was an attempt at making the left hand page, which I had painted with some leftover pink paint, match with the right hand page, which had some collaged tissue paper that had been sprayed with Glimmer Mist and some blue and pink watercolor.  I've been doing a lot of work with Medieval elements lately.  This whole spread incorporates leftover bits and pieces from other projects.  The Medieval tile design on the left is a t-shirt transfer and the woman on the right is from images I took from a book of hours when I was collaging the front of another art journal.  Lots of small bits of paper collaged down in between too!  Nothing fancy happening here but I like the result!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Quirky Little Collages

These two small collages (6"x6") were inspired by The Collage Workbook by Randel Plowman.  I've spent the last several weeks just trying new things, playing with techniques and trying my hand at the styles I admire.  I'm not really sure if I'm learning anything, and sometimes I'm not even sure I'm having fun.  This sort of random practice can be difficult.  I guess I'm learning that I'm kind of a project oriented sort of girl!  At any rate, these two little collages were fun and I enjoy the quirky implications of them.  One thing that Randel Plowman mentions in his book is the concept of background, foreground, and middle ground.  Now I've heard this idea before but somehow it has never stuck.  I would never really have thought of the layers Mr. Plowman uses in his collages in this way if he hadn't spelled it out.  At this point I haven't really tried to work with this concept but it is rattling around in my brain and will hopefully be of use to me.

Learning this way is like giving birth to a huge litter of puppies!  Painful pushing and squeezing and then POP! suddenly you have a small squishy, wiggly bundle and you don't even know what you've got until you clean it off and really look at it.  A few days later all the "puppies" are running around in different directions and are impossible to keep track of or control.  Cute, but maddening!

I don't know why people don't consider being and artist a "real" job.  Its certainly hard enough!  LOL!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Journal Pages With Printed Paper

This journal page began with an ink blot.  Okay, that actually traveled over here when I was experimenting on another page.  I don't let it bother me.  These pages had been gessoed at some earlier time and scribbled into with a stylus.  Ignoring the ink blot, I began by making a grid of warm, analogous colors with my Inktense blocks and a water brush.  Inktense blocks seem to work better on a gessoed page, but nonetheless, this came out looking horrible.  Out came the red paint and glazing medium and I covered both pages.  When that was almost dry I spritzed the pages with a little water, let it sit a minute, and then blotted with a paper towel.  This is so easy and I just love the effect.  Then I cut up one of the papers I had made while playing with my Gelli Arts printing plate and collaged the green elements down.  Deli paper works so well for collage!  After that I made a stamp using cut up pieces of fun foam that I glued to a stiff cardboard base with gel medium.  I used gold acrylic paint with the stamp.  I'm not sure this is done, but since I haven't decided what to do next I thought I'd at least post this much as an example of using my printing experiments for collage in my art journal.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Printing with my Gelli Arts printing plate

I recently bought myself a Gelli Arts printing plate.  For some reason I no longer recall I felt I really had to have one of these things.  They are fun to play with!  The trouble is that it is hard to stop.  I had a huge stack of prints in just an hour!  I don't think any of them are really stellar and I can see I need more practice, but it was fun.  I used deli paper for experimenting.  Deli paper is great for collage, which is good since none of these are a great work of art in an of themselves.  They can be cut up and used in art journaling or something.  I also made a lot of painty pages from cleaning off my brayer and paintbrushes.  I used those for some stacked journaling.  Here are a few of the papers I like.  

I purchased the Martha Stewart texturing kit at Home Depot.  It has lots of combs etc. for making marks.

Bubble wrap was one of my favorite mark making tools.  I used the painty bubble wrap to stamp onto other papers too.

Playing with stacked journaling using the end of a paintbrush.

I was trying something I thought was clever and ended up with a very wet and faint print so I scribbled over the top with a squeeze bottle of black paint.

Here I am playing with drawing fluid and expressive lines with the squeeze bottle of paint.  The painted paper is one I used to wipe excess paint on while playing with the printing plate.

Another page of "clean up paper" with some stacked journaling on top.  That darned squeeze bottle blobs up a lot.  Got to work on that.

Another clean up page with stacked journaling in colors with a brush. 

While printing with the plate I would stamp my painty bubble wrap off onto more paper.  I didn't clean it between colors and it left wonderful mixed dots.  You can't really tell in the picture that some of this paint is metallic and really shines!

Another wet sloppy print with stacked journaling, this time with a  flat brush.

I was trying stacked journaling on the printing plate and just kept printing all over these pages.  It was blobby and messy but I think the marks are evocative