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!