Saturday, August 16, 2014

A Very Big Day

August has been an especially busy month for me. Today was packed. My cousin Ginger is visiting and we got up this morning and got on the Max train headed for the Oregon Convention Center. I have been looking forward to the Quilt! Knit! Stitch show for more than a year and this was the day! This show was the first in Portland, presented by Quilts Inc. who produce the famous International Quilt Festival every fall in Houston, as well as others around the country. Their shows are the premier quilt events in the world and they chose Portland for their first show to include knitting and other forms of stitching and fiber art. The show was top notch. The attendance was disappointing.



I have been asked to serve on the advisory committee for this show and attended a lunch meeting today. The lower-than-expected attendance was the focus of our discussion. We hope that next year more people will know about it and come. If you missed it this year, I am sorry.  It was a beautiful show! 


Quilt by The wonderful Jane Sassaman.


I always love seeing Bodil Gardener's latest work. Utterly charming!


The venders were great too. My fabric purchases from designer Marcia Derse. 

The other big event of the day was my grandson, Marco's 4th birthday. Marco is our ray of sunshine and loved every minute of his special day. 


When Sofia came to my studio this week she had an idea for a special gift she wanted to make for Marco— his own super hero cape. He loved it! There is a big yellow "M" on the back for Super Marco. 

Tonight was also the reception for the Sneak Preview show for the Washington County Artists Open Studios at the Washington County Museum.  Sadly I have not yet figured out how to be in two places at once, so I missed it. 


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Little Things

I have been kind of doodling away at little stuff for the past month and decided to try to pull it all together and see if I could make them presentable  enough to offer for sale at a couple events I am participating in this fall. The other day I dragged my houseguest, Kristin LaFlamme across town to my favorite junky-funky art supply store for a supply of canvas stretcher bars.


After putting one together I am gluing a pice of foamcore to it, then covering all with black linen fabric and mounting my little stitched pieces on them.  Here are my first efforts. 


I like them. It is a simple presentation. Last year you might remember that I framed a bunch of small pieces. I like both. 

Remember last week I blogged about my creative process then tagged my friend Peg Weber to post this week. Her post is up here: http://pegpress.blogspot.com/2014/08/boxes-boxes-boxes.html. I loved seeing some little fabric pieces made by her late mother Shirley Falconer. Shirley was a dear lady and a friend in the High Fiber Diet and Columbia FiberArts groups I belong to. Peg's work is so beautiful and another treat to see, so I really recommend her blog!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Sorrow Floats


Hasn't it been an odd summer? Do you feel it, or is it just me, absorbing loss and sorrow in my own small world and in the larger world? This week's news was almost that fabled last straw. The lights went out. Joy—gone. Or so it feels. 

I keep finding myself doodling hearts. A cliché, I know, but a reminder that despite disaster and war; and bombs and planes full of people plummeting from the sky; the deaths of friends and heroes; and sadness and worry, life goes on, is good and it is love that saves us. 

In one of my favorite books, the Hotel New Hampshire, the Berry family dog, Sorrow, dies. The family cannot bear to part with him, so one of the sons stuffs him. In a tragic plane crash that kills two members of the family, Sorrow's taxidermied body bobs to the surface of the lake and it is observed that "Sorrow floats" which becomes a catch phrase as the family encounters life's highest and lowest moments and accepts that a measure of sorrow is a necessary part of a full, rich life. 

It's a lesson we all finally learn, or need to learn, but can we, please, for now, just stop with the bad news? Sorrow floats. It does, but I could do with a little break. How about you?

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Digital Drawing Stuff



I should probably issue a geek alert here. I am about to share information that makes me pretty excited, but I may be one of a small group!  I found a new drawing app for my iPad. I have told you all about Sketch Club and ArtRage, which are both really great apps for a certain kind of digital art. They are raster programs, which create an image by laying down pixels in colors the user chooses. Pretty straightforward actually—pixels=paint.  The image above was created by a vector program, which can draw such clean, precise images because it works in an entirely different way. You draw by placing points on the screen, connected by lines that create an outline that can be manipulated into smooth curves, straight lines and corners, creating shapes that can be filled with color, including the kind of smooth gradations of color that you see in the image. It is somewhat magical and I can't begin to clearly explain it. It is the magic that drives the powerful illustration program Illustrator.  I have used Illustrator for years, but never imagined that there would be something equivalent for my iPad. 

The app is called Inkpad. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/inkpad/id400083414?mt=8.  It is like a simplified version of Illustrator. And it makes me very happy!  This is something I can use for very precise illustration and drawings I can work from for designing quilts. It is not that it is better than one of the raster apps, but it serves a very different purpose. Those raster apps are more artistic, for making very lovely drawings that show the hand of the artist. Inkpad is more technical and great for design work since you can easily move elements around, copy them, rotate them, flip them, recolor them,etc, etc. Just to give you an idea of how they differ, I drew this spoon in Sketch Club:

And this one with Inkpad:

I love my iPad, folks. 

P.S. If you also love this kind of stuff, there is a terrific video about how Illustrator changed the world of graphic design. http://designtaxi.com/news/367812/How-Adobe-Illustrator-Revolutionized-Graphic-Design/#.U9knZg5ZYq8.facebook





Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Education

That's me, far right, painting critique, 1967, Idaho State University

On the Quilt Art list the topic of art education comes up pretty regularly. This time it was in connection with an article on Huffington Post about Art Schools that seem to be ignoring traditional art and methods and discouraging traditional representational forms of art. The article included lots of complaints from current and former students who felt disrespected and poorly served by an education they had spent thousands of dollars for. This, of course, brought out the self-taught artists on the list who would have you believe that a formal education in art is not just unnecessary, but in many cases actually stifling and a fraud. I always find this discussion frustrating because first, I learned so much in my college program, and because it feels like part of a very discouraging societal trend of devaluing education in general.  I wrote to the list:

"I hear so many stories of art school experiences that did not include any kind of traditional training, dogmatic teachers pushing an agenda and cruel and dismissive treatment of students that I have to believe it happens. But hard to imagine. My experience was different. I was an art major at a state university in the late '60s and still greatly value the education that I got there and the teachers that I had. 

My first two years were solidly grounded in life drawing, art history, color theory, all the practical stuff about stretching canvases, learning about materials, basic design principles, etc. etc. then we moved into studies of modern and contemporary artists, movements and philosophies. Great discussions and debates about art and meaning and culture and ethics. 

My two favorite teachers were very passionate about art, and definitely had their own private preferences, but they never disparaged anyone's interest in a particular style or movement. At the same time, they mercilessly pushed us to broaden our scope, to learn more, to open our minds to the strange, the uncomfortable, the hard to understand and to go beyond mere prettiness in our understanding of art and to never stop exploring and experimenting. I am grateful for all that. I might have found it on my own, I likely wouldn't have. I do know that it gave me a degree of confidence just in knowing how to proceed, what tools are out there, the knowledge and vocabulary to talk to myself, and enough discipline in drawing and composition not to have to struggle with those fundamentals. And it truly broadened my appreciation for art that is outside my experience of the world. I used to wish I had gone to a "real" art school. I'm beginning to think I was lucky to land where I did."

Me, in headscarf, pottery class, 1967

I do know that there are self-educated geniuses, and I know that a university is not the only route to an education, but I also know it is a pretty good route for most of us.  I was lucky to find such a valuable education in a humble state university, I guess, though I really am skeptical about those art school horror stories and have to wonder sometimes whether some students are so resistant to new ideas that they view them as a threat to their comfort with mediocrity and ignorance. And I'm not just talking about art students. 

No conclusions. No judgement. I'm just pondering this anti-education trend and wondering why, after all these years, I find myself defending my own education. 




Monday, August 04, 2014

Blogging the Creative Process

Two of my quilt artist friends asked me to participate in a blog tour of artists' blogs, answering some simple questions about the creative process. I have enjoyed reading what others have written. My friend, Diane Perin Hock blogged last week here. And Deborah Boschert, another quilt artist friend, also posted last week here. I loved reading about how each of them approaches her work. You can follow the chain backward through their blogs for some great reading and beautiful artwork.

Now, on to the questions.

What am I working on?
I just finished up two pretty large pieces that were submitted for a traveling exhibit, following closely on the heels of three more large pieces. I feel like I need to "lighten up" a little, so I am exploring some new ideas and making a lot of small work. Most, actually, very small.


I have been fascinated with doing "drawings" with black thread, using my sewing machine. I've been wanting to incorporate more drawing into my pieces, but it doesn't seem as effective in large work as it does in smaller, quieter, more contemplative pieces.




How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I think, over time, my work has taken on a distinctive look, but I have a hard time really articulating what separates it from other fabric work. Perhaps it is the way I incorporate line into the work. That feels like an important part of what I do. Perhaps a lack of drama—I am definitely drawn to quiet, everyday subjects and modulated color. Lately I have been using a lot of recycled mens' shirt fabrics, many of which I have over-dyed. I love the softened look of worn plaids and stripes.





Why do I write/create what I do?
I think I was born making stuff. It was part of my personality from as far back as I can remember. I feel fortunate to have discovered early what makes me happy and to have been encouraged and supported in this by the people around me. I am an unhappy, uneasy person when circumstances don't allow me time to sink into a creative project. The kind of work I do has a lot to do with where I have been and what I have experienced and how memory shapes who we are. It is my way of recording my time here on earth.


How does your writing/creative process work?
It all starts in my head. A memory of an image, or a photograph. Or a visual idea that somehow begins to nag at me. Slowly, often as I am falling asleep at night, it begins to take form. Then comes a sketch, usually, but not always, an interpretation of a photograph I have taken. (I take a lot of photographs as I travel or observe the world, with possible art subjects in mind) Once I have my small sketch I put the photograph away and do not refer back to it again. If the piece will be large, I often use my small sketch to lay down a rough sketch on a background fabric, then I begin pulling, from my fabric stash, the fabrics and colors I want to use. How the colors relate to one another and how they will support my design, not how they match the reality of a scene, are what determine those choices. I begin cutting and placing fabric in sections, pinning them in place, so they can be moved around or replaced if things are not working, then all is fused in place. Stitching, layering and quilting are the final parts of the design process. I tend to quilt pretty heavily and spontaneously, choosing a stitching pattern that enhances the line or adds an interesting texture.

Once I have finished a piece I hang it up and look at it for a few days, and often see it is lacking something that I can add, or in drastic cases, needs major revision. Once that is done I put it out of sight for awhile. I am tired of looking at it. The next time I see it I can view it with fresh eyes, and only then will I know whether it is something to share, or just another step on the journey.

......................................

I have asked my friend Peg Falconer Weber to continue this blog tour and she will be posting about her creative process to her blog next Monday. Peg comes from a creative family of photographers and artists and has found her own creative voice as a maker of exquisite hand-crafted books. I envy and admire her lyrical, seemingly effortless calligraphy style, one of the elements that sets her books apart. I know you will enjoy getting to know her. Watch for her blog post next Monday at http://pegpress.blogspot.com/


Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Fine Week

Balancing lots of plates this week, but somehow everything seemed to keep spinning and there were a couple nice surprises in the mix.

These are my two entries for High Fiber Diet's "What's Blue to You?" exhibit. Could they be any more different? I got word this week that both were accepted.

Work continues on the 12x12 book and I think I will meet my self-imposed deadline. It is slow work, but it is coming together.

My lovely Sofia came for a studio day, following swim lessons on Thursday. We made headbands. The red one she is holding was our first try. It turned out OK, but the elastic on the back of her head is uncomfortable. So we came up with a better idea. The one she is wearing and the blue one she is holding turned out much better. I found a wide, softer elastic in my stash of stuff. She sewed long tubes of the fabric and we threaded the elastic through, gathering the fabric onto it, then sewed the ends together. Quick and easy. Good practice at sewing long straight seams and she pronounced them perfect—comfortable and cute. She fills my heart with joy, that girl.

I also got word this week that the segment for the online "Quilt Show" with Ricky Tims and Alex Anderson started airing this week. You may remember this post from over a year ago, when it was taped. Though it is a subscription blogcast service, they have made it available for me to allow my friends to watch it for free until August 3. Click on the icon to see it.


You will have to register as a user on the site, but it is free and innocuous.

I haven't had much studio time this week, but managed a couple hours this afternoon and did a couple quick little sewing machine "drawings." I just picked a few bits of foliage on my way to the studio and "drew" from the subjects spontaneously. Drawing, whether with a pen or a sewing machine always has such a more immediate, natural look if you don't plan or sketch it out ahead of time. Maybe if I keep making these little guys, I will build up confidence for such unplanned work on a larger scale



Can you believe we are into the last week of July? Grab summer while you can....

Have a good week.