Friday, March 28, 2014

MIA Post

Carol here, back after falling down the winter's rabbit hole.

I've been working on a few new things but mostly resting up, reading and drinking hot tea (and coffee).

One of the things that I do in the warmer weather is to rust fabric and different fibers so that I have plenty to play with in the cooler months.
I've been playing around with creating collages out of bits and pieces of rusted and naturally dyed fabric.
I do a compulsive amount of hand stitching on them in the evening when my husband and I sit together. I have to have something in my hands or I go crazy.

I thought I would share a photo of one of the most beautiful pieces of rust fabric I have ever had the pleasure of unrolling in my rust bin.
The photo really does not do it justice.

It looks like a sunset, doesn't it?
I don't think I can bear to cut this piece up.
So it will stay on my design wall for now.

I'll close with a couple of close-ups of a new collage I am stitching on.
I'm almost ready to call it quits on this one.

I still haven't decided what to do with it when I do finish the hand stitching.
I'll try to remember to do a follow up post.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Art Quilt Elements Reception

Art Quilt Elements 2014

Kristin here. I had the great pleasure to attend the opening reception of Art Quilt Elements at the Wayne Art Center in PA this last weekend. I blogged about the weekend on my blog (click on my name to go there), and in the next post on my blog, about my impressions and the juror's talk.

Being one of the preeminent art quilt shows, lots of the artists were there. I always enjoy putting names and artwork together with faces and personalities. There are a few people I keep seeing over and over, like Betty Busby who seems to show up to all the events even though she lives halfway across the country in New Mexico. I spent a lot of time with fellow Virginia artist Julia Pfaff, who I had met previously in North Carolina at a PAQA South/SAQA event. And there are all the new faces to meet.

It seemed like there were a lot of New Yorkers there, and I was pleasantly surprised to meet our very own Benedicte live and in person! I don't know if readers can tell from her blog posts, but Benedicte is bubbly and funny and personable and an absolute pleasure to meet. It was fantastic to see her work in person too. It glows just as much as when viewed on a computer screen.

Of course, seeing anyone's work in person is the main reason to go to exhibits in the first place. I've decided that opening receptions, while not mandatory, are really worth it if it's possible to attend. No need to fly around the world, but if it's near a friend or an easy drive or train ride, it should be done. There's no substitute for seeing the art in the cloth, it's an opportunity to get to meet other (often like-minded) artists, there's a positive buzz that is very validating for an artist, and you never know when someone will be there with a winning certificate or check to hand to you!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Beryl here, sorry I keep disappearing ! I thought I'd talk a bit about Indian wood blocks stamps as I'm working with them so much at the moment.

I first came across these stamps in the nineties while doing my City & Guilds embroidery course, they were either very small and intricate or else very large and quite damaged as they had been used for fabric printing in India. Still, if I couldn't use them for art work they made lovely pieces for the coffee table !

I've since come to know a company called Colouricious based in the UK who deal directly with these artistic carpenters in India, Jamie the owner of Colouricious discusses designs and these guys carve them. As these stamps have become so popular it is providing much needed work and has put twenty nine families back to work. ( I'm impressed Jamie )

As you can imagine I am now getting a huge collection of these stamps ( this is just one box. )

I've used the leaf stamp on Tyvek, machine stitched around the image then made a stencil from the same stamp and used 3D puff paint through the stencil.

Flower stamp used on Gelli printed fabric with machine stitching around image.

Final image,messy work table !

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Unconventional Venues

This is what I did on Monday. I mounted my drawings and matted them, framed some, added hanging hardware, and put identification labels on the back.

These drawings are destined for a show at our local fine lingerie shop. They like to intersperse the lacy bits with fine art and feature a different artist every month or two. When you think about it, lingerie and nudes actually pair quite nicely.

I also have two textile pieces in a display case at the National Institutes of Health. They have a full time curator who makes sure the walls are filled with high quality, diverse art, both permanent and changing, for patients and visitors to enjoy.

Next month I am also taking my Army Wife series on the road. I will display two quilts and six aprons at a fancy luncheon for the spouses of high ranking officers in all branches of the military. The keynote speaker for this year's luncheon is the author of Army Wives, so my artwork will be a good compliment.

I'm not sure what to expect in sales or other doors opening in these unconventional venues. So far nothing has panned out from the NIH, but at least the work is in public and not under my bed. The lingerie shop has sales potential, which would be great. I don't expect any sales of the artwork at the luncheon, but I do think I'll have an appreciate audience who would not otherwise see their stories in artwork. I'll be bringing catalogs and card sets though, so I hope to be able to sell some of those to remind viewers of my work.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

To Title or Not to Title

Liz Kettle on the blog today.
As some of my new work becomes more abstract I am re-thinking the need and use of titles. While most of my work is still narrative and based in story some of my newer pieces aren't. I am at a loss as to how to title them.

As usual, when I start wondering about something I started doing some research on titles and found some fun stuff like this Abstract Art Titlegenerator. Now, one could have a lot of fun and waste days here!

I also learned that naming art is a rather recent development. Renaissance painters did not title their work. Pieces were referred to under general categories such as the artist, the patron, or the subject. While mid 17th century artist may have started naming their paintings, it seems that art dealers and galleries may be the real instigators of the trend toward titles. They need to keep track of art and sell it after all. Names certainly help with that.

Obviously some work can simply be titled factually as with landscapes/urban-scapes, people, pets, and still life work. However in abstract work titles just don't usually leap out.

On one hand titles make it easier to identify a specific piece of work and to refer to it when writing. Titles can be practical when exhibiting your work, getting the right information with the right piece, ensuring catalog descriptions are accurate and may cause a second look from a viewer after they read the title as they try to understand the meaning of the piece. This is especially true if you use mysterious or sentimental and symbolic titles.

On the other hand, titles can imply specific meaning or suggest what the artist was thinking and attempting to communicate in their work. But, is that not simply telling the viewer what to see, feel and think? Does that leave enough room for the viewer to find their own meaning in the art?

One can identify a series and use numbers like  Thread #298 I suppose. Is that better than simply untitled? Or I suppose I could name it Untitled Thread #298. Each piece has a meaning for me but that meaning may not be something anyone else would ever care about.

What are your thoughts on titles?
Do you want to understand what the artist was thinking or exploring?
Would you prefer to just enter each piece of art with no title to influence your thinking?


Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Learning Curve

Kristin here. Wouldn't it be great if each time we had an idea we were able to execute it perfectly; just as imagined? Yeah, it doesn't usually work that way, especially if the process is not with one's usual medium.
I was recently invited to participate in a group show at the art center to which I belong. All the works are to be in paper. The artist who invited me was inspired by my Army Wife show, so i thought it would be a good idea to continue somewhat in that vein. Everyone there "knows" me for my aprons, so I wanted to make a paper apron. In my head it's an apron woven out of security envelopes in a businessy type of pattern (houndstooth in this case). More paper would be used to make a lace-like border and accordion folded and fanned ties. It looks great in my head! But after hours and hours and days and days of cutting strips, glueing, and weaving, I realized that I had made many mistakes in the weaving, and each time I tried to fix one, it exacerbated another. Also, the weaving was not lying as flat and clean as I wanted.

These are problems that could be fixed by starting over. If I made several pieces I could work out the kinks. Practice makes perfect. However, this has a deadline, and it is not the only project I'm working on. Nor is it the only one with a deadline. I realized that I was spinning my wheels trying to make this work straight out of the gate. My time would be better spent saying no to this particular invitation, and getting back to my usual work.

It's frustrating to turn my back on something, but I hope to return to it when I have more time to trouble shoot and refine my process. I'm afraid it's also easy to stay with what one knows in order to avoid just this conundrum. How easy it is to stick with the nice safe process and materials we are already familiar with. I'm excited about my cloth projects though. I don't want them to suffer because I spent too much time trying something new. So it's a delicate balance between staying on the path we know and finding the place and time to branch out. When I've finished the art quilts in progress now, I will return to this paper idea. Plastic bags are calling to me as well. I'll miss this paper deadline, but I'll make some other art quilt ones. All in due time.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Closed Doors vs Open Ones

Carol here.

I don't know about all of you but after I have a big push to reach deadlines, I have to take a break.

Literally I have nothing to offer.

I  just completed two articles for the same publication (with only two weeks to write them both) (my own schedule blocked me into that corner) and I am so very wrung out.
I feel like I couldn't come up with one bit of inspiration at the moment.

But I still crave the daily creative activity that I am used to.

What is a girl to do?

I read for a couple of days or at least until my vision was blurred.
Then I watched a couple of good movies followed by a couple of really bad ones.

But I couldn't sit still much longer and not do something.
What I really wanted to do was draw or work in my art journal.

I don't know if you can really call one of the handmade books that I write/draw/collage in an "art journal" but I guess that's the best description at the moment.
Sometimes it feels like an "art" journal but other times it feels more like a regular journal.

It's a huge book that I made in a workshop that I took a few years ago.

I certainly learned my lesson there about making Big Books.

I prefer the smaller ones that I can complete easily or the "theme" book that I can carry on trips with me.

I have a "Colorado" book that I work in while I am visiting friends and teaching there.

I also have a "Charleston" book that I carry when my husband and I venture to The Holy City.
I used a printed copy of a rich beautiful painting by Robert Henri called "The Green Fan (Girl of Toledo, Spain)" that is owned by Gibbs Art Museum in Charleston, SC
One of my favorite paintings.
She stands 41 inches tall
and commands any room that she is in.

My Charleston Book (aka Book of the Holy City).
"The Green Fan (Girl of Toledo, Spain)"
Robert Henri

Having a book like that makes it really simple to decide what to carry with me when I travel.

But back to the Big Book.

She is almost six inches thick, holds a lot of pages and even more words and drawings.
Lots of room for random mark making.
I turn to her pages when I have that desire to draw (or write) and have no idea or concern for the outcome.

I opened her up yesterday morning, grabbed a couple of pens and set to work (while watching one of those bad movies).

Here's a sampling of the pages that I marked up.

A colorful owl that started out as a curved doodle.

I had stitched a doily/sun shape into my page
before I stitched the signature into my book.
Yesterday I journaled deep, dark secrets on the page.

Ah, more secrets.
I'd have to kill you if you read them.

Ideas for simple, yet engaging journal doodles.

You can see the progression in this page.
I love adding the tiny details to finish the doodle drawings up.
I'll go back in later and add journaling.

I also add in single pages with ideas for thermofax screens.

More blurring to make you wonder why I have
so many deep dark secrets.
Most of it is aimless pondering of a bored woman.
Like this one -
"We never consider death before it considers us"
"Dead men do tell tales albeit quietly".
I am a fountain (a deep one) of thoughts.

So you can see that I have an expanse of fertile ground on which to practice my trade.
In other words- I have a big ass book that I draw and write in.

The Muse may be out at the moment but at least I left the door open for her.

Do you find that you close the door completely or do you leave the door open for ideas to flow back in?

You gotta leave room for the entry of creative ideas.
You also need to spend time with these ideas every day.
If you keep showing up and opening that door, they will show show up as well.