Friday, April 27, 2012

Empty Spaces - "What We Keep"

Jamie Fingal here. My piece is all about loss, and the things that we keep, to remind us who we are.  There is more in a previous post, and you can view it here.

The fabrics were Mistyfused to wool blended felt, free motion machine quilted, and a bit of hand sewing with #8 Perle cotton threads

A vintage zipper, and a photograph of scissors from my mother's sewing desk.  The photo has been transferred to fabric, with an ink jet copier.  The background of the scissors was painted to enhance the colors of the scissors.

Full view; with a photo transfer of my mom's cookbooks, apron, recipe holder, etc., on the upper left - scissors on the right.  Title:  "What We Keep: to remind ourselves who we are" by Jamie Fingal 2012  - 16" x 16"

Thursday, April 26, 2012

the empty space between

Sue B here...

In my last post here I talked about I had worked myself into a creative block over creating a piece for the "empty spaces" theme.   I really thought I was going to represent the theme with a vessel of some sort but I just couldn't seem to find the right shape for it.  It was after walking away from the project for a couple of weeks and coming back to it that the "aha" moment hit me and this piece came out of that moment:

 "empty spaces" 
hand painted silk, hand dyed black cotton, mounted on stretcher frame 12" x 24"

It's the empty spaces in this piece that create the imagery.  Without those empty spaces it would just be a solid piece of fabric.   Sometimes, in art, just like in life, it's the empty spaces that have the most impact.

"empty spaces" detail

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

In the Shadows

Kathyanne here--When I started my Empty Spaces piece I worked on it for awhile and it was getting pretty dense so I did what I do a lot with my art.  I took that piece another way and it no longer fit the theme we had decided on.

Now what?  Since I had been playing with tiny digital pieces cut from digital prints on wire mesh I was fascinated with all the open space, the shadows and depth the assembled pieces created when combined with wire and mesh.  Turning my ideas into pages I used elements from one of my unfinished pieces and started to put pieces together. 

I had no plan on where this was going, so I worked through it without photo documentation and just worked it out a bit at a time.

Materials included- digital print on metal mesh, digital print on wood veneer, copper wire, crocheted brass wire, brass mesh, aluminum mesh, waxed linen, hardware cloth, black and white beads and assorted colored metal wire.

Here is a shot of the whole piece and a couple of the pages.

Monday, April 23, 2012

"Chaco Canyon: A Topography of Loss"

Leslie here.  I took an unusual path to create my piece for our "Empty Spaces" exhibition.  Although I love hand-stitching I simply don't create many pieces using embroidery.  My love of hand-stitching was re-ignited in March when I was fortunate to have a one-day workshop with the amazing Mary Ruth Smith.

This piece is a good example of how interesting it can be to allow oneself to work intuitively:  I really had no idea where this was going when I started.  I worked with these shapes, free-cutting the cloth into what turned out to resemble topographical contours.

 The more I looked at the piece as it took form the more I felt it looked like a desert landscape.  Halfway into it I realized I was thinking a great deal about my late sister Priscilla, who passed away in March of 2001.  Interestingly (and I doubt this was a coincidence) I began working on this on the anniversary of her death.  These anniversaries have a way of bringing forth memories; I've learned to honor them.

My sister lived for many years in New Mexico and developed a deep love for the culture and landscape, especially the indigenous peoples of the area.  She immersed herself in the history of the area, particularly the ruins of Chaco Canyon.

When I look at images of the ruins of this place in the high desert I wonder how it became the center of such a thriving culture:  it had a long winter, short growing season, and scant rainfall.

I am captivated by the juxtaposition of the man-made contours of the ruin to the vast emptiness of the landscape.

My sister chose to have part of her ashes scattered in this beautiful place so it has taken on an honored place in my heart.

To finish, I elected to use a facing method for the edges.  I will later stretch this piece onto a frame, and this facing technique works well in conjunction with that and gives the piece a very nice finished edge.  Using white background is highly unusual for me, but somehow it works in this piece.

Once the facing was stitched I clipped the corners and turned the facing.  I had previously fused the facing pieces, so they will adhere nicely to the back of the construction.
I admit that I have not decided which way I prefer to have the piece oriented.
What do you think?

Here are a few details.

Thanks for reading about my journey making this piece.  

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Listening To Myself

Liz here this beautiful Spring Sunday. I have been madly stitching away on my Empty Spaces piece and all the while questioning just what the heck I am doing! I am hand stitching white on white. Is that insane or what? Why am I compelled to do this intensive amount of stitching when it isn't even obvious unless you are looking closely at the piece?

I have to confess...this isn't the first time I have caught myself doing this sort of barely visible stitching by hand. Each time I ask myself why. Why is it important to me do this sort of stitching? Do you ever talk to your art in progress? I do. All the time. Not out loud of course! Well, actually, now that I think about it I do sometimes talk to myself and my art out loud.

Here are some examples of what I mean--of the stitching not the talking out loud:

 In this one I even used beads that blend!

This isn't new, I have been doing this for years. I just sort of went with what my intuition told me and while I wondered why I needed to do this I didn't think too much about it. Though I have to admit to telling myself I am stupid for working this laboriously on my pieces.

While working on this  Empty Spaces piece the last couple months I have been traveling a lot; away from home about as much as I was home. This crazy need to add so much hand stitching was on my mind a lot.  Why couldn't I just quickly machine stitch this and be done with it, I asked myself over and over. I have a deadline and I didn't really have time for all this hand stitching that is hardly visible!  Then, on one boring flight (can't remember which one) I was mulling this over when I remembered what my friend Terry White said about my work. She said that what she loved about my work was the details. All of a sudden I had this big thought shift! I realized that these details are my way of inviting the viewer to slow down and look closer. All of this stitching is my way of saying: stop, be here now, allow yourself a moment to be, think and simply breathe. work was talking for me. My work is (hopefully) telling the viewer what I would tell them if I was standing there next to them.

Now, unfortunately, this piece has also told me that it isn't finished! It doesn't care about the deadline. It wants to be a diptych. I started out to make one small piece but it is insisting on including the questions I asked in my previous post; is empty space the positive or negative, the black or the white? And, of course it is insisting that a lot of hand stitching be included.  I could ignore it, call it done and spend the day reading outside but I would never feel right about the piece. As you can see in my sneak peek photo above that I have a bit of stitching in my immediate future.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Part Two

Carol here again.
Continuing the tale of my "Empty Spaces" piece.

I want to be completely honest here and say that this has not be an easy or free flowing piece of work.
Life interferes, my mood can change what is happening in my work and I'm not used to following a set theme when I create.
Having said all of that, I will say that my own misunderstanding of the deadline created some angst as well.
I thought that I had a month less than what I really had to complete the artwork.
It was great finishing it early but that extra month would have been nice!

I continued to build up the backgrounds with more transfers.
Using cheap foam stamps, I added a layer of text on top of this.

I used a fluid acrylic paint with mica pieces in it to give a little bit of shimmer.

I really liked the look of the larger letters but wanted them to fade into the background more.
I wanted to introduce more texture at this point so I pulled out the sketchbook that I had been working in.
Here is one of the pages that I experimented on.

I liked that so I applied an irregular layer of modeling paste (or molding paste depending on the manufacturer) with a large palette knife.
You can see that I skipped areas - just here and there to add some texture.
I did a couple of layers of it - I added paint to the paste before I applied it to one canvas, the other one I painted  over the paste afterwards.

Notice how I have left an area around the outside of the canvas blank.
This area will be on the back of the piece after it is completed. 
I think that the paint color was raw sienna. The addition of the white molding paste did act to subdue the paint color somewhat but I liked it.
I started really getting into what was going on with the canvas piece at this point and just kept going with it.

I loaded a small brush with a lighter color and let my crazy side (what? you you thought every side of me was crazy!) take over.
I spattered  small amounts of the (titan buff) paint as well as a little bit of black.

If you look closely you can see the lines from a transfer that I did
of one of my mom's journal pages.

I really liked the piece and was at the point that I feared screwing it up by doing anything else...but knew that it needed something else.
This was when I returned to the sketchbook to work out my plan.

I revisited my writings when I first began working on the theme -
"I began to think of other empty spaces.  Spaces that existed for another purpose.
Like in the garden. You dig a hole (a space that is now empty) to drop a seed into it.
Or maybe in the forest. A tree falls to the ground, rots and eventually leaves an empty space there. Yet, in that space, mushrooms begin to grow. Small plants sprout up.
The space is empty yet the death of one thing has provided a fertile space for another.

Life finds a way to fill that empty space."

With that fresh in my mind, I began looking at the canvas as the empty space that was acting as fodder for my emotions, a space holder if you will...and allowing it to symbolically be a fertile ground for the growth of something else. My negative emotions were decaying, they were becoming fertilizer to this ground.
I felt that I needed to see new growth in this space.

I had a drawing that I had done of a flower with it's roots growing down, strong and bold. I wanted to try it out but not on the canvas that I liked.
I created a mock piece in my sketchbook, scanned the drawing, printed it out and used it as a transfer on the page.
The drawing was rather detailed and I didn't want to take the time to draw it again but needed a fair representation of it. A transfer was the quickest way to do this.

You can see the second piece that I started under the sketchbook.
I had done a couple of paint washes over the surface trying out different colors.

I often, quite often actually, get into working things in my sketchbook so much that I go overboard with the details of it all...
and that is exactly what happened here. 
I was having so much fun drawing, stamping and painting that I totally allowed it to take me away from working on the actual piece of artwork!

The sketchbook was becoming the artwork.
I had to step away from it.

It was a good thing that I did this work in my sketchbook because I realized that the full drawing of the plant was too much - it was too small, too detailed for that size of canvas.
I decided to use a portion of the drawing but modify the size a bit.
Using the scan from the original drawing, I enlarged it so that about a third of it would fit on the 16 inch square canvas.

I cut the flower out to get a better idea about the size.

I liked the size as it (roughly) divided the size of the piece into thirds.

There were two other things that I had in mind for this piece:
adding machine stitching
adding a touch of red (for a tan, black and red color scheme).

So it was back to the samples for me.

Here is a practice stitching (complete with one backwards letter!).

Long story even longer, I loved the addition of the stitching so much that I stitched several of the stamped text blocks with a light colored thread. This will reward the viewer that takes a closer look at the piece.
This brings us to the last phase of the creation of this piece of artwork.

I'll give my cohorts a chance to talk before I finish up with mine.

I hope that you all are living your life as creatively as you can.
As women, who tend to give and give and give, we need the outlet that creativity can offer us.
We need to be able to give some energy over to what is fun, what is joyful to us.
And that is what creating art is to me.
It sustains me.
It lets me put all of the stress of the day on the shelf for a bit and allow my passion to take over.

Are you honoring your creativity?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

What We Keep

Jamie Fingal - In contemplating 'Empty Spaces,'  I have brainstormed many different ideas, but then it became clear to me, what my subject would be all about.  I lost both of my parents within a four month period.  There is certainly a large empty space in my life, without them in it.   In cleaning out their house, I began to photograph my memories of the things that they used with their hands in the kitchen, sewing, office, and tool chest. 
My mom had a great spoon collection, but I had no room for it in my house, but I do have a lovely photograph of my favorite spoons, to keep forever.  From my mom's favorite cookbooks, to the wood bird with a clothes pin beak, that held a recipe card, to funky aprons and even a apron pocket prayer book.  This has become my labor of love to honor them.  What we keep to remind ourselves who we are.
These photos of my art quilt are what I would call a 'sneak peek' of portions of the piece that I made for our on-line exhibit 'Empty Spaces.'