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Category Archives: persistence

>Step by Step

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Since becoming a Kreinik designer last fall I have worked on several pieces using their wonderful threads.  The pink shoe piece (Boogie Shoes), the coral reef (Octopus’ Garden) and generally playing and planning on what to do next (I really want to recreate Birds’ Eye View using the wonderful Kreinik braids) .

One piece which has been in process since early December was finally finished last week.  Sometimes it goes like that, where I start a piece and have a lot of excitement and desire to see the completed piece, but then something else equally as shiny and attractive comes along, and so the original piece patiently waits on the design wall for me to come back around to it. 

Last week I was avoiding working on another piece which was giving me trouble, so it was easy to pick this piece back up and put the finishing touches on it.

twelve step complete

Twelve Step, 2011,  54” H x 41.25” W  Hand-dyed cottons from Diane Eyerman , hand-painted and silkscreened twill, commercial cotton, Quilter’s Dream Green batting , thread from Kreinik and Madeira.  This piece will be on exhibit at the Parkersburg Art Center during the month of June 2011.

twelve step complete detail_picnik

In this detail you can see the sparkle from the Kreinik machine threads that I used for the swirl quilting and for the buckles on the shoes.  The fish are a design I made, turned into a Print Gocco silkscreen.

twelve step complete detail too_picnik

I liked how the figure and ground relationship changed with the different hues of blue.  This helped to accentuate the swimming feeling I wanted from this piece.

twelve step complete detail three_picnik

Another detail of the thread and the fish.  I loved how our fabrics worked so well together, even though they were created months and miles apart from each other.

In Wednesday’s post, I  am very excited to host *the* Crafty Chica, Kathy Cano Murillo, who will answer my question about how she changes gears between working on her wonderful art and writing her lively novels.  I will be reviewing her latest novel Miss Scarlet’s School of Patternless Sewing and there will be a giveaway for two lucky readers! 

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Posted by on March 7, 2011 in art quilt, persistence, shoe

 

>From Start to Finish

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Sometimes art takes a long time to be created.  I drew this bird of paradise twenty years ago while finishing my undergraduate degree.  It is soft pastel on Mi-Tientes paper.  I still can remember the piles of pastel dust that formed on the easel as I worked.  Having a toddler at the time, I was concerned about her safety, and so the pastels went away.

bird of paradise drawing one

Two months ago, while cleaning in the studio, I came across the original drawing, as well as some photographs I’d taken of it at the time.  Since I’ve been working with machine embroidery on photo transfer, I decided to revisit the image.

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I printed out the picture onto Avery transfer paper, after flipping it in my paint program so that it was a mirror image.  I ironed it onto some white twill that I got at Dharma Trading Company, and backed that with several sheets of interfacing designed for machine embroidery.  Here you can see the piece in process.

bird of paradise embroidery 1

The piece, stitching complete.

 bird of paradise I detail two

A detail of the stitching.  You really can see the bird in the flower in this segment. 

I chose to finish this piece differently than the small water tower pieces, and chose some fabric from my stash to sew borders onto the piece.  Then  I stretched that over a 12” x 14” pre-stretched canvas I bought at Dick Blick.  I preferred to use a pre-stretched canvas because the fabric on the piece would be protected from any acids in the stretcher bars.  If I used plain stretcher bars I would seal them first.

 bird of paradise I

The finished piece, available in my Etsy shop

I once told a friend that time is never wasted making something we love.  This certainly was true for this piece.  Even though I never exhibited the original, it still makes me happy to see it and has inspired several pieces over the years.

 

>Time Travel

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Twenty years ago when I was in graduate school, I wanted to do a series on water towers.

I took reference photographs.

water tower route 33

Water towers on Route 33 near The Plains, OH.

andrews water tower master copy

Water tower on the grounds of Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland.

I took my two toddlers out and parked in the parking lot of the local credit union and drew in the back seat of the car.

water tower drawing one

Water towers, Route 33, Caran D’Ache Neocolor II watercolor crayons on Arches Cover Black paper.

water tower drawing two

Water towers, Route 33, Caran D’Ache Neocolor II watercolor crayons on Arches Cover Black paper.

And I drew from reference photos, in my studio.

Gaffney SC drawing one

Gaffney, SC, Caran D’Ache Neocolor II watercolor crayons on Arches Cover Black paper, 40” x 30”.

(I couldn’t find my reference photo to put in this post.  Ironic, isn’t it?)

That’s as far as it got at the time.  There were a few false starts at paintings that ended up covered over, but these images were all that I had for a very long time.  Then I decided to revisit the imagery in my quilts (blog posts here and here).

And, while searching for a way to make some images that fit the parameters of a show calling for pieces no larger than 5”  in any direction, I remembered a technique described in the book Freestyle Machine Embroidery by Carol Shinn.

Carol took her source image and printed it out onto transfer paper.  She then ironed it onto a stiff fabric and filled in the image using machine embroidery.

Which I decided to do with the old drawings.

route 33 autumn afternoon

Route 33, Autumn Afternoon  Machine embroidery and photo transfer on twill.  5” x 5”

route 33 summer afternoon detail one

Detail, showing the layers used to create the feeling of the undergrowth.

gaffney sc embroidery one - Copy

Gaffney SC II, still in process.  You can see the twill on the borders.  I also use several layers of interfacing to stabilize the fabric and minimize distortion during stitching.

gaffney sc embroidery detail one - Copy

Here you can really see the texture of the stitches and of the twill underneath the iron-on.

I am using Golden Extra Heavy Body Gel to adhere the finished stitching to the canvas, pressing the work between two boards weighted down with paint jars.   Once the gel is dry, I trim the image close to the canvas and then paint the edges of the canvas with a coordinating color of acrylic paint.  In the future I may experiment with making the edges of the canvas covered in machine embroidery as well.

I really enjoyed working this way, and am eager to make new source drawings (of various subjects) to work from.  What treasures do you have in your studio that could provide a springboard for new creativity?

 

>What Does ‘The King’s Speech’ Have to Do With Art?

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If you haven’t seen ‘The King’s Speech’ yet, I tried to not spoil any major plot points, but if you want to go into the movie and be surprised, you may want to wait to read this post until after you’ve seen the movie.  Go on and see it, I’ll wait.

 

Over the weekend I was able to go see ‘The King’s Speech’.  I had heard lots of good things about it from my friends at Facebook, and my husband was also interested in seeing it, so it was an obvious choice.  Sunday afternoon we headed out to take in the early afternoon matinee.

Two hours later I walked out of the theater feeling energized and uplifted.  The simple story of how King George VI worked with speech coach Lionel Logue to overcome his stutter and lead his country during the dark days of World War II made me cringe, made me laugh, and ultimately made me cry. 

And then it made me think.  I empathized with Colin Firth’s Bertie, not only because he agonized at the prospect of having to lead his country during wartime, but also because he was a person who had not yet owned his voice.  He could speak clearly and smoothly under a few conditions, but he seemed to have trouble with even every day conversation. 

How does this relate to art, you ask? 

Well, we often talk about seeing a person’s voice in their work.  Some works are muddied and the vision is unclear, while other pieces make our hearts sing.  I think there are a lot of similarities between the artist sitting at the easel, drawing board, or sewing machine, struggling to get out of their own way and let their voice out, and Bertie, struggling to get out a single word.

Blocks that kept Bertie from speaking clearly included early childhood trauma and present family teasing.  How many artists have trouble creating because of what a teacher or family member may have said to them when they shared their early art?

The most important thing that struck me near the end of the movie was when we were shown how Bertie was afraid to take on his authority.  He didn’t believe he could be bigger, and he was afraid to be bigger.  This made him angry when it was pointed out to him. How often do we act the same way in regards to our art?  We may not stammer, but we find other ways to stop our work from getting out, whether it is spending too much time on the internet, taking on other people’s problems, or even making art, but maybe not the art that we really want to make.

Of course we know what happens with Bertie, all we have to do is look at a history book.  In the film you could see the change in how he carried himself. At the end of the speech his shoulders were squared and he walked confidently out to greet his people.  He had found his voice.

What steps can you take to let your voice be heard in your work?

 
 

>What is Your Definition of Success?

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This topic came up in a friend’s LiveJournal this morning.  She wrote how she didn’t view success in terms of how much money she made from her work (whether as an artist or her previous career in social work), but rather in how she made people feel (through her beautiful work or how she helped her clients).   I don’t think it has to be an either/or type of answer (and neither does my friend), and I believe it is possible to have both, and in the case of some people it does seem that the better they make people feel (whether through their art or writing, or other pursuits such as being a sports or movie star) the more money they make. 

Last year one of my goals was to submit for a grant from the Ohio Arts Council.  I have learned over the years that when writing goals you need to make them Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.  Which is why the goal was to submit the work, which is an Achievable target. Actually getting the grant is another thing entirely.

With that in mind, these are the images I submitted for the grant application.  All of the pieces had to be created within the last three years of the application.  I chose to submit the work from my water tower series.

Gaffney SC

Gaffney, SC 2007 40” H x 28” W 

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Route 33, Summer Morning  2008 47” x 44”

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Marilyn 2008 62” x 76”

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What Lies Beneath 2009  76” x 42”

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White Lies  2008 83” x 48”

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Night Moves 2008 32” x 31”

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Abundance 2008 15” x 22”

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Winter White 2009 60” x 50”

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Ophelia’s Sisters 2009 22” x 40”

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Garden Party 2010 44” x 45”

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Twilight 2010 38” x 40”

Andrews AFB

Andrews AFB 2010 80” x 54”

Because I had consistently created work over the past three years, filling the required image part of the application was easy.  Writing the artist statement, which I usually find painful and difficult, was easy, thanks to techniques I’ve learned using Havi Brooks’ Dissolving Procrastination book. This year I actually had the application in two weeks before the deadline, and I felt really good about it.

Then I got the email on January 4th, telling me I did not get a grant.

Was I disappointed? You bet.  I feel this is the best application I’ve submitted for this grant in the ten years I’ve tried for one.  I love my artist statement and I love my work.  It would have been nice to have the validation (not to mention the money) of receiving one of the grants.

But I still consider myself a success.  Because I put the work out there and applied. 

 
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Posted by on January 28, 2011 in goals, persistence, process, water tower