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Category Archives: water tower

>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?

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>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. 

 
1 Comment

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