Thursday, December 31, 2009

Last Walk of 2009

This morning I walked out to get the mail. It had snowed again overnight and the road was icy under the new snow. I was walking very carefully. On the way home I looked up and saw this. A fitting ending for 2009 and a hopeful sign for 2010. Happy New Year everyone!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Winter 09/10 Kaffe

Something I'm playing around with for this winter's project...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Solarplate Workshop

On October 3-5 I took a workshop with Dan Welden to learn how to use solarplates. This three day workshop was a real challenge for me as I tried to do some images that were not my typical kind of thing. Eventho I did quite a bit of preparatory work, I was still somewhat stumped as to what to do. I didn't want to just print photos, but I did want to explore all the possibilities for the solarplate, which to me is almost a kind of cross between printmaking and screen printing. So here's some of the images I worked on...

This first image is a digital photo I took here on the ranch and then imported into Photoshop. I played around with levels and posterizing until I had something I liked the range of tones in. I thought this would be a good test for the solarplate. I first exposed my plate with an 800 dpi aquatint screen for a minute and a half and then 1:30 exposure with the film positive. I did a regular intaglio inking and printing on Hahnemuller paper. The detail on this one was very impressive along with the velvety blacks. I used Graphic Chemical Bone Black Etching Ink.

This is a ghost print of the same image (meaning I just placed another sheet of paper on the plate and then reprinted it). I thought this came out good as well...completely different.

The next day I decided to try painting directly on the solarplate. I used black etching ink to make a drawing of poppy seedheads then scratched lightly into it with rubber contour brushes, wooden picks and Q-tips. The plate was then exposed and printed. I felt I had overwiped the plate and had lost much of the background detail.

So I did a couple more prints playing with the inking to see how the detail would change.

I'm not totally happy with this image and would like to spend more time playing around with other inking ideas using the Akua Intaglio Inks I just ordered.

On the final day I wanted to work with drawing on a transparency, but I was stymied to come up with an idea. On the way to class I grabbed some leaves off the Balm of Gilead poplar by our gate and had stuck them in my pocket. I pulled them out and started doing rubbings of them with black oil pastel. It worked great on the transparency and Dan suggested a dusting with baby powder to bring out the fine detail. The plate was exposed and inked and this was the result...

I made one final print with a surface roll of the Akua just to see how that would look...

I enjoyed learning about solarplate and I'm sure there are some instances where it will come in handy in my artwork.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Encaustic Monoprint Workshop

On September 19th and 20th I went to a workshop with Elise Wagner for encaustic monoprinting. Elise is a well-known encaustic painter from Portland, Oregon who I learned about from Linda Womack when I took the basic encaustic workshop with her. Elise makes her own line of encaustic paints and has a wonderful gallery of paintings on line here. Be sure to check them out.

Our task for the first day was to do a little encaustic painting on a birch panel to get the feel of the wax. We learned to imbed images, do image transfers and other cool stuff. Everyone was very excited about the possibiities. In the afternoon we started our encaustic plates for the monoprints. This involves applying white (or any color really) encaustic wax paint onto a plexiglass plate. You can either paint your design, or add wax and then carve, melt, scrape to get your design. My first plate was a flop so I ended up scraping off all the wax and starting over. I ended up with this...

For my first print I intaglio inked the plate with pthalo blue and yellow ochre water soluble intaglio inks by Akua. This was my first time using these inks and I was impressed with how easy they were to use. I loved the fact that they could just be washed off with a little dish soap and warm water (but not too warm, you don't want to deform the wax). After wiping the plate I decided to do a relief roll with burnt umber. Here's the first print...

For the second print, I added pthalo green and a little red oxide to the plate to get this...

For the final print, I cleaned the plate and changed colors completely going with an intaglio inking of yellow ochre and carmine red, with surface rolls of burnt umber and red oxide.

I really enjoyed this process and I want to do more work with it. I started a second plate in class but it is not ready for primetime yet...more later...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Already November...

Boy, it seems like every time I look at this blog I have laxed big time. Hmmm...maybe I need to put this on my "To Do" list? After looking at everything that I've been working on the last three months, I realize I really need to take more pictures of works in process. Since my last post I've attended an encaustic monoprint workshop with Elise Wagner and a solarplate workshop with the master himself...Dan Weldon. I've also completed the top for the baby quilt too, all of which I really need to photograph and will try to do so soon. I promise! In the meantime, I'll post some details on the wedding piece from June of this year.

The piece ended up being 17.25" wide by 47" long (including hanging stick and fringe). It is comprised of 42 separate 'pages' of hand dyed fabrics in a rainbow of colors which were then embellished with angelina fiber and organza linear forms. These pages were backed with inkjet printed photos and wishes from the newlyweds' friends and family which were composed in Photoshop using backgrounds of watercolor art created by the young niece and nephew of one of the grooms.

The pages were then mounted on a multi-colored batik backing fabric in two 'scrolls', each one with 21 pages. At the top of each scroll, buttons with fabric beads and metallic threads were attached.

At the bottoms, fringe was created using recycled Tibet silk yarn from Himalaya Yarn. At the bottom of the fringe are brass bells from India, iridescent glass beads and fabric 'prayer wheels' which were embroidered and beaded with silver beads. Each of the six prayer wheels contains a stanza from the Buddhist Metta Prayer (lovingkindness).

Because the piece had to also function temporarily as a garment for the officiant, a matching beaded fabric collar was constructed to which the piece attached by velcro hooks. Once the ceremony was over, the piece was detached from the collar and hung on an easel at the reception so that people could touch and look at it.

Did I have a grand plan for this piece? Well, not really. I started out with the idea that I wanted to create some prayer flags and then the ideas just sort of evolved as I got into it. It was one of the few projects that seemed to have a life of its own. As it hung on my design wall, inspiration kept speaking to me to 'try this', 'add that', 'take that away'. As I worked, the project gained momentum and ended up being something completely different from my original vision. Luckily I had almost six months to think about and procrastinate over starting. But the end result was very satisfying.

For more pictures of the process go here and here.

Monday, July 13, 2009

It's been months....

...since I posted to this blog so I figure I need to give an update. In June I finished the wedding commission and attended the wedding were it featured in the ceremony and afterwards was presented to the happy couple. Having been a huge labor of love, I won't be making another any time soon, but it is a theme I would really like to revisit at some point. Definitely much better and more interesting than your typical wedding quilt, and judging by the comments received, a good piece for my portfolio. Am a little burned out on the details right now, but will post more close-up shots and thoughts on the process soon. In the meantime, here it is in action...

The next day it was hung in the newlyweds' house. That's it on the upper story...WOW!

Now I am back to my other projects that got dropped while working on this one. I am still in process on a diamond star quilt made from Kaffe Fassett fabrics from his latest book. It's looking like it will be called 'Persian Star' as that what it reminds me of with the fabrics and colors used. The border is proving to be some work but I am enjoying the even pace of it versus the constant 'do a little, evaluate the next move, do a little more' of art quilting. I am also working on a baby quilt for Dave's niece Amy. This particular one is a medallion style with a New York Beauty centerpiece all done in bright solid batiks. Am already planning the quilting for this one as I piece it together.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Anybody See the Connection Here?

It's strange when you realize what you subconsciously pick as 'your colors'. Hmmmm....

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Working on Commission?

Well, sort of. I'm in the process of creating a textile art piece to be used in a wedding ceremony and then it will become a piece of wall art. I've been struggling with different designs and have finally decided on 'book' type design that is somewhat like a scroll. It will be about 50"long and 8" wide and will have separate pages which will show pictures and wishes from friends of the couple on one side and then artwork in these colors on the other side. So now that I have decided on a format, I'm working on color studies to decide what colors I'd like to use, what marks I'm going to make etc. I'm experimenting with silk and cotton and using silk paints and fluid acrylics. If the acrylics are thinned to a watercolor consistency, they don't affect the hand of the fabric too badly, but I'm leaning towards the silk paints just due to their yummy color and lack of stiffness. The request was to use a bright primary palette even though that is not my usual way of working, so I'm having a bit of a time trying to integrate it into the piece, but I plan to do some stamping of other colors and metallics on top to mute things a bit and to pull the piece together with a theme.

So, I've been cutting stamps today as well and had forgotten that they are a lot of work! Maybe that's why I ended up doing etchings vs. linocuts. I started out using a shortcut technique I read about in Quilting Arts magazine using plumber's gasket instead of lino material. Big mistake. It is so hard to cut and the marks are ragged even with very sharp new tools. (See the brick red stamp on the left.) My next stamp I used unmounted easy cut lino...much better. (Grey material at right.) Plus there is really no cost savings using the gasket, it is the same price for a 6"x6" piece of that as it was for an 8"x10" piece of unmounted lino. So a no brainer as far as I'm concerned. But now my hands are tired out and need a rest. So I'll do some more painting.

Below is a sample of the more muted palette I first suggested but was rejected...oh well.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Embracing Encaustic....

Last month I finally was able to attend a workshop in Portland with renowned encaustic artist, Linda Womack. The six hour class covered all the basics of encaustic painting from making medium and preparing the support to the actual painting, fusing, incising the wax, filling lines, adding collage pieces and lots more. I was only able to complete two pieces as I was really into just trying different things and seeing how they worked, not trying to create a masterpiece. Here's my first trial...

Here's an angle shot so you can see the texture gouged out with tools...

I am so enthralled with the look and feel of the wax that I think this is something that I could really get into, so a few days ago I ordered my first five pounds of beeswax. I have some paints and damar and a heat gun etc. so I've been shopping the last few days for a pancake griddle online and managed to find a giant one at Kohl's in Medford that I plan to pick up tomorrow. So it looks like soon I could be off into the wonderful world of encaustic painting. I'll post the results when I get started.

But first I need to seriously work on the studio reorganization and remodel so I have some space for this new passion. I'm also thinking that encaustic monoprints would dovetail nicely with the class I took in February, so will be thinking about that as well. Ah learning is great....

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Monotypes and Chine Colle in Medford

Last month I was lucky enough to be able to take a three week class and workshop with Nancy Jo Mullen in her studio. This workshop was my reintroduction to printmaking which I have essentially been away from for 10 years. When I walked into Nancy Jo's studio I was greeted by all the familiar smells from my days as a studio lab assistant at Santa Barbara City College. The class was so much fun and all the other gals made for such a supportive atmosphere, I am inspired to get my main studio cleaned out, my press set up and get back into printing. Here are a few examples of prints from the class and workshop and you can see the rest here...

Now I am very excited about the possibilities for combining the printmaking with my fiber design and then throwing encaustic into the mix. It seems there's a great circle here Fiber>Printmaking, Printmaking>Encaustic, Encaustic>Fiber. So hopefully will begin a few experiments to see what I can come up with in those combinations. I'll also report on how the studio remodel is going. For now, here is what my work area looks like. Shocking!!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Busy Times

It's been a while since I posted and I know I need to get caught up with what's been going on here, so I'm putting up a few photos from over the last few months of little play projects that I have been working on. Since I have been doing a lot of waiting lately, I decided that I needed to update my hand sewing kit with some new things that would interest me more than the English paper pieced stars I've been working on for the last few years. So I decided to bring on my favorites, batiks and texture. Hence this braided stitched piece made from batiks inspired by Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn. Who knew ripping fabric could feel so good?

Another is what I call my "teabag" project. It's a small piece made with teabag papers and hand stitching. Thanks to friends who helpfully saved their teabags for me (another weird art project...) I have enough to make something really big if I decide to. I love the look of the tea stains which make it seem very vintage and the hand stitching is fun because I'm not worrying about sizing or direction, just seeding them in. Now how can I get people to drink more blueberry and raspberry tea so I can get more colors in here? Not sure what I will do with all this yet, but am enjoying the play aspect of it as well. Perhaps it will evolve into a new piece.

In the next few weeks I'll try to blog on the monotype workshop I took in February and the encaustic painting workshop I did earlier this month. Been trying lots of new things so I have lots to share.