Life has been crazy busy for the last year, leaving precious little time to blog, so I’ll let one of my students from the Festival of Quilts 2019, Birmingham, England, tell you about her experience. Take it away, Kim…
Having been quilting for a number of years I wanted to expand my skills and fancied having a go at a portrait quilt. At school I was useless at art – drawing – so my confidence level was really low. I wasn’t sure that I could do it but really wanted to have a go – do you know what I mean?
Looking through the Workshop list for the Festival of Quilts in August 2019 I saw a portrait quilting course by Lea McComas. Biting the bullet, I booked a place with severe trepidation. The course list duly arrived, and I began to feel really nervous. What if the tutor laughed at my failing skills? What if everyone else was so much better than me?
Putting on my Big Girl Pants I went along to the course.
Other participants were working on portraits of dogs, grandchildren, husbands, children friends etc. I had chosen to work on a portrait of my long-time idol – Donny Osmond (Husband and Dog assured me that they were not jealous at all)
So I spent a glorious two whole days working on my portrait, Lea being the most marvellous tutor. I will never forget bringing the portrait to life by adding the white of his eye. Obviously two days isn’t long enough to complete a portrait so there was some homework to do and slowly, slowly I plucked up courage to continue my project with lots of encouragement from Lea.
In October I went to London where I met Donny and showed him my quilt so far. I cannot tell you what he said about it as I was quite literally a gibbering wreck. I managed to get him to sign my label too.
Lea I want to thank you for your expert tuition, encouragement and friendship. To those of you who may not have done a course with Lea I really encourage you to do so – you will really learn a lot and expand your skill set.
Thank you Lea.
Kim Wood UK
Here is Kim with her Donny quilt. Some think it looks like she printed the image, but NO. This is a fused appliqué portrait. Want to learn to make your own? Take my online portrait quilt class.
My last blog entry was last summer when I gave a teaser about my new work, and now, we’re fully in the winter holiday season. Has it really been that long? The winter solstice, at our house, is a time to stop and reflect on the events & accomplishments of the closing year, and set goals and expectations for the approaching year.
I set a goal last year to lose some weight and get in shape (sound familiar?). My body building efforts were really about building up a body of new work.
Got Kibble? is just one of the new works that I completed this year. It was a hands-down favorite at my show in the Creative Framing Gallery in Louisville, CO in Sep-Oct. Pet compositions are fun to show in the Boulder area is because we are such an animal oriented community.
Not to be left out, that other favorite pet, the cat, is featured in my new piece, “Cat Nap”. This work was inspired by a photo I took while traveling in Greece, back in the mid-1990’s.
Previously, I completed a couple of small studies using this image. Two versions were made for my online Pet Portrait class. Here is one with a tetrad color scheme. Prior to that, a small work was donated to a charity event. Finally, after 20 years, the full up composition has come to fruition. Now, it’s subtle charm makes it one of my new favorites.
Cats VS Dogs?
At the show, a survey of viewers revealed that cats are more popular pets than dogs. Now, I’m getting a lot of pressure (and fun photos) for a series featuring cats. What about you? Are you a dog person? or a cat person?
Stay tuned, there is more work to share in a future blog. In the meantime, if you’ve been inspired to attempt your own pet portrait in fabric, check out my online Pet Portrait Memory class with The Quilting Company.
No time for that?!? I do commission work. Contact me and let’s talk about capturing a favorite image of your pet in fabric and thread.
Border Wall Quilt Project
Can’t write a blog without mentioning the Border Wall Quilt Project. We’re still accepting bricks and the wall continues to grow.
Yes, I’ve actually found time to create new original artwork this summer. The last several
months have been packed with travel, teaching, and the Border Wall Quilt Project, but I’ve still carved out some time to focus on several new works of art, including a new pet portrait. I’ll be a featured artist at the Creative Framing Art Gallery in Louisville, CO in the months of September-October, and these new pieces will be fully revealed at that time. If your in the area, please save the date: Sep. 7, 2018 for the opening reception, 6-9 PM.
New Pet Portrait in the Dog’s Life Series
For now, let me share a sneak preview of what’s to come. . . .
I often find inspiration from my students as I travel and teach. In Ft. Collins, CO a student shared a photo of her, “Crazy dog!” I had to agree, he looked pretty crazy, but also endearing. With her permission, I’ve done a new, larger than life, pet portrait.
I find that animal portraits don’t demand the same level of precision as portraits of people. This is just one more way that animals are more forgiving than humans. In this piece, the fabric does a lot of the work. The edges are raw and fuzzy and add a bit of dimension. I’ve done less thread-painting to keep those edges visible. It’s more like thread-sketching, and it’s great fun when you have to balance a new work with another new project that has a steep learning curve and lots of moving parts.
Plan to come and see this piece in person. Come to the reception and see me in person, too.
Border Wall Quilt Project: Section 3 Under Construction
OH, and that other new project is the Border Wall Quilt Project. Follow the link or follow me on Facebook and Instagram to see photos of the individual bricks and the process. There is still time to register and submit your own bricks.
A Good Color Wheel is an Essential Tool.
I’ve worked with a lot of color wheels and have long been in love with my Itten Color Star. However, after years of use, it is getting a little tattered. The fabulous thing about the Color Star is that it comes with templates that allow you to isolate a group of colors by scheme. I’d buy a new one, but they are no longer being manufactured, and finding them online will cost you anywhere from $100-$500. Crazy, right??
A recurring frustration for me and my students happens when I refer to this tool and how to use the templates in my lectures: Color Theory for Quilters, Pictorial Quilt Primer, and Driving in the Dark; as well as my online class, Successful Pictorial Quilts. Students see how I use the wheel and the templates, love it, want it, only to find out that is wan’t readily available.
Someone should! Someone did!!
For years I’ve been saying, “Someone should reinvent this Color Star.” So, imagine my excitement when my friend, Katie Fowler, did just that. She designed a new color wheel with templates, even more templates, and has named it Color’s Greatest Hits. There are other significant improvements:
- The color blocks are bigger and so are the windows in the templates This gives more color space and less negative space and makes it easier to envision the color scheme.
- There are more templates. Katie has added a double-double complement, and an analogous run, for a total of 10 templates, where the Color Star had only 8. In the past, when I didn’t have what I neededI had fashioned my own supplements out of typing paper. It wasn’t optimum, so I like having more options on hand.
Room for Improvement:
There are a couple of features of the old Color Star that I prefer:
- The peg in the center that allows the viewer to secure the template and spin it to view various color combinations within a color scheme. It’s possible to do the same with the new color wheel; you just have to steady and turn the template by hand.
- The templates on the Color Star were black on one side and white on the other. I find that the white negative space is sometimes easier on the eye. The new templates are black on both sides.
These are pretty minor issues, and I believe the new version is better overall. It’s my understanding that the I definitely prefer it to anything else I’ve seen currently on the market.
If you are interested in getting your own Colors Greatest Hits, you can order online directly from Katie’s website.
Reminder: Have you gotten involved with the Border Wall Quilt Project? Do it now!
I truly believe in the value of a shared journey with like minds. That’s why I recently hosted a group of my favorite Colorado Fiber Artists for lunch. This week I’m sharing a blog from Ginger Tatic, one of the attendees. Sometimes it’s fun to get someone else’s perspective on an event.
Artistic Opportunities Take Many Forms
As school draws to a close, my teaching responsibilities at Boulder High School give way to summer break. I’m gearing up for a fabulous summer of art. The possibilities are exciting and I’m hoping my fiber art friends will join me.
Artistic Opportunity: Be a Small Part of Something Big
First, are you like me? Worried about the discord and division that seems to be growing in the US. We have many important issues to address. Yet, we seem to struggle with the civil discourse needed to work our way to meaningful solutions.
The US/Mexico Border Wall is just one of these issues, but one that I want to tackle. I’m sponsoring the Border Wall Quilt Project; an art installation made of quilted bricks. I’m going to make the wall, but I need help with the bricks. If this is an issue of concern for you, I hope you will join in.
I’m calling on quilters to create 8×16 inch mini-quilts expressing their ideas, concerns, and opinions about the border wall and then send them to me. Anyone can submit up to 3 quilted bricks. This isn’t a juried exhibition. I intend to use all bricks submitted to create a wall about the wall. Interested? Read More
Follow the progress at BorderWallQuiltProject.com
Artistic Opportunity: Portraits in Colorado
Next, quilting and Thread-Painting people have been my art focus for many years now. It’s my passion and I’m taking it to some pretty interesting locations this summer.
I’m pairing up with eQuilter.com to offer two workshops in my own backyard. eQuilter.com is located right there in Boulder, Colorado and they are offering 2 workshops in their magnificent classroom space: Thread-Painted Portraits, July 16-17, and Appliqué Portrait Quilts, July19-20.
Artistic Opportunities Around the Country
Finally, if you can’t make it to Colorado, look for me in these locations:
Social Media: So Seductive
Social Media is like that handsome guy that is so attentive and charming in the beginning; and later, changes into a demanding, manipulative creep. With Social Media, like the creepy guy, I had to break it off. I had long felt that trying to keep up with weekly posts was draining my energy and creativity, and keeping me from my other important interests: family and art.
The real trouble started last June when I made a commitment to become proficient on various platforms (blog, Facebook, Pinterest) with such ease and efficiency that it would no longer be a chore, but a delightful daily routine—maybe something I did while I savored that first cup of coffee.
Social Media: Demanding & Manipulative
‘The reality: it never got better. Social Media was like, “Hey look at how much attention I’ve brought to you: so many likes, so many shares, so many followers. Now, give me something more to work with. Would it kill you to spend a little money on advertising? And maybe a little more attention to your SEO?” More, More, More!!! Never enough.
At the point that you are only making artwork so that you have something to take pictures of for your next post, you have lost your way. Can I get a “Woop, Woop!!” for this? (Don’t send it to me in a reply, just raise your hands to the sky and say it out loud.)
Now, after a long productive winter, I do miss connecting with other creatives, getting feedback on my work, getting sucked into a funny cat video when I’m supposed to be making a plane reservation. It wasn’t all bad; there were some really great times with Social Media. I want to reconnect. I just have to set boundaries and be firm this time.
Social Media with Sanity
Yes, I’m re-engaging with Social Media and I’m inviting you to join me. My new focus is on sharing a journey that is real. I’ll share with you what’s happening in my creative journey: inspiration, studio practice, creative community, and tips N techniques . One a month I’ll post upcoming events workshops, lectures. This is also the place where you will see the my newest works coming together.
See it here first! To subscribe, slide your cursor to the top of your screen and a pop up window will appear.
It is exciting when a new work is completed. Vigil is finished and I’m thrilled with the results. It’s been photographed and added to the Genre gallery on my website. However, in this week’s blog, I want to share some of the details.
Vigil: Stitching the Dog
One challenge I faced in stitching the dog was to get the direction of the hair just right. Stella, the dog in this composition, is similar to my own dog, Bosco. So, anytime I was uncertain about the direction I should be stitching, I would sneak up on Bosco as he napped and use him as my reference. Of course, he would wake up and expect to be held and petted in return for his services.
Vigil: Creating Depth
Another challenge was to give a sense of foreground and background. For this, I rely, as I often do, on value changes. It is very subtle, but the black fabric used at the lower edge is slightly lighter than the dark fabric used for the upper part of the composition. This subtle contrast was enhanced with the thread choices in the stitching phase. As a viewer, you may never consciously notice the changes, but the image will register in your mind as having depth. Also, creating a broader field of gray below the white band brings that area forward.
Vigil: Stitching the Background
A final challenge was to add variation and subtle detail to the very large dark background area. I wanted to give the impression of a floor with a wall in the distance, but didn’t want to get too specific on where one transitioned to the other, and also wanted to maintain the feeling of a dark abyss. For this, I employed a circular stitch design for the carpet, and an elongated vertical stitch pattern to represent the wall and then varied where I transitioned from one pattern to the other. I also used two threads in this area: a solid black in the area around the dog, and a variegated thread of very dark values as I stitched further away from the figure.
In the end, I think this resulted in a very sweet piece that will be hard to part with. However, plans are already being made to exhibit this piece. When things finalize, I’ll let you know. For now, visit the Genre Gallery of my website to see some of my other works. You may notice another new work, Cruisin’. I’ll be sharing the story of this piece in the weeks to come.
Time for Studio Art and Time for Play
Two things I just can’t get enough of this time of year are: time in the studio for making art, and warm sunny days for wandering about in the woods. What do you do when life gives you both at the same time??
Progress on my latest piece has felt slow due to multiple interruptions. So when I find myself home alone, except for our dogs, and have no commitments or appointments, I’m ecstatic. YES!! WE’RE GOING TO MAKE SOME PROGRESS TODAY!!
First, I work in the studio…
When I wake up to those first hints of sunlight, I shuffle to the coffee pot, and wander into my studio with a sense of urgency and expectation. Surveying a quilt top on the longarm, gears began to turn. My mind’s eye can see a variety of stitch designs that I will use, thread colors and combinations, and a clear order that they will be laid down on the surface. I am in the zone.
An hour goes by before the dogs remind me that if I don’t feed them and take them out, I’m really going to be sorry. It is then that I get my first smell the pines and see the sun lighting up the mountains. However, it’s still early, the air is cool and the breeze is chilling, so, “Back inside everyone, there is work to do.”
…Then, I walk in the sun.
As the day progresses, so do I. But the beautiful day unfolding outside is getting harder, and harder to resist. Five hours go by before those pesky dogs are at it again, whining and scratching at my legs. Finally, I’ve had enough. We are out the door.
Being focused and closing myself off to distractions is great, to a point. However, this day has brought me studio time to work AND sunshine to feed the soul. All things in moderation, right??
Check back next week and I’ll show you some closeup photos of the stitch designs that I am using for this piece. At this moment, my brain is working out how to handle all of that dark background.
Want to immortalize your own special pet? Check out my Pet Portrait Memory Quilt class at Craft U.
Visit my portfolio to see more thread-paintings.