Category Archives: In the Studio

Body Work

I’ve reached a place with my latest piece where I need to finalize a color scheme before moving on.  So far, I’ve only chosen fabrics for the flesh.  As I put these various body parts together, I’ve got to fill in the other elements of the composition (ie. dress, phone, background, hair.)  I use my Itten Color Star to work this out.

Color Scheme

Color Scheme

 

This Color Star is my favorite color wheel for making these kinds of decisions.  It comes with a full set of templates that let me block out colors I don’t want to use and let’s me get a better sense of what colors I will be  incorporating.

The hair is going to include yellow and yellow-oranges, while the phone will be blue-green, and her dress will be blue.

No decisions on the background yet, I’m going to put the figure all together and let it talk to me (or perhaps text me).

This week I’m able to complete the body along with the hand holding the phone. I’ve dipped into my special stash for the phone.  It is made from some hand marbled fabrics I picked up in Venice back in the 90’s.

A body to go with the hands

A body to go with the hands

Placing the face with the body, I have a real sense of progress.  I’m not sure about the darkness of the upper body, but I’m going to move forward.  I’ll audition some background fabrics before I decide whether or not to replace the body with lighter values.

A face with the body

A face with the body

Share

Talk to the Hand

The fusing has begun.  This week I was able to put together the hand for “We Don’t Talk”.   It is created from warm red-orange flesh tones that I hope will pop off the surface and give it a real “in your face” feeling.  For greater realism, I’m working with 7, rather than my standard 5 values.

The hand

The hand

Next, the face emerges from those cooler red-violet fabrics.  You can begin to see that there is a significant contrast in the temperature of these 2 features.  I hope it works as planned.

The face

The face

I’m liking the detail in the eyes and mouth.

Next week I hope to fuse the body and put the pieces together.

Share

A New Beginning

After 8 months of buying a new home, selling an old home, packing, unpacking, FINALLY, it’s time to be back in the studio.  For my next piece, I’m taking another break from the historical series I’ve been working on. This next piece addresses a contemporary social issue.

SAMSUNG

Waiting for a table

I’ve long been uncomfortable with a shift in communication that takes us away from face to face contact, replacing it with texting.  Several years ago, I took this photo outside a restaurant, intending to use it for a piece titled “We Don’t Talk Anymore.”

In my day job, teaching high schoolers, I set aside a period of time each week for “Community Building” where we engage in an activity, purely for fun, that requires us to talk with each other.  At the start of this school year, I’m aware of how uncomfortable this is for many of my new students.  This is the inspiration for a new project.

Photo of Maya

Photo of Maya

Instead of the original photo, I’m working from photos I took of my step-daughter, Maya.  In the interest of full disclosure, she posed for these photos.  They were not candid shots.  If she has actually done this to anyone, it hasn’t been me.

With the photo cropped, edited, and printed to size, fabric selection is next.  Usually, I choose a set of flesh toned fabrics for each person in my compositions so that they have individual complexions.  In this case, with this bold close up of Maya, I’m going to need to establish 3 sets of fabrics just for her.  I want to establish her body on 3 different planes: hand in front, face in mid-ground, and upper body in background and in shadow.  I’m hoping, by doing this, to pop the hand forward and give real depth and dimension to this piece.fabric selections in 3 color ways

I start by choosing fabrics for the face. It’s in the mid ground so I choose pinkish, red-violet fabrics.  For the hand, I choose warmer fabrics in the red-orange range to make them feel closer.  Finally, the main body is in cooler, violet fabrics.  The cooler temps of these fabrics will push them back.  The tricky part will be the arm that transitions from the hand to the body.

Check in next week to see this piece coming together.

 

 

Share

Making Faces All Summer Long

As a school teacher, I love summer vacation as much as my student, maybe more.  For me, it’s a chance to spend more time showing my fiber art, talking about my process, teaching my techniques, and of course, making thread-painted portraits.

This summer was no exception.  Check out this photo travelogue”

Thread-Painting workshop in Colorado Springs:

We made mouthsLook what I did!

 

 

 

 

 

 

5-day Summer Retreat in Lyons, Colorado:

Portraits on Parade

Portraits on Parade

Fused fabric portraits in Wichita, KS:

Teresa does Grandbaby

Blue dog in progress

Jo's self portrait

 

A quick visit to Longwood Gardens with Cheryl Lynch after speaking to the Calico Cutters guild in Philadelphia, PA:

 

And a mini-workshop and gallery lecture in Brigham City, UT

Brigham City Workshop

But the fun doesn’t stop…  There are more opportunities in the fall.  Join me if you can:

Workshops in LaConner, WA and Fort Collins, CO. See my “Upcoming Events” for more details

 

Share

Quilts Stored in Bathtub. What could go wrong??

Sometimes I look at people and the awkward or unfortunate situation in which they find themselves and I think, “Really? You didn’t see that coming?” Well, this week I’m saying that again while looking in the mirror.

Quilts in the bathtub.

Quilts in the bathtub.

As we moved into our new house, I was just stashing things wherever I could find space. My new studio is a spare bedroom with a full bath. That’s how my rolled up quilts ended up in the tub. After a few days, I decided it was the perfect storage place. It’s not like anyone was going to be taking a shower in there. I removed the handle so the water couldn’t get turned on, stood up about 20 quilts, and pulled the curtain. Five weeks went by and all was well…

Then, last weekend, the power went out. Our water now comes from a well, but the pump is electric. In time, we used water until the pipes ran dry.  When the power came on, the faucet began to drip.

Two days went by before I happened to look in the tub and see that it was now filled with 3-5 inches of water. YIKES!!!! Quilts came flying out of the basement. Cloth storage bags were stripped off and every surface in the back yard that wasn’t dirt was covered with a quilt. There were wet, dripping quilts everywhere. What a mess!!!

Wet Quilts 1Wet Quilts 2

Next, every towel in the house was brought out to soak up as much of the moisture as possible. Most of the quilts were OK, but several had colors that had begun to run, including: Bamboo, Running Commentary, and Turkeman Mother with Children.

What now??

Bamboo was the worst; a piece done in green fabrics, red dye from the backing fabric migrated to the front.

In a panic, having nothing to lose, I filled the tub again with cool water and poured in some Synthropol to capture the color. I submerged the quilt and let it soak for about 20 minutes, pulled it out, and rolled it in dry towels. This seemed to do the trick as most of the red color was washed out. What remains is faint; probably not noticeable if you don’t know what happened. No time for the “Before” photos, but here is the “After” shot.

The red is gone--almost.

The red is gone–almost.

Next was Running Commentary. There were multiple colors on the runner’s white shirt, but worse, were dark streaks across his neck and chin. My runner became a “batholete” and went swimming in the tub. He, too, was restored except for some faint areas on his white shirt. Again, only a photos of the end result.

Extra dye is out of the face.

Extra dye is out of the face.

Some unwanted dye remains.

Some unwanted dye remains, but it looks like shadow under the numbers

 

Out of time, I’m off to Kansas City with Turkeman Mother in tow. I’ve still got to deal with the water damage to her. Stayed tuned.

 

 

 

 

Share

Puppy Love, Part 2

Oh joy!!! I’ve finished something in less than a month; 2 1/2 weeks actually.  It’s such a thrill to jump into a project and just breeze through to the end.  With this piece, I took a break from thread painting and just did some dense stitching.  The new challenge was to establish some designs that would fit with each element of the composition.

The blonde hair of the girl was easy.  I used various values of yellow threads in long, undulated lines of stitching.

PL hair

Next, similar, but shorter, wavy lines were put down with some variegated threads in a pattern that alluded to the hair of the dog.  Several times I had to stop and pet my dear Coco’s face in order to really understand the changing direction of her hair.  She didn’t mind too much.

PL dog

Stitching the face was a leap of faith.  It is so tricky to stitch the face!  If you try to recreate the actual contours, and the lines aren’t just right, it throws off the perceived shape and makes the face look distorted.  I decided to go in a completely new direction: loop-d-loops.  I covered the entire face in a small repetitive design that had nothing to do with its shape or contour.  I still varied the threads, letting the values do the work.  I’m really pleased with the results.

PL face

The background was the most troublesome decision, just as with choosing the fabric.  The print was complex and busy.  Afraid that it would become too strong and overpower other elements, I didn’t want to stitch the printed design.  I came up with a wandering ribbon design with a tiny meandering stitch to fill in the spaces.  I feel like the 2 patterns of the fabric and stitching sort of neutralize each other and take away their power to dominate.

PL background

Finally, here’s the finished piece.Puppy Love

Share

Puppy Love, Part 1

Maya & Coco

Maya’s selfie

This week I’ve jumped back into my art with gusto.  I’m tired of being on hold. I need to be creative!!  With a 4-day weekend and plans to pack and move postponed (again!) it was time to make up for lost time.

4" x 6" thread painting.

4″ x 6″ thread painting.

 

This past week has been devoted to making a piece titled “Puppy Love”.  I’ve done smaller versions of this piece in the past for small art auction donation pieces, but this one is big and bold.

It started with a selfie taken by my step-daughter, Maya with our little dachshund, Coco.  While previous versions were printed on fabric and thread-painted, this one is raw-edge fused appliqué and 30″ x 40″.

My color scheme is an analogous run of yellow-orange, orange, red, red-violet.  This kind of scheme tends to be calm and mellow, so, to punch it up, I threw in some blue-green.color scheme

A couple of marathon work days, and the piece was nearly completed.  Selecting the background fabric had me stalled for day as I just couldn’t decide.  I took audition photos with my phone and toggled back and forth between the shots until I was able to make a decision.

Background option 1

Background option 1

Background option 2

Background option 2

 

 

Now, it’s on to the stitching.  I’m going to try something new and will share that with you next week. Check back in next week.

Share

Let the Stitching Begin

My apologies for being away from the blog for several weeks.  I’ve been desperate to get back on schedule with the horsemen so that I can finish them within the month, and any time spent writing is time I’m not stitching.  So, stitching I’ve been doing.  I did have the presence of mind to snap a few photos as I went along and I’ll share some of those below.

Before I get to the Horsemen, I want to share 2 bits of info:

1. I recently taped an episode of TheQuiltShow.com.  It is being aired today for those that subscribe, but next week I’ll send out a link for friends and family to view the episode for free.  I’ll post a link here on the blog, and on my Facebook page.

2.  My friends at QuiltForChange.org haver come up with a new challenge: Water is Life: Clean Water and its Impact on the Lives of Women and Girls around the World.  The exhibit will open at the UN headquarter in Geneva in January 2016. Entries due by November 1, 2015 If you want to quilt for a cause, you should check this out.  Here’s a link to their website: Quilt for Change Challenge

Now, to the horsemen…2 on the frame

With 2 panels to be stitched, I want to be sure that there is some continuity between them, especially in the background.  It should appear to flow from one panel to the next. I’m afraid that if I work one, then the other, I may not match up the right  threads or the lines of the composition won’t flow, so I’ve decided to put load both panels on the longarm frame together.  This turns out to be a little trickier than I thought it would be.  There is a lot of extra attention to be given to how tightly things are wound (the quilt layers, not me personally)  All was going well until I got Too Much Tailto the bottom of the second panel.  It would seem that I too much tail.  One of my horses hangs off the end of the frame.

I’m moving forward and I’ll figure how to deal with this later.

 

 

 

 

Just as I’m about to get started, I decide that the sky is to plain, it needs a little pizzazz, but what??In the Sky

I decide to create an overlay of a blanket motif over the top.  It can’t be too strong.  I want it to be a secondary design that support, not overwhelms the overall composition.  To do this, I draw out a design on paper and the cut the pieces out of tulle; light, medium and dark blue tulle.  I put fusible on one side and lightly iron the pieces in place before placing a very thin layer of champagne colored tulle over the entire piece.

 

Share

The Tangled Web

I’ve managed to get the first two panels of my 4 Horsemen triptych fused together and have come to terms with the reality that I will not get the 3rd panel finished in time for my May deadline. I will make the 3rd panel—someday—maybe in the summer.

Before I can begin stitching, I must to do some planning and prep work now if the three panels are to fit together later. Toward that end, iI want to make sure that each panel works individually AND in concert with each other.

Panels side by side

Panels side by side

Here is the process:

  1. Lay the panels side by side. (Panel 3 is just a large sheet of muslin)
  1. Mark the corner points and 1/3 marks along each side.
  1. Run a line of string string between each of these key points.

In doing this, I can accurately place lines of the riverbank, foothills, mountains, and place the final riders in just the right position. Additionally, this web of string creates a grid for identifying key lines and points of intersection within the piece.

Here is my dilemma: the whole thing is way to large to fit on my design wall. The best I can do is clear the floor in my family room and lay out the panels. Unable to pin into the hardwood floors, I’m left to lay the string on the floor and they won’t stay put.  They are continually shifting as I move things around under them.  Eventually, I do get a sense of how things are laying out.

I see some good things going on in the right panel:

Lines o the right panel

Lines o the right panel

  • A diagonal goes down the face, hits the shoulder, belt buckle, then follows the line of the tail
  • Another diagonal follows the line of the neck, a crease in the blanket, and the shadow of the back haunch.
  • The lower horizontal connects the reins, rifle, and blanket fold

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the center panel:

Lines on the center panel

Lines on the center panel

  • A diagonal connects the hand, a stripe of the blanket, a line of rope, and then runs down the back leg
  • Another connects the eyes, bottom of the rope and follows the tail.
  • The lower horizontal runs along the belly of the horse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the left panel:

Lines on the left panel

Lines on the left panel

  • I place the horses in the center between the horizontal strings
  • Diagonals from the upper left corner will fall along the head and back of the horse and also connect the nose, chest and stirrup.
  • I also sketch in lines for the background so that it will all come together in the end.

 

Doing this on the floor stinks! Every time I move something, I have to reposition the strings.   To make things worse, my trusty companion, Coco, has her own ideas about the placement of these strings.   I love her, but I REALLY don’t appreciate her design sensibilities.

Coco tries to help

Coco tries to help

Share

The 2nd Horseman

The horse's patooty is coming off the edge.

The horse’s patooty is coming off the edge.

 

 

I’m back at work on the second panel of the 4 Horsemen.  The first dilemma is getting the scale correct. This figure, originally, behind the central figure, will now be in from of him, so he’s got to appear larger. It took some trial and error, but I finally got the size right.  I like an irregular edge, so I’m going to hang the horse’s patooty off the edge.

 

 

 

Continuous background

Continuous background

The key with this composition is to keep some key elements consistent across both panels.  In this case, it is the lines of the background.  As they continue from one panel to the other, they create a cohesive composition. I’m loving this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Willis to the rescue.

Willis to the rescue.

 

I’m nervous about the pace of my work being slow, and am considering reducing the scope of this piece to 2, rather than 3 panels.  I really love the title and “The 2 Horsemen” doesn’t have the same appeal. So, when my parents stopped in to visit on their way to ski country,  I put my dad to work in the studio fixing the rollers on one of my chairs.

Share