Tag Archives: thread painting

New Work: Dogs & Cats

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.

Body Building

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? at CF Gallery opening,

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.

 

 

Cat Nap, 44″ x 24″, fabric & thread, © Lea McComas, 2018.

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.

Pet Portrait class sample

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?

I’m thinking dogs rule.

    Cats rule, Dogs drool!

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.  

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Vigil is Finished. See This Endearing New Work

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.

The lonely dog, a faithful companion, lies, waiting, and ever hopeful of the return of a loved one.

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.

Lea McComas Fiber Art - Vigil detail

Detail of dog hair

Lea McComas Fiber Art - In the Studio

When you ask Bosco for help on a project, he is all in.

 

Vigil: Creating Depth

Lea McComas Fiber Art-Vigil

subtle value changes create feeling of 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

Lea McComas Fiber Art-Vigil detail

Subtle changes in thread and stitch design hint at what’s behind.

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.

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Work in the Studio vs. Walk in the Woods

Time for Studio Art and Time for Play

Lea McComas Fiber Art

Sunrise on the Continental Divide

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…

Lea McComas Fiber Art "Vigil"

Vigil is fully fused

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.

Lea McComas Fiber Art at work in studio

Lea at the longarm

 

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.

Lea McComas Fiber Art

Fresh air and sunshine

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.

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I Use Pets to Inspire Others, and Inspired Myself

Pet Portraits

We love our pets, don’t we??  Two years ago we made a frantic, late-night trip to the emergency pet clinic.  Three hours later, we came home without our precious Gretchen.  It was devastating.  That’s why I jumped at the chance this winter to put together a class where my portrait techniques are applied to Pet Portrait Memory Quilts.

I’m a dog person with lots of dog pictures.  However, in this class I wanted to address pet portraits for a variety of animals: cats, birds, horses, in addition to dogs.  So, I put out the call for precious pet photos to my friends and colleagues and found myself with many more great photos than I was able to use for the class.

I made some adorable samples for the course.  A few of them are included in this post.  As you can see, for these, I simplified the compositions.  I did this to teach the techniques and focus on specific art concepts. I’m hoping that students will learn the lessons and then apply them to more complex compositions.

I Inspired Myself

More complex compositions:  now that sounds like advice I should follow myself.  So, I went back through the photos and set aside a few more images for a new series.  The exciting thing for me is that these new compositions will include more context and will tell a larger story.  I’ve chosen some images that address the reasons we have and cherish our pets: loyalty, companionship, comic relief. . .

Last year, I completed Puppy Love.  That will soon be joined by “Vigil.” This second piece in the series is still a work in progress, so stay tuned to see how this piece and the rest of the series develops.

Cat Lovers Stay Tuned

And, if you’re a cat person, don’t worry.  A cat series is soon to follow.

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Moving from Fabric to Thread

Shifting gears, moving to the next phase, changing the focus; that’s what I’ve been doing in these last couple of weeks as I transition from the fusing stage of my project to the stitching stage.  I find it helpful to take a break and clear my head so that I can look at the project with fresh eyes.  So, during this period, an idea that has been floating around in my brain for several years actually came alive and demanded to be brought to creation.  I’ll img_1201share that with you in a few weeks.  It is a total departure from this project and did allow for the fresh perspective I needed.

Before going of on this side trip, the fused fabric foundation for “We Don’t Talk” was loaded onto my longarm machine.  You can see here all of the layers and how they are placed.  If you’ve done your own thread painting, you may know that it is always a struggle to end with a piece that lies flat.  I’m always on the quest for a better solution.  In the past, I’ve used a layer of raw artist canvas. This has been marginally successful, so, this time I will use 2 layers positioned under the batting so that the grains are perpendicular to each other.  I’m giving it a shot, but the tradeoff is weight.  This baby is going to be heavy for it’s size.img_1199

(2 weeks go by)

Thread, thread, so much thread needed.  Just as with my fabrics, I like to create selections for each element in the project, and just like with fabric, I use my trusty value scale to make good choices.  However, with threads, I usually put together sets of 7-10 threads: one each of the #1 and 5 values, and then two or three each of values 2,3,4.  However, given the size of the figure in this piece, I may have 3-5 threads in every value.  Here is what it looks like in my studio when the threads come out to play.img_1200

Hmmm, I think I’ll start on the face first.  Check back next week to see the progress.

 

 

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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

 

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Let’s Make Faces

Look what I did!

I hope you are enjoying a beautiful summer: picnics, camping, swimming, baseball…

But, when you are ready to come in, cool off, and do something creative, I invite you to join me in a portrait quilt class or workshop.  There are spaces open in these locations:

CraftU Courses are once again open for registration: 

 August 13 – Brigham City Museum, Brigham City, Utah.

Jo's self portrait

Jo’s Self portrait

September 30-October 2, 2016 – Quilt & Fiber Arts Festival, LaConner Quilt & Textile Museum, LaConner, Washington

October 15-16, Jukebox Quilts Store, Fort Collins, Colorado

Portraits on Parade

Portraits on Parade

 

“Portrait Quilt Workshop” Sat-Sun, October 15-16, 2016. Call (970) 224-9975 for more information.

January 19-22, 2017, Road to California Quilter’s Conference, Ontario, California

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Thread Painted Features in Quilting Arts Magazine

The latest issue of Quilting Arts magazine in now available. It contains the next article in my series on thread-painted facial features. I believe this article is on twitching the mouth. Look for it on pg. 39. To purchase a copy follow this link: http://www.interweavestore.com/quilting-arts-june-july-2016 .

_QA81_Front_Cover_WEB

Below is a description provided by the publisher.  The bold type was added by me…and why not?

You’ll love this if:

  • You are looking for art quilt inspiration for this summer.
  • You want to learn new techniques, including embroidery, surface-design, and quilting motifs.
  • You want to be inspired and encouraged by fellow quilt and fiber artists.

Get ready for summer with art quilt inspiration and technique tutorials! Inside the pages of the June/July 2016 issue of Quilting Arts Magazine you’ll find all of this and so much more. Discover techniques to take your embroidery to the next level with free-stitched Embroideries by Laura Wasilowski. She shows you how to take small vignettes of everyday life and hand stitch without a patterm. Discover how to dye beautiful fabrics using ice with Susan Purney Mark. Beautifully dyed fabrics will come to life. You are the designer! Details are drilled in on with Applique Portraits with Lea McComas. This issue is packed full and it doesn’t stop here, travel “up up and away” with results from the “What’s Your Super Power?” Reader Challenge. Whether perfecting a technique or falling in love with a new project, this issue is a must have!

Order your copy of Quilting Arts Magazine June/July 2016 today and be inspired by more than 25 stunning art quilts.

Quilt artists featured in this issue:

  • Sandi Colwell
  • Julie B. Booth
  • Lea McComas
  • Susan Purney Mark and many more!
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Study with Me at Craft U

I have 2 courses that are now open for enrollment at CraftOnlineUniversity.com OR CraftU,

Both of my classes are now open for enrollment.

Both of my classes are now open for enrollment.

for short.  Here are links of you are interested:

Fused Raw-Edge Applique Portraits  is a 6-week course that begins March 7th, 2016.

AND

Thread Painted Portraits is an 8-week course that will begin April 18, 2016

Interested in BOTH courses?? Enter the coupon code THANKS25 when you purchase Thread-Painted Portraits and you will get $25 off the cost of that course.

 

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Student Work

I’ve done a lot of traveling in the last couple of months: spoke to several guilds, attended quilt shows, and taught a workshop.  It IMG_4818has been  wonderful to meet and talk with people about their quilting and to share my techniques.  In between all of that I’m also hearing from people who have read  my book.  I love it when they send pictures of what they have accomplished.

Great work, Judy!

Great work, Judy!

 

 

 

 

One reader, Judy, sent me this photo of her with her friend Jane, and the thread-painted portrait she made of Jane.  I was pretty impressed.  Thanks for sharing.

 

 

Finally, here are photos of some of the ladies in my Thread-Painted Portrait workshop  at Quilter’s Station in Lee’s Summit, MO. What a delightful group.

First-time thread-painter, Janet. Go girl!!

First-time thread-painter, Janet. Go girl!!

Karen building on basic skills

Karen building on basic skills

Shirley was the speed demon

Shirley was the speed demon

 

 

Jane adding to an already extensive skill set.

Jane adding to an already extensive skill set.

Clara had thread-painted landscapes, now faces

Clara thread-painted landscapes, now faces

Barb drove hours to be with us--what energy.

Barb drove hours to be with us–what energy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, I’m preparing for a workshop and some lectures that I’ll be giving at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, England in August. Will I see you there?

 

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