Category Archives: drawing

Drawing with thread

Here are photos of two small fiber art pieces I did at different times in the past few years. They are drawn by free-motion quilting, drawing with thread. I would call them moderately successful, but I do not feel I’ve totally mastered the technique of drawing with my sewing machine. The secret to getting really comfortable with any technique is practice, practice, practice. I believe the maxim that it takes ten thousand hours of effort to become an expert at anything. I need more material on which to practice.

So, I’m reviewing and re-evaluate drawings, scribbles in sketchbooks, and unfinished paintings that have accumulated in my studio. I hope to find an image worthy of translating by free-motion quilting to become an art quilt.

Thanks, Dot detail

Cardiff Character

 

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November 10, 1945

Today I’m putting the label and border on “November 10, 1945”, a 14” x 24” work. I want to have this work finished for a presentation about making art quilt portraits that I will present in mid-January.

It is the 6th portrait I’ve done, a continuing exploration of techniques. Four portraits are of me, not because of great vanity, but because I am the readily available, no-cost model. One is from a photo of my daughter and this current effort is from a photo of my parents on their wedding day.

I had seen the wedding photo my parents had displayed in our home. In it, they stand together in front of the altar of the chapel at the army base where they were married. They stand stiffly and seem a bit nervous, with mom tugging at her right sleeve with her fingers. As I went through family photos looking for some images to harvest as a basis for artwork, I came across a better photo, one taken after the ceremony with all the wedding party. Holding hands, with fingers interlaced, they look ahead with relaxed, joyful smiles as they begin life together. Mom’s other hand now holds the marriage certificate. There is much more “story” in this picture.

Nov10_4web

I estimated the size art quilt I wanted, which gave me the percentage of enlargement to use when copying the image with my printer/scanner. I traced an outline of the two figures from this enlargement onto unbleached muslin. Referencing the photo, I drew details in graphite pencil. I colored the image with Prismacolor colored pencils. (I had first tried Derwent Inktense pencils, set by dampening the dry pencil drawing, then ironing. There was too much color bleed, because the small size of the faces required precision to render a likeness.) 

I auditioned possibilities for background fabric. I found a large scale print that reminded me of fabric in the curtains of my parents’ first home. The bold color would overwhelm the pastel drawing, but the wrong side of the fabric was perfect. I did not want the distraction of the print behind the faces, so came up with a heart shape to frame the faces. It may be a bit cheesy and obvious, but the shape fit the image well and gave it a pleasing symmetry.

Nov10_3web

I cut out the drawing, leaving less than 1/4 inch seam allowance to turn under. I glued the seam allowance under and appliquéd this cutout to the pieced background. (In retrospect, needle-turned appliqué would have been more precise.)

I had deliberately made the faces small so that quilting could outline the faces and not run across them. I hand-quilted within the figures and used machine free-motion quilting on the background. My sleeve for hanging the work is also the label. I use the computer to size and space text for the label, then trace the words with Sharpie permanent marker. I was tracing onto a print with dark and light areas, so I outlined the dark marker with white pigment ink (Uni-ball Signo broad) so that all letters are readable.

Nov10_2web

Now, I’ll post this and get back to sewing. Happy New year to all my followers.

Pencil and Eraser

I try to make an annual trip to an agricultural fair to sketch, my idea of great fun. Yesterday I was at the Loudonville Street Fair, a delightful event that runs through Saturday, October 7, 2017. I spent a few hours in the morning perched on a tiny stool outside the livestock tent with my small sketchbook, graphite pencil and eraser. My animal models are all groomed and captive…but that does not mean they hold still for their portraits. But, if you settle in quietly and have tons of patience, most animals will relax and move minimally, often returning to the same pose. The eraser is as vital as the pencil. My eraser rubbed out several attempts when my chosen model was too active to draw. The last photo is of one of my models. I am not only waiting for the animal to return to position, I must guess what is behind bars of the pen and under the halter. I became fascinated with the swirls and ridges as the hair direction changed on the steer’s face. I now understand why the term “cowlick” is used for rumpled hair.

Hereford cow

sleeping pig

Street Fair

Deadlines always motivate me. I am using the opportunity to exhibit with my small local quilt guild at a Street Fair held in the nearest village this coming week. I finished my second entry yesterday. It felt good to be in my studio and productive. Here is Northern Parula, which has my drawing of a small song bird native to our area. The entry I just finished, Life is Sweet, is a rework of the small piece I made and posted about in June. I moderated the color and the added a shortened version of the accompanying poem in the border. Tomorrow I take them to town to exhibit.

Life is Sweet

Northern Parula

Postcard

I learned of a call for entries for an art show which will be on display from October 26th through November 17th, 2017 at the Coburn Art Gallery at Ashland University. The show is called Mail Art. It consists of 4″ x 6″ cards made to fit the theme “Strength in Connection-Thy Neighbor”.  My entry, “Red, Brown, Yellow, Black and White” using 185lb watercolor paper, a Zig memory system writer, inktense pencils, and a clever brush that has water in the handle.Entries must be mailed to the show without an enclosing envelope. It will be interesting to see if my watercolor entry arrives undamaged.

 

I AM STILL HERE

I made a fast and fun 12.5″ x 12.5″ quilt…only three days from the idea to the finish. The sketch was made of large simplified shapes. I chose a face, because I have a presentation next week on making art quilts with faces as the subject.

I traced my line drawing onto a piece of fabric in permanent fine line marker.
I gathered bold bright fabrics, digging through boxes of plaids and polka dots.
I worked flat, with my base fabric pinned to a piece of foamcore, glueing my cut fabric shapes to this base with tiny smears of glue in the center of each piece. I pinned together these layers: white tulle with glitter, the fabric collage, a thin batting, and a backing fabric.

I used only two colors of thread to quilt, peach and teal blue. Details were added as I sewed: eyebrows, creases in the hand, including a long life line,  spirals in the cheeks (the symbol of life journey in some cultures). As I got to the nearly- finished stage of sewing on the binding, I composed a poem to explain the quilt’s story. Every quilt has a story.

Here’s the result:

 

Two possibilities

I am preparing for a 5-day retreat. The teacher requested that participants have two possible designs for work in class. The designs are drawn with fine line Sharpie markers on unbleached muslin, which will be the base over which bits of fabric will be overlaid for a colorful fabric collage. I’ve spent a couple of weeks deciding what I might like to work on.

The first sketch was pretty straightforward, an analysis of the dark/light patterns in a photograph of a Toggenburg goat. I drew it in a 8.5″ x 11″ format, then made it four times larger than the original. Yikes…it gets creepy when you make an image so much larger than  life! A three times enlargement was better.

The second possibility took me longer, about four re-drawings using multiple reference sources. I’m illustrating a delightful poem: A codfish lays 10,000 eggs, a barnyard hen lays one. The Codfish never cackles to tell you what she’s done. So we scorn the codfish and the boastful hen we prize, which only goes to show you IT PAYS TO ADVERTISE.

I’ve settled on the central image, but still have two possible options for including the text of the poem with the drawing. Here are my two drawings:

It Pays to Advertise

Togg