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.

Advertisements

Bullseye experiment continues

I do view each art project like a scientific experiment. Controlling some things, testing variables. Here is my thinking after about five more hours working on Bullseye experiment #1.

I enjoyed playing with the colors, finding myself adding more gold and orange, less white and yellow. This added middle values, altering my original idea, which was for sharply contrasting darks and lights with no middle values. I use a sequence for color decisions: 1. decide range of values of light to dark, 2. decide hues that best express idea, often a named color scheme like complementary or analogous. 3. decide color temperature, and intensity. All decisions are based on whether the work needs more harmony (repetition/sameness) or more variety (contrast).

One of the most important things to do when designing any art work is to periodically evaluate progress. The low tech way to do so is to step back and squint at the work, which reduces detail and color information. Another way to get a fresh view is to use a reducing glass or mirror. Modern technology offers another tool, the digital photo. My step back revealed light areas of my dark background fabric which confused the design. I darkened the areas with markers.

I had used up my fabrics that had fusible already ironed on them, so dived into my stash for any other whites, ivories, yellows, golds or light oranges. I used plates from my kitchen cupboard to make templates, drawing around them in pencil. I had been using scissors to cut the circles, but tried a small diameter rotary cutter and found that faster and more accurate. I pinned, then attached pieces with water soluble glue. Fabrics without fusible were translucent and tended to fray. I decided that intensive quilting would overcome those flaws. This is a quilt I am making as a learning experience, not a quilt destined for a highly competitive show.

I was slightly distressed that this quilt was not consistent with my other work, not expressing my personal “voice”. I want to add an element that is in most of my other works…words. I will write some thoughts about roundness with markers in the center area. I want to use some of the fancy decorative stitches on my sewing machine that I use very rarely. Here the current state of progress:

 

Bullseye experiment #1

I have presented a challenge for Ohio members of Studio Art Quilt Associates: Create a work that fits the SAQA definition of an art quilt. The work should contain at least one bullseye motif. Longest side should be no less than 24″ and no more than 48″.  A bullseye is a simple traditional quilt design, a circle or concentric circles centered within a square. Several bullseye blocks are cut into quadrants and their parts exchanged and rearranged. There are an infinite number of ways to expand and modify the design. 

For experiment #1, I set limits for myself. I began with nine bullseyes, arranged in three rows of three. I chose 10″ for the squares and grabbed a coaster and jar lid for circle templates. I wanted a stark contrast between one light value and one dark value. Because I had quite a few yellow pieces of fabric that already had fusible ironed onto them, yellows, light oranges, ivories and whites became my lights. I chose browns and burnt sienna as the darks.

After I had made the nine blocks, I tried various arrangements of them: rows, border, and circular. I photographed each in order to better compare them. Photos reduce the size of the compositions and allow for simultaneous viewing. The circular pattern pleased me the most.

I pieced the squares. I needed a wide dark brown border to make the outer bullseyes complete circles. Once the pieced squares were appliquéd to the dark brown, I cut fabric from behind them to reduce layers in quilt center. I began adding circles and elaborating the design intuitively. Pins hold the work together to keep options open as I rearrange and refine the design. I’ll glue and fuse when I am happy with it.

Here is the progress at the end of today, followed by three of the designs I considered at the beginning. In my next work session I’ll think out the logic of the outer circles of the bullseyes…should they appear to be overlapping? One more day of tinkering should finish the design, then I’ll move on to sewing.
 

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 need to be home

I’m not sure what to say because it has been so long since I did a post. I would like to resume regular weekly posts but I have done so much traveling this year, both short and long trips, that I have not made posting on this blog a priority. I love traveling, but I need to be home long enough to assimilate all I’ve seen and done. Here are two photos from Thursday, September 21, 2017, plein air painting at Malabar Farm, an Ohio State park. The painting I did that day needs a bit more polishing before I show a photo of it, but the point of plein air is being outdoors as much as creating a masterpiece.  I love the fall color, which is just beginning in Ohio.