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
as we found him
Wednesday evening as I was returning home, I saw a hawk sitting inches from the white line at the edge of the road. I suspected he had been hit by a car. I pulled off the road and called Jan Ferrell (aka Mother of Orphans), who is a naturalist at Ohio Bird Sanctuary. Her advice was to throw a blanket over him and put him in a box in a dark quiet place overnight until the Sanctuary would open in the morning. I was less than a mile from home, so I called my sister to get a hawk-sized box and meet me in a few minutes. When we returned to the bird with blanket and box, other people were there also intending to rescue him. I was pleased to know others also cared to help. Since I already had blanket and box at the ready, I easily captured the dazed victim. He was surprisingly light and offered no resistance. He was still upright and alive in the morning, so we got him in to the Sanctuary shortly after it opened. Executive Director Gail Laux received him, confirming that he was a young male, underweight and with a few external parasites, but no broken appendages. I left him to the expert care at the Sanctuary, but have his case number so I can check on his progress. I was so glad to do my part to increase the little guy’s prospects for survival.
at Ohio Bird Sanctuary
When creating a work of art, sometimes it is O.K. to be sloppy.
Drawing or painting freely and quickly can create an unrestrained, joyous feel. This is spontaneity, or being loose. An artist can be sloppy when the part being made will not show in the final work. Imprecise underpainting can successfully give a overall color tone to a painting or allow glimpses of the underpainted color to show through successive layers of paint.
But a caution, work will look wrong to a viewer if the looseness incorrectly depicts anatomy of an identifiable subject. Beginning artists may avoid drawing complex parts of a figure, like hands or faces, because drawing them well is too difficult or frustrating. Skilled artists may choose to distort or simplify a form for dramatic or emotional effect. It is usually obvious to a viewer whether an omission or simplification is a lack of skill or a deliberate abstraction.
With an art quilt, one can totally cover the back with a piece of cloth as a backing. Stitches on the underside are covered, so thread ends don’t need to be tied, trimmed or buried…that saves time. Because batting is enclosed between the two quilt layers, no one will know or care if it is frugally pieced from scraps.
The fussy part…precise and perfect looks professional. It is worth it to take time and effort on parts of an artwork that show. Catch every stray thread on the front of the quilt, finish edges or frame with care. Sign and label clearly. Here are the sloppy parts hiding inside the neatly finished “Bearded Lady”.
stitching from the back
If I don’t have a title when I begin a work, the art usually names itself as it progresses. My cheesecloth version of the elephant image just named itself Bearded Lady. I had left off the wonderful detail of chin hairs that were evident in my source photo, when I made the drawn/painted version. I stitched them prominently in black thread this version. I have about 1/4 of the stitching done in this photo.
I’m aiming to have this work finished in time for the meeting of Art Quilt Alliance group next weekend to fulfill the challenge given by the group’s president to use cheesecloth in an art quilt. I’ll post again when it is finished.
Bearded Lady in progress
Today was delightful. I have been thinking about a challenge given in a quilt group I recently joined… to use cheesecloth as a material in an art quilt. Pondering possible topics, I thought of photos I had taken year earlier and the wonderful wrinkled skin of an elephant.
Here are the two reference photos I chose and my drawing made with Caran’d’Ache Neocolor II water soluble crayons on unbleached muslin. The drawing is 18″ x 12″. You can see I “repaired” my model’s ear and made her lovely brown eye more open than in the primary reference photo. I remember the red- brown dirt these elephants apply to themselves as insect protection, so added a hint of that color.
I like the drawing too much to apply the cheesecloth over it, so I’ll finish this as a raw edge applique on a pale green and free motion quilt on it.
I really enjoyed spending an entire day drawing, but I have not solved the dilemma of what to make for the cheesecloth challenge.
I’m out and about again, feeling better. Picking strawberries and back to weeding the yard and garden. I found another vacated rabbit nest when I weeded under the apple tree.
While mama Phoebe was out foraging this morning, I peeked at her peeps. They are living on top of the ceiling fan on my front porch. I only look once a week. Four weeks ago I saw 5 tiny pale eggs laid, then there were two weeks of incubation with mama present almost all the time. They hatched last week – a mass of pink and grey that was uncountable. Today all babies look healthy, beginning to feather out, with 5 distinct yellow beaks. The nest is so crowded, I can see the babies’ heads above the sides of the nest.
It is a magic morning. I hiked around our farm at 7 am this morning. I would ordinarily be lazing in a warm bed at this hour but I have two waifs to care for until I can find homes for them. Today’s task is making and distributing we-need-a-home-posters for these cute, loving puppies that someone abandoned.
It is actually above freezing at ground level but cold in higher altitudes creating this sticky, fluffy snow. I couldn’t resist taking more photos of trees to add to the thousand or so already loaded into my computer. It looks very bright outside despite lack of direct sun because so much light reflects from the snow. A local author has described this part of the world as “almost paradise”. I agree.
We need a home.
Posted in Nature