Tag Archives: colored pencil

Tulip Trees

This is the 45″ square quilt top on my design wall right now. I’m letting the work “rest” to determine whether I’m done drawing and painting it. The fabric I chose for the backing is visible in the upper right of the picture. 

This project began with three lovely lengths of hand-dyed fabrics. I saw possibilities for a forest scene in the purple and green fabric from Indonesia. A green batik and a purple batik from Kenya provided an inner border of textured color accented by an irregular white line.  I pieced the fabrics to enhance the forest idea. I blurred the seam intersections and strengthened the tree shapes with Inktense pencils and diluted acrylic paint. Then I added white paint for a light-through-the-leaves effect. I added the brown and white outer border on a whim. I think it is a surprising choice which repeats the white in the forest scene. The last step was suggesting a path through the woods. I think the photo I took last week of a deer path in the snowy woods in my backyard put that idea in my mind. I have seen two art calls for entry that might be suitable for this work and their deadlines will urge me to finish it.

Tulip Trees

deer path in winter


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.


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.


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.


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

Another Wednesday

Another Wednesday painting result: I made a drawing on watercolor paper of the same view from my window that I did last week. This time I simplified and abstracted the scene. I spent my Wednesday painting time applying color with my Derwent Inktense pencils. Working with one small segment at a time, I applied washes using color pulled from the pencil tip with a wet paintbrush. With the wash still damp, I added textured using either the brush or the tip of the pencil. I am really enjoying the easy portability of this medium and the versatility. Here is Neighbors, Abstracted and the photo of the source scene.

Neighbors, Abstracted

Neighbors, Abstracted


Neighbors, source


I received a lovely gift on Sunday. A member of my art quilt group, who loves making 4” x 6” fabric postcards, gave two postcards to each person at the meeting. How generous. The signed one, I will send to a friend. An unsigned one I chose from the box had a nice teal and white print of a bird on a branch.

I could not stop myself when I got home. I took the print postcard apart and pieced it with fabrics that were meaningful to me and which coordinated in color: a hand-dye I had made, the waistband of a skirt and collar of a shirt that I had salvaged from my mother’s closet, some charm squares given to me as a gift. The bird image on the print was indistinct, so I searched my bird identification books for a species of appropriate body shape. A Northern Parula, the smallest warbler whose terrain includes Ohio, fit perfectly in both color and body shape.
I ironed fusible to the back of pale blue fabric, drew the perky little warbler with inktense pencils and a fine line Sharpie, and ironed him in place. My finished quiltlet, is 10 1/2” x 12 1/4”. Because it has a lot of hand-quilting, it was a four-day diversion from my backlog of unfinished projects. But making it was fun.

Northern Parula

Northern Parula

Wednesday Painting

I’ve been painting with a group of local artists on Wednesdays. This week I’m playing with my new Derwent Inktense products, a set of 36 pencils and 36 blocks. I keep Wednesday’s appointment for art time as faithfully as life permits. I’ve discovered that I stay motivated even after our meeting. After both the painting and I rest overnight, I can see the work with a fresh viewpoint. I revise or finish my effort done in the meeting and hope I don’t overwork it. A simple still life was yesterday’s effort. After tinkering with the still life for about an hour, I called it done and signed it. After I photographed it, I tinkered some more. New ideas came to mind. Since I had my supplies out, I taped a small piece of watercolor paper on a clipboard and drew the view from my kitchen window. Another hour of painting and the small work “Neighbors” is the result. I love how concentration on art creation drives all other worries from mind.

still life

still life



source for Neighbors

source for Neighbors


Gel medium transfers

I tried a new technique at our SAQA OH meeting yesterday. Jacqueline Sullivan, a Golden Products instructor, showed samples of her mixed media art made on fabric by using black gesso, diluted white gesso, light modeling paste with stencils, and gel medium. We did a hands-on session transferring ink jet prints from paper to fabric with acrylic medium. She warned us that we could not paint on these.

So now that my three samples are home, I’m experimenting with coloring them and painting them. The photo is the black and white prints, drawn on with a fine line black Sharpie marker and colored with Derwent Inktense colored pencils. I’ll try painting over these by using an isolation layer. This painting technique is the application of a thin layer of matte gel medium over an image you don’t wish to disturb. Once that layer is dry, you can put additional paint on top.

gel medium transfers

gel medium transfers


“Free” is my mother’s spirit. We lost my mother to cancer a few years ago. The cancer made her very jaundiced in the last two weeks of her life, hence the yellow woman. Her red hair is symbolic of all the stereotyped attributes of that physical feature: willfulness, courage, temper, and an eagerness to undertake adventure. Mom was “horse crazy” since her childhood. At her first opportunity to be on her own, while a college student in Texas, she bought her first horse. Over her lifetime, she owned dozens of horses and rode thousands of miles. She defined herself as a horsewoman. I envision her spirit riding free in an existence beyond this world.



My primary reference for the work is a bookplate my mother used to label her books, the books I knew from a very early age. Reading was another of Mom’s passions. Here’s the bookplate.

"Free" uses inktense in the background sky

“Free” uses inktense in the background sky

I try to learn something new with each fiber art project. This work used a inktense water soluble colored pencils. At our SAQA meeting June 20, one of the members shared a realistic work done by drawing with these pencils on fabric and shared the knowledge that the colors become permanent on fabric when wetted, dried, then heat set. The gradations in the sky are inktense on solid grey fabric. I’ll do more experimentation with Derwent Inktense pencils when colors in the project are not limited as they are in this Paint Chip Challenge. I’m also redoing and refining the “Free” concept in more fiber artworks.