Sunday, October 31, 2010

Placemat and Potholder Observations

If it's 8" x 8" and could be mistaken for a potholder, mount it on painted gallery wrapped canvas. Everyone knows it's supposed to be hung on the wall. If it has a binding and is displayed flat on a table, confusion begins and the conversation will go something like this:

"Oh, isn't this pretty." "Thank you."

Can I wash it?" "You could wash it, but it's painted with acrylics, so you could run a lint roller over it to remove dust."

Is it a potholder? "No. It's a small Art Quilt"

Can I put a casserole on it?" "You could if you'd like to, but most people frame Art Quilts this size."

"Oh. It's an Art Quilt."

If it's 5" x 7" piece, give it more presence. Quilt a 9" x 12" background, attach the piece to the background, and add some hanging tabs to the back. Explain that it can be hung easily by putting flat head thumbtacks through the tabs or that it can be framed. Quilters will understand that it's a small quilt, and for others it's still in the placemat size range, but big enough to get it off the dinner table. The conversation then ends with:

"Wow. That's easy."

"Yes. You can take it home and pop it on the wall."

When having visitors in the studio, it's been fun and interesting to observe the reactions to various sizes of artwork. It's a learning experience for both parties. When I make the really little guys, 3" x 5", I put them on a greeting card. Packaged with an envelope in a clear bag, everyone knows they're a greeting card. "Whew."

Monday, July 26, 2010

From Photo to Journal Quilt

Sandra Archbold gets all the credit for growing this beautiful lily. Her gardens are magnificent.

Keeping a visual journal is recommended for quilt artists. I've been drawing and painting forever so keeping a visual journal shouldn't be a problem, right? I have all the papers, pencils, chalks, crayons, markers, paints, etc. I took apart my grandkids' chewed up board books and "Tweetie", aka DH, drilled holes in the pages so I could bind them together. The pages are sanded and painted with gesso. Do I paint those prepared pages? No. Do I sketch in a journal? No. Do I doodle? Only when I'm on the phone on hold half listening to sales propaganda or "elevator" music. Those doodles are the same old flowers I've been doodling for years. No new inspiration there. But...

The light finally went on! I may not be picking up the pencils or the brush, but I am picking up the camera, toting it in my backpack on all those hikes, carrying it on all those walks, taking it on trips, taking it in the car just in I started printing my photos on PFD cotton soaked in Bubble Jet Set ( I had two bottles to use up before trying the prepared fabrics on a roll). Low and behold! I have my own version of the journal quilt. It's instant gratification and no strain on the hands. I can draw with my sewing machine to my heart's content. Now I can stop feeling guilty that I'm not doing something the experts recommend. As usual, I'm doing it my way instead of the recommended way. They're pretty. It's fun. Good enough for me!

Friday, April 9, 2010

What's Your Favorite Color?

"What's your favorite color today?" the granddaughters ask. They've discovered that some days I like blue best, some days yellow or pink or navy with a touch of purple. Some people like one color consistently all day, every day, and live with those colors in their houses and wear their favorite color often. I get bored with just one color. There are so many glorious colors, how could I choose the same one day after day? It must have started with those big boxes of crayons my Mom bought me. Some days an endless number of greens dance in the leaves, grass, and plants. Some days the color of the morning sky is just so beautiful it outshines other colors all day. Some days the blue of the sky is just heartbreaking in its transparent glow. How could anyone resist the blush of pink on an apple blossom?
It was a brown day and with a little brown paint left to use up, and big piece of fabric, another color had to run around on the fabric with the brown. This "critical" decision gets made by staring at the jars and tubes until one jumps up and screams, "Me! Me! Pick Me!" There's not a whole lot deliberation that goes into making the color choices. It's more like, "Yeah, this will work". So the fabric ended up with browns, reds, and a little orange.
What will I do with this fabric? Who knows. It will go in the pile under the table with the other painted canvas and one day, when brown or red is my favorite color, it will find it's way
onto the design wall. Hopefully the fabrics on the design will play well together and I'll end up with "something" I can collage together and cover with stitching. Maybe tomorrow my favorite color will be violet. Who knows where that may lead!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Whales? What Whales?

Hopefully, as a child, we were encouraged to color purple elephants, multicolored pigs, or blue trees, or just scribble and paint without assigning an identity to our endeavors. One of my granddaughters colors and draws on the cardboard toilet tissue rolls, napkins, or anything else she encounters that will accept crayon, markers, etc. Of course I'm thrilled by this and look forward to seeing the results of her creativity when I visit. Of course she also drew on the walls and had to learn that her Mom frowned on decorating that particular surface. But as I told my daughter, I understand drawing on the walls. Just look at that big, blank "canvas" just waiting to be filled!

Those of us who are lucky enough to have had a childhood in which we were encouraged to express our creativity have hopefully been able to hold on to the childlike ability to "just do it" and play with our fabric, paints, threads and whatever else we have stashed away in our studios.

With no one looking over our shoulder, we don't have to be concerned about whether our tree looks like a real tree, whether our sky is the correct blue, or whether somone else can identify our subject-unless that's what we're going for. Not knowing what you're going to end up with is the fun part of creativity. It's an adventure!

One thing that makes painting so much fun for me is painting wet on wet and not knowing exactly what I'll end up with when everything dries. I might have a general idea about where some of the paint will be on the surface, but I never know exactly how it will look.

The picture above is three unseparated sheets of heavy paper toweling that I painted white, added blacks and grays and then combed the paint around with a spackling tool. I hung the wet piece on a clothes rack and let gravity do the work.

My granddaughter spent an afternoon painting with me at the studio. She studied the dry paper toweling, but never asked what it was. She painted a sheet of paper with her watercolors. When she was done, she asked me to keep the paper she was working on so she could finish it the next time she came to paint. "I'm making a whale," she said. Ah!

Friday, February 19, 2010

The 34th Trip

The view of Lake George from the summit of Buck Mountain is worth the trip no matter how many times I've hiked up the mountain. On this, my 34th trip to the summit since last April, the sun was shining and the snow crystals sparkled. It's no wonder Buck
Mountain always tops the list of favorite hikes in our area.There's nothing like a day in the woods to inspire creativity. Painting in the studio is producing fabrics reminiscent of birches and snowdrifts. Who knows where the muse will lead!