Color Explorations

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Photo of a gerber daisy I took today.

Today’s been very exciting for me… I’m spending my birthday realizing a goal of mine- to be in the ongoing, long-term coursework at the Gail Harker Center for the Creative Arts.  I started in “Studies in Design, Experimental Machine and Hand Stitch Level 200” yesterday.

We mainly have been working on color theory and dyeing the last two days.  The photo above is a great example of color.  You probably know and can see how the complementary colors of blue and orange make this photo extremely vibrant.  But the photo also works well because it has red-orange, yellow-orange, yellow, and yellow green.  The spectrum of the color wheel from yellow-green through to red-orange are all included, which are analogous colors.  Also, the blue, red-orange, and yellow-orange combine to make a split-complementary theme.  Now, if the colors were all in the same proportionate amount, it wouldn’t be nearly as effective.  but the dashes of yellow-green and red-orange really help the photo POP!

A few of my embroidery threads and yarns that I’m hand-dyeing.  The dye is wet on the thread here and will look different once it has been rinsed out.

 

Beyond playing with dyes on paper and practicing color schemes, we started hand-dying our thread today.  I played around with variegating between colors, from dark to light in one color, and with using a split-complementary color scheme on the thread.
Some of my notes and a color study of creating neutrals from
complementary colors (Red-Orange and Blue-Green)

Tomorrow we will get started on dyeing our fabric and hopefully get to stitching.  I have three more wonderful days of this session… then it’s home and off to set up the Tieton, WA “Salsa!” exhibition, which will be opening Memorial Day weekend.  I’m pretty confident that I’ll be freemotion quilting as soon as I get through my show opening!

 

From my sketchbook- Creating shades by adding black to a pure color (orange) and mixing a triad of
Yellow-Green, Yellow-Orange, and Violet

 

 

Exhibition Struggles

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 This is being a tough month.  It’s not like I didn’t expect it… but here I am in the midst of it and I’m feeling a little in overwhelm.
First, as most of you know, I’m share the head of exhibitions for the Contemporary QuiltArt Association and we have our “Salsa!” exhibit opening Memorial day weekend.  Our jury met on April 28 at my home… you’d think that once the pieces were picked out, it should be smooth sailing, right?  Wrong.

One of the wonderful things about the venue we’re going to be in, the Mighty Tieton Warehouse Gallery, is that they’re going to print a catalog of the exhibit. So, as soon as I know the juror selections, I needed to get the photos of accepted pieces to their printer, which meant I had to download 114 photos (a full and detail shot of each piece) from the place where the artists had submitted them.  However, I soon found out that not every artist had sent high-resolution photos.  This meant I had to contact those artists who had sent low-res photos and help them get high resolution ones to me.  I even ended up taking photos for one artist!

Once the photos were sent over, I had to start working on compiling all the information for the catalog… artist’s statements, sizes of artwork, materials and techniques used, photographer, price of piece, year completed, as well as artist and title of the piece.  We have 57 pieces in the show, so that’s quite a bit of info to put together.

On Saturday, we pick up the pieces at our CQA meeting.  We’re working on figuring out a way to best hang the works… the gallery has a wire hanging system.  At this point, we’re planning on using a heavy-duty fishing line to attach the quilts and art cloth from the wire.  However, we will need to tie the fishing line onto all the hanging sticks and haven’t fully worked out how we will adjust the length of the fishing line to make sure each piece is at the right level and even.  My husband and I have even gone to a couple hardware stores to try and see if there was some sort of hardware that we could put the line through and pull it and it would catch and not slip.  At this point, it looks like we’re going to just be adjusting it by hand and tying it off.

On the 20th, we head over to Tieton (about a 2 and a half hour drive) to hang the show.  I’m not sure how long it will take considering the tying aspect.  Then our Opening will be on Saturday the 25th, so another long drive that day (I may stay overnight for that one since it goes from 12-5 and there is an artist celebratory dinner afterwards!)

Oh, did I forget to mention that my two-year long program at the Gail Harker Center for the Creative Arts starts this month too?  I will be going up to La Conner from May 14-19 for my first class. We’ll be meeting approximately every three months and have a good deal of homework in between each session.  However, as you can see from the photos here, Gail’s student’s create some amazing fiber artwork!

All this said, I’ve decided to back off of my initial goal this year to create a 5 x 7 piece each week.  I’m a little disappointed, but I am working on my artwork daily, so I suppose that’s the real goal.  Since I’ll be staying up at our cabin on Whidbey Island next week while I go to classes in La Conner, I plan to bring my freemotion quilting sampler quilt that I’m working on for Leah Day’s Craftsy class to work on in the evening.  Having six days away from my husband and kids to just work on my art will be a real vacation!

Anna’s hummingbird from my sketchbook – Acryllic paint, watercolor pencil, silver ink

True Triangles – Video Tutorial

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Working on sample of True Triangles
I’ve had some wonderful comments on my Salsa blocks, as well as a few questions on how I did certain aspects, including my background of my most recent block, Chili Pepper.  Today, I’m going to go over the triangles freemotion quilting design.

 

Practice and notes from my sketchbook – True Triangles

I started working out this triangle design in my sketchbook, because I wanted a way to have triangles, but not a bunch of connecting lines or other angles.

More notes from my sketchbook

The main trick with this design is to make your first triangle and then backtrack (or “travel stitch” as Leah Day of the Freemotion Quilting Project calls it) to the middle of one of the sides of your triangle, where you start the first corner of your next triangle.

Difficulty: Beginner- The main difficulty with this design is in getting your sides of your triangles straight and in carefully backtracking, so your stitches stay on the line of the original triangle’s line.

OK, I’m still working out the bugs on how to do a nice job on videography for my tutorials, so bear with me.  I cut down time on this video by speeding it up a bit during part of the sewing, but I need a bit more practice on my hand position while videoing and also adding audio to the part which has increased speed.

Click Here if the Video isn’t Showing Above

True Triangles used in the background of my Chili Pepper block

If you haven’t linked up yet, make sure to visit Design Wall Weekend!  Or just stop by to find some other great blogs!

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More Procion MX Dyeing

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Wow… another fantastic day of mostly working with Procion MX dyeing at the Gail Harker Center for Creative Studies.  To be completely honest, I’m pretty tired… this can be hard work.  So, I’m going to keep it short and sweet tonight, and just put up some images and descriptions of the processes and projects we worked on.

First, our hand-dyed embroidery threads are totally luscious!  Here they are drying in our classroom.  We had to rinse them out and then set the color in hot water with Synthropol today.

We then started dyeing wool-rayon felt, which we’d cut into pieces prior to class, and will be making into hand-stitched books.

Felt with dye poured on (wet)

The felt totally soaks up the dye… you have to pour it on and it looks horrible and dark for the most part.

Rinsing out the felt

After allowing it to sit for a few hours, we rinsed it out and also set the dye with Synthropol.  Since the felt soaks up so much water, we had to carefully wrap it in towels to help dry it.  You don’t want to press or agitate it very much, or it starts the felting process.  We then left it to completely dry overnight.

Felt dyeing

Rinsed felt for hand-made stitch books, laid out to dry

We also worked with painting dyes on sketchbook pages.  We do these in 2-page “spreads” so that they will go together when the book is opened.  We then fuse pages together, to make the pages stiff and able to be stitched on.  We started working on a few pages by drawing a design on them, then punching holes through the paper with a darning needle.  We then can easily put our stitches through the holes.

Some sketchbook pages painted with dye

I believe we’re done with the dyeing now… on to more stitchwork tomorrow!

A two-page spread for a sketchbook, painted with Procion MX dye

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For great ideas on freemotion quilting, check out Leah Day’s FreeMotion Quilting Project

Recognizing our limits and not giving up

There are times for each of us when we need to just need to assess what’s realistic.  It’s been that kind of week.  As I mentioned a few days ago, I have a Valentines special trip to visit my girlfriend and her husband for their twenty-fifth anniversary.  It turns out that Valentine’s and President’s day coincide with my sons’ mid-winter break, so my family and mother and I are taking a long weekend trip down to the San Francisco Bay area.  But, as most of us know, things start to get complex as soon as you plan to get out of town.

My cilantro machine embroidery on the background fabric
I’ve chosen (still to be completed.)

Therefore, I haven’t finished my 5 x 7 art piece for the last week.  I’m not sure whether I’ll get one done in the coming week, since I’m out of town.  However, I did bring my sketchbook along, so perhaps I can finish something that way.  My current 5 x 7, my cilantro piece, is well on it’s way.  So, I might get it finished when I get back next Tuesday.

Regardless, I want to be honest with you… I think it’s important to recognize that we can’t always reach our goals.  I’ve had a few people feel like they couldn’t continue with the 5 x 7 challenge, because things came up and they weren’t able to do their artwork a week or two.  Sometimes the most important thing is to accept our failures and then get back to work.  Perseverance pays.  So even though I know last week and this coming one might not be as productive as I had hoped, I will not give up.

Here are a few more wonderful pieces from the Bellevue Art Museum “High Fiber Diet” exhibit:

“The Contact: Climax Forest”
by Ann Johnston

These three pieces by Ann Johnston were hung together and all feature Ann’s hand-dyed fabrics.  Climax Forest is hand dyed cotton that has been hand & machine stitched.  I love the complementary color scheme with the golden yellow-orange and blue.

“The Contact: Nevadan Orogeny”
by Ann Johnston

Her piece Nevadan Orogeny is also hand dyed cotton with machine stitching.  It represents the era where massive plumes of molten magma intruded into the earth’s crust, lifting and creating the western part of the North American continent.

The final piece,Vigil is also hand dyed cotton with hand & machine stitching.  I love the cracked look of the mountain peaks.  I’ve climbed glaciers in Alaska and while the beauty of the great blue ice is incredible, something that many people don’t know is that the ices has cracks and lines of dirt, from the rocks that have been crushed through the force and power of the glacier.

“The Contact: Vigil”
by Ann Johnston

The next piece, “Studio” was constructed with Felt, Polyfiber, wire, and PVC.  Tamara Wilson of Fairbanks AK recreates her surroundings with felt and thread.  She feel that comfort and warmth, safety and security are conveyed both through the topic of her familiar surroundings as well as the usage of felt.

Each part of the scene below is made out of the felt and supporting pieces… and I mean every part of the scene… the bike on the wall, the light bulb and wire it hangs from, the table & chair, the sewing machine, reading glasses, cup of noodles, trashcan, etc.  All of it!

“Studio” by Tamara Wilson
“Studio” detail view

I hope this gives you a little inspiration and helps you remember that it’s ok when you don’t always meet your goals.  Goals are there to help you… to light your way.  When you have other things in your life, it’s o.k.  Learning balance is such a critical part of all of our lives.

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Questions to Ponder for Writing Your Goals

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OK, I’m going to be sitting down on Sunday with my Eastside SDA (Surface Design Associates) group, which was formed out of our Washington State SDA symposium which I helped plan last year.  This month, our topic is “The Business of Doing Art” and will include goal setting. 

So, I’ve prepared some questions for us to think about, as we write out our 2013 goals and objectives:

  • What skills do you already possess?  What do you do well?
  • What could you improve on?  What do you need to learn?
  • What sources do you have to learn what I need (books, online, classes, magazine articles, friends, a mentor etc.)
  • What are you passionate about? How can you bring some of that passion into your work?
  • Are there specific projects that you want to complete?
  • Is there a theme or series that you want to investigate in your artwork?
  • What professional organizations do you belong to?  What do they do for you and your artistic career?  How can your participation enhance or further your career?  If you don’t have any professional organizations that support you as an artist, how could you go about finding one (or more)?
  • Do you want to show my work?  What sort of shows or venues?  Are there specific shows or venues you’d like to target?
  • Are you organized to show?  What do you need to do to be prepared?  (Examples- how do you track your art, how do find opportunities, what do you need to ship and deliver pieces, do you have specific instructions for hanging and displaying your work?)
  • Do you want to sell your work?  What is your plan for getting sales (how would get a gallery to represent you; what sort of person or institution would be interested in the kind of art you make?)
  • What is the realistic projection of the number of pieces you will complete this year?
  • What additional organization of your studio or workspace do you need to be more productive?
  • Do you need additional tools or supplies to create what you want?  What are they?  do you have the funds to purchase them and if not, how will you raise the money?
  • What will you do when it gets hard?  How will you regain inspiration or motivation to work in the face of rejection, disinterest, or conflicting priorities?

Tomorrow I’ll be at the Viking Good Yule celebration from about noon until 10 pm.  For those who haven’t read this before, my 17 year old son is fascinated with Viking culture and at this point is planning to study anthropology and archeology.  So we’re going to a big Viking re-enactment celebration and feast.  I finished my “Viking Apron Dress” last night,  from a 10th century design.  It’s amazing to me how different Viking culture was from what the stereotypical idea of Vikings is in our society (for instance, they didn’t have horned helmets, although they do look pretty fun and impressive!)  I’m sure I’ll have some interesting photos to post from that and I’ll make sure to get one of my dress as well.  I’ll make sure to also have my sketchbook in hand and work on my Salsa! designs for the Mighty Tieton show.  Make it a great day!