Friday, November 10, 2006

Wild Friday Night!

Oh, yeah, baby...I'm walking on the wild side, living in the fast lane....that's me. MM--mm. I've been wearing my nightgown since 8 o'clock, letting my kids watch tv, and...uh...embroidering grapes. That's right....clubs have got nothin' on me, man. I'm cutting edge.

Yeah, and my husband and I used to go to Sportmart on Friday nights....try on the rollerblades with the plastic thingy still attaching the pair. That was painting the town, I'm tellin' ya'. Closing down dance halls and rough bars? Noooo, too tame for us. Passing footballs down the aisles without getting thrown out of Sportmart? That' s living large for you.

About those grapes:

That sideways squiggle was begging to be machine embroidered. How could I not oblige? In the comments, Debra suggested tackling this with hand embroidery. That would be an issue for my attention span, which is abbreviated at best. I'm really digging the way built up stitches form a raised surface, even though there's not much done yet. A little hand stitching (certainly nothing approaching gratuitous use *snort*) might be the finishing touch.

Next, Funky C brings you a list of aimless thoughts brought to light during the embroidery process:

-Is this really art? It's pretty realistic...not much hidden meaning or personal imagery in drawing green grapes that look grapes.

-Maybe a big, fat, vocabulicious title coupled with an eye glazingly wordy artist statement will hide the fact that these are grapes.

-Do I really want to thread paint the entire, endless background the rich dark brown I'm envisioning?

-Maybe I'll just call this a 'study'. Studies don't have hidden meanings, do they?

-Do I really want to cut it out and just stick it on a background? Maybe a better way would be to print some grapes on my Epson and fuse them right in the middle of some brown fake batik. Now there's a look.

-Gee...that dark brown background thing kind of looks like some stuff out of the Andrew Wyeth book I've been reading at bed time.

-Oh, crap. Now it's not only 'not art', it's freakin' derivative. Party over. I quit. Think I'll blog instead.

And here we are. There isn't a scene in L.A. that can compete with that kind of mental trip. And I can do it all for free in my nightie.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


If you give me a piece of blank paper and the right black felt tipped marker, I can play quietly by myself for hours. The problem is, I don't often have hours. And it's got to be just the right pen. All pens in this household must pass audition. I am a stringent critic. If they make the cut, they are quietly hidden in a bag pocket, near my desk, by my bedside.

Lately, the sketchbook has been my friend. I took it with me to Jeckyll Island last month and did some quickies here and there. There were only moments to capture poses, etc... before the person moved. I find the act of drawing live and fast forces me to use my eyes instinctively....forces me to capture the essential information in a scene.

Here are two of my traveling companions partaking of our nightly 'oysters, shrimp, and beer at sunset' ritual:

I think this guy is saying, "Hey, Baby..." I also think they realized they were models, got wierded out, and moved to the other side of the dock:

Notice they all have short legs and big heads. Draw whatcha' know, baby.

My dear friend Melissa watching the ocean:

So much for Jeckyll. It was a fabulous trip...ocean, seafood & beer, old friends. What's not to love?

Back in my real world, Eye for Fiber, my critique group, met last night. Barb Dinneweth, the resident art teacher, led us through an excercise about line. She asked us to draw fruit, just capture it's shape:

In stead of drawing circles for grapes, I wanted to capture their edges with a horizontal squiggle. And unlike the Jeckyll sketches, there was time to use a little more control. This morning, I realized that I've made this mark before:

This is a silk screen image I made using flour paste. I scratched the image right into the flour paste coated screen. The idea that shape is defined by edges and light fascinates me. I wanted to use edges, not straight lines to reveal the contours of her face.

In fact, I've been using this same kind of mark since childhood. I clearly remember defining clouds with these horizontal squiggles. Hmmm...

In the back of the stew I call 'brain', this idea has been brewing. How do I translate it into fiber? The obvious answer is thread painting. But somehow that's not satisfying me. The question of medium is flaring brightly in my mind. Is fiber the best medium simply because it's what I know? Or is it time to explore something new? I know watercolor's not it. And I'm not completely ruling out fiber. But I am thinking. And Horace, I warned you about thinking.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Not much time today....Friday is the kids' homeschool co-op day, a huge event at a nearby community college. I'm whipped by the end.

Here's yesterday:

Here's today:

Lucienne and I? We make zee beeautiful mooseek, oui?
It's still not right, though. May have to go back to the original image and take this down a slightly different path. Plus I'm learning more about how to use the color tools in photoshop. And working with the layers. I hadn't found all the color mixing options when I started this. Each leaf is in a separate layer. I need to have each leaf coloring in it's own layer too.

This whole 'taking a picture and designing in place' is really groovy! It' s like being able to design right in the library. That's just cool!

Okay, the ankle biters are eating breakfast. Duty calls....

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Groove

It's baaa-aaaack! After months of nothing, I feel a groove coming on. And it could be a serious worth pushing into a body of work. It's almost as if this project had to wait until the right time to find fruition. I met Carol Bryer Fallert when she won the AQS Best of Show for her quilt, 'Birds of a Different Color'. She said that the idea for her quilt came 12 years before she had the skills to make it. Composers have been known to write music that they can't play.

In my mind, this all boils down to my self-view not as an artist, but as a problem solver. For me, the art comes through the 'aha' moment---the point of solution. Everything after that is so ordinary, it's almost boring. And I find that when work is truly complete, I'm sometimes disappointed. Seeing finished work doesn't have the thrill that comes with realizing the answer to a problem.

Case in point:

Here we have an unadorned library wall, complete with hideously distracting light fixtures. Even the head librarian agrees that the lights need to go, but libraries run on budgets. You know the rest.

Here is my first sketch, right out of the box. There followed a second, more intentional sketch. And then there was a survey, a poll. The poll indicates that artists around the world prefer the giant leaf collage. Lucky for me, 'cause I agree!

Then came a night of anxst, not over this, but over several situations in my life. At 4 am, I gave in to the insomnia, do a little office work, then broke out the pen tablet. **Suddenly, as I type, I feel the urge to christen said pen tablet, I love it so!** I hereby dub her Lucienne Fauré, Crafter of Illumination!! You may kiss her ring...

Anyway, serious design work ensued. Lucienne and I have arrived at this:

It's a good start, but there's more to be done. The colors haven't quite arrived yet. Seeing the photo so small makes me realize that I need to push the glowing highlights on the edges if this thing is going to show on the paneling. I'm ready to audition fabric and will probably oscilate between Lucienne and the fabric pile until it all feels right.

And I think there needs to be a greater sense of movement, spontenaity, like the original sketch. I want this whole arrangement to have more arch. But Lucienne is getting some beauty rest and laundry is calling with an annoying harshness. This'll have to sit for the afternoon.

What's left in my head is that this will be 3-D work. Copper mesh is in da' house! I've worked with window screening---fun to free-motion, but very pokey, and 1/2" wire grid--- with a sewing machine?...not so much. The needles were most unhappy about it. The copper seems promising. Then I'll need to come up with a way to mount the pieces on a hidden wooden frame---enter stage right---Very Handy Husband.

See what I mean? The hard part---the concept---is over. The rest is a snap.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Procrastination in Spades

Finally, my moment of quiet has arrived! I'd say 'daily', but the fact is, solitude doesn't visit Chez Funky on a daily basis.

For most of you today is Halloween. Here it is my Sweetie's birthday. He likes man food on his birthday, so there was roast beef with flavorful gravy, yukon gold mashed potatoes, steamed fresh broccoli. And a pumpkin desert (cheesecake)....he loves all things pumpkin. Now the dishwasher is humming (don't make it too perfect in your head, there's still a full batch of dishes waiting to be washed), and the kids are in bed. I'm whupped!

Fiber content:
Procrastination seems to be biting me in the butt! As previously posted, the shirt fronts are done after some delay. Today I got an email from the director of my local library. Ruh-Roh! This is never good. Not because she's evil, but because it means she's reminding me about the quilt installation I promised to do years ago. That's right....YEARS. Last post, we were at weeks. Now we're up to years. Lordy, is it possible I've put something off for decades? Let's not find out. My husband can probably come up with a decent list of things.....I don't want to know. The really pathetic part is that I have several projects for others that have been delayed for years. Why do I do this? Only drugs and therapy will tell.

So, about the biggest block, the only thing that I can the location for the art:

It's up toward the ceiling and between two giant light fixtures. The fixtures make me crazy. They're so distracting! And I'll have to work hard to achieve impact from such a distance.

This evening, I put this photo into Photoshop and broke out my beloved pen tablet. Now, over the years, I've contemplated a bazillion different designs: landscapes, stacks of books, a tree branch hanging from the ceiling, etc... Tonight, two design roads came to me immediately:

I'm leaning toward the giant collaged leaves. It has potential for some dimensional quality. Given my color choices, it will have impact and stand up to those light fixtures. And I think it's just cool. The other design enhances the rectilinear quality of the architecture and I don't find it unique. But then, my view is a bit myopic tonight and I could be persuaded to change my mind.

By all means, render an opinion in the comments.

Monday, October 30, 2006


....these shirt front are done.

Gregory Climer, designer of Godspeed the Well Dressed Man, would have liked them weeks ago. Weeks! But October had a mind of it's own: 3 kids in soccer, three kids homeschooled, 3 guitar classes I'm teaching at a school co-op, 1 wedding trip, 1 big-fat-art retreat of which I'm in charge, 1 husband working full time and spending the rest of his time building an addition at church. Is this whiny excuse making? Yes it is. I barely touched fiber of any kind during September and October. Is that not cause for whining?

But at least they are done. And the retreat is over (for this year). And soccer is done. And there are no trips planned for a while. My spinning wheel, which has been mocking me with it's presence since August, finally got some attention. When there's time to spin, then I know life is slowing down a bit.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Fab '06, Day 3

That's a Wrap!

For me, day three was the busiest of all. Students were still working at a tremendous pace. And last minute details kept me hoppin'. The retreat was so successful, 18 students preregistered for next year and I'm expecting more in today's mail. I was blown away by this!

These posts may seem full of photos, but truly, they only show a fraction of what went on. I intended to get group photos, but there was so much bustle, it never happened. And when everyone was packed, we had a fabulous work crew to clean up. The energy of this event continued full tilt from the reception right up to the last van to be loaded (mine). What a fabulous testament to fiber artists, their strenght and their spirit!

Now for pics.

From Laura's room:
Peg Keeney working at a design wall:

The results of day 2's stuffed tube experiment:

How cool is that?

A piece that progressed all weekend:

Table mates:

A closer view of all the wonderful colored fabrics made by this student:

Jeanne's Room
Jeanne offering advice:

A work in progress:

More work:

I wish I had some better pics of the techniques learned in Jeanne's class. The layers of painted fabrics coupled with encrusted machine embroidery was incredibly beautiful.

Pamela's Room
Pam working with a student, and the student's self portrait in the background:

Design wall covered with a weekend's designs:

A student and one of her self portraits (she made 2):

More design wall:

A student who just couldn't stop working! She whipped out these little compositions at the end of the day:

Another view:

Pamela posted more pics from her class on her website, plus she gives a nice review of Fab '06.

End of Day Pics
Laura wraps up with a class discussion recapping the weekend and driving home a few key points:

Pamela's class with their self portraits:

And they all created happily ever after! The End!

...well not quite... Tomorrow, I'll blog specifically about our Quilting Arts scholarship recipient, Dianna Call.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Fab '06, Day 2


Saturday was Day 2 of the retreat. They were busy, I was busy. There was barely time to breathe, let alone blog! But it was all good.

People started filtering into class rooms around 8 am. By 9, the joint was jumpin'!
There was ironing:

And consultations with irons:

There was intense sewing:

And plenty of quality time with one's stash:


That's right, boys and girls. This student took a field trip to the hardware store and is ramming fibers into a plastic tube. Turns out, curtain adjusting handles work perfectly for this. Who knew?

And the results:

Laura Cater-Woods demonstrated using water color pencils in one's art:

Some dried fibers...fusible web, I think....from Jeanne Beck's class:

Works in progress from Laura's room:

One of the design walls from Pamela Allen's room:

By this point, they'd done a black & white excercise, a study in line, and a color study. Pamela really pushes students to work spontaneously and they were all amazed at how much they could achieve in 6 hours.

Saturday night, we hosted our 'Show-N-Tell Free-For-All Extravaganza'! It was a place for people to show anything they've made. Could be knitted washcloths or one's mosaic soap dish.
Anything! We saw some dolls:

Yes, it's a paper vest and hat:

And even an invisible quilt that only could be seen by the pure-in-heart:

I could see it! How 'bout you?

What a great day! The creativity was infectious, and the atmosphere friendly. I never fail to feel at home and truly myself amongst this group of fiber artists. It's worth every ounce of preparation.