Friday, April 11, 2014

Playing With Color - Off the Wall Friday

The first draft
Sometimes I have a clear vision of where a design is going in concern with value and color.  And sometimes I do not.  This is one of the latter times.  sighhhh  

April's design was well received by Elizabeth, but she suggested that it might be edited.   She's right of course, with the lines it had made it all a bit busy.  Plus - like me - she was a bit distracted by the birdhouse pentagon (she thought it looked like a coffin - ouch! (grin)).  So I played for a few hours this week with the design - again.  Tessa, my teen, still thought the arrow was a bit much (and she could very well be right) but I elected to keep that.

The final draft

After several - and I mean several edits - I finally decided on a design.  It wasn't too hard to come up a decent value sketch - and I had already come up with a palette - how hard could it be to pick out which fabric goes where?????

Well this afternoon I found out - very hard.  OMG - after pinning up fabric on my design board for an hour - I gave up and decided to try it on the computer.  At least this will give me a better idea of
where to start with the fabric trials.  The afternoon flew by and since tonight is the opening night of the Tessa's spring musical - I had to give it a rest.  I don't feel like I got much accomplished!

Find of the Week

I have come a bit late to the new world of the "App" since I don't own a mobile phone (that's right I'm one of the 5% who doesn't in this country !) .  Since I won a nice kindle at work, I could now explore them a bit.  I found the game Blendoku which is a great puzzle game where you blend colors by hue and value.  Not only is it fun but its also good practice!  I must be learning a thing or two in my studio since I can easily beat the "World's Average" time.  The game is relaxing - not too taxing and its not a huge time waster.  Anyways - I know you can find it for the kindle Fire  (and Android phones) so I wouldn't doubt there is a version for the Ipad too.

So what have you been up to creatively this week?

Friday, April 4, 2014

Another Month, Another Challenge - Off the Wall Friday

Cypresses, 1907  Andre Derain
With April, brings another challenge in this year's Masterclass.  This month Elizabeth gave us a set of instructions on what to draw - and then we were to see where it took us.

Femmes de cuisine, Andre Lhote, 1935
 Am I the only one that is afraid of the unknown?  I don't see adventure around every new corner - I see peril.

I like the familiar.

I like routine.

I like my own little box and why in the world does she keep pushing me out of it??


With my whining over, I did spend the day exploring our mystery design.  Its started with this in-depth study of Fauvism. Fauvism was the first of the avant-garde movements that flourished in France in the early years of the twentieth century. The Fauve painters were the first to break with Impressionism as well as with older, traditional methods of perception. Their spontaneous, often subjective response to nature was expressed in bold, undisguised brushstrokes and high-keyed, vibrant colors directly from the tube. Henri Matisse and Andre Derain are good examples of artists of the movement but you can see its influence in a lot of the work being done pre WWII.


I really could have gotten lost down that rabbit hole, but I had my own explorations to continue with.  I decided to follow her instructions using Paint - yes Paint the program that comes with your computer but nobody really uses.  Its user friendly and versatile.  Plus its perfect for value sketches.

After a bit of playing around I settled on one design.  Then I spent the next two hours playing with value.  OMG - its crazy how many combinations you can come up with!  From those I had to come up with the three I liked the best and hand them in.  Decisions, decisions. . . .and to tell you the truth - after working most of the day away on the project, I had totally lost my objectivity on what was good or bad or if this was really what Elizabeth was looking for when she sent us the instructions.

Did I mention I don't like the unknown?  Luckily E was kind  enough to email right back and said they were fine and I wouldn't have to redo them!!  I can't wait to see the critique - I have a palette already in mind for it!

 So what have you been up to creatively?

Monday, March 31, 2014

The Magic of the Art Quilt - Design Wall Monday

Final Sewn Down Version - Ready for quilting

original sketch - was in my sketch book for 5 years

I know that sometimes quilters look at cool art quilts and think  - wow - wish I made that, wish I was that creative.  Most of the time, they are that creative.  What they aren't is willing to put in the time that a good art quilt takes.  I used to be one of those people.  Then I realized that good designs   didn't just happen by magic.  I know now  they happen most often by hard work.

Background semi pieced

My latest project proves that - I'm still not quite sure how good it is - but I do know that in the last month I worked hard on it.  This was my March assignment from Elizabeth Barton's Masterclass.  This month we were exploring line.  I had had the original sketch in my sketchbook for the last 5 years and I was glad to give it a go.  It will fit in nicely with my arches series.

Blocked out version - this is just pinned to my wall  - no sewing

background pieced the rest is just pinned
This was a lot closer to my original vision - almost there
I thought I would share the progressions of the quilt to show in one post the transformation it made this month.  Each time I changed it - it took hours to get it to that point.  From start to finish there is about 60 hours of work in it.  It started out being 50" by 50" and was cropped down closer to 44" by 42".  I still have to finish the quilting on it (probably another 10 hours)  - block it so it will lay flat and then face it (another 4 hrs).  Really the sewing part of the process wasn't all that long - I would say I sew about 30 hours altogether.  The designing was the other 60!

Next month I know I'm not doing a piece so big!

See other great design walls at Judy's Patchwork times.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Tinkering - Off the Wall Friday

This week's version
This week - as I spent many hours pinning  - got me pondering about  how much one should tinker  with a design.   You know what I mean - changing a bit here and there - adding - taking away . . . . tinkering.  Sometimes I think its just another form of procrastination - other times its a part of the design process.  So when is enough  - enough???

I'd love to tell you the answer - but at this point in this project - I have no idea.  This week I spent a ton of hours putting what I thought at the time was the final design touches to the arch - pinning the baby together and finally sewing it down.  Then I got the image for today's blog and thought - hmmmmm - not quite.  Sighhhh as my teen would say #thestruggle.  I did make a promise to myself to get it basted down and started quilting by Sunday so I gotta make some final - final decisions soon!  So I guess I'm still not quite done pinning.

And a word about pinning.  What pins do you use?  Do you think they make a lot of difference what kind  - brand - length etc?  Do you change pins  with what you're doing??

I came to the realization this week that for me they sure do.  I thought I had an extra box of my favorite brand of pins Iris Swiss Superfine pins but of course I didn't.   So I had to use  my glass head pins instead.  OMG what a difference.  I couldn't get most of them to pin nicely through the seams and the foundation - they bent - they broke - they were just a general pain.  Luckily, I used my handy-dandy Amazon prime membership to buy a couple of tins of Iris pins and they were here in two days. (they don't sell them locally).  Once I got them - pinning was a breeze.  I didn't realize they changed the packaging and I love the new tin design.  I told my husband I should just bite the bullet and buy a tin of 5,000 but since I've only gone through about 2,500 in the first 20 years of quilting maybe that expense can wait a bit. 

Still they are amazing.  I remember walking into my first quilt shop and Milly, the owner, telling me that she wouldn't use any other pins except those.  I though $7 for a box of pins??  She told me she would refund my  $$ if I didn't think they were worth it.  And of course, they were.  Since I got them on Amazon (I swear do they sell everything on there????)  for $9.40 a tin they are still a bargain.  And yes, I did buy an extra tin.  Something tells me that with this masterclass, I'm going to need them.

So what have you been up to creatively?

Friday, March 21, 2014

More on Critiques. . . . Off the Wall Friday

Since several people asked, I thought I would elaborate on my opinion on critiques.

QUESTION:  How do you handle an unasked for critique?

ANSWERWelllll. . . . That has changed over the years.  The change came as I got more confident in my art.  I always thought I needed to justify the piece. . . to explain my decisions and actual take the comments from the peanut gallery to heart.  Then one day I had an epiphany when I bought a little tin pin that said

Never Apologize For Your Art

Well aduh on me.  Why didn't I think of that?  So from that moment on I did just that.  When someone offers an unasked for critique I paint a small smile of interest on my face and immediate stop listening.  Try it - it works great - maybe nod a little - offer a little humph and ignore it all.  Works great -  promise.  Hurts no feelings - yours or your well meaning critic.

QUESTION:  What about judges comments?

ANSWER:  Because I believe my fiber art is more than just a technical craft that I've been practicing over the last 20 years, I really don't take any stock in traditional quilt  judges comments.  This goes back to one of my critique rules.  Trust that your critic knows what they are talking about.  At traditional quilt shows, they rarely have a quilt artist judging - so their comments usually are ill  informed.  My take on it is if they have an art quilt category - they should judge the quilt as artYa think?

And onto my progress on my Line challenge.  As I had already surmised, Elizabeth thought the piece needed to be soften and that the two parts (bricks and the background needed to be brought together).  So I worked on that this week.  I put the last touches on piecing the background and started to make the changes to the piece.  This version is getting closer but now I think the lines are a little too thin.  So am going to start playing with them a bit. Its all visual decisions that need to be made visually.   I do like the way the bricks look now that they're not so brown.  I still get a kick out of using all my own hand dyeds!!  With only 10 days to finish this - I gotta make the final decisions soon!

So what have been up Creatively?

Friday, March 14, 2014

Critiques. . .Off The Wall Friday

With this whole master class, the subject of critiques has come up.  The deal is that you submit your work three times a month and each time the teacher critiques it.  Now you - as a student - have the option to follow the advice or to go your own path.  Hmmmm - do you listen or don't you?

Here's my take - and let me warn you - OPINION ALERT - feel free to to disagree!

The Rules To Accepting Critiques
  •   If you don't want opinions - than don't ask.  Make sure  you actually want to know.
  •  Ask the opinion of a person you supposedly trust.  Make sure that person is qualified to give a good critique. 
  •  Also ask a person to critique that you agree with their design aesthetic.  (Okay I'll admit it - there are artists out there that are world famous that I think - OMG - who in the world would buy that drivel.  Obviously, I don't get them and probably I wouldn't be a good person to ask for critique of their work. As if they're asking. . . grin)
  • Accept the fact that you aren't always going to agree with the opinion - listen anyways
  • After reflection, take action.  You might change your work, you might not - you might just remember the critique for your next piece.  You are in control of Your art  - You did not give up the power by asking for a critique
  • And Last but its the biggest for me - the critique isn't personal although art is
Once I started following these rules, critiques became breezy-easy.  And to tell you the truth, if I'm being honest with myself - most times I know what they are going to say anyways.

But who wants to be honest with oneself???

As you can see I got the blocking done this week.  OMG - it was a lot of work but worth it.  I ended up having a Tim Gunn moment and told myself to edit it down and Make it Work! The arches were taking over the piece and two distinct pieces were emerging.  With a quick edit that 2/3rds to 1/3rd relationship was achieved and the piece was more pleasing.  I guess they don't call it Golden for nothin'!

Gosh my studio is a mass of green, teal and brown scraps!!  I must be having a love affair with brown this year - I gotta dye up a bunch for the third time in less than a year since I've depleted my stash!

So What have you been up to Creatively??

Monday, March 10, 2014

Arches & Lines - Design Wall Monday

Finally, I had a good productive studio day.  Its amazing what a little sun will do!  I'm having fun with this lesson on line.  I've been meaning to do this design forever and to see it materialize on my wall is great. (See first post on this project here)

Now for you that didn't realize - for my Master Class with Elizabeth Barton - I have to come up with three designs for each month's lesson by the 10th of the month.  Then we have to block out our design in the next 10 days and finish the piece by the end.  Now that doesn't sound too bad if you're doing something  little - but doing a 50" by 50"   - it gets a bit hairy!

With no time for vacillating - I gotta figure out where I'm going from here.  I mean I could -
  1. Make the bricks blue and green and the lines between dark brown
  2. Make the bricks shades of brown  - the lines between dark brown
  3. Make the bricks shades of brown, blue, green - the lines between dark brown
  4. Make the bricks shades of brown  - the lines between dark blue and green
Really, don't they know I'm menopausal???  How's a girl suppose to make up her mind?!?

One thing I do know is that I do need more solid dark brown fabric  - its a huge waste to dye up dark brown like that when you can't tell the difference between a commercial solid (although my dyed fabric is a lot better quality!)

Anyways - I'll have to make the decision by Thursday which will be my next solid studio time.

See other great design wall's at Judy's Patchwork Times!