Friday, June 26, 2015

Hand dyed Fabric Fest - Off the Wall Friday

I'm tired.  When I told my boss that I was going to take 3 days off to dye, she gave me a surprised look.  Now I never get sick of that pun, but I didn't  think I was going to actually die!!   I decided to dye up 36 fat quarters of fabric a day for three days straight.  I'm just finishing up day 2.  You wouldn't think it was that hard of  work but than again who thinks that you have to:
  1. Change over your studio to a dye studio
  2. Take out all the supplies and set them up
  3. Cut up 36 fat quarters of fabric
  4. Choose the colors & make the color recipes
  5.  Measure out the dyes 
  6. Batch up all 36 fat quarters
  7. Rinse out the fabric
  8. Clean Containers & Workspace
  9. Wash the fabric 3 times
  10. Iron and fold the fabric
  11. Repeat all again the next day.
Did I mention I was tired?

But now that I look at the first days work all done, I think WOW it was worth it.  This is the first time I've ever dyed up gradations of muted colors. I got the basic recipes from Linda Johnson's Fabric Dyer's Dictionary.  I don't use her exact procedure to dye, but it was a great help on where to begin to get the colors I needed for my upcoming quilt week at Quilting by the Lake.  Looking over the fabric, I've fallen in love with the palette.  It makes me more excited to go!

Something new this year was I weighed out my dye.  My husband bought a nice little digital stainless steel scale and it worked perfectly for dyeing.  I needed 14.5 grams of dye for every yard.    It made it that much easier to keep the proportions of each color accurate in a dye mixture.   For the most part the colors came out
the way they were suppose to.

Tomorrow I'm going to finish up today's batch of 36 and also do some red solo cup dyeing of the palette. It should be way more random and unpredictable.   Plus if I get some time, I want to do some t-shirts to take with me.  Don't you love when people ask you where did you get your shirt and you say, "Oh I dyed it myself!"  They think you're so artsy!!

One thing I'm really grateful for is my idea to do my dyeing in red solo cups instead of plastic baggies.  This is the 4th year using them and they are still holding up like new.  They are easy to clean, easy to store and you can dye up to a half yard of fabric in them.  Plus, they  give me the nice mottled look I like in my fabric.

Ooops - gotta go - time to put in the soda ash!!

So What have been up to creatively?

Friday, June 19, 2015

More Lilies ---- Off the Wall Friday

You know, some weeks are more bloggable than others around here!  Although I was nice and productive with the Lilies and Birdhouses Take 2 nearly completed - its not very interesting!!  It felt great though to get back to my sewing machine spending hours adding the thread painting to the piece.

 Still as I pricked my finger on the many, many pins that hold down the pieces of rough edge applique, I can see why people fuse!!  But looking at the finished product, I could see texture that non-fusing applique has.  There is a little pucker here and there - a puff of fabric now and again that you don't get with fusing.  Plus I'll never get all the rough edges nice and smooth.  The roughness seems to add just that much texture to the piece.

Just a bit more and the piece will be off to the jury.  Hopefully it will get in!!

So What have you been up to creatively?

Friday, June 12, 2015

Birdhouses & Lilies, Take 2 - Off the Wall Friday

Well obviously, they were right when they said that admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery!  After posting last week about the lack of motivation, it was like a weight had been lifted and I had no problem being productive this week.  Everyday I spent sometime in my studio, even if it was for only 45 minutes.  Finally!  It felt good!

I worked this week on my annual lily art show entry.  With the lack of creativity and motivation this year, I decided to rehash an old piece, Birdhouse & Lilies.  My husband said, "Didn't you already do that one?"  Well. . . yes. . . .and no.  I originally made the piece six years ago for the art show, then decided that the focus  was the birdhouses and not the lilies.  So I decided not to enter it.  Not to mention, I had fallen in love with it and didn't want to put it up for sale.  Remaking it would be a pleasure, but I still felt guilty of not coming up with a new idea! 

Now working in series is normal for an artist.  But this takes it one step further.   You're basically doing several versions of the exact same subject matter.  For instance, here is Van Gogh's four different versions of the same windmill, Le Moulin de la Galette (1886) each listed in their respective museum home.

You can see how he played with different perspectives and scale of the windmill.

So on that note, I decided not to feel guilty of rehashing an old idea.  Obviously if it was a good enough for Van Gogh, it was good enough for me!  Besides there was always a part of me that wanted to make the lilies the star of the piece rather than the birdhouses.  Also, I wanted to make the lilies look a bit more life like.  I always felt that they look too cartoonish in the first piece.

So in the new version, I cropped the piece to highlight the lilies, did a new updated version of the lilies and made the piece over all smaller.  I changed the size of the piece because this one is made especially to be sold.  Not only will it take a shorter time to make it (keeping the price down) but not everyone has as much wall space to fill as me!!  For that matter, with the cropping the piece, it changed the orientation of it from landscape to portrait.

Ohhh and in case you're wondering how I got the shape of the lilies this time, I already had a file of photos of lilies that had been printed out in various sizes.  From there I made line drawings and then made  tracing paper patterns.  Because they were tracing paper, they were easily put onto just the right spot of hand dyed fabric to be fussy cut.

So what have been up to creatively?

Friday, June 5, 2015

Creative Reboot - Off the Wall Friday

If you've been paying attention, you might have noticed that I've been in a bit of a creative funk
lately.  Its not that I don't have ideas.  I have ideas a-plenty!!  Its that I don't have the motivation to put those ideas into action.  Because of this I've created busy work myself!

 Busy Work While Awaiting Motivation 

  •  Clean out the studio.  Reorganize fabric.  Do a massive throw-out.  I like to work in an unclutter space because to me clutter = distraction.  Of course, you could argue that cleaning the clutter is a big distraction in itself!
  •   Make a Dharma Trading Order. Thanks to my generous mother, I got a nice Dharma gift certificate for my birthday.  You know what that means???  New Dye!!!  But how does one pick with so many colors to chose from???  I spent an hour reorganizing (of course)  the dyes I already have and several more picking out the new colors I'll need for this upcoming year.  I mean seriously. . . .can a girl have too many dye colors?
  • Doing my homework for my upcoming class in July.  Now its a good thing to have it done, but does it have to be done 2 months in advance? 
Because this procrastinating  was becoming a pattern I decided this week to put an end to it.   I 
finally drafted out my latest lily project that needs to be done in 3 weeks.  Its not the most creative project I've done lately but it will get me sewing again on something new!

Second I joined Jane Dunnwold Artist Strength Training class.  A smart lady knows when to ask for help and Jane has designed an online class just for what ails me.   To tell you the truth, even though I read the class syllabus, I'm still not  quite sure what to expect.  But since I've had Jane before, I know I can trust her to help get me back on the creative track. 

You know - like a creative re-boot!

So has this ever happen to you. . . . gotten a case of the blahs? Not creative block but motivation drain?  What do you do?

Please tell me you've been doing something more interesting creatively than me!!!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Identity of a Quilter. . . Off the Wall Friday

Because of a work schedule change this week, my studio day won't be till tomorrow!  I did want to share a little graphic project  that I have been working on.  I love playing around with photo editors and my word program!

My studio right now is a mess of mass of hand dyes as I organize them trying to figure out what I'm going to have to dye in the upcoming month.  Its amazing how much fabric I went through in the last couple of years!!

My internet connection has been spotty - so we'll see if I can get this uploaded!!

So What have been up to creatively??

Friday, May 22, 2015

The Colors of Chop Suey. . . . Off the Wall Friday

Chop Suey, Edward Hopper, 1929

Thanks everyone for all the great responses last week, on what painting I should pick for Judi Blaydon's class -  the ARTful Quilt. Most of the responses reenforced the idea that emotionally, I too was drawn to Giacometti. I mean, what's not to love about bold colors and mother with children? I thought the Kirchner and the Hopper though would work better through the abstraction exercises of the class I asked Judi to weigh in and her response - typical for a teacher was - Why don't you look at more Hoppers? So, I did!
Guess what?  I changed my mind!  After delving into the fascinating work of Edward Hopper, I found the painting  Chop Suey, 1929.  I was immediately drawn to Hopper's use of light and the color palette.   Plus in this painting, the subjects don't seemed so haunted.  Am I the
only one that feels like I move right from viewer to voyeur when looking at Hopper paintings? Not to mention, there are so many great - what Elizabeth Barton calls, "Bits and Pieces" in this piece.

My favorite way to find "bits and pieces" is to use a photo editor.  Taking the image, in this case the painting and crop out  a quadrilateral section that looks interesting.  Taking it out of the original piece will highlight how interesting the composition of the section  is on its own.  You can play with this over and over till you find one that you like!  Wha-laaaa - an inspiration for an abstract piece!

Now that I have the painting picked out, I can analyze the palette I need to bring to class.   Judi wants us to bring fabrics inspired from the painting of our choice some of which will probably need to be dyed.  My favorite way to pick out the colors of a photo is to use Color Explorer, an online color analyzer.    Its super easy and free to use.  All you do is upload your photo to the site, pick out how many colors you want chosen from the photo and how detailed you want the colors to be and click!!  Instant color Analysis!

For Chop Suey, I chose 25 colors with a semi-fine detail setting.  Here are the results.
Cool right?!

Once I saw the palette laid out this way, I knew that I had chosen the right photo.  I love all the colors and the painting has a really nice range of values from the lightest of lights to the darks.  I liked the original painting, New York Movie, but for that one Hopper chose a warm dark palette without a lot of contrast.  This one will be more fun colors to play with for class.

Now with the colors all picked, I can look at my hand dyed fabrics (as well as my commercial stash!) and see what I need to dye up in June. I'll need to bring the a wide range of the values from colors.

Thanks again for the comments - they really made me think!!

So what are you doing creatively?!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Picking a Painting - Off the Wall Friday

New York Movie, Edward Hopper, 1939
Before the Mirror, Berthe Morisot , 1890
Have you ever noticed how men  are obsessed with the naked female form?  I know what you're thinking. . . Aduhhhh, Nina, are you just noticing that now?  Well no, actually.  I was about 12 when I first noticed.

Still, its a bit of shock to go through my two favorite painting art books (World Art, the Essential Illustrated History and 1001 Paintings You Must See Before You Die) and find page after page of naked ladies.  They are doing a variety of things but into the 19th century, you can see how how the male artist are fascinated with a women's toilette.   So many paintings of ladies bathing, brushing their hair, dressing, undressing etc. . . . you get the picture.. . . and if not . . . I'm sure you can find a painting of it easily. I guess I never realized how big a part naked ladies played in the history of art!

Königstein with Red Church, 1916 Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
Anyways, you're probably wondering what naked women have to do with my current creative journey.   Welllll. . . I spent a lot of time in the last two weeks, scouring my art books looking for just the right painting for my upcoming class with Judi Blaydon's, the ARTful Quilt.   Since Judi said you could pick any painting you want, you'd think it wouldn't be that hard right?

 Wrong!!  You need to pick out a painting that visually attracts and intrigues you. Also, it has to  have enough color, patterns and textures so that it can springboard for your future abstraction.  We'll be putting the painting through it paces since we'll be doing a series of exercises and abstractions to come up with a new inspired composition. 

After much back and forth I've narrowed it down to these four.  I was thinking I could get your opinion and thoughts on which you like the best and why.  As for my opinion. . . I love them all. The finalists here all have colors and shapes I love.  I tried to pick a painting that I won't get sick of even though we'll be doing an extensive study of them.  They all have palettes I love and I don't know a lot about any of the artists so it will be fun to do the required homework on their backgrounds.

GIOVANNI GIACOMETTI (1868-1933) Sotto il sambuco (Unter dem Holunder), 1911

So which would you choose and why?

ohhh and

What have you been up to creatively?