Friday, January 30, 2015

Curves at the Cabin - Off the Wall Friday

Its amazing where we can create.  I'm spending this week, visiting with my mother at my parents cabin in upstate New York.  As you can imagine, upstate New York is gorgeous in January and cold.  Very cold.  Still you couldn't tell it from inside the cozy cabin.  My mother very graciously told me to bring along my latest project.  Luckily, I'm very adapt at packing.  Also, luckily, the cabin has a nice loft that is perfect for a temporary studio.  

The curves, as you can see, are coming along nicely.  While I'm doing the piecing, I keep second guessing my idea to make the piece so big.  Then I get a section done and think - WOW - I like that.  Its funny how with all the design decisions being made up front - the pattern, palette and value placement - the piecing is relaxing.  And a lot of work

I've decided to use my improv piecing method again like in The Curves.  There is still more I want to explore in values and colors with the method.  Plus I wanted to try the method on a piece where I drew the curves rather than getting them from a photo inspiration.  We'll see if it makes a difference.  If I ever get it done.  Did I mention its a lot of work?

Still this week has finally gotten me into the groove of the piece so a March completion is looking more promising.  Nothing like a remote cabin in January  to help gain some focus.  I'm hoping to get a bit more done before heading back to Pennsylvania this weekend.  I'll be glad to get this baby pinned up on my design wall.

Ohhhh and by the way,  I happen to be the featured quilter on the blog,  Amy's Creative Side if you care to take a peak.  Every Friday she features a quilter from the Quilter's Blog Festival. 

So What have you been up to creatively?

Friday, January 23, 2015

Stealing A Curve - Off the Wall Friday

If I'm suppose to be doing a piece centered on curves. . . . .

And I'm suppose to Steal Like An Artist.. . .

How does someone go about stealing a curve???

 Its no surprise to anybody that I love curves.  Ever since I became a quilter I've been fascinated by them.  I mean, curves are so much more mysterious to a beginner quilter than squares.  Squares you can just match the straight sides and sew a neat quarter inch seam.  Curves have concave and convex parts (don't even ask which is which) that might or  might not match up as you piece them.  Pins are involved, pressing is necessary. . .it all seems complicated.  So you steal.

Fire on the Water, Judy Dales
From who?  From the very best.  15 years ago, I took a class from Judy Dales.  Her work with curves
is breath-taking.  Every time I see a piece  of hers, I'm struck by the movement and grace of her curves and how they interact with the environment  which she places on them.  Her curves have so much to say.  She subtly uses value to give the curves life.  She taught me the traditional method of first drawing out a pattern and then using that pattern to piece the curve.  Oh and OMG did she teach us to draw a curve.  I remember that I spent 8 hours one day just drawing a curve and erasing a curve and drawing it again.  Then perfecting it.  Then perfecting it some more.  By the end of the class not only could I draw a curve easily but I also learned that I did NOT want to traditional pieces curves - ever.
Flying Free by Caryl Bryer Fallert

Just around that time, I met Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry.  This prolific artist is all about the curve and color.  She's spent the last 30 years perfecting a voice that rings with joy and vitality with every new piece.  I've studied her use of a saturated color and value that give her curves an energy that is truly awe inspiring. I used a couple of her patterns to get an idea of how she pieces her work.

As I went about piecing my latest curves, I was struck with how much I've stolen from both these ladies and how different my work is from theirs.   The idea is to study artists you love, take from them what works for you and then build on that.

Hopefully my new piece will do that.

So what have been up to creatively?

Friday, January 16, 2015

Steal Like an Artist - Off the Wall Friday

So I finally did it.  I finally read the book Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon.   My sister gave me the nudge by giving me a copy for Christmas.  If I had known it would only take me a couple of hours to read it, I would have done it sooner.  Oh - My - Gosh!  What a practical, pithy read it is.  Love it!!  If you've been reading my blog - you know I like pithy reads!  I figure if it takes people more than 5 minutes or so to get through one of my posts than obviously, I'm being too long winded.

Anyways, if you haven't read the book and have a creative spirit, I highly recommend it.    Kleon gives 10 pieces of advice on how to stay creative in our black and white world.  The advice is practical - easy to understand and in my opinion, dead on.  Most I know - Most I follow - Most I need to be reminded of.  What beginner artist doesn't??

Last year, it seemed I based my blog posts mostly on my journey on my masterclass.  This year, I thought I would use Kleon's book as a framework to hold the year together.  It will be fun to see how I can put his advice to use!!

So if you have 10 bucks and 2 hours go buy the book.  If you don't have 10 bucks, get it out of the local library.  And if you don't have 2 hours, you really do need to start making 2 hours to read every now and again.

Ohhhhhh, and yes, I did start on  my latest piece.  But I'm not sure I want to spill the beans quite yet.  I did want to share the nine contenders (there were a lot of dogs that I didn't bother to save ) though.  Once I saw them all together, I thought - wow - you could do it that way too LOL!! I will definitely be using photoshop to do value and color studies again!

So What have  you been up to creatively?

Friday, January 9, 2015

Sacred Curves - Take 2 - Off the Wall Friday

I tried Honestly, I did.  I took my last design, which by the way, wasn't half bad.  I didn't love, love it but I didn't hate it either.  So, I tried coloring it and I colored some more. But none of them seemed right.  What's a girl to do when a piece that is suppose to be "inspired" feels more like a chore?

Scrap it!  Start Again!  If I had that idea, I'll have another.

I decided what I didn't like about the design was that there was too much representational work in what I wanted to be an abstraction of spiritual praise.  I think its not a bad idea to write out what you want your piece to express and put that on your design wall.  That way you won't take a wrong turn and end up completely somewhere else.  (Not that somewhere else isn't perfectly fine, but, hey, its not where we wanted to go!)

So Guess What??  My design came out of me with no problem.  I refined it here and there for a long while and finally was satisfied.  Now I just have to color it.  AgainGroan. . 

This time, I took a different approached and used my handy dandy Photoshop Elements program.  Its really not that complicated.  After making sure that the design only included enclosed shapes, I scanned it into the program. 
Then all you have to do is "Select" (I used the lasso) the shapes, pick a
color and "Paint Bucket" to fill it
Waaaa - La!!  I feel very smart!

The hardest part was picking the colors. . . of course.  Now remember this was  only to give me a rough idea of where I'm doing with the piece.  I didn't feel the need to perfect the colors.  Its amazing that once you start playing with the colors you see all sorts of directions the design can go.

These are only the first three.  I gave myself a deadline to start sewing by Sunday so I don't end up down another rabbit hole!

So what have you been up to creatively?

Friday, January 2, 2015

Scrap Re-Cap - Off the Wall Friday

I love New Year's.  It means  a new day  - a new start - the beginning.  In that light, I tend to clean up, throw out and organize.  A good place to start with was Wrapping Central, aka my studio.  It took me a couple of days, but  it is now back to normal.  With the clean up, I finally got time to get my scraps under control.

How do you organize your scraps??

As you can imagine, after 20 years of quilting, a girl can accumulate a lot of odds and ends, bits and pieces.  Originally, I stored them all away in gallon size zip lock baggies - sorted by color.  But, they would get all scrunched together - plus they were hard to sort through.  So for the last year, I've been trying to come up with a new system.

Finally with the help of pinterest (the motherload of good ideas!), I did.  I asked my husband to make me a set of these custom size shelves to hold baskets just for my scraps.  But his to-do list is long and I've been waiting months!!

So in the mean time, I bought this organizer from work.  Finally, a way to get my scraps under control. It might not be super big but its moble and colorful.

 As I sorted through them, I could see the love affair I had this past year with the color brown.  I had so many brown scraps that they didn't even fit into a drawer and still had to be relegated to the ziplocks. I used gray and red the least - or at least they had the fewest scraps.  Maybe that's telling me something.

The rest  filled the drawers fully but neatly. They're all still a little scrunch but a lot easier to get to than the bags. So as a short term solution these will do nicely.

I'm still working on my design for my next project.  Something about the original sketches, "I'm not feelin'  " (as a friend from work says).   I promised myself a final sketch by next week, so we'll see!!

So What have you been up to creatively?

Friday, December 26, 2014

Word of the Year - Consummate - Off The Wall Friday

Yes, my word of the year is Consummate.  Now, wait, I know what you're thinking.  Why does a woman who has been married 20 years chose the word "Consummate" as the creative word of the year?  What kind of creating is she planning for 2015?

All teasing aside, consummate means "to complete with perfection".  I've noticed with my work that I have a tendency to jump from idea to idea.  But what artist doesn't?  Still the really good artists tend to study and complete the full scope of an idea before jumping to the next.  Which makes sense.  How are you going to get good at anything without working completely through an idea?

Another failing I've noticed with my work, is that once I see the idea coming to light, its hard for me to finish it completely.  I tend to get bored with the end work.  My mind is already off to bigger and better things.  I need to take my time at the end, finishing up the little details.

In the world of hard hats and hammers, they call this a "Punch List".  At the end of every construction job, a punch list is made of all the little details that need to be done so that project can be called perfect for the new owner.  Of course, the contractor doesn't get paid until the Punch List is complete.

So this year, no more flitting from one idea or another, whirling back and forth, not truly finishing anything to perfection.  I'm going to create my own personal "Punch List" by critiquing each project, making the corrections before letting it go.  With so many ideas left  unfinished from 2014's Master Class, this is the year for true completeness.  I want to see what I learned come to fulfillment, to see the visual proof of what I learned.

Hmmmm, seems like  in 2015, I have my work cut out for me!

So what have you been up to creatively?

Friday, December 19, 2014

A Color Story - Off the Wall Friday

Ahhhhh - our Christmas Rush is over and I have some time to create.  Well, just a little time, since it still is Christmas. . . not to mention all the things I let slide the last three weeks.  Yet, it wasn't a bad idea letting my next project "cook" a bit.  I've been thinking of values and colors - so I pulled out my color pencil collection.

As an aside - for a "Non-Drawer" - I have a pretty big collection of color pencils. I mean doesn't everyone need 5 different sets to the tune of 200+ pencils?  And what set do I like the best and its my go-to set - yep - you guessed it - my Crayola Pencils.  Not only were they the least expensive  ($6) but they color smooth, sharpen nicely and the 50 pencil set has a nice range of colors.  Just perfect for utility coloring of the design process.

So last month I came up with my sketch for Sacred Threads.  Since you should always make visual decisions visually - I've been coloring up some mock ups.

UGH!!  Can you say edit??  Too many colors - but I do like the way the yellow moves through it.  Also not enough value changes.

Again to many colors  - the yellow creates a nice focal point - the lighter cross makes it stand out more.  Do I want the cross to be the highlight of the piece or the abstracted people?  hmmmm

I started to limit the palette a bit - I like the cross in the neutral and the nice dark background - but it all seems a bit too much blue and dark.  I wanted this to be a happy piece - needs more happy colors.

This is getting closer - I like the idea of putting the cross in the same color family as background - using three bits of yellow to create movement and focal points.  The color palette is working nicely too. I'm getting closer.

After 4 - I called uncle.  I mean my hand was starting to cramp up!  But I still want to try some more trials since I made a lot of copies of the sketch.  The thing about this process is it makes me decide what do I actually want to say and how do I want to say it.  Color and Value play a huge part in that. 

I've learned the better you plan out a project, the easier it will go in the end.  Besides there are worse things to do than color in front of the Christmas tree.

I will be running Off the Wall Friday the next two weekends - even with the holidays for anybody who wants to link up. Right now my studio looks like Wrapping Central but I do expect to get some time back in there soon!

No matter what your beliefs -
Let me just wish you Blessings of the Season.  

So what have you been up to creatively