Monday, June 29, 2009

Shifting Gears

I've been stalled at the quilting stage of the art quilt I was working on - not from lack of ideas but more a loss of interest and desire to do something else. It's in the sewing machine just barely begun and waiting for further attention. I usually work on one quilt, seeing it through until it's completed, but perhaps I am ready to shift that pattern to having several on the go. I've also taken some time to reassess where I'm at in terms of the goals I set at the start of the year, noting what I've accomplished, what's left to do and adjustments I've made such as not blogging every day. I've also been thinking about what I might teach a group of fellow art quilters at our next meeting, and have been feeling the urge to explore further with curved piecing. Yesterday I saw this fabric - in the photos above - that I had painted and decided to expand it with stitch - so that's what's unfolding now.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Multiple Dimensions

I'm in one of those excited states of creativity where I feel expansive and eager to keep pushing my edges. Yesterday I replenished my photo bank with nearly 300 new images, taken while at Glendale Gardens, including the one directly above, which seems like leaf colouring an artist might have dreamed up, but they really are pink as well as green! From there I played with layering some of the images - if I had Photoshop and much more know-how, I would take this further then these basic combinations. Yet even as simple as they are, they capture an element of meaning and offer a quick surprise stimulus for my designing ability. The pink water lily was only a tiny bit in one of my photos, yet by cropping and combining it with the stone statue, I was still able to crudely express what I wanted. I enjoy the play of responding to what catches my eye when I take photos, as well as where my imagination has me staging specific shots. The process can also be contemplative, as I tune in to what's before me and really see it, taking care to frame it to best advantage. The layering process is something I am also wanting to explore further with fabric. Ever since making my first art quilt, I have sought to express dimensionality, wanting to show varying depths and movement between inner and outer worlds - that place of 'betwixt and between'. Initially I worked with fabric collage techniques, and after subsequently learning how to dye, foil, use oil sticks, etc, I have combined them in quilts. But I'm also interested in creating a finished piece of cloth that is layered with combined techniques and is beautiful on it's own. Towards this end, I have signed up for a 'Mark Making on Fabric Intensive' course with Hilary Young at a local art school, for a week in August. I had just been aware of this burgeoning desire to make some complex cloth when a fellow art quilter mentioned the course. Another event I want to mark is a recent pricing bee I participated in. Along with other art quilt group members, I laid out several of my quilts with a piece of paper beside each and then everyone went around anonymously marking down what price they would pay for the quilt, followed by folding the paper with the sum on it, over, so that the next pricer wouldn't be influenced. I had assessed one of my art quilts without considering materials, time, or complexity and chosen a price that just felt 'right', prior to doing the bee, to see how close my estimate matched that of the others, once I added them up and divided by the number of estimates. Interestingly, it was the same. I found the discussion about how we each price our art to be engaging and stimulating, and I only wished there might have been more time to enjoy the lovely work without focusing on coming up with a value.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sticks and Stencils

These are some of the results from experimenting yesterday with stencils/paint and oil sticks/rubbing surfaces. I used fabric I've dyed previously as a base and was mainly interested in seeing whether the items I've picked up at yard sales or thrift shops produce interesting possibilities for future quilts. This kind of messing around without some finished piece in mind helps me stretch and feels rejuvenating.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Staying With The Process

I've completed the handstitching on this quilt now, so all the loose edges are secured and I'm ready to quilt. This is where I feel the urge to push the baby out and have done with it, yet I know from experience that even after the quilting, there is the embellishing, binding, sleeve and signature - more steps before I can move on to a next quilt - more 'labour' that can seem like it takes forever. I am very interested in exploring new designs and techniques, so I can feel impatient to get doing that, but first I will stay with this piece and give it its due.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Eyes Wide Open

I am feeling excited that I've signed up for two workshops with Sue Benner in the fall. I've been wanting to explore further with abstraction, so 'Driven To Abstraction' sounds like a good fit. The other workshop spans one day and is called 'Fusing The Grid' - working in a series based on the grid. I mainly just want to spend time exploring Sue's world - to take home whatever information I glean and apply it to making my work better. You can see some of her work here: The stitching on the above quilt is getting done little by little and her eyes look quite different with floss added - maybe she has stars in her eyes, imagining the upcoming workshop with Sue!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Published and Pleasant Day

What a grand day I've had seeing some of the Saanich Peninsula Studio Tour. An extra bit of excitement for me was when another art quilter showed me the summer issue of Canadian Quilter Magazine and my quilt 'Expansion or Contraction?' was featured in it, as part of an article written by Susan Purney Mark. I saw the work, studios and gardens of numerous artists, and I enjoyed learning about the processes and mediums they employ. At 'Island Rain Studio', Wendy P. Diamond demonstrated creating a glass bead and I found a lovely green spiral bead necklace to match my shirt. At Aliza Souleyeva-Alexander's home I learned about 'grattography', a combination of paraffin wax, acrylic and gouache on paper, that she uses to create her symbolic pieces. She also had fibre art she'd made framed in a unique way by putting grommets along the edges of the fabric and using cord to stretch it to a wooden frame. Some of her fibre art had painted silk with wool roving sewn on. The stitching for this is labourious because of the loose and unfelted fibres snagging on the machine foot. I remember this from when I've added unfelted wool to one of my pieces. I also saw a fibre group's show that was part of the tour, quilter Lenny de Groot's studio and five other artists working in a variety of mediums.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

'Entering The Flow'

I've made changes to this piece, adding more value contrast around the mouth, nose, front shirt strip, sleeve, etc, and removing the collar, which seemed too constraining. Somehow, the small flowers that were formerly gracing her hair and chest seemed lacking in vibrancy and didn't contain the feeling I want to express, so I've added three large blooms and I am seeing her as about to enter that state of creative flow, which is symbolized by the flowers. I'm feeling pretty pleased with how this is looking and I may begin adding handstitching, next. If you click on the photo to enlarge it, you can see there is a second face - in profile on the left - that I think looks eager to enter the flow and the lips on this face read more like a tongue, stretching to taste the unknown. She is grounded, solid, still and open to what surprises lay in store.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


Here is a quilt I began in my first quilt making class, with Pamela Allen last October. We were given 15 minutes to create a fabric background on batting and when I had mine covered, it was immediately apparent that the pink fabric looked like hair. That was my jumping off point to create this woman, and she has morphed over and over since, with additions and subtractions of fabrics as I've worked to get the values better and added more detail, paying attention to the design elements. The photo in greyscale shows up pretty well, I think - except the mouth, nose and front shirt strip where I plan to sew buttons later. Recently, I had a dream where this quilt was folded and about to be shown to a group and I feel eager pleasure to have it seen but also an urgency to let everyone know that it's not yet completed. In the dream I rise to my feet to speak and that's when I woke up. I like to work with my dreams and I'm not going to go into that here, but I've decided that I will complete this quilt to honour the dream.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Ready to Hang

'Inside Out' is complete now, and I am eager to get working on another art quilt. I beaded the flowers, added a sleeve and signed it on the back with Fabrico marker, which is so much quicker then making a label!