Thursday, April 27, 2017

Life Book 2015

I have taken a few weeks out of my calendar to put the finishing touches on my Life Book project (yes, sadly from 2015!).  I decided how I wanted to bind the pages, and what to use for the cover.  I have had practice with the binding process, (see these art journals here). You can also read more about the Life Book class on this link!
I painted this lovely bright flower painting when I was in elementary school.  It is acrylic on canvas, and I still had it after all these years!  I wrapped it around some book board to make a cover for my Life Book.  I just love the symbolism of where I started and where I have been going with art education! Plus, I am still a sucker for primitive art.  I remember when I painted this, how frustrated I was at the inability to control the thickness of the line with the black paint. Now, I kind of like it!

Here is the inside and cover page.  You can see where I wrapped the canvas painting around to the inside and covered with a piece of paper.
There are too many pages to show, and I think some of the projects are proprietary, so I can't show them all anyway.  However, this assignment was my favorite.  It had a formula that was easy to follow, but made easier by the fact that I had many unused postcards of my artwork that I was able to cut up and put on the luggage tags.  It made them so much more personal and fun for me.  I also used Mistyfuse to fold over the top of the tags with some of my batiked and dyed fabric circles.  Then I punched the hole through all the layers before tying the floss on.  I loved these so much that I used them on my luggage for a trip last summer.  They held up well and helped identify our bags quickly.  I also like them for small gifts and bookmarks.  I like them so much, that I keep making more!  Great project!
The right side of this photo, that was cut off, was one of our first assignments.  I paired pages from class either with other class pages or paintings made for fun and then put the back sides together.  I taped the inner edge and hand sewed the other 3 edges of the pages.  That way I had finished images on both sides of each page.  I like the texture of the hand sewn floss around the artwork too.  The above image shows a class assignment (cut off) on the right and a small watercolor I did at the beach the following year.  I thought the colors looked well together, so they were paired up.
Here's another random page from my book.  The right side was an assignment.  There is a letter folded and tied with ribbon in the center of the right page.  The left page was just PLAY.  I love the abstract nature of the image and how fun it was to put together.  And, I like the way the 2 pages play together.
These two pages were all about acknowledging and appreciating our support systems.  The paper dolls were individualized to real people in my life, and have messages on them.  I had fun with this too, so I added our resident house cats, and some flowers (for good measure).  I painted a blue background and stitched on some organza pockets.  The assignment on the right was very similar. And though I'm not sure if these projects or crafts rise to the level of art, it just didn't matter to me.  I had fun doing it and it was meaningful.  (see #4 below).

I will reiterate that in spite of being somewhat reluctant and resistant, I DID learn the processes, and eventually learned how to put it together with my own voice.  I also gave myself permission to skip the lessons that were the least interesting to me. 

The absolute best things I got out of this class:
1.  Knowledge.  I know what matte medium is now! and Stabilo pencils! and watercolor crayons!
2.  Freedom to explore.  I no longer feel inhibited or intimidated by the supplies.
3.  Joy from playing.  With no intention in mind, I can start painting and it feels like playing.  I love it!
4.  Healing.  A number of the assignments worked on a deeper, subconscious, and intuitive place.  I loved the guided meditations.  I loved the assignments geared to working on issues.  These were the BEST!

Thanks so much Tamara!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Women's March 2017: by the Numbers
48" x 48"
This quilt was made to honor the 3 million people who marched globally the day after President Trump's inauguration. Each 1/2" square represents 325 people.  That is equivalent to a large jet plane full of people. Imagine a full airplane for each tiny little square! That's a lot of people, all marching to protect the right's of women.

For my quilt geek friends:
You may be wondering, how many squares are there? The answer is 9216.  
And, how long did it take to make it?  The answer is less precise....too long.  I thought this was a great idea when I started, but I got tired of stitching all those little squares long before I finished it.  And yet, I continued on.  Sometimes it helps me to have a daily quota, a minimum I have to do to finish by a certain day.  On most days, I managed to do the minimum.  On some days, I did nothing.  And, on a few days, I did more, and some days I even did a lot more.  The right combination of good sleep, motivation, great music (or Netflix), and I can get a lot done in a single day.

This was also made during the season that is the absolute best for gardening, and I have some ambitious plans for my garden, so I tried to do some of both every day.  It helped to have something that involved moving my body to contrast with all the hours of sitting and stitching.

It starts with the cutting. I always prewash my fabrics and then press them.  When I started, I had no idea how many squares of each I would need, so I just cut a few, and then replenished the pile as I went.   This also helped avoid repetitive motion injuries from using the rotary cutter for too long. I eventually used 60 different colors.  Here are some stacks of the 1" squares.  I would gather a few from each pile for the daily quota, and then toss them up in the air, several times (this was the FUN part), and then picked squares that were close to each other to begin stitching.
It begins with sewing two squares at a time.  To save thread and time I decided to chain stitch.  It also helps keep those tiny pieces from being sucked into the machine each time you start stitching.  This is stage one of stitching.  I call it, making the butterflies, because when they are open, they don't lie perfectly flat and they loosely look like butterflies to me.
The next step is to sew two "butterflies" together.  This makes a four patch.  To me they look like lounge chairs.  I put them in a grid to keep track of the direction the seams are pressed.  This helps manage the bulk of all the seams on those tiny pieces.
The lounge chairs are then sewn together in long strips, and then the rows of strips are sewn to each other to make a daily block.  Each day the block is sewn to the previous day's work and the quilt slowly grows bigger!
When I got to the pink part, I had to keep track of where the pieces were.  So, I consulted the master plan, a scaled drawing on grid paper.
To keep track of my progress, I colored it as I went and referred to the diagram for placement of the squares.
You can see the emergence of one of the pink ears of the pussy hat in the lower right corner.  This also shows the amount of work for a daily quota, 160 pieces. And, as time went on, I gratefully became more efficient at stitching.
Here's a photo of the back side.  I grew to like this side better, but unfortunately, I had plans for the front side, so this beautiful and fascinating view is now hidden inside the quilt.
I also kind of went crazy in love with how this looks in a window with the light shining through it.  It looks like candy to me and I just want to eat it!
Eventually I finished piecing the whole quilt top together, and I didn't know exactly what to do with the quilting.  This quilt is already complex.  I wanted to keep the quilting lines simple because I didn't want them to compete with the design. I selected a plan and decided to do a sample piece.  There are two great reasons to do this!  One is to test the process.  Does it work?  Will it shrink too much?  Will it bunch up, or be too hard to sew through the layers?  The second reason is to check to see how it looks.  I planned to use pink thread exclusively and I wanted to know if it would look bad on all the other colors.  It is really hard to pick a thread color when there are so many colors in the quilt!  So, I did the small sample....
It worked!  Here's a close up of the actual quilt:

This is my entry for Threads of Resistance.  There are almost 2 weeks left before the deadline of midnight, May 1.  If you haven't entered already, I hope you will consider doing it!  The opening venue is:
Premiere dates: July 11 - September 9, 2017
New England Quilt Museum
18 Shattuck Street, Lowell, MA 01852
    Opening reception: July 15, 2017 at 11 a.m. 
And there are 11 more venues already scheduled for the next year and a half! 

Monday, February 13, 2017

Threads of Resistance
a call for entry for an exhibit to protest the Trump administration's actions and policies
I am so proud to be a member of the Artist Circle.  We have supported each other, encouraged each other, and given advice through the years.  Now I feel like I am on the precipice of a great change in our country, and not a good one.  Our country is being pulled apart by our hearts.  Emotions are raging and it is not bringing out the best in Americans.  The nasty is coming out.  The only thing that gives me hope is knowing that the good is still there too, the compassion, the generosity, and the love.  I suspect we all have a lot more in common than that which divides us.  

I am an artist.  It's what I do.  So I am compelled to respond by making art.  Making art gives me an outlet to process all these emotions. It also allows me to use my voice. And the only way I can guarantee my right to my voice is to use it.

And while I won't be commenting much about the political scene on my blog (unless I make some art about it), you will find me being much more vocal than normal on my social media accounts.  I have even learn how to tweet, just for this purpose.  It is certainly not the first time I have felt afraid to speak, but I am moving forward and I am not alone.

I didn't write this but I believe it expresses my sentiments fairly closely.  It is our artist statement for the exhibit.

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." -Martin Luther King, Jr.

We as the Artist’s Circle stand for unity and love and light. We believe we have a duty as citizens of this country to shine light into dark places. We feel we must stand to preserve the good in America and speak against oppression and corruption, hatred and lies.

History is a written record of human behavior.
Art is a record of human emotion.
Quilts are art.

Art has always expressed both the hope and fear of its time. As artists speaking through our quilts, we come from a long tradition of political activism. The first known fundraising quilt supported the abolition of slavery. Quilts through the past two centuries have spoken to many causes, including the Temperance movement, women’s suffrage, nuclear proliferation, and AIDS awareness.

Just as quilts are traditional symbols of comfort and healing, our art can help us unite as Americans. Our quilts let the fearful know they are not alone and isolated in their struggles. Our quilts can inspire us to be greater and braver than we think we are. Our art speaks for those who are oppressed and have no voice.

Through much of history, quilts were one of the only acceptable means of expression for women whose political voices were silenced. Sometimes art must shock us out of our comfort zone and into action. In this venue, these quilts are also giving voice to emotions and ideas that for too long have been deemed unacceptable if spoken by women. Here, as women and men united, we speak together. Because of our love for our country, silence is no longer an option.

Americans are feeling a mixture of hope and anger, love and fear. We take issue with the divisive actions of the Trump administration. Our art explores our emotional responses to these actions, in the hope that it will encourage civilized, constructive conversation and, ultimately, better understanding of one another's viewpoints.

“Ye cannot live for yourselves; a thousand fibers connect you with your fellow-men, and along those fibers, as along sympathetic threads, run your actions as causes, and return to you as effects.” 
Rev. Henry Melvill, written in 1853

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Beach Colors
71" x 72"

Last week I showed you Neurodiversity.  I may have mentioned that I liked the back better than the front.  Then I heard about a new exhibit by QuiltFestival, and I thought my quilt would be PERFECT for it.  It is called A Celebration of Color!  Yes!!  Unfortunately, the quilt was too big!  Nuts!!  However, I really like this design of squares stacked in colorways separated by thin strips of contrasting colors, so I decided to make another one and enter it.  I cut all the squares of every fabric, but then felt myself being drawn to quite a different and calmer palette.  The result:

I was even thinking of calling it, Sun, Sand, Surf, and Sky but reconsidered using a tongue twister as a name! I loved working on this quilt and it went together quickly, which is fun.  It is machine quilted and I used a different color of thread for every line!  Super crazy, but it looks super good! I love the texture and I love the subtle addition of the thread colors, all randomly chosen.

I also decided to try something for the back of this quilt to make it two-sided (of course!).

Simple, clean, delicious!

The notification of whether or not this one got in will be in February, so now the waiting begins. Meanwhile, I have it hanging in my living room.  I love it so much, I don't really want to let it go, so I truly have some ambivalence about it getting accepted into the new venue.  I might just be shouting "Hurray" if it gets rejected.  Go figure!

Thursday, January 05, 2017

94" x 95"

Neurodiversity is simply a term that means a lot of different kinds of brains.  I think this makes for an interesting world.  It is difficult dealing with people who are different than I am, but I can see value there. I am also of the firm belief that if we seek answers for today's or tomorrow's complicated problems, we just might need that "out of the box" style of thinking. 

I abstracted this idea to color choices in my quilt.  I wanted to show lots of diversity in color combinations.  What I found really interesting is that some of the colors I used were not favorites of mine.  I couldn't imagine how to use them all together in a way that would be appealing to me.  I learned that when pairing up these colors with other colors, suddenly I could see the beauty.  It opened my eyes. And, put all together rather randomly in a small photo, it's a bit overwhelming.  However, the giant size of this quilt, in person, is really quite nice.  I love seeking patterns in all of this chaos!
It's all hand quilted too.  You may remember me talking about this quilt in a previous post? I really enjoyed slowing down to do the work, and the meditative quality of time spent hand stitching.  It was good. 

I also thought for this quilt, it would need a colorful back.  So I took some of the same fabric I used for the front and created a new pattern for the back.  I call it Light Box, though I am not sure why.  Honestly, after I finished it, I actually preferred it to the front!  I am really drawn to the organization of the colors because it has a calmer energy.

If you notice, all around the edges, the squares are cut off.  This is because I always make my backs larger than the fronts.  That way, if the front side shifts at all during quilting, the back is still covered.  I can't tell you how many times I have relearned this lesson in previous quilts! 

Speaking of of the things my brain struggles with is putting things into categories.  Is this an art quilt or a modern quilt or a variation of a traditional quilt???  I plan on listing it in one of my gallery pages, so where do you think it should go?

Anyway, I have made another Light Box quilt, and entered it into the new juried show called A Celebration of Color.  The show is judged and will have prizes and opens at the International Quilt Festival in Chicago this April.  I will post about the new quilt next week!