Goodbye 2016!

The last day of the year! Perhaps, more than ever, I am grateful to have 2016 fade into memory. Looking back over my blog, it has been a good year. Perhaps my eagerness to let it go stems from the fact that the post-Thanksgiving weeks of 2016 seem to have been filled with family illness and stress. Who would not want to have that fade away!

But, when I step back and glance through my posts for the past year, I have to admit that it has been a pretty productive year.  I completed a number of art quilts that I am pleased with, donated a number of quilts and tops to Quilts Beyond Borders, entered a few shows and was pleased to be accepted, took the time to take two classes with Elizabeth Barton, and continued throughout the year to be part of Karen Ruane‘s hand stitching groups.

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Ghost Trees appeared in exhibits in Taiwan and Washington State

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After the Storm made its debut at the La Conner Museum Annual Quilt Fest

In my personal life, it was my first complete year living out west and the most memorable event undoubtedly was the birth of my second grandchild, Miriam, in March. Her arrival certainly dominated my life for the remainder of the year. Of that, I have no regrets.

img_0697My beautiful grandkids

2017 holds so much potential…….I am still sorting my goals and projects for the coming year. For now, I am content to say good bye to 2016 and wish everyone:

Happy New Year!

A Morning Walk

All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.
Friedrich Nietzsche

This week’s focus has been my art quilt, Morning Walk, which I sketched out in Elizabeth Barton’s class, Inspired to Design. I wrote about the sketch a few weeks ago in a post and received some great encouragement. The photo that inspired the sketch was taken in Crete a few years ago – a local woman walking along the street. As is traditional in smaller villages on the island, the older women all dress in black. It brings back memories of my childhood growing up in a Sicilian neighborhood in New York where black was worn by all the old grandmothers.

I knew that a totally black figure would be a bit challenging to convey and so I made it my first effort. I didn’t want to follow my more typical process of beginning with a background and then building upon it. After all, what if I couldn’t finally capture the sense of a woman walking and was left with a blank background? I really shouldn’t have worried. The woman came together fairly quickly.

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The rest of my week has involved play on a background for her. It is still in draft stages – simply blocks of fabric on my design wall with the start of a tree. Here is a cropped photo of its current state as I audition background elements and positioning of my lady and tree. I suspect she will wind up closer to that tree than in this version.

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You may remember, in my sketch, she is walking along a fenced off area.

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I really liked that fence and visualized quilting it in with fine lines at the end of the quilting. As I have been playing with a background, one friend wondered if including the fence would be a distraction to the flow of the work. Hmmm? Good time to raise the question. I wonder too. I have asked Elizabeth for an opinion as our class is still going and am awaiting her feedback. I wonder if anyone else has an opinion?

It is convenient that I can continue working on the quilt and make a decision on the fence towards the end. There are plenty of other decisions to be made first as this is definitely a work in progress!

Linking up to Off the Wall Friday so you can check out what others are doing as well.

On Course

My legacy is that I stayed on course…
from the beginning to the end,
because I believed in something inside of me.

Tina Turner

This was a challenging week to stay on course here in the U.S. The events in Orlando were horrific and rightly monopolized the new media online and on screen. Juxtaposed for anyone who follows the soccer world were major series in Europe and the Americas that offered hours upon hours of sports relief. Still, I did manage to use the week to plug away at my drawings for Elizabeth Barton’s course and make progress on other fronts.

Hidden nicely away in a corner of my studio was a quilt waiting to be completed for Quilts Beyond Borders. It offered an easy opportunity to stitch away at my Bernina in the midst of all my sketching. It now off to QBB headquarters and will soon be on its way to a young orphan or refugee somewhere in this world.

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I continued to sketch for Inspired to Design and produced many images, a few of which I deemed worthy to share with Elizabeth.

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I found her comments quite helpful, as always. She thought the last of the three did hold promise. The first sketch of the flower stalk also was ‘interesting’ but likely needed some companions to be a successful quilt. The middle sketch of the woman walking excited her the least – being too static. Of course, that would be the sketch that I most want to follow through on. I do like the flow of veggies in the bottom drawing and will probably work on that more in this week’s exercises. However, that woman intrigues me. She was dressed totally in black and walking along a street in a village in Crete. I definitely see an art quilt entitled Morning Walk in it and will continue to play with it on my own. While I enjoyed sketching the flower stalk, I don’t feel it would hold my interest long enough to follow through with its detail, so I suspect it will be filed away in a folder for another time.

I did spend a number of hours watching both UEFA Euro 2016 and COPA 2016 soccer this week and that fit in very nicely with my hand stitching. You might recognize the background of this piece. I am working on the back side of what will be a pouch.

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This coming week promises more sketching with Elizabeth and undoubtedly some more hand sewing as I follow both soccer events. I will be linking to Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Friday, so please go check out what other artists have been up to. I always find the entries inspiring.

 

 

Play, Play, Play!

One finds limits by pushing them.
Herbert Simon

A little over a week ago I was catching up on my blog reading and ran across a post by Elizabeth Barton that she was offering a class, Inspired to Design, in a few days. I have taken a few classes with Elizabeth and I have grown to respect her skill in online instructing. She provides a wealth of information and good feedback to her students. I had just completed my latest art quilt, so I decided to sign up for her class. I have taken a number of design classes over the years and always found it a challenge to be ‘disciplined’ in designing a piece. Aware of this limitation on my part, I asked Elizabeth to really push me.

The result has been great fun! Remember my post last week about play? Well, I decided to make this brief 4 week class an opportunity to play. And, play I have.

The past week I focused on a photo of an Irish cottage that holds a special place in my heart.

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I filled my design wall with sketches – here are just a sampling of a few!

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I discussed my progress with Elizabeth, assessing why I was attracted to the photo, and gradually isolated an area that really spoke to me. Many more sketches followed as I honed in on an idea.

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I actually went back to my original photo and cropped that more, revealing more detail to play with.

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Which, of course, lead to more sketches.

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I am now entering into week two of this four week class. The instructions for week two are more sketches! My goal is to hang in there with Elizabeth and continue to play.

I took a brief excursion to Seattle early in the week with one of my granddaughters to visit a zoo. It gave me time to process all that I am learning with Elizabeth. And, yes, to experience discovery and play on a different level. These photos suggest definite success.

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Now back to more play with Elizabeth!

Linking as usual to Off the Wall Friday.

Exploring Skies

The sky is the daily bread of the eyes.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

My current interest in a series of art quilts on seas and coastlines has created an opportunity to play a bit with skies.

I have been dyeing cloth to create different moods of skies. If you remember, my last art quilt ,which I have decided to call After the Storm, used some cloth I dyed in Elizabeth Barton’s class earlier this year to portray that sky.

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                                                    After the Storm

For this latest dyeing adventure, I worked from the formula I used in Elizabeth’s class. For one piece, I overdyed a blue with a black (upper piece) and then reversed the process to overdye black with blue (lower piece).

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My next step will be to play with ‘cooling down’ the blue by adding a touch of green.

While I was working through that dyeing process, I also continued to assemble the pieces for the art quilt that I mentioned in this blog back in April, based on Kerstin Hellman’s photo of  the Irish coastline. What I have  decided is to create two separate art quilts from Kerstin’s photo as the sky and most distant rock formation in my ‘draft’ totally captivated my attention.

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Initial work

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Focus of first of two art quilts

This week’s project then was to develop that first piece. Using another piece of fabric from Elizabeth’s class for that sky, part of my process this week was to sample quilting for the sky. I created a mini-landscape to test out quilting for the rocks, sea, and sky.

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I wasn’t satisfied with the quilting technique for the sky in the mini.  So I tried an echo technique similar to what I used in After the Storm to highlight the branches against that sky.

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Using that approach to highlight the ‘storm clouds’ in the sky felt much better in the sample so it is what I used for my actual piece which is now in process.

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I think you will agree that the echo quilting was the way to go!

Linking to Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Friday so please check out what other artists have been up to this week.

 

 

 

Settling In…

Smile, breathe, and go slowly.
Thich Nhat Hanh

This was the first week of Elizabeth Barton’s Basic Dyeing for Quilting at Academy of Quilting. I am so relieved that she is taking a relaxed approach to teaching us. I was more than a little concerned that we would be overwhelmed with assignments. Fortunately, since often it is necessary to wait 24 hours before the next step in a dyeing process, it is acceptable to only devote part of each day to the class and still keep up. I am relieved since, of course, I am working on a number of projects at once.

The purpose of this week’s class was to establish a work station and use it to mix the dyes we will need for the class and to do a gradation using a black dye. My ‘work station’ actually wound up stretching from the laundry room, where I had planned to work, to the neighboring powder room. I made the untimely discovery that the outlets in our laundry room do not work (call to builder in) and so I had to move my dyed material to the powder room to set for a day or two. This was necessary as the dye had to be in an environment of at least 70 degrees and my best method for achieving that was to move a space heater into a small area. It worked great and I was quite pleased with my resulting gradation.

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Whilst I was waiting for dye to set, I did continue with my other projects – probably a bit too ambitiously as I pretty much ran out of steam mid-week. My body kindly objects to overstress and so, I probably did not make as much progress on all fronts as I thought I might.

My hand stitching project for Karen Ruanne‘s Patched Pockets got some attention. You can see some of my progress in this photo:

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Then I think I mentioned that my daughter had expressed interest in a quilt for the expected baby due in March. We made great progress over the weekend on a pattern and picking out fabric, mostly from my stash. The pattern is called Basketweave by Bonnie Sullivan. Here is how it looked on my design wall as I assembled the cut pieces.

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And, then there was my winter scene art quilt. I added some more trees and a second deer and then it sort of sat while I contemplated what to do next. I decided to next address the snow on the trees. My friend, Margaret Blank, has also been working on a quilt with trees and snow. She wrote about splattering paint to create the snow in her blog earlier this week. That got me thinking…as this week closed I was still sticking to using Tsukineko Inks mixed with shaving cream and dabbed onto the trees but splattering my show up after some “base” snow is applied with inks. I played a bit on a very rough sample with some Platinum Ink…I am sure I can use it on some of the deeper trees in the forest. Discovered that I also have some “frost white” ink that I think I will apply rather heavily on some of the larger trees at the top of the ridge. At least now I have a plan of approach…..next week I hope to disassemble the forest (having photographed the placement of trees) and begin to fuse and then apply snow. My object is an abstract sort of representation of the forest. Will be exciting to see how much progress I make – it will be a function of EB’s assignment in the dyeing class, I suspect. The photograph below demonstrates my relaxed approach to sampling – believe it or not, it was enough for me to come up with my current plan of action. The left represents the background forest and how the next progression of trees will appear over them (yes, it only took one piece of an over lapping branch to tell me what I needed to know), the right represents the ridge trees.  🙂

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In case you wondered about my Eiffel Tower project, well that did just sit. However, one of the women in my stitching class with Karen shared some excellent lettering that she had done. Lightbulbs went off and I now know my next step on that piece. It will just take me a bit to implement it.

Finally, let you think I spent the entire week tied to my studio. I did get to sneak out for a bit of shopping and found the most adorable outfit for a new born.

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On that happy note, I will link to Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Friday blog. See you next week!

 

Forging Ahead with a Smile

In 2016,
may your hand always be stretched out in friendship
and never in need.

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As this year draws to a close, I continue to wind up assorted projects and plan for some new ones. This past week I finished the quilt for Quilts Beyond Borders that I had started last month.  Here is a view of finished piece:

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I also have committed myself to two new classes for the start of the year. I mentioned Karen Ruanne’s Patched Pockets last week. I have added Elizabeth Barton’s Basic Dyeing for Quiltmakers which also starts in January. I know from my last class with Elizabeth that her lessons are chock full of information. I am hoping that some will be review and that I will learn some new hints that will make dyeing seem less like a major project and something that I will be willing to play with on a more regular basis. It is only a five week course and two dear web friends will be in it, so I am really looking forward to it.

With two online classes planned, it remains to be seen how much additional fiber work I will get done. I have one stitching project relating to Paris that is in process. I also hope to tackle a new art quilt based upon this photo that I took from our front window.

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The trees will be a challenge – I hope to create a layered abstract effect so you may see a lot of experimentation amidst my reports on my online studies.

I hope you will be joining me on my journey through 2016. It is bound to be an adventure and I appreciate your companionship!

Moving from Sketch to Color

My design class with Elizabeth Barton, Abstract Art for Quiltmakers, is into its final weeks. We moved from simple black/white sketches into the world of values. I really enjoyed this phase and came up with several designs that I intend to follow through on in the next months. Here is a glimpse at my design wall filled with some of my favorite images:

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You might recognize the bottom right images. That was my favorite from my earlier efforts. In exploring different value choices, I came up with these two. Elizabeth favors the top one for its Necker Cube effect – a new term for me which refers to an image where there is an ambiguous line effect which allows each viewer to interpret differently. I still like the lower of the two images but, the longer I keep that upper image on my wall, the more I can see Elizabeth’s point. I may just have to make both!

From value studies we moved into color studies. It involved a bit of computer play: selecting colorful images and then reducing the pixels down into the 10 per inch range. Here are two of my favorites:

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Elizabeth did have a follow-up to this exercise as well as some additional exercises around color and composition. Unfortunately, I found the instructions for the follow-up exercise  confusing and couldn’t come up with the right questions to gain some clarity, nor did illustrations from other students seem to help me either. That could always change but I am out of my studio the first half of May so any further work based on these grids or other exercises from the class will probably be on my own after the class ends.

All-in-all I am happy with the class. I definitely learned a good deal, had a great deal of fun creating designs, and have a wonderful resource  on modern abstract artists in the handouts. I also learned that many areas of abstract art design still do not hold a major attraction for me.

As always, linking to Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Friday.

 

Design, Design, Design

Last week I gave you a peek at the online design class I am taking with Elizabeth Barton. At the same time, I am also taking a design class with Karen Ruanne, Reinventing the Page. This class has been equally fun, particularly in juxtaposition to Elizabeth’s class.

Here is quick glimpse at a progression of designs I have building in Karen’s class.

Basic doodles

Two Starting Doodles

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Playing with repetition

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Expanding on a theme

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More expansion and repetition

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Combining original motifs

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Further Expansion

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where all this will ultimately lead, I can’t say. But, I am definitely enjoying the process! And, I can already feel the impact of stepping back and just playing with designs on my creative process for future works.

If you would like a glimpse into Karen Ruanne’s process that resulted in the class I am taking,  she is posting a series of five videos on her blog while she is traveling. The first videos at least deal with sketching out designs.  The videos are brief, under 10 minutes, so you can get a quick feel into how she works. I have been studying with Karen for over a year now and grown to love her process and her way of sharing through video. You can find the videos on her blog.

As always, linking to Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Friday.

Exploring Design

These past two weeks I have been taking an online class with Elizabeth Barton entitled Abstract Art for Quilt Makers with the Academy of Quilting. We began by gaining an appreciation of the many categories of abstract art and studying examples of each category in many different media.

In week two, we began playing with our own abstract designs using black and white construction paper. At first we were asked to play only with straight lines. My first examples left a bit to be desired.  Here is one that just wasn’t very exciting:

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We then added curves into our designs. I have always loved working with curves and plunged right in. Here is one attempt that taught me an important lesson.

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Elizabeth had suggested that we stick to an 80/20 proportion of curves and lines. In my enthusiasm, I forgot that suggestion and as a result my example is pretty balanced between curves and lines. Can you feel the tension as you are drawn back and forth between the curves and lines?

Here is my most successful effort so far:

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In this design, the curves dominate the lines and there is more connection between the elements than the first two images. I will be keeping this one to develop a bit more!

Linking, as always, to Nine-Marie’s Off the Wall Friday. Hope you have time to check out what some other artists have been doing.