Sunday, October 26, 2008

Fabric Pellets

It's been a crazy week trying to get ready for Mexico, finishing up PR for our show, and catching one day of my art group's art retreat.  Some of my fabric birds went into a shop this week, so I have been making more to replace them for our show.  I did squeeze in one "What If."  This time I asked, what if I add color to the background to make some of the graffiti pop?  I wanted to add one color per patch to keep the patches evident.  I made little fabric pellets and sewed them on.  I don't think they make the graffiti pop at all, but I like it anyway.  I think they would be fun to combine with other techniques.

I am leaving first thing in the morning for a couple weeks in Oaxaca and Mexico City, so I won't be posting until I get back.  I'm leaving my family behind and traveling with two of my sketching friends for a couple of art-filled weeks.  Adios for now.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Working on Show

I'm not very happy.  I have so many "What If's" filling my head, but I'm not able to work on them right now.  I've been spending the weekend doing some of the nuts and bolts to get ready for my art group's annual Dec. show.  I'm leaving for Mexico in one week, and I want to feel like I'm on top of my show stuff before I leave.   I'm finding that the "What If's" are taking me in a new direction, one that I would love to focus on for a while, but I need to step back to my earlier work and get a few pieces finished.

Last year the show was a huge success, so we are all hoping for a repeat performance this year. We know the interest is there, it's the economy that's scary.  I've decided to think of ways of scaling down my pieces, making them less elaborate and labor intensive, and more affordable for this year's show.

Here are a few of my pieces from last year:

I went back to my original inspiration for this piece, chains of fabric birds made in Thailand, and decided to incorporate some of my birds into simpler chains:

I've also been finishing off some pieces of the funky couching I was doing:

All the little details of inventory, labels, hangers take so much time, but I'm happy to have gotten a jump on it this weekend.  I may have to take a break though and get a few of those burning "What If's" out of my head this week.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

In Lieu of Sketching

We decided to take the week off from our sketching, so I took advantage of the extra time to try a few more "What If's."  My list of possibilities is growing a lot faster than I can make them.  It seems that one little change opens the door to many new ideas.

I wanted to do more with the textural pieces.  Some of my "What If's" probably look repetitive, but I'm often experimenting with different constructions.  In this one, I asked, What if I started with crazy quilt piecing, then cut layers of fabric in the shape of each background patch?  What if I anchored everything with black machine embroidery in the middle of the patch?  What if I used more layers this time (sometimes 4 or 5)?

And what if I ran it through the washing machine:

I love the wild unravelling, but I need to soften the hard diagonal seam that showed up after the wash.

In this second piece, I asked, What If I tried to capture the look of telephone poles after the flyers are burnt off?  I don 't know if this is just a Portland thing, but the fire dept. burns off flyers from telephone poles once they have built up too thick.  It leaves this great bit of texture, mainly white with staples in the middle and hits of color coming through.

I started with a brown felt background to get the dark underlay of the telephone pole.  I layered 3 or 4 layers and machine embroidered them in the middle.  Pre-wash:
And post-wash:
I like the crispness of the pre-wash version , but I think I'm more partial to the ravelled one.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

More Crazy Graffiti

It looks like I'm going to be staying with these graffiti backgrounds for a while.  I really like the interplay of their busyness with whatever goes on top of them, especially with sheers so you can peek through the layers.  I keep getting new ideas for variations and am starting to think about how this might work in a large piece.

This first "What If?" was "What if I layer sheers on top of each other to get more gradations of color?"  I also asked, What if I include burned out velvets (I think that's what they are called) to have the contrast of their fuzzy and sheer parts.  

In this one I asked, "What if I layer and wash various fabrics, like I did in the white-on-white textural piece earlier, but this time use lots of color?"  I like the unpredictable quality of these. Some pieces almost disappear in the wash and others become more prominent.

I'm really bothered by the diagonal line across the bottom third and will go back and soften it a bit.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Sketching Giant Puppets

I'm so glad we went to the Michael Curry exhibit this week for sketching.  The Oregon Historical Museum had a great display of his work including a number of the giant puppets. Michael's studio is outside of Portland.  He worked with Julie Taymor to do the puppetry and masks for Lion King and has also done fabulous pieces for Cirque du Soleil, the Olympics, operas, etc.   Some of his sketches were on display, and it was quite interesting to see him step through the design process, combining art with engineering.  A film showed highlights of his work on stage where it really comes to life. 

A few bits from Lion King:

And I loved the giant moose head.  It was probably 6 ft. tall.  Some of the puppets had strings within reach, so you could make them move.  Even though they are huge, they are so well engineered, light, and easy to move.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Tryon Creek Sketching

For sketching this week we went to see the art installations at Tryon Creek.  Tryon is a huge, forested park and woven along one of the trails were five art installations, all connected to the environment.  They were lots of fun to see and very hard to capture in a sketch.   Here are a couple:

The figure stood about 12 feet tall, covered in ivy, like a giant topiary.   Only when we got up close did we see that it was plastic ivy.  I'm sure the park would not allow the intrusive real stuff to be used.  The piece on the right was done on a cluster of trees.  Each had fungus-like growths added with little villages on them.  Ladders connected the villages to each other, to knot holes in the trees, and to holes in the ground, leaving you to speculate what type of magical creatures inhabited them.  Fun stuff.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

What If? Layers of Texture

What if I layered each patch with multiple fabrics, tacked them down in the middle, then ran them through the wash to create texture?  They came out all nice and wrinkly.  Some shrunk and frayed, others didn't.  I embellished to emphasize the forms that came out of the wash, sometimes unfolding and stitching pieces down to the background, other times letting them stay curled up and adding detail to the curls.

To keep the emphasis on texture, I  limited color in this piece.  I used sheers, cottons, burlap, upholstery fabric, and silks to get a variety of textures.