Saturday, March 28, 2009

Sketching Days

I'm still going out with my sketching group every Tues, and we are still being forced indoors until it warms up.  We have found some great places though.  The first set is from Monticello antique mall.  It has a spacious coffee house in it and plenty of items to sketch.  The second set is from Portland Nursery which has a big room of blooming plants and a little glimpse of spring.

I've noticed during the last two sketch sessions that my first drawing feels stiff but in the second one I flow with the object much more.  I don't think the difference shows up much in my finished sketches, but I know that state of flow is something I want to aim for more.

The first drawing:
And the second:
And on nursery day, the first drawing:

And the second:

Carol Marine posts a painting every day, rarely missing a day.  When she occasionally goes away for a few days, she says she has to learn to paint all over again after that small break. She's been painting for years, so it's a little discouraging to find how quickly it disappears.  Maybe if I sketched everyday I'd be able to reach that flow state more often, but that's probably not going to happen.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


I am a big fan of Juliana Coles and have taken a number of her Extreme Journaling workshops.   Her approach is to work fast and intuitively, silencing that inner critic.   The aim is to throw yourself on the page without thinking about art or making pretty pictures.  

I feel like I've been stuck lately and haven't known what I want to work on, so I pulled out my ongoing, oversized journal.  This began in Juliana's Altered Atlas class, probably my favorite of her classes.  We use a large, old atlas for the pages and often let parts of the original book show through.  The book focuses on "where am I, where have I been, and where am I going" perfect for the bits of maps, charts and pictures that show through from the atlas. 

These first two pictures are a double spread I was working on:

In her classes, Juliana continually throws you off guard by switching the technique or getting you to move on before you are finished.  It's hard to replicate that experience at home, much easier to settle in and start trying to make a nice composition instead of letting go and digging deeper.  So I made my own box of prompts to throw myself off.  For the above spread, I pulled out prompts that said "add circles," "add a sketch," "close your eyes and pick a paint color and use it," "cover something up," "attach something with tape."  

I also go back through the pages and see what calls out for more work without giving it much thought.  This was a page started several months ago that needed a little portrait added:

It's a very freeing way to work and to loosen up.  And today I started stitching again.

Monday, March 16, 2009

A Little Basket

Not feeling very inspired this week, I did want to keep my hands busy while watching TV.  I got my bag of scraps, a yard of thick cording and my embroidery floss and worked on this little basket:

And the view from the bottom:

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Dye Pots

For some reason, I have never dyed my own fabric until now.  I always thought it was going to be tedious, messy work, but I've coveted hand-dyed fabrics.  My sister gave me a nice set of Procion dyes for my birthday (thanks Pam!), so I set to work this week.   Once I started I couldn't stop.  I enjoyed it so much more than I ever expected.  It's so fun to see what will come out of the wash as each piece takes dye slightly differently.  I got a great range of colors for my stash:

One of my favorite parts was rummaging around to find old fabrics to dye.  We have a great place we call the Goodwill bins in Portland where they sell the rejects from Goodwill by the pound.  I went looking for interesting textures to dye and got great fabrics for next to nothing.  They all have that built-in worn look to them that I love.

Even the thread tangles that came out of the washing machine were gorgeous:

Now I have to stop dyeing and make something with all this treasure.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Mbuti on Velvet

Just a little experiment this week of stitching Mbuti designs on velvet.  I wanted to see how much relief I could get by hand stitching on velvet, but I didn't get as much as I expected.  I had one layer of batting in the area with all the circle motifs, then I added 2 more layers before I stitched the leaf shape just to see how much I could get it to puff up.  But even that didn't provide as much relief as I got from machine stitching on velvet.    Think I'll try combining machine and hand stitching next time.  I do like the rustic designs on the velvet.