Monday, April 27, 2009

The Magic Tree

A while back I made a fiber leaf to be included in a collaborative tree project.  I just got a picture of the finished tree.  Isn't it absolutely magical?

The tree was displayed at a park festival this weekend and will be moved to a Children's Museum in Huntsville, Alabama for its final home.  I am so thrilled to think I have a tiny leaf fluttering somewhere in all that magic.

You can read more about the project and see lots of photos of some very creative leaves here.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Chinese Garden

My sketch group went to the Chinese Garden this week for a bit of long awaited sunshine and outdoor sketching.  The Chinese Garden sits surrounded by high rises in the heart of Portland.  You walk into the courtyard and are greeted by a calm peacefulness.  At first it looks almost a little barren, but the beauty is in all the quiet details:

This month they have an exhibit of Chinese kites which caught my attention for sketching:

I was thinking this week about how important my sketch group has been for keeping me going with regular sketching.  I always enjoy sketching once I start, but as well-intentioned as I might be, I seldom find the discipline to sketch at home.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Room with a View

Unfortunately my room with a view is my bathroom, and it has to be a very clear day.  But a sure sign of spring is when we start seeing Mt. Hood from the bathtub again:

Spring was very late arriving in Portland this year, but now it's everywhere.  On my walks:

And showing up in corners of my stitching:

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Letting Go

I'm a little slow posting this week because I've been in a 5 day painting/drawing workshop with William Park.  The workshop reminded me that there are 2 processes I adore: 1. hand stitching and 2. putting paint to paper.

This was such an unusual workshop, not at all what I expected, but probably one of the most life-changing art workshops I've had.

Bill is all about letting go when you draw/paint.  I lean towards painting loosely and intuitively, so that isn't too much of an issue for me, but Bill takes it farther.  His central belief is you have to be able to let go of the parts you like in a painting, as well as those you don't like, in order to be able to paint without fear.  It's a true Buddhist study in not clinging to anything.

We began day one with value studies in black and white.  We had to find an object to work from which ended up being our subject for the week.  I found a cluster of pods out the door.  We worked in charcoal and added black ink and white acrylic:

We then spent the next 4 days working on 2 canvases.  Canvas One:

And a close up:

Canvas Two:

And a close up:
By day 3, I was feeling somewhat satisfied with my paintings and had no idea how I was going to work on them for two more days.  I found myself fiddling around with little bits then finally started painting over parts that I liked in order to try new things.  That's when I felt a sense of freedom I've never had in painting before, and my paintings started becoming richer and more layered as a result.

These still are in progress, and with this approach they may never end up finished, but I am loving every minute of working on them.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Mind Games

I'm always looking for ways to try to make my fabric work looser and more spontaneous, but it wasn't until I read Paula's comment on my Extreme Journaling post that I realized I could use the same techniques that I apply to journaling to my fabric work.  (Thank you Paula!)

I decided to try the prompts I made for Mixed Media journaling and see how well they could be adapted to fiber.  I know I could use mixed media on fiber and the prompts would work just fine, but I wanted to limit myself to fabric and thread for now.

I started by slapping on background color.  I quickly pulled 5 pieces from my fabric pile, tore them in strips and patches.  I randomly drew one after another and stitched it to my background:

Drawing from my prompts, I got "Find something unusual to add texture."  Sticking with fabric and thread, there wasn't much unusual I could add, but I did find a linen selvedge I had dyed and  pieces of embroidered gauze that I used wrong side out:

Next I drew, "Add line."  The gauze flowers were floating in the sky, so I decided to add a ladder up to them.  I also outlined the flowers to help them pop:

Finally I drew, "Add dots."  I wanted a bit of brightness, so I scrunched up off-white sheer fabric and stitched it with a black cross stitch to tie in with the ladder.  I also added black straight stitches to integrate the brown background, but they don't show up much in the photo:

It's really exciting to work so freely and have no idea where I'm headed with a piece.  I'm going to make a new set of prompts especially for fiber work and play with those for a while.

And now for something completely different.  As much as I love spontaneous work, I adore the meticulous, creative embroidery Karen does at Contemporary Embroidery.   And for sheer lusciousness, check out the wearable art Kayla Kennington does.