Thursday, January 28, 2010

Fresh Start

I've learned my lesson that I'm only good for one show a year. They really do change how I create, and I end up too focused on the final product and lose my willingness to experiment and take risks. Once the product becomes more central than the process, I know I'm out of sorts.

So I'm thrilled to be back to experimentation time! The first thing I need is a little Jude therapy and some slow, mindful stitching. At the same time, I want to try a few new things.

I want to try starting with an overall composition in mind and then let the piece evolve. I've wanted to do a small piece about light breaking through the darkness. From my sketchbook, I like this basic cruciform composition for it:
I've also wanted to return to pieces that are heavily black and white with accents of color, along the lines of these I was doing last year:

But this time I want the color to be integrated more, subtle, keeping the piece primarily black and white.

I'm beginning by building strips of white texture:

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Link correction

I usually don't have much trouble posting, but as soon as I want to do a give-away, my brain cells all seem to have left.

Click here for the correct link to Portland Art Collective blog to add a comment and double your chances of winning a heart. Thanks!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Give Away Time! (2nd try)

Sorry, I heard from several people that the photos weren't showing up in my last post, so I'll try this again. (I'll keep the comments from the first try and add them to the drawing, but feel free to add them here.)

In celebration of finishing all my hearts for two shows, and in appreciation of those of you who visit my blog, I am giving away one of my large hearts this month.

Please leave a comment to enter and let me know which heart you prefer. I'll do a random drawing on Feb. 1 and announce the winner here. I am also doing a separate heart give away on my art group blog so leave a comment there too to double your chances of winning.



Black and Tan stripe:

And a close-up:


And a close-up:

Polka dots:

If you are in the Portland area, my hearts will be on display throughout Feb. at "The Heart of the Matter" show at Guardino gallery and at Portland Central Library in the Friends of the Library gift shop. Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Book Recommendations--Composition

I've been thinking about composition a lot this year. Here are a few of my favorite books on the subject:

Mastering Composition by Ian Roberts

Roberts covers basic compositional information such as working with an underlying armature and thinking of big shapes. One really useful addition is a DVD that comes with the book in which Roberts takes his own paintings and changes them in a variety of ways to show how even the subtlest change can cause your eye to get stuck in one area of the painting and lose your central focus.

Creative Composition and Design by Pat Dews

This book is a nice relief from all the composition books that focus solely on painting. Dews includes a lot of her own collage work which translates to textiles very nicely. She also includes a variety of artists and their differing approaches to composition, some starting with shape and placement others with value or color.

Compositional Exercises for the Painter by Lucia A. Salemme

I like this especially because she includes many great master paintings and discusses what makes them work compositionally. She then gives suggestions for exercises based on the lessons of the masters.

I've been wrestling with the subject of composition in my own work. Most courses have you start with composition as step one, doing thumbnails of what your finished piece will be like, but I find that approach stifling. On the other hand, if I don't think about composition, I often end up with pieces I'm not fully satisfied with.

In painting, I've found my favorite process is to start painting loosely and spontaneously and allow the composition to develop along the way. Then I spend the later part of the process strengthening that composition. You can follow my process here.

But I can't quite figure out how to work that way in fiber. I like the spontaneity of gathering bits and stitching without a plan, but fabric is not as fluid as paint, and unless I want to rip out a lot of early work, it's hard to adjust a composition late in the game. One of my challenges for the year is to create fiber pieces with strong compositions that don't lose that spontaneous feel and process.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Color Jaded?

My husband keeps telling me I'm color jaded, and I'm starting to wonder if he's right. I was looking at these pieces I made several years ago:

While I still like the color combos, they seem a little too safe to me. I find as I'm working on my hearts now, I like being surprised by color that doesn't easily go together. Grayed colors with brights, muted with intense, the oddball mustards, lavendars and browns.

Maybe I need a break from color. I find myself pulling out all my blacks and neutrals thinking of new beginnings. After the heart shows are done.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


I am determined to get better at Photoshop this year so have signed up for DJ Pettitt's "Memories and Manipulations" online Photoshop class. Here's my first project:

I love the way it ended up looking like a batik! It is made of layers of photos from my archive: undulations on a beach, a tree, and a flower with each layer containing adjustments and manipulations.

I'm learning a huge amount in the class and having fun playing with it, but find it quite challenging even after having other Photoshop classes. DJ says it is for all levels, but I'd recommend knowing the basics before you sign up.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

More Hearts

After the show and the holidays, I've been looking forward to Jan. as a time for pure experimentation and stitching just for the sake of the stitch. But due to the timeliness of the subject, I've been invited to put my hearts in two more shows for Feb.

I am very honored to be the feature artist for Feb. at the Portland Central Library. Some of my work will be on display in the lobby and then hearts for sale in the gift shop. I am also very happy to be in the "Heart of the Matter" show at Guardino Gallery, my favorite gallery in Portland.

I made this heart for my friend Maggie. Maggie is remodeling a historic mansion and has decorated her bedroom in pale silver blue. When I found this old blue velvet, I knew it was meant for her. It turned out to have some stretch to it, which gave this one a few more bumps than most. Some of the bits come from her decorating scraps, and they unravelled when I looked at them, giving this one an extra shabby look.