Saturday, February 20, 2010

Pamela Allen Exercises--week 2

This week we focused on moving away from cliched plant images and coming up with our own. Pamela encouraged us to look at the work of masters, so I went through and sketched plant forms from 20c. art then doodled a couple pages of my own.

I though I'd use my sketches as starting points, but once I began, I found it was a lot more fun to just browse through my fabric and let bits of it determine my plants:

I then did a small study based on Paul Klee's plants:

Our big project for the week was to put together a garden scene, paying close attention to composition. I was thinking of our gray spring days when bits of light shine through.

Pamela suggested toning down my bright spots as they catch the eye too much. Here is her revision:

I'm still pondering this one. I think a little more spark is necessary, so I've left this one on my wall for a while. I think I'm going to be compromising somewhere between my version and Pamela's.

It was a fabulous week of composition instruction. It's been really fun to see all the gardens that people came up with, each with its own personality. I can't tell you how valuable it is to see Pamela's critiques of every piece!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Pamela Allen Exercises--week 1

I am swamped trying to keep up with my online class. I am loving every minute of it and want to stay on top of it to take full advantage of all the fabulous critiques--definitely the best part of the class. We post all our work online and Pamela critiques every piece, so you not only learn from your own work, you can learn from everyone else's as well. Fabulous experience!

Pamela, being an extremely generous teacher, said it was fine to post her lessons here.

The class is called "About Style" and is about discovering your own unique style. We began by finding six paintings that we liked and examining them for common elements that might indicate our style preferences. From those, we chose one painting for a color study. I chose one of Wayne Thiebaud's San Francisco scenes. I was fascinated by his use of soft grays and cool colors and that shocking accent of lime and lemon.

From that we were to find fabrics that might represent the color and feel of the piece. (I was working from a print which was much lighter than the Thiebaud above, so my values were off, but not quite as bad as it looks here.)

It was hugely challenging to find the right fabrics and I struggled not to resort to paint or to head to the store. It was valuable, though, to look at fabrics with a fresh eye and see how they might be used representationally. Pamela is big on working intuitively and asked us to complete each piece in less than 30 minutes, just gluing the parts down.

Next we took the same fabrics and switched the proportions of them, so I tried emphasizing what are only highlights in Thiebaud's painting:

From the fabrics we were using, we constructed a simple still life, again working fast and intuitively and using scissors as our pencil to cut directly into fabric:

Pamela offered critiques of our color studies along the way to keep us on track, then a more extensive critique of the final exercise. She uses PaintShop Pro to clone our fabrics, or add her own if necessary, to SHOW us what improvements could be made and she explains WHY they help. Wow!!! So she changed my still life above to this:

And explained that the diagonal I had in the original chopped the picture too much. By curving out the table, she made more realistic planes. She moved my pale pink throughout to keep the eye moving, and put the darker rose behind it to make it pop. She added the shadow below to balance the darkness.

I am thrilled with this class! Now off to finish week 2 projects.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

My List

Not much in new work this week as I've been struggling to keep on top of Pamela Allen's class. It took off full force with everyone posting lots of exercises and Pamela critiqueing them all. One of the best learning experiences I've had--I'll be posting more about that soon.

I mentioned that I had a big list of projects in my head for after all the show stuff was over, and Lee asked me what they are. I decided to post them here so I can keep them in mind and maybe actually do some of them!

First, painting (day) and slow, hand stitching (night) need to be at the top of the list in some form because I like the way they make me feel. I crossed Photoshop off the list after my class, not that I've mastered it, but I have enough now to be satisfied. I have been pondering whether I want to transfer some of my photoshopped images to fabric and hand stitch on that. Maybe.

Mainly the projects I want to do are things I've done in the past that keep haunting me, wanting more development or a different direction. I figure if I think about them enough, they need to be done.

My top 10--in no real order and with no hopes of actually doing them all:

  1. Return to faces. My favorite subject for a long time. I'm thinking of ways I want to handle them in fabric.
  2. Work with the gorgeous pile of scraps that Cindy gave me. Maybe a scrappy journal?
  3. Do more with the dangly chain concept I started earlier. Very scrappy, rough fabric this time.
  4. I've been fascinated with the idea of transparent fiber pieces that hang in a window since Gerdiary posted them here. I'm thinking of bits of color, sun catcher style.
  5. Make pillows for my couch-- maybe faces or just texture.
  6. Turning the experimental drawings I did earlier into fabric pieces.
  7. Painting on blocks of wood to make them sculptural.
  8. Return to houses in some form, another recurring theme for me.
  9. Dye more fabric. This time force myself to do more grays and lights!
  10. Make more graffiti fabric like I used here. It's all gone.

These are faces from sketchbooks over the year:

And some made their way to fabric long ago:

Monday, February 1, 2010

And the winner is....

Following the very scientific process of putting numbers in a bowl,

I drew out the number "3" for my blog giveaway:

That means Hermila is the winner of the heart giveaway and will receive the polka dot heart. Carolyn from Loves Stitching Red won the drawing on the Portland Art Collective blog and will be getting the rust heart. If you would both email me your mailing addresses, I will get those off to you.

Thank you to everyone who left a comment about the hearts--I really appreciate hearing from readers and finding out what you like!

I have been busily playing with Photoshop as I finish up DJ Pettitt's online class. It's easy to become addicted to it. The class was very challenging, but worth it. I ended up learning a lot about masking, layer adjustments, and making my own brushes. I recommend it for anyone who has a little Photoshop background.

This is a composite of about 4 photos I took on my Sunday morning walk downtown:

And this is from the Japanese Garden, blended with several other photos from my archive:

I don't have a clue what I'll do with it, but it is fun.

And at the risk of becoming an online class junkie, I just signed up for Pamela Allen's "Finding your own Style" fiber class. I have been a fan of her work for quite a while, so I couldn't resist when I heard about this one. We are on our first lesson and I'm already in love. More about it later.