Saturday, September 19, 2015

Affinity For Improv and Love of the Line

I am exploring some new territory in my recent work.  This is one of those intervals that may appear to be coming out of nowhere, but in reality, this has been on my "list" for some time.

It started last spring when I went to study at the Crow Timberframe Barn with Carol Soderlund.  I got to do two things at once that I had been dreaming of and it was a great experience.  It started me on a path I have been thinking about since the late 80s:  studying with Nancy Crow.

The reaction I get is usually something like this:  "I don't understand. Why are you doing this?  This doesn't seem like a place your work is going...." and on.  Yes, I get that people don't see it as a natural progression of the work I was doing two years ago.  I'm quite fine with that.  This exercise has multiple goals:
To study with an artist whose work I admire a great deal.  
I want her to challenge my point of view.
I expect it to be difficult.
I expect to struggle, and probably to fail multiple times.
My goal is not to make work that resembles Nancy's, rather, it is to see what is possible by adding the information she gives me to my own aesthetic.

I can't wait to see what shakes out of all this!

One revelation:  free-cutting fabric selvedge to selvedge with a rotary cutter to expose the gestural line in cloth.  This really excites me!  I feel so close to drawing when I do this:  I'm pulling the rotary tool toward me versus the traditional method ofpushing it away.  No ruler!  It allows more control and  is deeply satisfying.

I created this quilt which is my curator's piece for the soon-to-be "Affinity" exhibition (for Dinner At Eight Artists in Houston at the International Quilt Festival) using this free-form method of construction and I'm pretty happy with the results.  All the quilts in the exhibition will be 40 inches square.
With the exception of some of the black and gray, the rest of this fabric was hand-dyed by me.

I enjoyed the process of free-motion quilting this piece on my Bernina 750QE.

I hope many of you will be at the International Quilt Market & Festival this fall in Houston, TX.  Please look me up!  I'll be there!  

Friday, September 4, 2015

Come To Craft Napa!

 January 7–9, 2016

Registration for CRAFT NAPA 2016 is now LIVE! Join other artists and 

crafters for an art retreat in wine country featuring stitching, 

art quilting, improvisational piecing, mixed media, collage, 

journaling, paper arts, and more. Plus, don't miss out on the 

"Blend Your Own Vintage" competition where you have a 

chance to take home a custom-blended bottle of wine 

and be in the running to win a brand new BERNINA sewing 

machine! Swag bags, good food, wine, and the opportunity

for community crafting and relaxing among friends abound. 

Click the "here"  to learn more!

Join me along with these 8 other amazing instructors 
for a jumpstart to your creative year.  
We are going to have so much fun!

Set in the lush locale of Napa Valley, California, 
Craft Napa is a great opportunity to hang out with
 like-minded people, make art, and have fun!  
Will I see you there?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Studio Story: Part Four

I meant to post a copy of my blueprint so you could see the layout of the studio in the last post but I forgot to do it.  This will be a very short post!

The area at the bottom of the image is my newly-poured concrete slab directly out from the new door.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Studio Story Part 3: Overcoming the Unexpected

Even when you anticipate that there will be things that you don't know about......let's just say that we have had more of this than we anticipated!  Ha!
I am trying to remain philosophical.  Tis better to know the reality and deal with it, right?!
Yes, that is what it looks like:  an enormous (!) old honeycomb was removed from behind the old shower plumbing.
See that line running UNDER the foundation?
That is irrigation pipe, and it was not capped off.  The studio is part of a major addition 
that was added to the house by the original owners.  Who did it?!

The corner just left of the left window in this image was in such bad repair the entire thing was reconstructed and waterproofed.  

These two people, my architect and the project foreman, are working together to get it done properly.
Many problems have been solved.

Here is the newly-widened doorway leading into the new wet-area.  
This will have a  pocket door.

A new shelving area was added to the old hallway...

And this was taken standing in a newly-created doorway looking from the hall into the wet-area.
The plywood on the far side of the room will eventually be the new door leading out to the side yard 
and a newly-poured concrete slab where I can do stinky messy stuff.

Looking from the main room down the hallway...

Some other fun stuff....
I'm looking at materials for the space.  I chose this birch flooring/stain (on the right)
for the main design area of the studio (the wet-area will have simple concrete floors with rubber mats).  The hexi tile will be installed on the floor of the old shower area in the wet room.  The gray composite material in front of the hexi sample is laboratory countertop material, which is what I intend to use on the counter of my wet studio (just one place, everything else will be stainless surface).  

Here we are looking at a variety of subway type tiles for the shower walls.  I want a combo of rectangular pieces (naturally!) so we are discussing how to do this.

Maybe some combo of these?

I was able to sneak out and carve our initials into my newly-poured slab.
I've always wanted to do this!  Yay!

The status is that we are still chasing an occult water leak which seems to be coming from failed caulking around the old window frames.  This has caused a lot of damage and we are dealing with that.  The sheetrock work really can't begin until this has been solved but the crew is finding many things that can be done while the search is on for the leaks.  The electrical upgrades have been put in place.  I added another circuit to handle the potential load from multiple heat sources.  The design wall board has arrived.  I am using the same material as Nancy Crow has in her Timberframe barn in Ohio, a product from Canada which is not frequently used here in the States but is AWESOME for pinning!  We have figured out how to put it up and finish around it.  

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

A Bit Of Whimsy Awaits You: Try An Adult Coloring Book Created For You By Jamie Fingal!

Who doesn't love to color?  You know what?  We are never too old to do it!  And the time is right to indulge your childhood joy once again as adult coloring books are making a big comeback.  I have had a really good time in the past several days with Jamie FIngal's new self-published "Whimsical Inspirations" book.  And, what fun for me:  I was enroute to Jamie's house to spend some time with her and did some coloring on the airplane and some while sitting across her at the dining room table.   

Jamie chose 110 weight Vellum Bristol Cover Stock and tried all sorts of media on it:  watercolors, copic markers, etc., and had no "bleed thru" (although she does suggest you might want to put a paper behind any dense oil-based marker to be safe).  Her amount of pressure didn't cause any bleed-thru but she knows everyone's drawing pressure on the page varies.
I love the fact that, despite using Caran D'Ache crayons with water brush and watercolors loaded onto a Pentel Waterbrush.

Jamie's coloring book is completely hand drawn with a Sharpie Ultra Fine Point black pen, and some drawings took over 5 hours to create. 12 coloring pages printed on heavier paper, so you can use paints and markers.  Just put a separate piece of paper behind the page you are coloring, so if there is anything that goes through the paper, the next page will be protected.  Chip board back and coil binding. A variety of drawings await you with sewing and quilt inspired blocks, imaginary flowers, trailers, houses, dresses, and cups and saucers.  You can even color in the opening page for an added bonus.

Here I am, sitting at the gate in the San Antonio airport about to get on the first of two flights
heading to Orange County CA.  I have my little Koi watercolor pocket field sketch box and my first-ever Pentel Waterbrush.  I didn't use the one that came in the box, for some reason.  I loaded it
but I never had to switch to this brush because the Pentel brush worked SO WELL and the water seemed to last forever.  I am sold on these brushes:  perfect for mess-free painting on the plane and everywhere else.  

I chose this page because Jamie and I have a long-standing email strand we refer to as 
"The Coffee Break".  This page was perfect for me to work on.

The first drops of water go onto the pans to moisten the watercolors.

This work is so relaxing and meditative.

As I progressed to the background I sort of wish I had been paying attention to the pink on the cup and used another contrasting color in this area.  Oh well....

I had so much fun making this page.  One thing I particularly love is that the page
did not buckle from the water media.  

I hope you will join in on all the fun and pick up one for yourself and why not get a few extras?  You might as well because all your friends are going to want one when they see yours!  Stop by Jamie's blog and look for the link in the right column to purchase.  It is easy!

I hope you will stop by all the other blogs on this hop and see what they did with "their" page.  Leave a comment here (and on the other posts) to become eligible for a coloring book giveaway!

Sunday, August 2 - It's National Coloring Book Day and I will kick it off.  I am having a book signing and sale in my studio from 12-3 

Monday, August 3 - Lyric / Markers - Quilt Circles
Tuesday, August 4 - Leslie / Watercolors or Markers - Coffee Cups

Wednesday, August 5 - Desiree / Ink Tense Pencils - Trailers
Thursday, August 6 - Deborah / watercolors - Houses
Friday, August 7 - Susan / watercolors - Flowers on Page 3
Saturday, August 8 - Sue / colored pencils - Dresses

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Studio Story Part 2: The DeConstruction

Day One:  my contractor arrived and didn't mess around.  By the end of the first day he had removed doors, shelves, and was well on his way to having the sinks and vanities pulled.  All these things were salvaged and went to Habitat for Humanity.  Except for the huge tub:  no way to get that sucker out except to cut it apart.  Sheesh.
Jeremy gets right to work.

My architect examines a mystery spot on the concrete.
There will be more such mysteries uncovered...

Doors, cabinets, and mirrors get pulled out.

as do the shelves

A dyer is always limited by the size of the sink.  I won't be missing these......

And I'm pretty jazzed about having a side-door (where the window above huge bathtub was).
This will lead out to a very basic concrete pad in the side yard.  I can do really messy, stinky stuff out there.

The guy on the ladder is where the tub used to be.

A discussion about the location of the pad...

Woot!  The coffered ceiling is no more.  We discovered some very bizarre things:
sub-par wiring, odd things in the foundation, several holes in the a/c ductwork.  It 
is good to be able to repair this stuff.  Oh, and did I mention the evidence of termite activity (old)?
Ugh!  There is more to add to the list but suffice it to say that I'm glad these things have 
been discovered in order to repair them.  I expected a few side-trips.  I have not been disappointed.

Here we are by the end of week 2.  Stay tuned.....

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Studio Story: The Transition From "Old" to "New"

This is the first of several posts about the remodeling project of my studio.

First, let me just say how fortunate I am to have a dedicated space in my home for my work.  When we moved into this house almost 18 years (gasp!) ago I was able to claim the second master suite on the main level of the house.  The space was part of a large addition to the house by the original owners, added to accommodate their elderly parents.
The space is close to 800 square feet.  This is actually a larger space than our own bedroom suite.  It had two sinks, two long deep closets, a huge (crazy) double bath tub and a shower stall.  All great if you are using it as a bedroom but some of it was less-than-optimum if you are an artist who needs a wet studio area.
For many years I was hesitant to alter the space:  a) we can't afford to change it, b) what if we ever want to sell the house?  Who would buy it with a studio space?, c) if I could change the space, what would I actually want to do to it?, d) refer to a.  Welp.
Last year I began to serious consider the studio needs and look at the long-term picture.  I feel certain they will have to take me out of this house "feet first":  I'm not going anywhere.  This house meets our needs really well and most of our daily activities (unless our kids are visiting) occur on the main floor.  We like it here!
So I worked with my architect and began to plan the changes I want in the studio.

We pounded most of this out, I hired a contractor, and started the process of sorting, packing, and preparing to move out of the studio.  Every. Single. Tiny. Thing. had to be relocated.  Most of you have never been in my studio but trust me when I tell you that I had a LOT of stuff.  Way too much stuff.  Ugh!

My rule was that every single item, no matter how small, had to be looked at and sorted into one of three categories:  It would be part of my first of two studio sales, it would be stored at our warehouse, or it would be moved upstairs into my temporary studio space.

Here is one of the "mid-sort" scenes from the interior of the studio.

Here is another view.  Things kept getting worse and worse before they turned the corner.

Here is some of the artwork that I offered for sale...

Extra fabric, notions...

More fabric, yarn....

I even had a bunch of  books (see the shelf?), old patterns and block of the month kits,
and a bunch of crazy miscellaneous stuff.

I invited members of the two guilds I am a member of in for 3 days of studio sale.  I asked shoppers to make a "love offering" which I will roll back to each guild.  Everyone wins.  And almost everything found a new home.  Happy.

The day after the end of the sale the movers arrived:
They moved one of my big stainless shelves, my work table, sewing table, and many boxes of fabric

Then they moved my studio couch and many boxes over to the warehouse.

I'm happy because I labeled the boxes and most are stored on one of my stainless shelving units.
I can easily find things if I need them during the construction period.

I used the remaining days between the sale and the onset of the construction to finish cleaning out the studio space.....
both closets were finally empty.  It became very clear to me as I worked that I 
would shove things in here that I couldn't bring myself to let go of.  So, I had to do it all
at once.  I sorted my children's artwork into 3 groups, and moved each package to their rooms.
I have to let them decide what to do with it; it was time for me to pass these things on to them.
Same with many things that once belonged to my late sister and mother.  It was very bittersweet
and difficult.  Somehow, the time was right for me to finally let these things go.  I kept a few things
but much of it needed to go to someone else to be used.  And, you know what?  
I feel good about doing it.


...and totally empty
 hallway leading into the studio....

Oh goodbye horrible hot Hollywood dressing room style lights.
I won't miss you.

Goodbye long skinny cave-like closets with narrow doors and shelves.

and goodbye way-too-narrow door leading into the bathroom area (future wet work area).

Goodbye double width jacuzzi tub.  You take up too much room and I will not miss you.

And so it begins.

I hope you will follow along.  I am interested in knowing about your own workspaces and how you have modified them over time.  How do you deal with all your "stuff"?  How often do you go through it (if you do) and reconfigure your supplies?  It is clear to me that I need to do this as a regular practice.  When I move back into the space I have to do the same process in reverse:  every thing must be looked at.  Does it need to come back in?  Do I need multiples of said item?  Does it have relevance to the work I am doing now?  These are the questions I must ask.