Thursday, February 15, 2018

A Quick Update

Can you find the quilt top amongst bits and pieces of future quilts?
I've made progress on the tidying of the studio, partly because the landlord is sending out someone to do a building inspection (and seriously would not be able to inspect upstairs otherwise) and partly because the blocks for the baby quilt are sewn together and ready for layering, if only my work table was cleared. Honestly, the state of my studio was so bad that I had to find a spot on the floor to lay out the blocks, and spent many days walking over the completed top in my stocking feet to reach my laptop. Certainly couldn't let the rental inspectors do that, if they could even get past the piles around the studio door. I've got so much up on the design wall that it's not usable for anything else but decided the quilt top would have to go up there anyway. What do you think?


I found some of my late friend's hand-dyed "one of a kind" fabrics for the backing. At 48" x 48", the top is too big for a single piece of backing, so the largest piece gets an addition along one side.


And the addition along the bottom needs its own addition along one side to be wide enough. The three different pieces of hand-dyed are not a perfect match but similar enough to work, and pick up the blues and deep purples in the prints in the top. I've never been known to use colors and prints typically thought of as appropriate for baby quilts - pastels in blues and pinks, cute animal motifs and the like. Nope, I tend to go with what I usually work with in my other quilts, and the recipients don't seem to mind!

I've often referred to these cleanings of the studio as archaeological digs and this time was no different. The bathroom where I do my stamping and art journaling was particularly bad, and as I was collecting and storing stamps, stencils and papers, I came across things not just forgotten but that I didn't even remember buying. I thought I had most of it fairly organized, but there's a real problem with out of sight out of mind with a lot of it. I'm not sure how to make it better. Maybe I just need to do more of that sort of thing so I am familiar with what I have to work with and where it is.

As for the rest of the studio, some things did get put away, but I fear the bulk of what I did was rearrange and relocate what was on the work table to a different surface, often the floor. In some ways, it wasn't as bad as I thought, not quite so much stuff on there as I remembered, and I was able to organize and stack the bits and pieces of several on-going projects that had gotten lost in the fray. Best of all (and in some ways, saddest of all), I ran across several magazines open to ideas for quilting this current top (or was it the previous baby quilt?), plus some articles pulled from other magazines with additional underwater motifs - perfect timing but boy would I have been upset had I found all this AFTER quilting the top! I also found a group of magazines I'd put with a dvd, all info I remember thinking was what I needed to dive into thread sketching (which is on my list for this year), and which could now join a notebook (located elsewhere of course) that I'd started while watching some videos on the subject.

All this sorting and sifting reminded me once again of how many resources I have at my fingertips, if only I remember having them and can find them when needed. I think of myself as an organized person, or at least someone who likes to organize things. But my interests have become so far ranging that parts of my creative life escape organization and memory. My sketching and art journaling is a good example. I did take time to make the concertina sketchbook for my "sit and pivot" homework, knowing I had a pad of fairly large watercolor paper in the closet. What I'd forgotten was that I also had three, count 'em, three other pads of varying sizes and kinds of drawing paper slipped in next to it. Here I've been buying different sketchbooks, searching for the perfect size and type of paper for my needs when I had plenty of paper to make my own. Well, I've learned a lot from those pre-made sketchbooks, and now my memory is jogged that I have what I need to make my own, including this custom-size concertina!


Hmmm - guess this update wasn't that quick . . .    

Friday, February 09, 2018

Me and the Muse - Part II

I haven't much to show for what else I've been doing these past weeks. You may recall my driving urge to get back to and finish the 5-part Sketchbook Skool class I signed up for last year. There was video to watch - a LOT of video it turned out - and the muse just nodded, flicked her fingers at me in that "get on with it" gesture, and went back to her magazine on the days I headed to the computer to listen to the "lectures" on urban sketching by teacher and illustrator Lynne Chapman.

I don't think the other parts of this course had this much commentary from and insight into the teacher's artistic life. It appeared to be one long fascinating interview done right in Lynne's studio and broken into specific topics, amply illustrated by Lynne's sketchbooks. A big portion of it dealt with Lynne's residency experience and how she captured it and the people she was "studying" in a form of urban sketching carried out in concertina sketchbooks. I took notes, lots of notes, four pages of notes in the sketchbook I've been using for this course, because she was presenting to me a different way of approaching urban sketching. (See more about her urban sketching side at http://www.lynnechapmanurbansketching.co.uk/)

An earlier part of this course also focused on urban sketching, but mostly on capturing familiar places along your regular route - buildings, parks, that sort of thing - and using watercolor as well as pen to capture it. Get outside and sketch! I mostly focus on buildings and the architectural features that catch my eye or fascinate me. Occasionally I'll sketch the scenery or things like park benches but I rarely add people to my sketches. Since joining this urban sketching movement, I've discovered there's some disagreement about what is true urban sketching, and some of the originators say that if all you are doing is drawing buildings, then that is not urban sketching. Urban sketching should capture the activities on the street level in front of the buildings, i.e. people and cars and food trucks. They seem to look down a bit on people like me who mostly focus on the buildings themselves. They also seem not too crazy about those who sit in cafes and restaurants and sketch their food. Be that as it may, The Urban Sketchers Facebook page has posted this helpful sketch (above) to guide people in determining if they are urban sketching or not.


Although Lynne did do one demonstration of sketching a street scene on site, most of her emphasis was on how to use your sketching to tell a story, inside or out. I found this quite compelling, a bit like photo-journalism, even a bit like how I put together my blog posts with photos and text. I especially liked her instruction on alternative portraits and how it's more than facial features (and even getting them perfect) that can comprise a portrait of a person. I'd already read her book, Sketching People: an Urban Sketcher’s Guide to Drawing Figures and Faces, so had a grasp of how she approached that subject. The new part here was how the things we surround ourselves with, simple ordinary objects, also tell a story that creates a non-figural portrait. Since I'm not keen on drawing people, I really liked this idea.


The concertina sketchbook format she settled on for her residency project turned out to be perfect for her needs. Whether it was capturing snapshots of her route into the building and up to the offices where she spent her days or capturing a sequence of events within a day to give the sense of "the passage of time" or capturing the feel of an entire office, the concertina could hold it all and could be viewed as a conventional sketchbook, page by page, scene by scene, or stretched out flat to view the whole and how the parts integrate (as you can see running along the bottom of the video screen capture above). It also allowed her to work "out of sequence", perhaps starting at the end of the concertina to capture a less challenging part of the scene, and on another day, moving to a different section that she now felt she could face (that bookcase, she said, was a mess and very daunting).


So all very interesting, all very entertaining, all very helpful, all videos watched. Except now to see what the homework assignment is. And now I balked! Lynne wants us to make our own concertina sketchbook (not really that formidable of a task, if only one had her work tables cleared), and use her "sit and pivot" method of doing an alternative portrait, right in your own work space, or any place in your home that you hang out in. Just put a chair in the middle of the room, sketch what's in front of you, pivot and sketch the next view, etc., until you have the whole room sketched. I looked around my small office space and blanched - like my studio, it is a piled up mess, which I guess says a lot about me. I know I don't have to sketch every little detail, but still, do I want to record this room that, without cleaning it up, I wouldn't let anyone into? Ditto for the studio. Maybe the living room since I spend a lot of time there too and there's much less clutter. Oh dear, I am feeling as daunted as Lynne did by that bookcase!


I am not unfamiliar with concertina sketchbooks, and in fact have one that was free with the purchase of something else I was getting. But I was puzzled by the best way to use it. I inquired of the urban sketching community and was told how great it was for capturing landscapes or city scenes that too often can't be confined within even a full page spread. Ok, I get it now, and mused about what wider-than-usual scene might I want to try this out on. I hit upon the idea of sketching the view from City Beach, because the park itself juts out into the lake in a perfect semi-circle with changing views as you stroll the sidewalk. Perhaps I could sketch a panoramic view from start to end. I actually started this last fall, beginning with the motel and condos next to City Beach and moving along to the jetty and its public marina, a pencil sketch which I intend to finish in ink and perhaps some watercolor or watercolor pencils. (I can't figure out what the paper is in this sketchbook but it is smooth and very stiff, almost like card stock.) Already I have taken up over half of the sketchbook in this first sitting and will need to finish out my panorama on the back.

But until the weather warms again, the lake level comes back up and the boats return, I'll not be working on this "sit and pivot" urban sketch. I need to swallow my fears, make my own concertina sketchbook and get to sketching my own story. Because if nothing else, I won't allow myself to view the final part of this course until I do this homework!
 

 

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Me and the Muse - Part I

Let sleeping dogs lie, I say . . . past furry distractions
The muse sometimes reminds me of my late husband, how after I would finally get the current young dog settled down so I could get some work done, he would come home, wake the dog, get the dog all excited with some rough play, and then make his exit, leaving me with said dog now bugging me for attention again. The muse is a bit like that, showing up with all these great ideas, getting me all excited as she ruffles my brain, then going off to relax in a comfy chair in the corner, sipping wine and paging through a magazine, leaving me to sort through the wreckage and figure out how to calm myself enough to come up with some sort of a plan and do the actual work. That's what it has felt like these last few weeks as I've started in on all those tantalizing ideas she's left in her wake. 

My giant 16-1/2 inch blocks

I've made good progress on the baby quilt, finalizing fabric choices, cutting out all the strips and starting to sew them into blocks. As I studied the photo of the quilt I'm using for inspiration, I realized there were two sets of fabrics with a slightly different color combination in each set. This idea works to my advantage since I am using up what I have on hand. Look closely at the photo above and you should be able to see a subtle difference in the background fabrics used in each block which is due to having to use several values of the gradations of two slightly different purple hand-dyes. And while the prints in the long rectangles may at first glance look identical, the two blocks only share the same fabric in the center strip. It is only dumb luck that the one on the right ended up with the directional fabrics and will be arranged in that orientation in the quilt. The other blocks will be turned on their sides (I think) to make a giant nine patch. I have 3 blocks left to piece.

3 different methods of folding plus some machine stitching. The one in the middle was clamped with clothespins.

Those would have gotten sewn over the weekend if not for the weather forecast. It has been raining quite a bit, and although our temps have hovered around freezing, the new forecast was for rain and high 40's. All that snow stacked up around the house has been slowly melting and I knew if I didn't stop sewing and start snow dyeing, I would lose my opportunity. I wanted to try some folding techniques and see if I could improve (refresh!) some disappointing pieces from last year via snow dyeing. The top piece is the really ugly color that resulted from mixing leftover dye from the mustard yellow and lavender dye runs last summer. The other three are from the parfait snow dye method tried almost exactly a year ago. They've not presented any ideas for using them in that time, so let's see if we can improve upon the lot.

Those lines are 3/8" apart. What was I thinking???

There was one more fat quarter from the snow-dyeing last year that because of the way I folded it did not kaleidoscope and left lots of open areas of white. I wanted to try a shibori method requiring gathering on rows of running stitches, but after chalking in some lines, I realized I didn't have time to fool with it right then. It can always go into dye stock, no snow required.

Ugly duckling ugly no more
Because the snow was not fresh and had been rained on, it was very granular - a bit like snow cones. Not sure what affect that would have (some say the amount of water in your snow can make a difference in your results), but since some people use ice cubes and some "make" something between snow and ice by pounding away on a bag of ice cubes with a hammer, I decided it didn't much matter. Because these had color on them already, I decided to limit what I would add to one or two dark dyes. I already had some "better blue-green" dye powder in a salt shaker, left over from last year, and wanted to use cobalt blue because I liked how it worked on last year's folded fabrics. I also had maybe 1/4 cup of mustard yellow dye stock saved from summer, first in the refrigerator and then in the garage when the weather turned cold. I decided I would pour that on first, then shake on the blue-green and finish off with the cobalt blue. The exception was the half yard of ugly fabric. After doing the folding, I loosely rolled it and stood it on end so the dye would seep into the folds and only sprinkled cobalt blue over its snowy cover. Holy moly! It was the transformation star of the group and I am totally in love with how it turned out!

No medallion shape emerged from the folding and stitching on this one

The seafoam one was folded and clamped with clothespins, you can barely see the effect of it in the bottom portion, nothing at all in the top half. Click on the photo for a larger view.

As for the rest, I did manage to knock back the bright fuchsia in one, tone down and improve the green in another and instill a better blue over a third (it was laid in the bottom of the dishpan to soak up all the dyes as they dripped through the others on the rack above). The photos above show what each piece looked like before and after the over-dyeing. (Colors in the photos are a tad iffy, especially the reds.) I did give them all some time in the microwave as I did last year and I do think that may help set the dyes. These still aren't pieces that inspire anything on their own, have any hidden images to tease out. But I think I like the colors better now and may be more apt to cut into them and put them to use. Is the muse pleased? Hard to tell as she still has her nose stuck in a magazine. Maybe she's withholding judgment until I gather up and dye that last fat quarter . . .

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Still In The Limelight

Look! I'm on the cover of the local paper's monthly insert!

After my artist talk at the December reception, and after the request to put it in written form for POAC's website (yet to do), I got another request from POAC to be the featured artist for the local newspaper's "Neighbors" insert which comes out once a month. I gave the gal responsible for the article links to places on the blog that answered some of the suggested "prompts" in the e-mail request, and then because some of what they wanted to know was more personal than artistic biography, I ended up writing a "quick" summary of where I was born and raised (not far from here), schooling and jobs, where life took me both geographically and creatively, and how I ended up back here. I expected her to combine all that information into a cohesive article, but instead, she took just my summary and printed it as submitted, adding the photos I'd sent along. Nice to know my writing skills are still up to par!


I've gotten some feedback from local friends who saw the feature, all who said it was nice to find out more about me and my background. I don't think of myself as secretive about my life, but since those people have only known me since I landed in Sandpoint, it's not surprising that there are things that haven't come up in conversation. As for not including more about my art and process, I decided that's ok for this kind of article. I wanted to be sure to include what this community means to me and my art and why I chose to make it my home. My summary does that.

This article isn't online that I can find, but if you click on the photo, you should get a large enough image to read the text. Now I'm ready to crawl back into my cave and become anonymous again! I've never really wanted widespread notoriety through my quilting, except possibly recognition in some of the larger quilt shows and art exhibits I've entered over the years, and in those cases, the quilts were far away and in the limelight, not me who kept a low profile at home. I've always been happy to be a medium-size fish in a medium-size pond. Or as this great image on creativity says down in the corner, "a prized local cheese!"

 

Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Muse Is Back

And so it begins . . .or so I think! Redrafted block and fabric for Eve's quilt
I don't know where my muse takes off to, but every now and then she goes on vacation, coming back refreshed. Sometimes a little TOO refreshed. Mine has been stirring up and turning over my brain for weeks with tantalizing ideas she presents as my eyes wander from the tv to a beautiful art note card propped nearby or as I try to fall asleep thinking of ways fabric might be folded for snow dyeing, or as I think through the technical challenges in the slice quilt, or as I scribble alternate block dimensions in the margin of a catalog by my wingback chair. And then there's the driving urge to get back to sketching and finish the course I paid for last April and still have 2 sections to finish. Usually when my brain is this overloaded, I end up doing nothing because I can't decide which to work on, something I call being on spin cycle because it can literally have me spinning from one thing to another as I change my mind. This time, the muse grabbed me by the scruff of the neck one day (when I'd run short on studio time which left me ready to put anything off to the morrow) and sat me down at the work table saying, "For Pete's sake, draft out the new dimensions on the block for the baby quilt . . . NOW!" Yes, it was THAT strong of a feeling, and so I did. But as is so often the case, once done my curiosity about what was in my stash to go with the lavender hand-dye got the better of me. Oh, that will only take a few minutes, and actually, it really DID take only a few minutes as I immediately found varying amounts of a collection that changed my whole idea of kind and color of fabric for this quilt. Exciting!


But I wasn't ready to dive into the cutting yet. No, I could feel a stubborn streak about the sketching coming on and the muse did not disagree, gathering up my sketchbook and plopping me in front of the computer to warm up with a hatching exercise in a Sketchbook Skool video on their blog which related to the very first segment of my course. I'd even left a few pages blank for more hatching practice before continuing to the next segment. I've been wanting to try this green ink in this sketchbook and have it in an "eyedropper" pen that I suddenly was having problems with. Couldn't get the ink to flow. Could see ink leaking out where it shouldn't be leaking. I took the pen apart, soaking the nib and feed in a small cup of water, fished them out, rinsed and reassembled the pen. Nearly tossed the water, but it was quite green. This is permanent ink and even diluted, I figured it might produce a nice wash over a mixed media page. I saved it and went back to my sketching course.


But every evening, I'd find myself staring at the art card and envisioning what kind of background I could paint/mark/collage for it. May as well start with that wash. Four years ago I bought a large Canson Mixed Media Art Book, one with pages that can be removed and put back in. Have I tried it? Of course not. But it should be the right size for what I have in mind for the card, and no time like the present to try out the paper and those ideas the muse keeps nudging me towards. Although the reviews and descriptions indicate it will take wet media and stay flat, I was probably using too much wet with my diluted ink and form brush. The paper curled right up, almost into a cylinder, but relaxed some once dry. I put it back in the journal and weighted it which has flattened it pretty well. There was still ink left and it occurred to me that when I experimented with making paper from recycled paper, one of my questions was how it would take fairly diluted paint. So I pulled out a sheet and used up the rest of the diluted ink on it, discovering that it went on well and didn't soak all the way through. It showed darker than on the mixed media paper (and as I started working the ink off the sides and bottom of the cup, the transfer to the paper towards the bottom was darker). Then again, the mixed media paper is white; my hand-made paper is a bit greyed with the added browns from the tea leaves. But I'm very pleased with this test run.


As for the fabric folding thoughts, they arose with the growing piles of snow outside. I don't really want to dye up more one-of-a-kind fabrics; I've not done anything with most of what I produced last winter. However, I do have pieces I wasn't that jazzed about, and have not gotten anywhere with thoughts of how to improve them with printing. But what if I just did various folds that would give interesting patterning over them like the kaleidoscopes? In a "tidying up" sorting through a very old file awhile ago, I'd run across instructions for folding and cutting 5 and 6 pointed snowflakes and set it aside to try at least the folding part to produce better kaleidoscopes in my fabric dyeing. And then at the January art group meeting, Rebecca handed out copies of folding techniques related to the indigo dyeing. The muse stood in the corner of the room, nodding her head. Get with it, girl, before the snow melts away! This time I plan to use the tip of ironing in the folds to see if I can get more precise delineations.

Using the ironing board to organize as the worktable is still cluttered.

I've been thinking about that slice quilt too, and how I can collage the water per the inspiration from Terrie's quilt, also from the January meeting (the muse could hardly contain herself). I couldn't find the very old article on using a non-fused collage technique in clothing (must have decided I'd never make that vest, nor collage fabric in a quilt - silly me), but I found someone else on line showing basically the same thing as I remember it so I think I am ready to give it a go. But my attention really is now focused on this baby quilt, in spite of the fact I thought I would "whip together" the slice quilt before moving on to it. I'm being challenged by it in the way I've always enjoyed working best: letting the fabrics on hand and the amounts of each available drive the designing. The hand-dyed fabric is half yards and right away I discovered I needed a yard just for the 6 long background strips in each block for a 9 block quilt. Hmmm. Well, the two middle steps in the gradation are fairly close and I've pulled in a purple from a different dye run for the shorter background strips, even though it obviously shades more red than blue. Cut in smaller pieces, I think it will blend ok. As for the prints, it's a similar story - enough of two, very small amounts of others and a need to dig through the stash again for one or two prints that will work with them. After dithering over two batiks that were reading a bit too bright, I ended yesterday by unearthing the perfect batik. Still lots of cutting and mulling to do before assembling but the muse seems satisfied with my progress. Enough to not mind when I close the studio door and sit at the computer for 15 or 20 minutes watching more videos from my on-line drawing class. 

It's been good, this bouncing from one focus to another, combined with a lot of cross-pollination. I'm making progress and my brain has stopped feeling like it is being pulled in too many directions to the point of pulling apart. The muse has been a bit like a dance partner, firmly leading through the steps of our particular creative dance.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Seeing The Familiar With Fresh Eyes - Art Group Monday

My art group hasn't met since October, and even then it was only a couple of us attending. Yesterday's meeting with near full attendance was a great way get the art year rolling. It's really easy for a group like this to devolve into a show and tell only exercise with an emphasis on finished work, and we've definitely had meetings like that. Not this meeting, as perhaps we hit that refresh button of mine after not seeing each other for awhile. And the photo above shows what is my first project of the year, and my first opportunity to try out this resolution word of refresh. I've received my assignment for a new slice quilt with those Wisconsin quilter friends of mine, in which I promised them I would loosen up my approach this time - same basic project but with a different image and a chance to hit the design refresh button! Already, old habits have me choosing fabrics to match the photo, but one of the quilts shown at this meeting got my mind thinking in a different (fresh) direction. You'll hear more about that later.


Also shared is the beginnings of that baby quilt I need to get made. I haven't gotten any farther than what I've already reported about drafting and altering the block design, but I did pull out the stack of "lavender" (but actually purple) fabric dyed last year that I plan to use for the background.



Rebecca had baby quilts on her mind too plus using them to get back into the groove of quilting on her longarm machine after breaking her wrist almost a year ago. As with any good baby quilt, it has some really fun motifs in some of the fabric. She pointed out that the sheep look a bit like donuts if you don't look closely.



She was the only one of us to take advantage of the recent snows to do some snow-dyeing. I don't think my camera captured the colors very well. She also shared an indigo dyeing kit she plans to break into once the weather warms a bit and its ideas for folding fabric to create interesting designs in the finished product.


She was looking to recreate a sherbet color she'd achieved last winter to use in this Flamingo quilt. It uses a curved block made with a specialty ruler and technique, and Rebecca, seeing the ruler, wondered if that block could create interesting designs in her art quilts. Seeing the pattern for the flamingos convinced her that it could.


Finally she shared a piece of African batik given to her by her sister, who bought it while on a medical mission to Zimbabwe. It is a beautiful piece done on a nice weight of fabric, but her question was, what do I do with it and those big design motifs? I have my own collection of African batiks and that is ALWAYS the issue it seems. My reply was my standard: use it as backing. But a better suggestion was to consider cutting the motifs out of the fabric to rearrange into larger motifs on a different background. 


Terrie dug out some old unfinished work that began life as samplers for a class she taught. Both of these are wool that need to go the next step to the felting process. She noted that one has many layers of wool and that she broke many needles trying to felt it by machine. In the class she had her students doing the felting by hand and thinks that is how she needs to proceed to finish it up. She also mentioned that one of the students was allergic to wool. Any suggestions for how that person can learn about the needlefelting without working with wool?


Terrie continues to be inspired by the daily drawing that some of us have done in the past (not in my case but others still are). She showed us the latest work in her sketchbook, a combination of trying out different designs for freemotion quilting and developing pattern designs. She said she'd started adding notes beside the drawings such as where the inspiration came from, what she liked and what didn't really work. She's got quite the reference book that keeps growing, even though she admits the drawing does not happen every day.


Besides being a quilter, Terrie has several business ventures including pattern designing, her quilting books, machine quilting service, teaching and running a small quilt shop, all out of her home (Moose Country Quilts). And so she is often ahead of us in knowing about new products and fabric lines. This day she was sharing the new Hoffman digital panels from their Spectrum series. I've had some questions about how the all-the-rage digital fabric prints actually hold up under use as no one seems to be addressing this openly. So Terry will see what she can find out.


Terrie also shared this older piece that was an experiment in depicting a scene using a non-fused collage technique. This is the quilt that got me thinking differently about how I might approach my slice quilt.



Because yesterday was a no-school holiday, Meg's daughter, Adele, got to join us, which may be more of a treat for us than for her (although she is always very attentive while we talk and occasionally offers insights). Now a Junior in high school, Adele has been wowing us with her drawing skills since our very first meeting. She does draw daily, I think almost exclusively on the computer now with the aid of a Wacom tablet, so let us scroll through what seemed like an endless collection of images. I asked if she ever printed them out, and she answered, rarely. She does share on instagram though. Ok, what young person does not?


Mom Meg came with a technical dilemma and a need for ideas. I mentioned when showing her piece for the fiber exhibit that she is working out ways to present her individual "quirkies" that make up the vignettes she's been attaching directing to the wall in a more user-friendly way for collectors. Not entirely happy with the results of temporarily attaching them to cloth stretched over stretcher bars, and wanting to provide more depth, she wanted to know what we thought about an idea which struck me as "turning the framing routine inside out". In essence, I think she is moving towards a shadowbox type of presentation, with three different levels - the thread-painted background, elements in front of the background and an element or two attached to the edge (or face) of the frame. Much discussion ensued and she came away saying the wheels were turning and it had been very helpful. We'll see where she takes this next.

I think that does it for our January meeting. It definitely felt like a kick-start to the new creative year. And hello to Rebecca's quilting friends in Wyoming! I know I fell down on the job of reporting these meetings last year so you could see what she was up. I'll try to do a better job in 2018!

Saturday, January 13, 2018

POAC Winter Exhibit: Abstracts

"Upward Drifting" & "Winter Wind Song" by Bob Lindemann
I know abstract art isn't for everyone, but I think some of it appeals to me because of  its visual link to some of the fabric I love like handdyes (I often look at a painting and think, and now it needs some stitch and maybe beads...) or because of my interest in the block designs in 1800s quilts (op art before op art became a thing with painters). With that in mind, here are the pieces in the abstract portion of the winter exhibit (aptly named "Beyond Form") that had me taking more than a quick look. The two above are large watercolor paintings that fit the category of looking like fabric I produce myself. By the late Bob Lindemann, the one on the left is "Upward Drifting" and looks like it uses the technique of scattering salt on the wet paint, something I've done when sun printing fabric. The blues and greens migrating upward and into each other are magical. The other is called "Winter Wind Song". Because of the terrible reflections in the glass, I wasn't able to get straight-on shots of either so I hope you can see what I am describing when you click for a larger view. I wasn't aware of Lindemann's long history with POAC until I did the google and found this article in the local paper which also features another one of his beautiful paintings.

"Petal" by Jeff Rosenkrans

I don't expect you to understand the appeal of this painting from the photo. It looks like not much, I suspect, unless you are standing before it and feel the brushstrokes gently arcing upward pulling you with them, the subtle shifting of hardly visible lines of color shading from yellows to oranges with some green interspersed. I doubt it would have the same effect if painted on a smaller canvas, and the fact that I was viewing it on a grey rainy day may have had something to do with the way it made me sigh and drink it in for as long as I did. Or maybe my appreciation was partly due to some very close-up photos I've taken of rose petals where I could study the delicate veining one seldom notices. At any rate, I found myself thinking, "Bravo!" for not mucking up this simple idea with too much detail. Sweeping colors rendered with a delicate touch.

"Waves on a Golden Shore" by Leslie Gadsby

This one drew me in with that wild splash of white, spray from a crashing wave, I decided, although just the shape and form leading the eye upward toward the echoing darker shape and teal blue above it was enough for me, no identification of what it really was necessary. But as I looked around the edges of the white, I noticed many subtle details in the background to confirm that initial impression. So much to look at in this painting by Leslie Gadsby.

"Besa Del Sol"


Here's another painting by Jeff Rosenkrans, but oh so different from "Petal". However, the story behind his process as told in his artist statement ties the two together and increased my appreciation of what I was seeing in this striking geometric design. Is that rippling water mixed in with such graphic elements? Yes indeed, and it was that surprising element that caught and held my attention.

"Winter Forest Floor" by Dan Earle

"Abstract II" by Catherine Earle

I like these last two, one by Dan Earle and one by Catherine Earle and both watercolors, for their placement of interesting shapes and color palette. A part of me envisions designing such images to execute in fabric but somehow I never get quite there. Guess it's time for me to quit looking and start doing the work!