Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Taking the Leap

Like many artists, I keep a journal/sketchbook.  I started this practice in earnest nearly 15 years ago, when, tired of buying a new sketchbook only to end up giving it to my children to draw in, I decided to keep the sketchbook no matter what.  I gave myself permission to make the “worst junk in the world” as Natalie Goldberg said.  I didn’t judge what I put in the book, I didn’t tear pages out, and until recently I didn’t go back into old pages to rework them or cover up stuff I decided was too personal for possible public consumption. 

My journal has been idea generator, confidant, and catch-all over the years.  I put it aside three years ago after the tumultuous spring, summer, and fall of surgeries, job losses and meltdowns.  I missed it, a lot.  I kept trying to come back to it, because I knew that working in such a safe space would help me heal from all the trauma my family and I had been through.

Finally I found the wonderful book The Creative Entrepreneur, by Lisa Sonora Beam, and by chance she was offering a summer special on her online journal workshops.  I signed up for the PowerFULL Magical Visual Journal workshop, found a wonderful book at a local art supply, and I was off.  Over the course of the past three months I worked that book until it was full, and in the process I was creating more work than I have created in a very long time, having the time of my life, and making work that I wanted to share with the world.

Selling completed art journals is probably possible, but not something I want to do at the moment, and I loved some of the work so much that I wanted to take it “offline” as it were and make some free-standing work.  The watercolors I posted last month inspired some such paintings, and now I have also expanded the repertoire to work on canvas. 

snail painting three

Untitled, in process.  The background is a collage of color copies of a photo I took.  I then painted the image on using India ink, and after that dried, I went back in with acrylics.  The faces on the underlying photo aren’t as obvious in person, I was surprised and pleased when they popped out in the photo.  I think the canvas size is 10” x 20” but I am not positive.

snail painting four

Here I am auditioning the piece with a separate snail I made by sewing unryu paper and painted paper to a Pellon base and then trimming.  I wasn’t sure that I wanted to put him (her?) on, but after seeing the photos I think that I will attach this snail to the piece. 

cake painting

This piece is made in the same manner, but I used copies of an old family photo as the base.  One thing I’m learning in this process is that it is easier to “read” the ink drawing if the base image is color instead of black and white.  The lines tend to get lost in the darker areas of the photo on a black and white image.  It is on a canvas that measures 6” x 8”.

Izzy also got into the act and has been painting also.  We are planning at Etsy update, first tomorrow for some watercolors, then around October 15 with sculptures.

izzys pumpkin king two

Scary new territory, but fun, especially when you have such an enthusiastic studio mate working by your side.  I already have the next two pieces planned, and am looking forward to heading back to Blick for some larger canvases.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Excellent Opportunity

One of the members in my SAQA region called me last Thursday with a request.  Ellen Anne Eddy creates marvelous embroidered imagery and is teaching a workshop in Carmel, Indiana, November 2-5.  Spaces are still available if you are in the area.  I have admired Ellen’s work for years, and the techniques taught in her first book Thread Magic, helped me create my Picky Butterfly piece for The Artful Storybook.

You can view the brochure at the Embroiderers’ Guild website .  More information on the class will be up soon at Ellen’s site where you can also see images of her beautiful work.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009



It seems like September has only begun and here it is September 16th already.  I have been working on several deadlines, one of which is the upcoming High Fiber show at the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles.  No work will be over $500, and I am planning on sending 6 pieces.  The piece above is one of them, based on the photo I took at the Franklin Park Conservatory.  You can see the actual photo in my blog banner.


I started the piece by cutting some Pellon to approximately 16” x 20” and freehand drawing the log, the spiral and the leaf onto it.  I then appliqued the parts onto a piece of hand-dyed fabric I made over the summer.  The tree is made from the Northcott stone collection, as is the spiral.  The leaf is composed of African brocade and twill that I painted with Setacolour paints.  The splotchy effect on that fabric was made by sprinkling kosher salt onto the piece while it was still wet.


I did freemotion zigzag over satin cording for the vines in the background, and made zigzag cording with strips of hand-dyed fabric for the vines in the foreground.  I also used freemotion zigzag to add details to the log and the leaves.  The background was just random freemotion quilting, I am not an old hand at the “stipple” look yet.


Here is a detail of the log, with a better view of the bark details and the machine quilting.  I am really pleased with how this piece turned out, and excited to begin the next to last piece, which will be three dimensional waterlilies on another piece of hand-dyed twill.  But first I have to finish Garden Party I (the green water towers from August) for the local Women in Appalachia show deadline.

When it rains, it pours.