Friday, June 28, 2013

Planning Ahead

I had some minor surgery this week, everything went really well, and while I won't say it was a breeze it was much easier than it would have been years ago.  I knew that I would not be chomping at the bit to get in my studio so I planned some things to work on that wouldn't take as much energy.

First and foremost was doing some leg work for a new web site.  My site is several years old and has been maintained by my son.  He lives on the West Coast and I live on the East Coast.  It's not been easy to get things done when needed.  I decided to bite the bullet and go with a pro web master.  I've been answering question so that she can get a good idea of what I want and need.  So that has been done this week and we are on our way.

I've also spend several hours de-stitching the whole background from a piece I quilted last week.  Not my favorite thing to do but I know I will be happier with a different design.

 In my past life I was a photographer.  I have always used my photographs for inspiration for my art work.  I had a darkroom and printed many black & white photos.  One of the things I always wanted to do was paint one of my photos.  I never got around to it.

Recently while looking through some photography books I got the urge again.  The difference this time is I'm using fabric instead of paper.

This marsh  is outside the backdoor of our good friends Ann and Tom's home on Harbor Island, SC.  They generously invite us to visit every year and I always come away with some beautiful photos.  I decided that I would paint the bottom or marsh part of the photo leaving the sky black & white. There were beautiful clouds that day and they showed up well without color.  I used Prisma Color Watercolor pencils.  I have another piece started and am using Shiva Sticks, will be interested in that outcome.  So far I have found the pencils to be easier to use on the fabric.

I'm hoping to be back in the studio next week.  The first thing on my list will be redoing the quilting I just took out.

Because I use nature as inspiration I'm posting some of the beauty in my garden. 


I am joining
"Off the Wall Friday"

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

"Doors to the Past" to be at the Brush Gallery, Lowell MA

Doors to the Past 
34" X 39"

 I recently recieved an email from The Brush Gallery in Lowell, Ma. telling me that this piece had been accepted in their exhibit Tangled up in Blue.

This piece was originally made as an entry to Quilt National.  It was not accepted.  When you enter Quilt National your new piece has to remain off the internet.  No photos posted any where.  Because of that I did not post my normal work-in-grogress.  I'm thinking that I may have posted some of the information after it was rejected but decided that I would show you the process along with my thinking on the piece.

 This is one of the two photographs that I used to create this image in PhotoShop Elements.  I took this photo in TX.  I loved the way you looked into the archway and saw multiple doors.  Because the last door was dark it appered to me as if it could go to infinity.  I also liked the light that seemed to be coming into the second hallway from the right.

I have this thing about photographing my husband and my shadow especially when we are traveling.  I have bunchs of shadow photos and whithout much effort I can tell you exactially where those shadows were taken.

This one was on a trip coming back from taking a class at Arrowmont in Gattlinburgh, TN.  We had stopped at a pull off to take a little walk in the woods.  There was a wooden bridge that crossed a small creek.  We stopped on the bridge to look in the water and I took this photo.  Notice the colors in the upper left corner, orange, green, pink and blue.  Also notice the blue in our shadow.  I decided that I would like to merge or blend these two photos together to see what the image would look like.

 This was the image that resulted.  You can see that my shadow disappeared, with the exception of the light spot at the top of the arch.  Notice where the colors come in on the right along with the blue in the water.  You can also see in the bottom left corner that the reflection of the bridge shows up.  When I first viewed this merged image I saw something in the bottom left that resembed half of a comedy mask.  That lead me to mirror image the piece.

Resulting with this image.  I loved the secondary images that were created in the center.  While I pursued the idea of a comedy mask, the piece soon took on another meaning for me.

I mentioned early the doors to infinity.  I now saw almost a ghost like presence coming from the last door.  (That would be me, or at least my shadow that mysteriously disappeared).  My thoughts now ran in the direction of how many people have passed through these doors?

 Leading me to make an image and move it around in PSE until I liked the position.  (I'm bound and determinded to get my shadow back in this piece somewhere)

After placing the ghost in different places I decided on the one that is seen at the beginning of the post.  I printed my shadow image on silk fabic and with Misty Fuse adhered to the back I fused them in place.

If you look at this image and go back to the top photo you will notice that these three images are much brighter than on the finished piece.  I wanted them to appear more ghostly so I went into my watercolor pencils and blended some color through them as well as on the edges.  I wanted the outline of the doorway to actually show through the body on the left side.
At this point I am calling it finished .  The next decision is how to quilt, this is always the hardest part for me.
I eventually decided to make brick like quilting on the floor with lines following the doorways.  In the light of the last door I quilted the shape of the shadow/ghost.

I never plan my work.  I usually start with an idea but it almost never ends up being what I had in mind in the beginning.  Sometimes working this way is good and sometimes I get myself in a bind that I could have worked out if I had done a little more planning.  But, hey that's how I work.

I was really excited that The Brush wanted this piece.  I always knew that entering Quilt National was a long shot but you don't know until you try.  I'm glad that someone thought it gallery worthy.

This post is  linked to

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Continuing Interview with Deidre Scherer & Mary Pal

                          Deidre Scherer

 From Deidre's series: 
Surrounded by Family and Friends

 "Do you sometime find the subject of your work depressing"

“No, I have been drawn to the subject of age because it was rarely presented except in derogatory ways. As a culture we see so much violent death in media, news and entertainment when actually most of us will experience a normal, supported and comforted end. I wanted to show the reality, beauty and experience that come with aging. 

Because of my work, I have been through Hospice training. As with a Doula who assists a mother through the birth of a child, holding a hand and listening during death is like being a handmaiden to a very important part of life. People are often taken off balance when viewing a birth -the same thing with death. A few months ago, my father (aged 98) registered no pulse, no blood pressure and then came back the same day.  When asked what he experienced, he said, “It was more real than real”.  We are bereaved when we lose someone, but what we witness is something precious.” 

                           Mary Pal
 Question:     Does place impact your art?

"It does not impact my portraiture, but it does some other subjects I’m interested in. 

Because I am asked to teach the cheesecloth sculpting technique, and because some students find portraiture daunting, I designed a class where the cheesecloth is sculpted into a tree and this is placed on a simple painted background.  Thus another favorite subject matter is once again open to me – landscapes.  I will be teaching in England this summer and plan to spend some time in the Cotswolds, photographing the landscape, and hope to incorporate more cheesecloth landscapes into my portfolio".
  JBW     24" x 18"

     Would you call your work a series?  If so what is the catalyst that tells you when to move on to something else?

"The portraits are a series, and while I am drawn to other subject matter – landscapes, nudes, animals – I know I will always return to the human face for its ineffable allure".

 Gaia in Repose  18" X 24"


      Are there any surprises in store for us in your work?  If so would you share them with us?

"I hinted at it in my last answer.  I am just completing my first nude and I enjoyed working with the sensuous human form".

Thermal Mask       24" X 18"


       In looking at your web site I see some colorful portraits, very different from the two-value portraits you now create.  Do you still work in that genre or are you now devoted to working in two-tones?

"In the past year, I was a member of an international online group and every six weeks we were tasked with completing a piece that responded to a particular challenge.  For one, I took a photo of myself with my iPad, and used the thermal filter in Photo Booth, then recreated it in all those crazy colors of cheesecloth.  I love color! Color is fun".

Question:   I love Sizing Up.  While the portrait alone is strong, the red background really makes this piece of art stand out. How or why did you decide to use the red? 
Sizing up can be see in the book  People & Portraits

"When I saw the original photograph by a very talented young Tennessee photographer, Clint Colbert, I was struck by the expression on the homeless man’s face.  His eyes were filled with suspicion, and I sensed some anger, so the logical colour choice was red. I didn’t think about it for long.  It just felt right". 

 Is there a time you can’t be creative?

"Oh, lots!  I have three grown kids who come and go from the house in various stages of moving out, I sit on a Board of Directors which demands more hours than I ever imagined, I work part-time for a national non-profit, I teach fiber art workshops, and find there are seemingly endless demands on my time.  In those pursuits, I am creative in other ways, but that doesn’t get art done.  So when I carve out some precious time in the studio, I’ve had hours for inspiration to percolate, and never sit there twiddling my thumbs.  It’s just a matter of deciding which project in my brain wants to be completed first".

    Who influences/influenced you?

"Without a doubt, the greatest influence in my life has been Studio Art Quilt Associates. Joining SAQA connected me with fiber artists around the world and put a wealth of knowledge at my fingertips.  In fact, it was in making some challenge pieces for a SAQA exhibition that I stumbled upon my cheesecloth technique. That year, I went to my first SAQA conference at the opening of Quilt National, where a cheesecloth portrait I had donated to their annual auction was displayed, and I was greatly encouraged by Martha Sielman, the Executive Director, to pursue the technique.  Eventually I became a regional rep so I could help local fiber artists develop their skills and knowledge, and ultimately I was invited to join the Board of Directors.  Now I have wonderful SAQA friends all over the globe and I continue to love being a member of an organization that is the most influential force in the fiber art world today".
    Do you have certain hours set aside each day to work or do you work only when you are inspired?

"Oh, that sounds heavenly!  Well, I hope that dream will be realized very soon.  This past year was particularly arduous – I allowed myself to get involved with too many committees, too many hours of work outside the home, too many group challenges, and a heavy travel schedule. I was completely deadline driven. I recently dropped all those commitments and am anticipating a wonderful year where I can once again schedule in studio time". 

       Did you aspire to be an artist from childhood?  If so, do you have formal training?

"I am completely right-brained in my pursuits and always have been.  I excelled in art at school, and when it came time to register for university, was astonished I could apply for a BFA! But my parents counseled against it, assuring me I should get a degree that would lead to lifetime employment and that I could pursue art later in life.  That is exactly how it worked out. SAQA is the BFA I never got to take.  Life is too short to have regrets, so I now make the most of every day and revel in the moments I have to create art".        

I hope you have enjoyed reading this interview and seeing the work of these two talented artist.  I loved putting it together.