Wednesday, February 28, 2007

more thoughts on keeping sketchbooks/journals

one factor in how you will keep your sketchbooks is your working style...
and the actual process of journaling can help you discover your working style if you're not already aware of it.

someone who works best with a distinct plan will create small mock ups of intended work. if that is your dominant working style you will most likely create detailed sketches, include swatches of fabric you intend to use and samples of textures you want to incorporate. you will be the person who will create sample swatches of various stitches, and make color boards of the various hues you will incorporate. you may work out ahead of time what size your finished work will be, and create patterns or templates.

on the other hand, if your creative style leans more toward the intuitive style, you will likely use your journal to "prime the pump". rather than recording detailed plans you will lean more towards doodling and compiling the inherent shapes, forms, and colors that interest you.

keeping my journals has revealed to me the types of images that are important and that fuel my creative drive. these are the shapes/subjects i clipped from magazines, photographed consistently thru the years, and incessantly doodled: tall, thin vertical forms, whether they be trees, the obelisk across the river from my home, cathedral spires, standing stones, fences, long thin spikes of grasses that dance in the breeze......

thru the years i have learned that i am pretty much 70 /30 spontaneous vs planned. i like to have a notion of the shapes and colors i want to work with, but prefer to work out the details as i go, in the actual medium itself, rather than pre-plan. for me, if i already know how a piece will look down to the last detail, there's no longer a point or an interest in creating it. it's the process of discovery along the way that fuels me. my journals will look and function differently than someone who likes to work with a set plan. neither way is better. there is no right or wrong. you do what works for you.

keeping sketchbooks is a great tool to help you discover what your working style is. it's the old what came first the chicken or the egg rout
ine. working in a sketchbook will help you to define your working style, which in turn will determine how you do your books, which in turn will influence your work, etc etc. we learn by doing. if i had to have one solid *rule* for keeping a sketchbook it would be to use them consistently. spend some time every day with it. developing the habit to sit with the process for 20 minutes a day whether you feel like you want to or not is one of the keys to generating ideas and new work.

the more work you create, whether in a journal or with the actual materials, the higher your chances are that you will create good work. take one idea and doodle it or work it 30 different ways. push it past what you think is reasonable. brainstorm. play. go to what feels like ridiculous lengths. quite often it will be that 29th idea that will be the greatest.

a couple of really good books along these lines are art and fear and drawing on the artist within.
imho, both should be standard items in every artist's toolbox, regardless of medium...

and now, it's back to work for me!
next installation: the evolution of my personal imagery....views from sketchbooks thru the years..

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

sketchbook ... the basics

i keep a couple of different types of sketchbooks at a time...the workhorse is my basic stuffeverythingintooneplace book. and for that the key, especially when you're just starting out is keep it simple:
make it EASY to use..
don't leave home without it
the book and a good mechanical pencil are the basic tools

i've just started using moleskins and love them. the paper is so much nicer, they have a nifty pocket for storing odd bits, they're a bit smaller (easier to fit in my purse), they have a wonderful elastic band that holds them closed as well as a ribbon to mark places, they're just a little bit more expensive than the standard ring bound books, and i can find them locally(booksamillion). they're available online too.

when i started out, i made covers for them, or collaged the covers... nice idea, and i still do it when the notion strikes, but i pretty much quit doing that as i would rather put the time and effort into the actual piece rather than have it just be a decorative cover. i put the year and journal number on the cover (bout halfway thru 2007 #1).

i use these books for brainstorming essentially. because i pretty much put all of my thoughts, ideas and inspirations into each book they are a chronological record for me. and because i (almost) never lose them, they are also the repository for the odd bits of info. phone numbers, record of orders placed etc, notes that i don't want to lose. (which i usually put in the back just to make it easier to find...)

everything that influences me goes in them:
images of all kinds that speak to me for whatever reason very rough sketches - ideas for materials, colors, etc
notes taken while reading particularly good books dreams, quotes, words or phrases that intrigue or inspire me
doodles doodles doodles, no matter where i am or what else i am doing!

when i was in school i was required to complete a journal a semester in each of my sculpture classes. (3 sculpture classes in one semester = 3 completed journals.) tho i was already keeping a journal, it was great discipline.

because of the way i do them, as individual books, they are somewhat disjointed. but as a series of books what happens is i start to see trends in colors, shapes, forms, thoughts that appear with frequency.. and these are for the most part the little nuggets i mine when i'm stuck and looking for ideas for future work.

what i don't do with these journals is make them precious. i don't want to feel too intimidated to use them. i love the illustrated artist journals but for my working sketchbook, i have to keep it simple.
i will doodle, and as you can see, will play with color, but only in the spirit of trying out ideas, etc. not of creating a finished work in and of itself.

when i want to add color i typically use watercolor crayons in them. this set has the water brush included... it's one of my favorite ways to play. you can also come back later to sketches you've already drawn and add color to them after the fact.
more later.

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here they are...

my list of noteworthy moments... as inspired by the current quiltart list conversation.

managed to get through high school without ever stepping foot in a study hall even tho i had 3, yes - Three, hours of study hall imposed upon me one year... and for this they inducted me into the honor society... i spent most of that time in the band room, and no, i was never actually in the band,, but i did learn how to play the guitar, and spent most of those 3 hours each day laughing and having fun,,, which i consider a Major Accomplishent anytime anywhere

i can (and do) burn any number of food products on a frequent basis. my more noteworhy accomplishments in that area were boiled eggs, and pasta, tho rice seems to be my specialty. this is in spite of winning the betty crocker award in high school....;-) and yes i do know what causes it: put the pot on, go upstairs and get lost in Making Art, forget the pot is on till a rather unsavory scent wafts its way up there.... luckily i have a keen sense of smell.

i have managed to weld without inflicting serious bodily harm on myself or far

i can walk in any store anywhere selling anything and tell you in an instant what the Most Expensive Items are without looking at sales tags...they will be the ones i gravitate towards....just a Gift... i have ridiculously expensive tastes.. largely unfulfilled i might add.
perhaps this comes from being born into a family of plantation owners along The River..

i am an excellent caulker...... and i Love to paint (tho numerous drop cloths are a good idea).
it is the ultimate in Instant Gratification

i can lose any and every thing under any and every circumstance. the most memorable was losing my passport in italy, just before being smuggled crossing the border, into france, where i proceeded to obtain a new one ... and forgot to lie, much to my chagrin after dealing with the line of questioning that followed....(and this was way before Heightened Security).

while in france on the same trip, the group i was with bought tickets for a lovely evening voyage on the bateau mouche on the seine, pulled up our chairs and waited to roll. and waited, and waited, and waited while commenting on the lovely boats going by ... all the while not realizing
we had seated ourselvs on the pier, not the actual boat. you'd think for a group of people that grew up along rivers and bayous in south louisisana we'd have known better ...

survived sitting on top of an alligator's den with a group of friends, while playing with the very cute baby gators

and while we're on animal related accomplishments ... also survived 2 close encounters with Very Large water moccasins on the same hot, dry summer day. i had been practically standing on top of one of them while taking a photograph of a rose .... which seques into -

grew and maintained 77 beautiful rose bushes for many years (until kids came along....)

went back to school on 2 separate occasions, after swearing i would Never Go Back, and earned 2 separate degrees. general studies with emphasis on history, and, believe it or not, english...(i do know how to capitalize, and spell .. but i am hopelessly dsylexic (yes i know - not the accurate term but close enuf ) when it comes to typing...)
However, while these were wonderful accomplishemnts in and of themselves, i still feel my greatest accomplishment in both cases was commuting for a grand total of 5 1/2 years without once getting a speeding ticket.

i once had a wonderfully legible and beautiful handwriting, which prompted the french cousin of a friend of mine to comment on how much he liked those exquisite american typewriters.... all printed....i gave up on cursive a year or so after learning just isn't my style

i'm sure there's more... and i'm equally sure i will think of them as soon as i hit publish.....


Sunday, February 25, 2007

time flies!

when you're having fun. it seems like just yesterday that i last posted. for the first time in many many years i actually did mardi gras...and enjoyed the living daylights out of's been a long time since i've done that! we caught tons of beads, which seems o so important in the moment. then 2 minutes later when you're home and unload the stuff all over the counters you wonder why in the hell you brought that home and what on earth you're going to do with it! and this is after giving most of it away to the various kids we encountered...
since i'm heading to the atlantic center for the arts in a few weeks for the art retreat, i will be loading up as many pounds as i can squeeze into my luggage and bringing them with me. will give pamela allen, the embellishing queen, a bunch and ditto to anyone else who's there who might want them...

and this is my favorite end of the parade imageit's a little blurry, which just makes it more appropriate, dontcha think? this is what happenswhen the parade beats you home... we ended up getting in line behind the floats heading back to their den...

in between the parades and other goings-on, i managed to get my collages done for the annual bakers dozen are a few of them that should be going out in the mail soon:

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Monday, February 12, 2007

those birds!

have made such a hit! who'd have thought??
and i wanted to pass along this image that kathie briggs sent of her journal page that was devoted to them! several people asked me about the berries.. and i have to say i'm not sure what the trees are...
i think it might be a bay tree?? they have been here longer than i have.

meanwhile i played around a little bit with some of the photos...


Saturday, February 10, 2007

feeding frenzy

i came upstairs a little while ago to do some machine quilting. since it's a totally gorgeous day _ blue sky, sunshiny, cool, crisp - i had some of the windows open getting some fresh air.. when i sat down i noticed big huge clusters of what looked like big fat dark blue/purple grapes hanging in bunches in the trees, and thought to myself i should take a picture of them, and figured i would in a bit... i also thought that i had never noticed them before....

well, now i know why! unless i happened to be here right before the frenzy i never would have seen them that big and plump and plentiful... as i was stitching i started hearing bird sounds, glanced outside and saw a flock of something, and went back to stitching. a few minutes later, i heard a loud thud as one of them hit the window, but kept stitching.... then i started hearing a Very Loud Fluttering of wings which finally made me stop and Look.

it was a scene right out of the old alfred hitchcock movie The Birds.... (or what i imagined a scene would have looked like cus i was a total weenie and never could watch the thing way back when so all i've ever seen of it is clips). there must have been hundreds of them! i finally stopped stitching, and got my camera and started snapping. there were so many it didn't matter where you pointed: there were birds everywhere!

after they had gorged themselves they were having a little drink in, of all things, my rust containers! which struck me as particularly funny as i had just gone to the iron overload web site the other day looking up which tests i needed to have done... my dad had hemachromatosis, which necessitates frequent testing for me... it is the most common genetic disease (they say 1 in 200-300 have it).
anyway, i digress...

i have NO idea what kind of bird this is. it doesn't look familiar. they must be passing through? if anyone can identify them please let me know!

meantime, i'm going to get back to stitching....(deadline) and i will remember to wear shoes next time i go outside!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

collagraph tutorial

to say that i'm thrilled to be going to the fiber arts retreat at the atlantic center for the arts in florida in march would be an understatement! i'm looking forward to finally meeting pamela in canada as well as many other people that are going to be there.

the art center is full of great studios and tools, including a printing press, and there are many of us who are interested in playing with that. so i've put together info on doing collograph plates while i'm getting some ready to bring with me.

a collagraph is a printing plate constructed of collaged elements on a thin material, such as matte board. some of the materials that work well are most papers (typing, printmaking, drawing), self adhesive paper and/or plastic labels, paper tape, plastic packing tape, acrylic paint and white glue. i love these stickers that i bought on sale way back when at michaels; i've used them both for collagraph plates, and also as resists when painting canvas and fabric. they stick REALLY well.

on the right is a plate i made using clear packing tape that i cut with a rotary cutter. i also did some relief work, and etched lines into the board.

below is a plate made with mylar. i cut it into strips with a rotary cutter, then scrunched it up to wrinkle it, and glued it down with acrylic paint on the left, and white glue on the rest of it..

and on the bottom right is one of the plates done with the adhesive stickers.

the next step will be to coat these plates with white spray paint. it keeps the ink from soaking into the cardboard, and also makes it easy to clean the surface.

some materials that don't work well are drafting tape / duct tape/ contact paper (won’t stay stuck), silk or real flowers and leaves , and sandpaper (holds too much ink.

and finally here is one of the prints i made layering 3 different collage plates. i used one of my extra prints on one of my 2002 journal pages.

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

fun stuff in the mail!

yesterday's mail brought my copy of the long awaited and anticipated new book by our very own lesley riley. the book is entitled: Fabric Memory Books: Techniques, Projects, Inspiration and it's very aptly named as it's very inspirational! it definitely makes me want to get out piles of stuff and PLAY!

the other reason i'm thrilled to see it is i have a piece in there that i've been waiting to unveil.. here it is:

lesley invited 11 artists to submit a page for a book that will be auctioned off later this year revolving around the them of home. this piece was done with mixed media techniques based on a photograph i took at laura plantation just a few months before the fire. this image is the upstairs back gallery, (porch ) and is the essence of home to me. i've got other photos and mentions of laura plantation in the archives as well. this piece is bordered with the same wonderful woven paper fiber that i used in a couple of my sculptures. i just love the stuff and it's always fun to use. i attached 3 small glass vials to the side of the page as well symbolizing the past history of this particular home, which was in my family for many years...

i was thrilled to be included in lesley's project along with the rest of the notable cast of characters. the other quilt artists included are susan shie, mary fisher, and laura wasilowski. and mixed media artists nina bagley, sas colby, patti culea, claudine helmuth, karen michel, lynne perrella, and lynne whipple. what a wonderful group! i urge you to get the book and enjoy!

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Thursday, February 01, 2007

the aftermath

and here is the mess on the floor...


the tree

that was clear as mud wasn't it?

i went into photoshop and enlarged the tree image, printed it on paper, and pinned the paper to the piece to visualize placement. see right:

then i took several photos.
this is one of them

i decided i liked it better without the screen printed organza behind it, so took several without it... (not pictured)

i then back into photoshop and erased most of the white paper from the orinted page to get a better idea of what it would look like once it was printed onto the piece.

and got this (see below) a photo of the image, printed on paper, (with most of the white background gone), and pinned to my piece...

which allowed me to get an idea of what it would look like,
and make sure that the scale was right.

i burned the screen, and then printed it onto the piece.
pictured below in last post.
i hope that is a little clearer!
why does who's on first keep running thru my head?? ;-)



a new piece!

it's been incubating for a while. i've had these fabrics floating around the studio for at least 2-3 years. i've taken them out, put them back. taken them out, put them back. ad infinitum. until a few days ago...
and i actually really like what it's evolved into - which is not even close to the vaque notion i had in my head before i started. so i''ll walk you through a few steps. what did we do before digital cameras?

step 1. a random assortment .... i twirled the composition around and around in photoshop, looking for which side wanted to be up... and played with rearranging fabrics.. and ended up taking most of them down, as i wanted it to have a more vertical look....

so here is step 2.

it's moving closer to what i want...there are definate vertical lines happening. now i see that i need to repeat the vertical

and take out the horizontal bit of striped rust fabric. i also added the small strips of *stripes* which are actually pieced strips recut and resewn...i love the discharged circles (still vertical) and the rust shapes on the left hand side, which are starting to look like, what else??? - fences.

so now it's a matter of refining...

and here is the next step. i'm pretty happy with it overall, but not wild about the middle section... so still thinking..
in the meantime, once i got to this stage, it told me what it
was and finally had a name...which helped to decide where to go next with it..

i like the screen of the tree in the center, but it's way too small.
so back to photoshop to resize that image, and make a few modifications....

i printed it out, cut around some of the white areas, pinned it to the design wall, and took another couple of photos... played around a bit more and eliminated the bulk of the white background till i had it where i wanted it....and did the deed...

and now it's ready to be stitched.. and frankly i can't wait to start
on it! i can actually see exactly what i want to do to it....
(tho it remains to be seen if what i want to do ends up being
what it wants... you know how those pieces start getting

and it's name:
echo ( as of now.. i reserve the
right to change my mind!)