2016 About Face

Greetings and Happy New Year! 2017 is here and I am very happy and optimistic about this year.

January of 2016 I decided to offer drawing lessons. This went very well. I revisited my main love: drawing from life. Consequently, I didn’t get much textile art made in 2016.

In November 2016, after returning from a wonderful trip to Europe; visiting Amsterdam and Vienna….I was inspired to paint! I have been slowly gearing up for this for quite some time. This time I made a decision that was huge. I decided to step back from my textile and mixed media art practices and redefine my goals to set a new and clear focus.

The initial decision was quick; however, the process of realization was gradual.

First I cleared a space to paint in my studio away from everything else. My studio is fairly large. While I was sitting in the far off corner working away, I noticed all the remaining room lined with filled storage bins of various art things; mostly fabric. Even though I have trimmed down my stash over the years quite a lot, I still have plenty. Now I realize I will gradually become aware of what to keep and what to pass along.

Now, this is not to say I have stopped sewing! That just isn’t possible…is it?

Hopefully my new adventures with painting will appeal to my readers. The adventures are happening now and I am happy to be learning new things.

Carmel, 11 x 14"

Actually, I am learning a lot more about what was happening in my artist life schedule because now I have another reference point.

I now realize that while I was making art…textile art and mixed media, I was extremely distracted. I called it being spontaneous, inspired, diverse, curious, multidimensional. Yes, I was in all of those modes and that results in one thing: NOT HAVING A FOCUS.

Teaching was a huge distraction, especially writing for online teaching! The amount of thought, energy, planning that I put into it was tremendous! I loved it and I did receive validation; however, I was distracted from the main point of: MAKING MY ART.

Once I began to paint, I could realize all of these distractions.

For me, painting is completely different from making textile art and mixed media; it is instant. My brain embraces and processes the results immediately; I am gratified and challenged quickly. Sewing is not fast; it is tedious, labor intensive and time can spread out endlessly.

It may sound as if I am criticizing sewing…the making of textile art. On the contrary, I love sewing, I love working with fabric the tactile satisfaction, the handling of the fabric, the beauty as it develops.

When I am sewing my brain is on task but also I am thinking of a zillion other things I could make …once I finished the current project or stopped.

Conversations with fellow painters enlightened me. They revealed that they would never consider working with textiles….why? Because they did not have the patience. Hmmm….patience was not something I had considered. I had to think more about that.

Making textile art does require an investment of time. But, I did not think of it as having patience. I merely KNEW the pace and accepted it. In contrast, a painting is just as complex yet I have been able to execute much faster. But, is speed the primary element and desire? No! Rather, satisfaction.

The elements I use to paint are the same. It is the process that is faster. Pure and simple: I am enjoying the freedom and the faster pace of painting. It is refreshing and fits my brain (mind).

One observation I received about a painting of mine was how I captured “texture”. Really? That is interesting and makes sense. I guess my experience with fabric and textiles will reveal in new ways.

The main point of this is to have a FOCUS.

My focus has freed me. My thoughts are simplified as well as my routine. It goes like this:

Set up:

  1. A big drafting table with painting supplies on it.
  2. An easel and chair is next to the table.
  3. I have several sets of painting clothes to wear.
  4. I have references from magazines, and other sources for inspiration.

Daily

  1. Paint in the morning for about 2 hours
  2. Lunch
  3. Paint for a few more hours.
  4. Exercise
  5. Shower
  6. Dinner
  7. Rest
  8. Reflect for the next day

Now, some days I have appointments and other things like housekeeping. And, then there is travel.

TRAVEL

Yes, travel now has become such a pleasure. Now that my life is simplified I can calmly prepare and look forward to traveling. I can actually pack ahead of time. In the past invariably I would have tremendous pressure with art to finish, prepare another lesson, finish a binding, write a new chapter in a course. I have been sewing down to the wire on (too) many occasions. I wasn’t able to predict how much time to allow, how much time to add on to “get it right”.

I love all the art I made though!

I am much happier with my new life style. Simplifying isn’t SIMPLE! You must STOP and assess.

I was ready. I am glad I finally found my FOCUS.

Here are two of my recent paintings

Kristina, 9 x 12" Isabella, 12 x 12"

As you can see, I like women’s faces.

I would love to hear your feedback on this topic: Having a Focus

Can you relate? Please leave comments.

 

 

 

My Progress-Painting with Acrylics on Canvas

I am making good progress with painting with acrylics on canvas. What a new adventure this is! So far I have finished 2, 2 in progress and 1 almost done…that challenged me a bit.

The first two finished paintings are:

Carmel

Carmel” 11″ x 14″

Kristina

Kristina 9″ x 12″

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The two paintings that are in progress are not ready to be revealed yet; one is a landscape and one is of a little girl in a white hat and dress with red shoes.

The reason for holding off on these is because I want to explore my (developing) style and techniques. Painting is totally different from fiber art; I am blown away with this in a good way. Even though I give a good bit of thought to the subject and the effect I hope to achieve….the results are like nothing that I can predict. The experience is as if the paint is talking to me instead of my being in charge. Its a bit difficult to explain but that is how I feel now. Maybe this will evolve as well.

I am in a reactionary mode, I am learning. As I apply the paint I observe the results and act accordingly; responding to the effects.

The fifth canvas was the most challenging so far.

Nicole and Papillon 18 x 24", in progress

Nicole and Papillon
18 x 24″

The photo I used for inspiration lacked good contrast. I struggled with the hand the most because in the photo the woman was holding a cigarette that I didn’t want to include.  Thus, the position of the hand became problematic.

I am trained (strongly) to draw from life. Conceptualizing is not my forte; however, I want to explore that as well.

Some areas need more refinement primarily the jacket, center and down to the bottom right.

I used a palette knife to lay in the background. The remaining areas are brushed in. I like the contrast of the smooth areas and the rough (palette knife). I like to make the two inter-play; as if the background is enveloping the foreground– “ground play”.

I am not as enthusiastic about this painting and have decided to take a break from it. I think it will only need one more painting session to be finished.

For a switch I decided to paint a conceptualized subject: a “simple” teapot.

Sunny Teapot 12" x 12"

Sunny Teapot
12″ x 12″

Emphasis  on “simple”! That is a joke…I am prone to make things complex and yet…I love simplicity. So, I kept my restraint and I think it paid off.

Learning to listen to the painting, learning to realize that not all the areas must be refined in fact having a combination of refinement and less refined is much more interesting to me.

This teapot is bathed in bright sunlight. The left side has pale colors while the right side (in shadow) has richer colors and a deep cast shadow.

I am using deep (1.5″) wrapped canvases and the sides are painted as well. This eliminates the need for a frame.

This painting is available!

$250

to purchase this colorful and cheerful painting!

 

Painting with Acrylics on Canvas

I have taken on a new adventure…painting acrylics on canvas! I did paint with oils many years ago in art school. I truly had blocked it out of my memory…almost. I honestly don’t know why. And, I don’t know why I haven’t painted before now. Only that I truly love working with textiles.

deb-amsterdam-9-2016-600Recently I traveled with my husband to Amsterdam and sailed on a river cruise to Vienna. Wow, I had so much fun! And, the scenery is AMAZING!

The weather was good, mild and dry.

This photo of me is taken in front of the oldest art supply store in Europe…I was told.

The paper that the Constitution of the United States was made by this shop! I could have stayed inside for hours.

 

We visited a number of art galleries and museums. The Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam was the best one. I was so absorbed in the art I saw and listening to the stories and evolution of art movements that…I came home totally compelled to paint!

 

Kristina

Carmel, 11 x 14″

And, to my surprise I have painted five canvases so far and I like most of what I have done. I love feed back so please take a moment and leave a comment. I appreciate open “frank” comments too.

My style is slightly whimsical. I like to draw faces and so I am staying with that subject for now. I like big eyes with unique colors. I hope to improve in a number of ways. Mainly with expressions.

The first painting: Carmel

 

 

Kristina, 9 x 12"

Kristina, 9 x 12″

 

The second painting: Kristina

I have 3 more in progress.

Fresh with enthusiasm…I decided to enter these finished two into a competition. Low and behold…Kristina was accepted!

The show is at the Las Laguna Gallery in Laguna Beach Ca.

 

 

The exhibit is : Small Works-BIG TALENT

Opens December 1-30th 2016

I am so happy about this acceptance!

My goal is to paint on larger the canvases. I love the dynamic power of a large painting.

 

 

In The Bag-My Stuff

I Love Making Bags!

M_bag_side 2A_300

Rising to the occasion…there is nothing like an occasion (form of deadline) to get me going!

MMy grand daughter Madeleine is turning 14 soon, wow that is hard to believe! What a sweetie she is. One of her birthday gift requests is a cosmetics bag. Okay! That is an excellent motivator for me.

The first thing that came to mind is to make one that is functional, practical, washable, cute and a good size and shape. My “go to” fabric: bleached denim was the best to use.

I always stumble when it comes to selecting the “perfect” lining; not only which colors, also prints vs. solids. I have collected various fabrics that I consider to be good lining; none the less, I spend way to much time pondering which ones to use; this time was no different. Finally I just picked one and decided to start and see how things develope. This lining is hand dyed silk that has a a texture. I pieced together two pieces and I liked the way the various colors looked when stitched. I used bamboo batting to give the bag stability…not too stiff and not to soft.

After the quilting was done I then had to select the binding fabric. This is also challenging for me. I selected a batik with multi-rainbow colors (reluctantly) because the background was “dirty”; however, in the end this combo was perfect. The “dirty” tone made the rainbow colors connect to the “tan” underlying tones of the bleached denim.

I used this tutorial and followed the directions.  This particular method has a hand stitched zipper. She gives a link for another tutorial that is similar with a machine stitched zipper which is not in English; however, I used a translation. I stitched the zipper by machine because I think (know) this bag will gets lots of use and I want it to hold up.

I think this is an excellent bag design. I have been looking for various methods for lining in a zipper bag. This one is good because the lining is not separate and the seams are finished.

This is a good tutorial; however, as with any tutorial….it can appear easy…until you actually try to follow it. I think the directions are well written and the pictures are clear; however, I did struggle with getting the zipper aligned around the outside properly. Even though I measured and marked the space on the sides the zipper did not end up aligned evenly. But, I did finagle it somehow; that is the only way I can describe it. You just have to have it in your hands and holding the zipper to realize what the pictures are trying to explain.

In addition, the zipper I used has heavy teeth which are wider than standard zipper teeth and require 1/4″ width space. This space came into play and I had figure out how to allow for it.

The pattern can be made as a small change purse and up. I drew two 10″ circles to make the pattern thinking this size would be good for a young girl to hold small size goodies . Now that I have made it, I think the bag is versatile. It would be excellent to make a larger one to use for various purposes such as: Jewelry and other things you might want to keep together. When I travel, I put my jewelry into little individual bags and then in a larger zipper bag that can fit into a safe.

I have referenced to “bleached” denim in several of my blog posts; also referred to as “discharging”.  I plan to explain this process in a future post. It is a simple process using household bleach to remove color from fabric. The fabric is also treated afterwards to remove all of the bleach and halt the action. 

I selected several pieces of bleached black denim to use. The light areas beacon for special features. I started the free motion quilting to see what would develop. I wanted too make the lining fabric “visually connect” to the denim and I hoped the quilting would do this. I chose thread (40 wt) with rainbow colors for the top and solid color (fuchsia) for the bobbin. At first the colors jumped out more than I wanted but I proceeded.

As I was quilting I was thinking about my grand daughter…she is a sweet heart, so I added a heart. I thought about what she might put inside the bag. I stitched flowers to keep it simple and then followed some of the lines that developed from the bleaching process. In one open area I stitched “MY STUFF”. And below that: MMM, her initials. Since I had not made this bag before I did not think about where these details would end up…and, unfortunately the initials ended up on the bottom, and one of the M’s doesn’t show.

M_bag_lining

Lining, in progress.

M_bag_exterior_300

Exterior, in progress.

The most fun…..

Painting the Denim

This is where the painting came in. I decided to fill in the open areas of the quilting motifs with acrylic paint. This was fun and, this made the bag come to life!

Exterior, side 1, before paint

Exterior, side 1, before paint

Exterior, side 1, after paint application

Exterior, side 1, after paint application

Exterior, side 2, after paint application

Exterior, side 2, after paint application

Interior, Lining, after construction

Interior, Lining, after construction

I am very happy with the end result!

The finished size is: 5.5″ high x 9.5″ wide; the bag sits flat the bottom is 4″ wide. The bamboo batting made the bag just firm enough.

I do plan to make some more bags like this and perfect my installation of the zipper.

Future plans include: Instead of fabric..why not up-cycle “failed” quilted projects? Making this bag prompted me to remember a box full of “failed” quilted projects which garnered several good candidates for painting. These will become bags! The quilting is already done. Extra bonus: Paint the lining!

Yes!!

Stay tuned for more bags.  😆

 

 

 

Motifs-Find Inspiration From Fabric Designs

Motifs

Inspiration from Fabric Designs

I find inspirations everywhere. Keeping a record of them is very helpful like photos, sketching and clippings. I have gravitated away from using fabrics with prints and yet I still include bits and savor some of them as inspirations.

One of my favorite methods is to work spontaneously….with a plan. That is the key…spontaneity is fun (for me) but I have learned to prepare my approach and have a loose plan and/or goal in mind.

motif_stencil_results 1

Composition 1

I like to stitch scraps together as in this case:

This time my plan was to work with contrast such as: warm/cool, glowing/dull, light/dark.

This proved to be a lot to keep in mind, but I did my best.

I came up with several compositions that I liked. Some ended up with open spaces that were begging for details such as composition 1. I did include a print that has a large block style design (right side). I decided to extract a portion of the design as a stencil motif to fill the spaces and repeat the motif; repetition unifies.

First I drew the design onto freezer paper and cut out the openings.motif_stencil 1

Next, I pressed it to the chosen spot. The slick side of the freezer paper sticks slightly when heated with an iron.

motif_stencil_attach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The paint is applied with a stencil brush which has stiff bristles cut flat and blunt. The paint is actually tapped into the openings.

Watch this video demonstration:

Freezer Paper Stencil Paint Application from Deborah Babin on Vimeo.

motif_stencil_paint_application

 

motif_stencil_results 1

 

 

 

 

 

The stencil design has helped to balance the composition and now I will continue with free motion stitching. I like leaving open spaces for these opportunities and allow the composition to evolve. There are more spaces to ponder….this one is not complete; none the less I am pleased with it so far.

Making and painting stencils is fun and easy to do. You can learn more about developing your art with original methods in my online course:

MIXING UP MEDIA on the ACADEMY OF QUILTING.

The next session begins April 1st. You can sign up now!

Check it out here

 

 

 

Make Big Art-Black and White Compositions Update

In January of this year I announced that I would be making big serious art with the focus on black and white. My attempts were feeble to say the least; however, I learned a lot. The first composition did not progress to a point that pleased me. Eventually, I gravitated to a place where I am comfortable and yet still challenged.

What I learned is that working in (stark/solid) black and white is not for me. I realized my eyes respond best to subtleties in values and additional subtle color; having nuances is pleasing to me. The color I like the most is turquoise and I consider this to be a neutral color. This is the results: Four new compositions. As for making big art…that hasn’t happened yet either. I hope this goal will eventually work for me. I have made more art besides these four which I will cover in another post.

Sway with Me

Sway with Me

Sway with Me, 11 x 17″

This piece is made with canvas painted with two methods and mediums.

Method 1-Black ink and turquoise ink was poured and left to dry.

Method 2-Black and white acrylic paint. Black paint was applied with a paint brush first in random areas. When dry, white paint was added randomly. The paint was scratched into while still wet using the end of the paint brush to reveal black underneath leaving calligraphic marks and then left to dry.

Both pieces of painted canvas were torn into smaller pieces. It took many attempts of arranging the pieces to come up with a composition. Finally, I settled on this one. The hand stitching defined the character along with the addition of beads. Gradually I saw a woman’s figure dancing with her arms raised overhead. I am very pleased with the results. Click on any image to see an enlarged image.

sway detail 3 sway detail 2 300 Sway with Me detail 2 1024

Purple Haze

Purple haze_full 1024

Purple Haze, 8×10″

 

I like to draw on a program called Procreate. Often times I use this program to pass the time while flying long distances. This design is a cropped section of one of the drawings in black and white.

I printed the drawing onto silk habotai using my Epson printer with archival Durabright ink. Prior to printing I tweak the image in a photo program. I enjoy trying out various effects and this time subtle areas of purple developed. The only draw back is the size limitations.

 

Future plans: Divide and print a composition on multiple pieces of 8.5 x 11″ to enlarge the scale. Check the link to read about it using MS Paint.

I love the way silk responds to ink. Hand stitching brought this piece to life. The small (chicken scratch) stitches in purple represent a field in the background behind the large dark shape. I had some large purple bugle beads (mat finish) that connected perfectly by repeating the effect in the foreground (bottom left).

Seashore

Sea Shore, 5 x 8"

Sea Shore, 5 x 8″

 

This piece is not quite finished yet. I am thinking about adding a few more embellishments.

It is made with pieces of the painted canvas. I decided to add some warmth with shades of brown/pink thread (machine stitching).

Three pieces of painted lace looks sort of like beach fence; tiny real sea shells fit in perfectly. (Lace painted with Adriondack color wash: Butterscotch and Raisin)

I begin by moving and  arranging pieces of the painted fabric until I see a pleasing  composition. Sometimes this takes hours. Often I walk away,  wait a day or two and resume. Occasionally, I put it away and work on something else. The composition was positioned on batting and machine stitched in place; additional hand stitching enhances specific spots.

Silver Strands

Silver Strands, 6.5" x10.5"

Silver Strands, 6.5″ x10.5″

Silk habotai printed with my Epson printer; black and white with organic effects.

 

This piece is hand stitched with black and white thread; both running stitch and chicken scratch. Beads are attached to emphasize areas; blue and white. Some blue beads are crystals some are mat. In addition, I added four silver wire shapes to the center. I like adding wire. The wire has been pounded and shaped. The ends are pounded flat like a paddle. The wire is attached with hand stitching. Several stitches repeated in one spot to secure it and then repeated in several spots along the wire. The thread matches the color of the background at the point of stitching.

Silver Strands detail 300

Silver Strands detail

Both Seashore and Silver Strands will be trimmed and the edges finished.  You can see the stitching along the edge to secure the layers until this is done.

All four of pieces have similar qualities but are uniquely different. They will be mounted the same to create cohesiveness; 1.5″ deep painted canvas; black paint swiped on rather sloppy to look similar to the paint effects on the fabric.

I would like to read your comments. Write to me and tell me what you think. I welcome feedback.

 

 

 

 

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