Summer of Watercolor

I revisited my love of watercolor painting this spring and summer. Watercolor was once my favorite medium. However, even though I did many paintings I did not experience the magical elusive success I desired.

Watercolor challenges and you. You cannot control it, you must go with it.

My primary love is drawing from life which I miss.

I took three consecutive courses on-line with Lisa Call over the winter and spring. These courses were outstanding. Lisa delivers an incredible package. She compels you to dig deep and stretch your self. The courses focus on piecing and creating compositions from various points of view. I am very glad I took the courses. However, after the last lesson, I needed a break from sewing.

Winter-2013

I took three consecutive courses on-line with Lisa Call over the winter and spring. These courses were outstanding. Lisa delivers an incredible package. She compels you to dig deep and stretch your self.  The courses focus on piecing and creating compositions from various points of view. I am very glad I took the courses. However, after the last lesson, I needed a break from sewing.

The watercolor courses provided just the switch up I needed.

The instructor Jane LaFazio offers a fun and light-hearted course focused on painting from life and not getting too serious. This is the most important element, to not try to hard. To enjoy the medium and the world around you. You can check out her courses here.

The first course was Sketching and Watercolor Journal Style.

This was conducted in the spring. There were plenty of wonderful subjects all around me. It was delightful to do each lesson. Observing nature and drawing what you see is very satisfying and joyful.

Here are some of the results of the assignments:

(click on an image to enlarge it)

citrus_quilt corrected_wash added

leaves 3 flowers 1 flowers-2

 

 

 

 

 

Modern Design

I am really enjoying seeing the new modern designs that are popular now. These inspire me. The simplicity and lots of negative space relates to my current series:

Bridges

The negative space is where the bridges will extend.

Recently, I decided to make a modern design as a baby gift.

full view resized

The fabric on the lower right inspired the quilting motif.

I never mark my work prior to quilting. I prefer to work free hand. The frames around the outside are more traditional than modern, but I think they set of the center rather well.

I have never attempted so many free hand circles before, but they came out good.

center washed resized

The baby’s name is BROOKE. I added this detail to the center.

What I like the most is that the design is not limited to BABY. This design can span time.

right side resized

The baby’s first and last name starts with a B.

The fabric (lower right) has the shape of the letter B. So, I used this shape and repeated it in various patterns. This worked really well.

A modern heirloom that turned out great.

 

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Fabric Bridges and Blending

UFO’s (unfinished objects) wait patiently to be finished. Some of mine are being very patient. Some UFO’s present challenges that I am not up for or do not have solutions for. Some are reminders of courses I took that didn’t pan out the way I hoped. Some have good ideas but need to be finished with new ideas and techniques that I have not come across or thought of yet. What I love the most about UFO’s is the potential;  the opportunity to create something totally unexpected. Having the space of time from initiation to the final (new) steps is valuable. I rarely throw out a project as I am hopeful for good things to come. The benefits are worth the wait as I found in my most recent attempts.

Image3

In November I decided to revisit a quilt design that I started over three years ago, done with a traditional snow ball block design. But, what I like most about it is the fabrics and the way they blend and build bridges. I used some of Kaffe Fassett’s fabrics which have fabulous colors and batiks that complimented.

This quilt was intended for my daughter Michelle. I was shooting for a lap quilt but somehow the finished size grew beyond that, 60″ square. After I had the quilt top about 1/3 done, I showed her a book of Kaffe Fassett’s work and asked her if she liked it and she turned her nose up. That dashed my spirits and I lost all interest. It has been in a box ever since.

Since I started my new series titled Bridges, I now notice fabrics that are good candidates for building a bridge. A bridge is an element in a design that travels across from one point to another in a bold or dynamic fashion; that unite and blend as well.

I think Kaffe’s fabric has marvelous blending qualities.However, I included some batiks to compliment them. I like the combinations.

My daughters old lap quilt that I made her about 14 years ago has completely disintegrated. It was made of flannel and not a good quality either. I made it as one of my very first projects. I had no idea of the various qualities of fabric at the time. This quilt has gone everywhere even to the labor/delivery room 3 times. She has been needing a new one for quite some time. I thought about starting a new one, letting her pick out the fabrics. Instead, I decided to take out the one I started and rethink things. When I took it out, I realized how much it fit into my current series theme of blending and bridges. Was I ahead of myself when I started it? Did I need to wait for experience? I think so. I do love the fabrics and the design.

My daughter likes pineapples and butterflies. I put a large pineapple as the center piece and found a fabric that had butterflies (border).

center

I drew the design of the pineapple and created it on a interfacing foundation, hand appliqued and then attached as one unit. This is a favorite applique technique of mine.

center 2 I rather like working in a square format it sets up different observations.

This one is too large for me to quilt so now I am searching for a long arm quilter that does creative work. I hope I find a good one.

I was able to finish the top before Christmas and could present it to my daughter. I was delighted to see the WOW! expression on her face. She LOVED it. Success. Not only did I need to wait to finish it, but she needed time to appreciate new things.

Image3

 Another UFO complete.

 

Worn Through » High Fiber, High Art

I am proud to have three pieces in this juried fiber art show.

Worn Through » High Fiber, High Art.

An overview of the FiberShots gallery at High Fiber on October 20, 2012, $100 each, San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles

Non-profits struggle in the best of times. It is hardly news any more that they are struggling even more in the current economy, and that many of them are failing. But somehow the announcement that the San Francisco Museum of Craft and Folk Art will be permanently closing its doors on December 1 of this year was still a shock. Unlike the campaign to save the American Folk Art Museum in New York City last year, there were no editorials, no online efforts, and no real warning that the museum was in such danger. Its closure will leave the San Jose Quilts and Textile Museum as the sole folk art and craft museum in all of Northern California.

The closure of the SF Craft and Folk Art Museum, and the near loss of the American Folk Art Museum last fall not only highlight how little attention and understanding these types of museums receive, but also how important it is for patrons to support their museums financially if they can. Deborah Corsini, Curator at the San Jose Quilt and Textile Museum (SJQTM), acknowledges that in the current economy competition among non-profits is especially fierce, since there is less money for everyone. This puts pressure on the institutions to become more creative in their fund raising. The SJQTM’s current show demonstrates that, occasionally, this pressure can actually result in incredible shows, and inspire incredible art.

On October 20, SJQTM held the VIP reception for their annual fund raising event, High Fiber under 5: an exhibit of textile and fiber art donated to the museum to be sold for under $500, with most of the pieces ranging between $100 and $350. High Fiber has, for the past four years, been the museum’s main benefit art sale, featuring the textile work of both well-known and emerging fiber and textile artists. It benefits not only the museum, but the artists directly, with both parties sharing a percentage of the sale. The museum received over 300 entries (submitted by photograph), and selected 262 pieces for exhibit and sale. The museum’s Executive Director, Christine Jeffers tells me that they made $15,000 in the first weekend. Both she and Deborah were extremely pleased with this year’s show and turn out. More than 100 people attended the VIP benefit this year, an exponential increase on the 30 to 40 attendees of the year before. However, Christine tells me they are still growing an audience that not only appreciates, but collects textile art in the San Jose community.

One of the ways they achieved this this year was to reach out to knitters, weavers, quilters, and other textile arts practitioners in the community who have always made objects, but never considered themselves as “artists”. Answering the museum’s call-out, many in the local arts and crafts community donated pieces, all sized 15″ x 15″, for a secondary exhibit, Fiber Shots to be sold for $100 each. This fits into Christine’s ongoing plan to make the museum more participatory. She believes that the community and their patrons will gain a deeper appreciation of textile and fiber arts if they have experience working in the medium themselves.

One goal of this year’s High Fiber preparation was to include as much work as possible. The submissions were juried by Curator Deborah Corsini, textile artist and SJQTM board member,Yvonne Porcella, and Lynne Koolish, a quilt artist and dyer and the Vice President of the SJQTM board. Their selections have made this show the largest and most diverse in High Fiber’s — indeed, the museum’s — history. Deborah says this makes it possible for the show to display the wealth and variety of what contemporary fiber artists are doing, and it is excellent for a museum that continuously challenges people’s perceptions of the textile arts. There are quilts, sculptures, tapestries, embellished or collaged pieces, weavings, mixed-media pieces, and knitted jewellery of both yarn and wire. Deborah described her position as the curator as “selecting and designing”, and while the richness of the show is extremely advantageous in a sale show, once the pieces had been selected, designing and installing a show of 262 pieces of different sizes and mediums was a challenge.

Since it is a sales show, she was already having to consider it from a different perspective, showing each piece to its best advantage. Her biggest challenge was to arrange the work in a way that would keep people interested without overwhelming them as they viewed so many pieces. She told me that in previous shows she had tried to keep multiple pieces by a single artist grouped together, but that this year, in order to keep flow and balance, she often would separate the works, scattering them through out the gallery. This actually helped sales, since people might come across an artist again later which would make them revisit the previous work they had seen, giving it a second consideration. Deborah is also proud that not only are there many famous textile artists, such as Sheila O’Hara, Dominie Nash, and Ann Wilson, but new and emerging artists, some of whom had never worked with textiles as a medium before.

Another new aspect for High Fiber this year is the online gallery, which not only showcases all of the work, but offers the opportunity to purchase (by phone) the pieces to anyone, even those who cannot make it to San Jose.

The San Jose Quilt and Textile Museum is luckier than most in that it owns its own space. Their 35th Anniversary exhibit opens November 14th, Deborah and Christine would like the museum to stay open another thirty-five years, if not more. As a way to make the museum more participatory — and to grow the audience of those who not only appreciate but collect textile art — Christine has instigated a number of classes and lectures at the museum for patrons. On January 5, 2013, Shelly Zegart, who produced and hosted the PBS program “Why Quilts Matter: History, Art, and Politics”, will be presenting a program entitled “What Is Art?” to discuss the value of textile and fiber arts. In addition, classes on how to quilt and work with textiles are being planned. All of this augments existing programs that reach out to local schools, and to women’s shelters.

Christine is a South Bay native and a long-time lover of the arts who feels strongly that textile arts should be considered contemporary art. This is a sentiment echoed by Deborah. She feels the museum offers both history and inspiration to the community, especially as interest in DIY and crafts is rising, seemingly in response to the digital age. People want to do things with their hands, she says, and the museum can open young and old alike to the rich past of the textile arts they are just discovering.

But I keep thinking of San Francisco, and wondering what pressure this is going to place on SJQTM. These museums only exist through our support. Hopefully, through continued excellence in their exhibits, and more events such as High Fiber, museums can increase their patronage, and more importantly, membership and support. And perhaps through greater awareness of what is possible, people will take fiber arts and crafts out of the classification of country fairs and grandma’s attic, and put them in the contemporary art space where they belong.

San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles

Three of my pieces have been accepted to High Fiber and the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles.

High Fiber

Opening: October 20th, 6-8 p.m.

Exhibit dates: October 20 through November 4th

In Balance

Balancing Act

Raja

On Sight Demonstration

August 4th my granddaughter Madeleine and I will give a demonstration for one hour at 12:30 p.m. at Bainbridge Arts and Crafts gallery. We will show how to add beads and decorative stitches by hand.

Madeleine will be working on her landscape and I will work on a collage.

Please stop by and visit us.

 

 

 

 

An Original Design Developed Into a Creative Sewing Course

Soon after we moved in I met many nice neighbors. Some who sew. The word got out that I was a quilt artist and people asked me if I taught courses. I had, but only online. Title: Textile Art with Pizzazz. They were very interested so I conducted the course for six delightful ladies. The main project is a design titled Flora Rosa.  The inspiration for the course evolved as I worked on the first piece.

While I was working on it I was auditioning fabrics for a background as well as some for the flower and leaves. I ended up with lots of extra pieces cut out that didn’t work out so I laid them aside. Some of the pieces ended up on a rejected background fabric and when I glanced around I saw potential with the rejected pieces. This made me think, maybe I should make a second one with completely different fabrics. So, I did just that. I had two going simultaneously. This was really exciting!

Flora Rosa Azur 14×22

This approach intrigued me so much I decided to continue and see how many versions I could come up with. I ended up with six.

Flora Rosa Key Lime

Woodlands Flora Rosa

Flora Rosa Santa Fe

Flora Magenta (detail)

Flora Rosa Crimson

The class progressed nicely for all six lessons. They worked hard and were able to develop some very nice pieces. Teaching this course in person was very different than teaching online. The part that I had trouble with was what to do with myself while they were working.

I wanted to be available, but not make them self conscious. It all worked out just fine in the end. I think I would do it again.