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

 

 

 

 

 

Up-Cycle-Just Do It

Nancy Crow is currently in my little town conducting a two week workshop. I attended one two years ago. This experience taught me many good things. One was, how much I dislike strip piecing. Nancy’s assignments are complex and the amount of time for each one is limited. The pressure to produce is intense. The first assignment was to strip piece several units of black and white fabric using precise measurements ranging from very narrow to wider. This took me until about 1 p.m. Then we were to create a composition and stitch it. It was due first thing the next morning.

Pieced units

I tried several layouts.

Layout #1

This was very challenging. Most every layout I did looked the same: busy. I finally decided on this one and sewed it together. This was challenging too as some of the seams were very thin. There were a lot of bumpy seams to sew over.

Stitched composition

Honestly, I thought all the compositions looked alike. Way too many black and white bands, boxes and lines.

We continued to make compositions all week. The last assignment was to make a 4’x8′ composition using the units made with various colors of fabric. This next photo shows my final composition along with the black and white composition and several experiments on the design wall.

crow_b_w_others

I did not like the large composition. When I got home I took it completely apart. I was full of emotions from the workshop. It was nothing like I expected. But, I am glad I took it. It made me do a lot of thinking. So that was two years ago. I have not looked at the work I did since. This week a friend of mine took the current workshop and stayed at my home. I told her I had not looked or worked with my pieces that I sewed in the workshop. That I didn’t know what to do with them. She convinced me there was something worthwhile in the stack. She commented that one person made a grocery bag from the black and white composition. Wow! I loved that idea.

UP-CYCLE

While she was attending the workshop, I proceeded to make a bag from the black and white composition. I was very motivated. I first studied it and concluded it needed something.  I layered it with batting and backing and proceeded to quilt it vertically one inch apart using variegated grey and white thread.  Afterwards, I decided the black and white is so stark that paint would tone it down and unite the pieces. So I decided to stamp it with paint.

I pondered the spaces and saw that the white spaces would be perfect for a specific shape, but what? Then it came to me…CROWS; to commemorate my workshop experience.  I loved this idea! I made two stamps, one of a crow and one of an abstract set of bars. I didn’t have black paint so I used India ink. This worked well as it soaked in and created a nice medium grey. I then applied white paint with the bars. The combination of the greys united the surface and muted the harsh black and white spaces. The white paint dried transparent so in some spots I stamped again changing the position. I loved the results.

b_W_paintedThe bars remind me of telephone poles which crows sit on.

b_W_painted_full viewI was very happy with the results. This piece was looking great. Next came more quilting; this took about four hours. I stitched horizontally with black thread going around the crows. Then I stitched vertically again with the variegated thread.

I love to add text by quilting free hand. I decided to add one of Nancy’s comments in red thread:

JUST DO IT

b_w_quilting

Detailed view

The quilting and the paint made this composition come to life.

Now I had to decide what kind of bag to make. The fabric looked sophisticated now so no grocery bag was in mind. Instead I studied bags online and researched in some of my books. I had to make the size of the bag fit the area I had to work with and I wanted the JUST DO IT on the front. I decided upon a 10×19″ finished bag. Most of the crows that were fully stamped wound up on the back.

I worked the next day for about eight hours and finished the bag all except the handle. The lining is a white and tan linen stripe. The next day I decided to add two pockets on the inside in red fabric. I stamped a crow on each one. The perfect final detail.

bag_completed

I am very proud of this bag. It is functional and beautiful.

This project was satisfying and helped me to think of the positives in the workshop. I am grateful for the advice my friend gave me (thanks Barb!).

I took pictures of the construction process and plan to make a tutorial for this bag. I will put a notice when it is available.

 

 

 

 

Journal Paintings

I have been inspired by the working methods of Jane LaFazio.

One of her posts about journal paintings motivated me to take out my painting supplies and sketchbook with watercolor paper.

My first attempt is okay. Not great, but at least I did it.

Camilia

Camellia

Camellias are in bloom in my garden. I used them as subject matter.

I used a paint brush she recommends that holds water. This works great. No need for a water bowl and rinsing.

She recommends to paint for a few minutes every morning. This will take discipline. I’m geared up to sew most of the time. Painting took a lot of concentration, more than I realized. But, it was a good exercise and made me use parts of my mind that get very little use.

I highly recommend this exercise.

My next subject will come from photos I took on a recent trip to San Diego. I went to an event held every Saturday morning in Little Italy.

Little Italy San Diego, CA

Little Italy San Diego, CA

Several streets are blocked off and vendors set up tents and sell their wares. Fabulous prepared foods, fresh veggies, pastries, fish and jewelry to name a few. Fresh flowers were abundant as well as potted orchids.

Potted Orchids

Potted Orchids

Cut Gerber Daisies

Cut Gerber Daisies

Fresh Kale

Fresh Kale

The red veins caught my eye.

I took pictures with journal paintings in mind. It is an excellent way to document the events and experiences in your daily life.

 

 

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.

 

]

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.

Quilt National 2013

I felt compelled (strongly I might add) to create a piece for Quilt National 2013.  I did not get accepted but I am very happy I completed this piece. I have good feelings about it. This piece made me ponder and think on a level that I have never done before. This piece is personal. It speaks. The message is a good one.

The theme compelled me: The Breadth of Diversity

All Of Us

Last winter I took an online course from Lisa Call. She encouraged journaling, sketching and goal setting. She has been accepted to Quilt National 6 times. She said she wrote this goal down somewhere and then set out to make it happen. If you don’t actualize things how will they materialize? So that is what motivated me. (She entered this year too and did not get accepted.)

I started with a sketch.

I have been frustrated with converting my sketches into fabric; piecing the pieces together by machine. It finally dawned on me to make a pattern. Now this is not rocket science but I am not used to working with a pattern (other than garments). The design had gentle curves and having a pattern would make sewing the curved sections easy.

I usually like to have a sketch as a starting point and then allow the work to evolve naturally. I love what I discover along the way. But, this time I wanted to actually depict the sketch. I thought it was a good composition and could portray the theme. This time the discovery happened in the planning stages. There were more stages to resolve as the piece evolved which brought more discovery.

New revelations about the theme occurred gradually.

The first thought was that the two large shapes looked held together by the horizontal band. I envisioned the large shapes as groups of people or people of a certain origin, communities or countries; places where people commune and exist.

And, so I began to make the pattern. I used pattern making material. It is a thin non woven product with red dots on it. I used the method I learned in art school: draw a grid on the design and then draw a grid (on the pattern material) with the same scale enlarged to the desired finished size. Use the original drawing referencing to the grid. Draw the design matching the placements of the lines on the pattern. I could then cut each section in order. I cut out a piece from the pattern and laid it on the fabric. The pattern material is transparent which is a big plus. I began with the two large shapes as these were the catalyst for the theme. I added 1/4 inch seam allowance all around each piece.

I like to use the fabric I have on hand and I was able to find and decide upon the fabrics right away. I wanted to use fabrics that had an ethnic quality and colors of the earth.  I kept the color palette warm. I also wanted texture. All of the fabrics have something special about them. Either hand dyed, hand dyed damask, hand dyed silk organza and vintage fabric. They are united by their ethnic qualities.

Once I had the pattern made and the fabrics selected the sewing went smoothly and quickly.

The design matched the drawing exactly and I was amazed how the fabrics made it come to life. After I viewed it on the design wall for the first time, I could see some extra bands of fabric were needed around the perimeter to frame the shapes.

After I gazed at it for a few days it occurred to me that the size would make quilting a challenge. I usually work fairly small. But, the theme continued to beacon me.

The next decision was: how would I quilt it? What kind of quilting would further define the theme? I went back to the sketch book and began to draw motifs and thinking more about the theme. I thought about this for a few days. Thinking about diversity truly opened my eyes. I began to realize how I felt about the differences of people; the world as a whole. The ideas started to flow.

I decided to begin in the light shape in the upper center and left. The logical way I could express my thoughts was to write them out. I am pretty good at freehand writing with free motion. I wrote down all of the words and began in the middle and worked out. The first word was:

ACCEPTANCE

The more I wrote the more I began realize about myself; it opened my eyes. I had never thought about this topic in depth. My thoughts enriched the applications. I really enjoyed creating this piece from start to finish.

The brick color strip across the top is quilted with tall buildings to look like apartment houses with windows.  The brick color strip in the center has a few words and sayings.  The yellow band at the bottom has people holding hands of all sizes, combinations and colors. The strip along the right has key holes and keys.

These symbolize: Neighborhoods, People, Opportunities, Answers.

The colorful band represents unity. The ties that hold us together.

I am really proud of this piece. I have full confidence that it will be accepted at some point.

New Series

I have some ideas that are strong enough to consider as a series. I am motivated by the book: Quilting Line and Color by Yoshiko Jinzenji

Quilting Line and Color: Techniques and Designs for Abstract Quilts

What I like about her work is how there is a lot of solid (white) area with visual bridges connecting areas together. I realized that I have been doing this off and on for years. Now that I have taken Lisa Call’s course Working In A Series I think more about how things relate. I know the value of working in a series. How to explore, think and work with one concept until it is exhausted. Until you feel it is complete.

The first step is to think of a subject. This could be anything. Next you must refine the subject down to the essence.

For this series I plan to:

1.Explore bridges and connectors. These are shapes, various widths with high contrast.

2.Use a minimal color palette with one dominate color in either very light or very dark value.

3. Find/Search for unique fabrics that have a certain design that will provide.

4. Paint white or light fabric with thickened dye to create designs with bridges.

What are bridges?

This is a term I use to describe marks, lines,solid shapes that stand out.  Usually they will be on a very light or very dark background.

This last example is a fabric I painted with thickened dye.

To begin with I plan to work with a grid. As I progress I will consider other combinations. I like the grid because I can focus on the interaction of the fabrics, turning the pieces until the design is united.

This is the first composition for this new series. For now I am going to call the series BRIDGES. This might change as I work with the various fabrics.

ETSY shop opened

I finally decided to open an ETSY shop. I had no idea how much work it would be. Between all of the photographs, editing, uploading, describing and more I have spent countless hours attempting to complete the tasks necessary.

ETSY DeborahBabin

Please visit my ETSY shop and see what you think. I appreciate feedback.

I sold a four pieces at the gallery show, I received my check.  The profits are split 50/50. I had art displayed for two years on going and sold none. Now I have boxes of beautiful framed art. It seemed logical to market it where I would get the full price. Mose of the pieces are small scale. Pricing is challenging because people equate size with value. The time invested is indeterminable.  I have a formula for calculating the price and yet I still feel like I am giving my work away. I know what it costs to custom frame art as well. The buyer does not factor that cost in. At any rate, I am giving ETSY a try. I know others who have had success on ETSY and I respect the format.

 

 

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

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