Black Oak II Done

Black Oak II, the companion piece to Black Oak which is in progress, is done. Click on the image for a larger view.

Black Oak III tend to quilt every inch of background on my art quilts, but for this 12″ x 12″ art quilt, that didn’t feel like the way to proceed. I kept hearing ‘simplicity’ in my head so that was the approach taken. I like the thread sketching on the appliqued leaves and the simplicity of repeating those shapes as the quilted background. I also enjoy the ‘surprise’ of finding the quilted leaves in the darker fabric shapes. And with less quilting, it’s easier to appreciate the subtle design created in the sunprinting process (the golden fabric is left from the sunprint images I did for Black Oak).

This was a very satisfying experience and has definitely informed how I will approach the larger companion piece.

This is being shared at Off the Wall Friday — click on over there and check out what’s happening.

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More Junk-Mail Postcards

Okay, so I got a bit carried away. But there I was, between steps in a project that meant I had to wait. Not wanting to waste the time without creating something, I pulled out some leftover junk mail. Pretty soon the rotary cutter and the paints were flying. I was simply having too darn much fun to stop myself. And I’m not unhappy about it. Click on an image for a larger view.

I was thrilled to have found a quote from Edgar Degas which I used on postcard #17:

Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.

What a great find!

I intentionally left a large clear space on postcard #20 so I could sketch something on it. Quite a few of the others have enough space for a little sketch. I’ll see what happens when I’m ready to mail them out. I plan to grab some of these the next time I’m on a trip or just out sketching.

My first two experiences of creating new art from junk mail can be seen here and here.

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Black Oak

I’m still working on my Native California plant series. I completed the top for Black Oak which will finish about 26″ x 60″. I really enjoyed putting this one together using some of my ‘radiator series’ fabric created in Lonni Rossi’s surface design class at Asilomar, some rust fabric experiments and some sun prints. Once I pulled out a stack of likely-suspect fabrics to use, things just seemed to jump together for me — or did they? I loved the fabrics but something was wrong. Here’s where I pick up the camera and start taking pictures. It’s amazing what one sees on the computer that one cannot see on the wall. Click on image for a larger view.

Black Oak rejectThe large piece of rusted fabric on the left jumped out way too much. And the background doesn’t show at all. I took everything down and went shopping for a new background fabric. When I had the new background up the answers became clear. Here’s the final top.

Black Oak finalI’m thinking about how to quilt this piece.

While thinking about the series in general — there will be a minimum 3-5 large pieces —  I decided to expand the series. I’ll be making a foot-square piece as a ‘partner’ to each of the larger pieces using this pillar format. I’ll be using the same fabrics in each pair of quilts but I’ll use different techniques in the smaller ones. I think that the two sizes hung together could be a very interesting exhibit and working out issues in the smaller piece can lead to decisions for the larger pieces.

I’ve constructed the top for the foot-square Black Oak II piece. I’m allowing myself to think about just one section at a time, quilt it, then move on to the next section. Some days I just can’t tackle deciding on the whole top at once. It’s surprising how this one decision has relaxed me, allowing me to focus and just have fun.

Black oak Foot SquareI should have this piece completed very soon so stay tuned.

I’ve promised myself to go back to finishing my Sunflower Scrap VI piece — not done, but not forgotten! — before I turn to quilting the large Black Oak piece.

This posting has been shared at Off the Wall Friday. Click on over and see what’s happening there.

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Fabric Postcards

I’ve just completed fabric postcards for the 20th round of trading with Postmark’d Art. The theme for the group I am trading with is handwork. I used Carol Ann Waugh‘s method for combining decorative and utility stitches on the sewing machine with simple hand stitches. You can see my first work using her techniques here.

I used a fat quarter of some yummy batik fabric I had in my stash and started pulling out thread. Here is a portion of the fabric after stitching by machine.

Portion of stitched fabricNext came another layer of fun, the hand stitching. I prepared the fabric by cutting it into 4″ x 6″ pieces and fusing them to fast2fuse, my favorite sturdy Pellon interfacing for postcards. Next I pulled out my hand stitching threads, some beads and a chenille needle and let the fun begin. And here are the postcards (click on an image for a larger view):

I finished the blue-grey postcards  and postcard 8 by stitching as close to the edge of the postcard as I could, then sealing the edge with Jacquard Lumiere paint. On postcards 9 and 10 I zigzagged some Oliver Twists hand-dyed thread. I like both of these finishing techniques.

These little treasures have been a personal obsession of mine since 2004 when Postmark’d Art was established and I became moderator of the group. My participation in the group has been a key ingredient in my artistic development, the motivation for writing fast, fun & easy Fabric Postcards, an incredible amount of Fun, and the reason for many new friendships that I enjoy today.   This will be my final trade with Postmark’d Art but it won’t be the last time I create fabric postcards.

If you haven’t created a fabric postcard yet, I ask why not? Click on the BOOK tab above to learn more about my book on the subject, contact me about scheduling a class for your group of fabric enthusiasts (see the CONTACT tab above),  visit the Postmark’d Art website by clicking on the link above and then click on the JOIN A NEW GROUP tab, and/or check out one of my projects here. Now is the time to learn something new and have fun at the same time. Consider this your personal invitation!


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SBS with Liz Steel

This week has simply vanished into thin air. I haven’t completed viewing all the lessons that Liz Steel has in store for me in Sketchbook Skool but I am plugging away. The process of watching the videos, contemplating the lesson and doing my best to get into a new mindset are fun but also a bit daunting at times. Liz is a teacher today but her education and career were in architecture. The analysis that she brings to creating a sketch is very organized and thorough — I like it a lot!

In our first lesson — Seeing patterns in complex objects — Liz drew her favorite subject, a tea-cup. Before getting to the cup, however, there is much thought and analysis that goes into knowing the cup and saucer well enough that you can overcome what may look daunting and then draw what is really there, not what you have in your head. I used her technique to break down the elements of my favorite cup and saucer by drawing a few thumbnail sketches of particular elements. Click on image for a larger view.

SBS with Liz SteelThe first thumbnail captures the overall configuration of the saucer including placement of the floral pattern. #2 attempts the floral pattern, or at least a good likeness. #3 shows the essence of the cup. Once all this prep work is done, Liz’s style is to do a sketch very quickly. This was quite a surprise to me, actually, considering the exacting nature of her career life and the preparation that goes into the sketch. However, now that I’ve done just one sketch using her techniques, I can see where the preparation work allows for more confidence once pencil is in hand. I also like her view that ‘circles are wonky in sketches, so just get over it and keep moving on.’ What a relief that is for someone who tends to try to be exact. Note to self: This is supposed to be Fun.

I still have more to learn from Liz. The next lesson is about drawing a building. I can’t wait.



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SBS with Andrea Joseph

This week Andrea Joseph is leading the charge for Sketchbook Skool. If you’re not familiar with her work, your eyes will soon be wide open! Her style of teaching is relaxed and calming. At the same time she’s packing in the tips and techniques. Andrea’s forte is drawing with ballpoint pens. This was a real push for me. I was tempted to stick with the Faber-Castell PITT artist pen I’ve grown comfortable with. But darnit, I’m taking a class to learn new things — so I combed the house for every color I could find in ballpoint pens. I came up with black, blue, red and purple. The only interloper in our house is the purple one — a Papermate medium, a gift from a friend and fellow artist (thanks, Heather!).

Andrea thinks of individual drawings in a larger context. She likes to work in themes so designates sketchbooks to one and sticks to it, hence a book completely sketched in blue ink, or brown, or about travel or, well, you get the idea. Her first assignment was to take up a pen and draw items in the house that are the color of the ink. I chose the blue pen — a Bic medium point with Hotel Albuquerque in Old Town printed on the side. After reminiscing about the last time I was there I placed several items on the dining table and began drawing. Here’s my BLUE page. Click on the image for a larger view.

Blue sketchesI had to be true to the blue tea pot — it has a black handle and spout cover — so I switched to a black pen.

The focus then shifted to hand lettering. Andrea does a lot of it on her sketches and she has experimented with styles for many years. I would like to gain skills in hand lettering so I was eager to do the first assignment: Choose any color ballpoint pen and write your name or a quote without lifting the pen from paper. I dove right in using the quote that she had used to demonstrate.

Handlettering with Andrea JosephThe idea was simple and the method meant slowing down quite a bit. Just slowing down meant I did a fair job of the assignment. A second time through the writing emphasized the letters of each word and completed the letters. An unwanted blob on the question mark was turned into a flower.

Pleased with this outcome I as emboldened to go back to the blackbird sketch I did last week. I actually wanted to do some hand writing on it when I sketched it, but I decided it would probably take away from the image I was pleased with. Here is the sketch updated with the wording I wanted.

Blackbird updateI’m really jazzed about the final assignment: Draw a collection. Here is what I came up with in my studio

Button collection for sketchThe shapes! The sizes! The designs! Oh my! I can’t wait. Stay tuned for the fun.


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Saturday Sketch

Sketchbook Skool instructor Cathy Johnson had us sketching birds this past week. I tried my hand at a cedar waxwing sketch with watercolor but was disappointed in the outcome. I’m pretty happy with this sketch of a raven though. Click on image for a larger view.

Raven sketchI am also taking a class focused on sketching dogs and cats. Two classes at one time is one class too many for me. So, I’m off to practice sketching fur and wet noses — wish me luck!

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Oakleaf Hydrangea II Accepted

I’m very pleased to share that Oakleaf Hydrangea II has been juried into the 4th Annual International Juried & Judged Show and La Conner Quilt & Textile Museum, La Conner, WA. Click on image for larger view.

Oakleaf Hydrangea II, 28 1/4" x 26 1/4", 2013, For Sale

Oakleaf Hydrangea II, 28 1/4″ x 26 1/4″, 2013, For Sale

The exhibit will be on view

October 3-5, 2014
La Conner Maple Hall and the Civic Garden Club
703 South 2nd Street
La Conner, Washington
11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

The Museum is housed in the historic Gaches Mansion, a well-loved and preserved local treasure. Just seeing the mansion is quite a treat! But an international Quilt and Fiber Arts Festival held in it? Do I hear “road trip?”

Posted in Art quilts, Special Events | Tagged , , | 16 Comments

Embracing Junk Mail

No matter how I fine tune the flow of mail that comes to my letterbox, there is a daily abundance of junk mail. This year I’ve finally embraced the inevitable with new vision. It started with Carla Sonheim’s on-line class here.

Recent inspiration from my friend and fellow artist Priscilla Read followed this week! She created postcards using junk mail. And I received one of them in the mail. Click on image for a larger view.

Postcard from Priscilla ReadThe postcard made its journey and arrived in fine shape. Thank you, Priscilla, for the postcard and the inspiration!

I’ve been creating and mailing fabric postcards since 2004. I’ve shared that experience and my affiliation with Postmark’d Art here many times. But until now, I haven’t created my own paper postcards. After reading Priscilla’s how-to description, I couldn’t wait to get started.

I recently went on an art walk with a friend and picked up quite a few postcards. Some of my junk mail postcards were too large so I trimmed them to 4″ x 6″. Using a hard rubber brayer, I applied gesso to one side and let it dry. Next I used the brayer to apply acrylic paint mixed with matt medium.

junk mail in progressThen I added more junk mail. Click on image for a larger view.

A few of the postcards received some sketching

07-25-PC-0107-25-PC-0707-25-PC-12One also needed some watercolor.

07-25-PC-15I’m viewing junk mail with fresh eyes!


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Sketching Cats and Dogs

My first lesson with Val Webb on sketching cats and dogs was Monday. The first lesson is called Pencil Language. We started with a primer on how we were going to be using our 4B graphite pencils including warm-up exercises to become more familiar with how to create hatching, cross-hatching, scumbling and stippling. I love the word ‘scumbling’! The dictionary defines it as

softening the color or tone of a painted area by overlaying opaque or semi-opaque color applied thinly and lightly with almost dry brush.

In sketching, one draws random, meandering lines to create texture or shading. I can’t help but see that fiber artists are using a similar technique using needle and thread. We apply several terms to this practice: meander quilting, thread sketching and free-motion embroidery come to mind. But I digress.

Val explained that we would begin our journey by sketching cats. She says that their face is more similar to a human face than the dog’s face, so her students seem to have a higher comfort level starting with cats. I watched Val do what she calls a ‘rough sketch’ of a cat while she explained the 4 steps that go into the process. Then she turned us loose with 4 images of cats and said: Look for the differences in each face — a cat is not just a cat, but also a distinctive individual. Don’t worry about creating a finished drawing. Just practice looking deeply and drawing mindfully, to make an accurate informal sketch. Above all, enjoy yourself. I like her style and attitude!

I’ve completed two sketches so far. I must admit that this kitty looks a bit worried. Perhaps it’s because there were 2 dogs in the room while I sketched! Click on image for a larger view.

Cat Sketch This big, fluffy cat has some serious attitude in my sketch which didn’t show in the photo image I used. Pencils can be so sensitive!

Fluffy cat sketchI’ll be sketching with Val for 8 weeks. This is so fun!


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