Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Gifts & Illustrating Character

Did everyone have a wonderful Christmas? I received a pinwheel block from my nine year old daughter. She hand stitched it without any help, and I have instructions that I may finish it with quilting. I think I might make it a bit larger and turn it into a dresser scarf.

This month’s Fast Friday Challenge, we are to work with “zinger” colors, and illustrate a mood or emotion with the piece we create. I know I can easily add some zinger colors to a succulent piece, but how can I express emotion?

Verticals, branches reaching towards the heavens, sunbeams reaching down, rising bubbles, all seem of joyful. I nearly always choose to work in a vertical format even when my subject is a landscape. Last January, I did a digital experiment to stretch one of my vertical landscapes into a horizontal. The horizontal version seems more peaceful and spacious, and the water and horizon seem to have more emphasis. I prefer the vertical version where the emphasis seems more on the tree and the upward reaching branches.

So, perhaps this month’s succulent quilt will feature flower stalks reaching upwards.

I have been working rather precisely lately, tracing photographs to lay out main shapes before I begin to paint and quilt my succulent pieces. Perhaps I should try cutting or drawing freehand shapes to see if this will add character to my succulent series.

How do you express emotions or add character to your quilts or other artwork?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Paying Attention to Value

Elizabeth Barton gave excellent advice about using value on her blog a couple of months ago. She also said quite a bit about value in this blogpost in which she says, “Check your value patterns – the deepest darks should create an interesting shape overall as should the brightest lights. It’s often easiest to see this by either squinting, or by taking a photograph, putting it intoPhotoshop and desaturating the colour. When it’s in black and white the value pattern becomes quite evident.”

I had Elizabeth’s advice in mind when I was searching for a photo to use for the latest succulent quilt.

I rejected a lot of photos, because the lights and darks just looked scattered and didn't interest me. One of the reasons I liked this photo was because the two large leaves in the upper right are relatively dark and create a diagonal balanced by the dark area at the bottom left. I was planning on emphasizing the values when I did my painting.
However, now that I compare my finished quilt to the original photo, I think I forgot my original thoughts. Black and white photos do help in seeing value without being distracted by color. I like how my final quilt came up, but the shading is very different than the photo. I was perhaps a bit stingy with the white paint as I was finishing for fear of overdoing it.

I have a second piece in progress using this photo. I will pay more attention to my original inspiration this second time.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Succulent II

Succulent II is based on a very close cropped photo of a succulent. It is for a Fast Friday challenge to work with either a close view or a far view with the focus on value. The base cloth is the clean-up fabric that I posted about last week. The patterns and colors in the original cloth have nearly disappeared beneath more paint and stitching, but bits of the original fabric still peek through. Working with this fabric helped free me from the need to interpret the colors from the original photo literally, and let me focus on value.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Clean-up Cloths and Succulents

You can lay painting projects on top of plastic sheeting when you paint, and use paper towels to wipe the paint out of brushes between colors. But it’s more fun to lay work on top of another piece of fabric, and use the edges of the cloth underneath to clean the brush. If there’s leftover paint on my pallet, I sometimes get out stencils and decorate the cloth some more. I’ve been using this fabric for a drop cloth and clean-up rag for a year or more now.

Another two succulent quilts are in progress. I chose a closer cropped view of the center of a succulent plant for this month’s Fast Friday theme “Close Up or Far View” with a focus on “Value”. I believe cropping the succulent this close will make it seem more abstract.
I decided to try this composition twice. Once with a fabric fairly close in color to the actual plant, and once with a corner cut from my old drop cloth and clean-up rag. I think I need to balance the colors with some more stenciling, before I begin painting to define the succulent form.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

“Trees Are Us” Exhibit

The following three pieces have been selected to be part of an exhibit at the Solovei Art Gallery in Everett, Washington. I expect there will be a wide variety of mediums represented.

Artist reception on Saturday December 6th 2pm - 6pm. It will be running until December 29th. The location is 2801 Grand Ave, #203, Everett WA 98201. Look for more information about the Solovei Art Gallery on their website: