Friday, December 31, 2010

Design Focus Friday - The Last Shape

 Actually, I'm sure this isn't the last shape you'll see on Design Focus Friday but it is the last time we're going to focus on shape. I've been playing with my new art supplies from Santa and thinking about shape. These are just doodled shapes that I colored in with Inktense pencils. I started this page with a coat of black gesso. I can't decide if I should now add water to the ink or leave it as is. What do you think?
 Then I was thinking about how to draw a shape without using line. So I used dots. I was concentrating on the shape the blue dots were making but now all I can see are the white negative shapes.
 This page started out about line but then when I added the color, it turned into shapes.
This is the start of a page where I am following ideas from the book Watercolor and Collage Workshop by Gerald Brommer. This is the first step of adding watercolor (I used my new water soluble crayons). Next I am supposed to collage different kinds of rice paper over the watercolor and then add more watercolor and line as needed. I liked the shapes that I got with this method.

Next up is form, we'll be exploring three dimensional objects as well as how to give two dimensional work the illusion of depth. Hope to hear from you soon about how you've been using the different design elements in your work.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Intentions and a Word for 2011

 It's that time of year again, when we all start thinking about the upcoming year. What are your plans for 2011? I have been thinking about what I want to be doing in 2011 and the list looks very similar to the goals I set in 2010. Some of which I met and many of which I didn't.

By thinking about what I want to do and keeping those intentions in the forefront of my mind, I plan to do more creative work in 2011.
  1. Explore surface design on various fabrics including felt, silk and cotton.
  2. Explore combinations of machine embroidery, hand embroidery and felt.
  3. Take further classes at the Gail Harker Center.
  4. Make more work and develop a body of work in my own style.
  5. Enter a piece in a local exhibition.
  6. Place work in another gallery in the area.
  7. Blog more frequently and include more tutorials.
 So the next question is, how can you follow through? There are a lot of people that pick a word for the year ala Christine Kane. She advocates starting off the year "instead of making resolutions, we would pick a word that would guide us throughout the year. It would be our touchstone." I like this concept and having been thinking about it quite a lot this month.

I have also recently read a book by Susan Jeffers, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. This book centers on the fact that everyone feels fear when making a decision or doing something different. Some just deal with the fear and go forward, while others are too fearful to act on their ideas. And many times, you are comfortable in your safe, little cocoon but what are you missing? If you chose to break out of your safety net and called someone that you admired but don't know very well, what would happen? Would you begin to develop a friendship that you otherwise wouldn't have? What could that person add to your life? How do you know if you don't try?

I, personally, can vouch that this works. There were four people that I admired and wanted to get to know better. I am typically very shy and don't talk to people I don't know (I'm getting better at this but it's hard!). I got up the nerve and called them on the telephone and asked if they would be interested in forming a surface design group. To my astonishment, they were all thrilled to be asked. Our group is wonderful and I've already learned so much from these four people.

While thinking about the two concepts of picking a word for the year and feeling the fear but doing it anyway, I came up with my word. Choose. I know this sounds a bit silly but it's what came to my  mind and it won't go away. I have a choice in how I spend my time. I can choose to come home from work and veg out in front of the television or I can choose to play with fiber or play in my studio journal. I can choose to spend my money on whatever strikes my fancy when I'm at the store or I can choose to save my money so I  will be able to attend a fiber art class. I can choose to just have my work in my own shop or I can choose to call other galleries and see if my work can be carried in a different gallery. I can choose to not show my work because "it might not be good enough" or I can choose to enter it into a local exhibition.

So this year, I will make my choices with intention. I will make sure that I am thinking about what I am choosing, not just letting a situation occur by not making a choice. Are you setting any goals or intentions for the year? Perhaps you'd like to pick a word for the year. Just follow the link above and read Christine's post about picking a word for the year. Let me know what your plans are for 2011, I'd love to hear.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tribute to Hershey

My friend recently lost her chocolate lab to old age. His name was Hershey. I sketched this card yesterday for her. I used my new Christmas art supplies and it turned out better than I expected. I hope she likes it. I know how hard it is to lose a beloved pet.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tree Page from Ann

 I came home last night to a wonderful package from Germany. Ann sent me my December tree page. Isn't it lovely?
 I really like the texture she achieved with the leaves. She made a sandwich of water soluble fabric, wool and bits of fabric. She then machine stitched it all together.
Here's the back. It's going to make another great addition to my book. I've got to get work on my covers soon!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Margaret's Vase

 Here's a vase that I made for my sister for Christmas. She requested the colors. I used falkland wool, Wensleydale curls, silk, silk noil. I love how the texture came out.
 This is another view.
 And one more look.
She wanted the vase to put on the desk under where this iris piece that I gave her hangs. Not exactly the same colors but I still think she'll like it.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Santa was good to me!

 Santa was very good to me this year. I got all of these art supplies and I get to go to the Level 1 Hand Embroidery class that I have wanted to go to with Gail Harker. The class is in February and I'm excited to go over to Washington again.
 I tried out all my new pens, pencils and crayons in my studio journal. Such yummy colors and I really love the Caran d'Ache water soluble crayons.
 So I did a little sketch today of a few items from my window sill collection. I used the black permanent ink pen for the outline and then I colored in with the water soluble crayons.
I did get the stencil I had drawn out burned out. I've decided it looks a bit uniform for me and I may change it up a bit if I get the chance so it doesn't look so symmetrical. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday weekend.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

Design Focus Friday - Shape - The Circle

Shapes are all around you and you can find thousands of ideas from almost anything. The circle is a simple shape found in nature. These are some of my favorite tree stump photos that I've taken over the last several years. I love the shape but also the line that draws your eye inside the shape.

And then there are circles everywhere you look. So get out your camera and pick a shape. What will you look for today? Circles? Squares? Triangles? Or maybe something a little tougher like a star.

Once you've found some photos for inspiration, what next? Perhaps you want to do a little research on the symbolic meaning of the shape you picked. The circle is an ancient symbol used throughout humanity. Because the circle is seen in the sun, the moon and even the earth, the circle represents wholeness, unity and infinity. It has represented a spiritualized Mother Earth and feminine power. Perhaps you can now take some of these ideas and begin thinking of ways to add circles to your work (or whatever shape you picked). Or perhaps you'll want to research a few symbols first that relate to a topic that draws you. Then you can use that shape of the symbol and look for that shape in your world.

Let me know some of the shapes that you are drawn to. What inspires you about certain shapes? Do they show up in your work often? Can you find different shapes that inspire you now that you are looking for them?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Happy Solstice!

I thought since today marks the turning point in the year when we start having longer days and shorter nights that I would look at what I've accomplished for the year. I set goals at the end of last year and I plan to set some for 2011. Hopefully, I'll do a little better at following through in the coming year. It's not that I didn't get anything done this year in the world of fiber art but due to a back injury, I have been a bit limited on sitting at the sewing machine and leaning over during felting. As this has still been an ongoing problem, I have had to learn to adapt.

My main goal for last year was to:
Develop my voice as an artist and begin to produce a consistent body of work in my own style.
I can't say that I've really accomplished this.
I had established steps to accomplish my main goal which were:
  • spend more time in the studio making art
  • complete more sampling
  • practice art/design in my studio journal
  • develop more 3D artwork in combination with machine embroidery
  • Begin Level II Machine Embroidery course
  • no guilt about time spent in studio
I started off in January and February and really felt that I was doing well and focusing more on my fiber art. Then the back injury in mid March just through me for a loop and I haven't gotten back on track again. But I did have some accomplishments in 2010 and although I didn't manage to complete all of the steps above, I did the following:

  • Created 12 pages for the Traveling Pages Swap
  • Worked in my studio journal several times a month and started Design Focus Fridays
  • Started a local fiber art group that meets monthly
  • Made a variety of stamps and stencils with my own designs
  • Completed a mini-course on Photoshop Elements
  • Made several more tutorials for the blog
  • Made work to sell including cat toys, sweater flower pins, dyed scarves, nuno felted scarves and barrettes
  • Experimented with solar dyeing
  • Finished a very, very slow WIP (hopefully  more on that soon)
  • Tried machine embroidery Carol Shinn style
  • Took a needle felting doll class from Kay Petal and completed a doll
  • Made several small felted, hand stitched pieces
  • Made a cobweb scarf
  • Made several 3D felt vases
  • Taught myself to spin with a hand spindle
  • Made felted slippers
That's not too bad a list, do you think? Did you set any goals for 2010? Did you follow through with them? I'd love to hear how you did. I am working on a new set of goals for 2011 and steps to accomplish them. I'll post them soon. In the meantime, I hope you are having a wonderful holiday season and not driving yourself crazy making last minute gifts!

Monday, December 20, 2010

December Page for Debi

 Here is the shabby chic/vintage page I made for Debi. She likes pale colors or white. So I went for the white on white and the theme of snowflakes. I nuno felted the background with several different kinds of wool, silk noil, lace and several ribbons. I added machine and hand stitching.
 Here's the hand stitched snowflake in wool embroidery thread.
 I added a few snowflake buttons and stitched a machined cord around the edge.
The back is a photo of some icicles on our house. Hope you like it Debi!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Sneak Peak of Page for Debi

I've finished another page for our Traveling Pages Swap for Debi. Her theme is shabby chic/vintage. This is the 12th page I've made so I only have one more to go. I've already started on the last one and soon this swap will be completed. I do have to make the front and back covers for my book and put it all together. I have some ideas on how that's going to go so I'll get started on that soon. For any of you wondering about how I did on my goals set for 2010, I'll be writing a post soon about that as well as my planned goals for 2011. More soon!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Design Focus Friday - Shape Continued

 One way you can use shape is making stamps. You can combine small shapes together as I did with the stamp on the left or a bigger shape. You could use geometric or organic shapes. Guess which ones I usually do?
 You can also use shapes to make stencils. The most important thing to remember with stencils is to make sure you have bridges so your center part of your stencil won't fall apart once you've cut it out. This one hasn't been cut out yet. I am planning on trying to use a heat tool to cut it out.
 Here's the sketch where I figured out how the stencil would work. I drew the big shape of the pine cone first and then drew the smaller pine cone bits (what are those called?). My friend thought it was a pineapple.
 Here are the stamps in my studio journal. I seem to have lost my ginkgo leaf stamp somewhere in my studio. I'm sure it's there somewhere...
The fun thing with the foam stamps is you can add details within your large shape. Have you been thinking about shape and how you use it in your work? Let me know!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The sun will come out...

 Living in northwest Montana in the winter time means that you don't see the sun that much.
 So when it comes out, you rejoice.
 Go exploring a bit.
 And take photos of the blue sky and sunshine.
So you can remember it for the next several weeks before it comes out again! Hope you all are having a wonderful day!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Fiber Bird Nester Tutorial

 Do you have lots of birds visiting your backyard? Or do you have a friend or family member that loves to watch birds. This is a quick and fun gift to make using recycled materials. I had a bunch of these net tubes. I can't remember what they held originally but this would work with other size nets from onions or oranges etc. These tubes were a great size though and it doesn't take a lot of fiber to fill them.
 The other nice thing about these tubes is that one end is already sealed off. If your netting isn't, you can always tie a knot in the end.
 Then take a bunch of threads, yarns or extra string.
 And some fiber bits that you don't mind donating to the birds. You layer a bunch of fiber, then thread, yarn or string, then more fiber, then thread until you have a fiber parfait in your tube. I pulled my fiber bits apart so that they weren't just one big mass. That will make it easier for the smaller birds to get smaller pieces of fiber.
 Once your parfait is complete, you tie the end. Leave enough room to tie two knots. One close to the fibers and one close to the top of the netting. Pull out small nubbins of fiber through the netting (or not). I love the little lumpies poking out.
Then hang it in a tree and your  bird friends will have a wonderfully colorful home next spring.I just used an S hook and ran it through the netting between the two knots. I'll be watching to see if fibers start disappearing and I will really keep an eye out for colorful bird nests in the spring. If you give it a try, let me know how it works for you! I made three, two as gifts and one for me.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Design Focus Friday - Shape

 When our local group got together last week.  We played around with shapes. Each of us cut out various shapes and then considering positive and negative shapes, we made a design. We all chose to use black as the background but could have done either. This is one of the designs I was playing around with. I feel it needs some line, what do you think?

 Here is another one that I did. I added some line to this one. I really like this better in the vertical orientation with the small squares at the bottom.
 Here is Louise's design. I liked her wonky stars - she said that she got the ideas of the lines from my design. They certainly added a good focal point to her design as it was lacking a focus with just the stars.
 This one is Bunny's. We decided it looked too much like a snowman on skis.
This is also Bunny's. And we also liked this one in a vertical orientation.

This is a simple exercise to try out. We used only black and white paper so that color didn't get in the way of designing with shape. You could also try this with fabric. What have you been doing with shape this week? Leave a comment and let me know.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Cookies for Christmas Stroll

This is what I did all day today. I made over 24 dozen cookies for Christmas Stroll on Friday. My parents are visiting and they helped out. We had a great time listening to classic holiday music and making cookies. The Christmas Stroll is held in Whitefish and I serve cookies and hot spiced cider at the store. We usually have 300-400 people through in three hours and they eat tons of cookies. If you're in the Whitefish area, stop by and try a cookie.