Saturday, January 29, 2011

Future Silk Screens

 I worked this week on finishing up my fossil sketches.
 This one will be for a background type of silk screen for an all over pattern effect.
 These two were a bit tedious to draw and get all the black filled in but I think they will make good silk screens.
 I then scanned the sketches into the computer as black and white photos. Then I put them into PSE (Photoshop Elements) and cleaned them up a bit. Do you think my fossil fish looks mean?
 This one I reversed the colors in Photoshop. You an do this by opening your photo, clicking on filter, then adjustments and then click invert. Worked like a charm! Any stray bits of black I painted over with the paintbrush tool using white.
 I couldn't decide if I liked the positive or negative so I think I will make a screen both ways.
 Here's the all over fossil pattern. I cleaned up stray bits of black with the paintbrush again on this one.
Here's my trilobite. I really like how this turned out. I can't wait to make the silk screens and try them out on my scarves. I ordered some PhotoEZ sheets but I won't get time to finish these until I get back from my hand embroidery class. Our next meeting with my local surface design group we are going to make silk screens and try out a Yudu machine. I'm getting prepared for that get together. I have to print these on to transparencies and then I'll be all set. Hope you have a good weekend and thanks for stopping by!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Design Focus Friday - Form

 The latest book I am reading to continue my learning journey into design is Dynamic Color Painting for the Beginner by Diane Edison. As I was trying to come up with something else to say about form, I was struck by what she wrote about making a preparatory sketch for a painting. She suggests that to make a three dimensional drawing that you draw the value patterns. When you look at your subject you need to look at the shapes that the values make. You need to notice every tone and shadow and what shape each makes and draw those. She says that as you draw the shapes you will see that the patches of color follow the contour of the object, and so including them in your sketch will help you create the illusion of three dimensions.
 But what really struck me was her use of the term "visual trust". Diane states that "Drawing in this way, following the shape of the colors as well as the outline of the object, is much like a puzzle requiring visual trust. I describe this the term 'visual trust' as accepting what you see, without question. By this I mean that sometimes the first thing you see without question is most likely correct."
 Diane reveals that many times our brains tend to name things in a sort of intellectual interference and we tend to disregard what we really see and instead try to self correct as we draw. But this isn't the way you should draw. To draw well you need to rely on what you see, not what you think you see or expect to see.
 Diane infers that to paint or draw from observation demands a willingness to believe the unbelievable. This means that you are seeing a different point of view, one that you can not easily imagine.
Do you trust what you see when you draw? I find it really takes practice to see those small value changes as shapes and to draw those shapes. You can't think your drawing into existence, you have to look closely and trust your pencil or paintbrush to draw or paint what you really see.

What do you think? Do you have "visual trust" when you draw? How does that apply to your fiber art?

Coming up in February, we'll be talking about texture. Yippee! This is one of my favorite elements of design and it's why I love fiber. So let me know what you think about "visual trust" and how that affects form in your work and I'll see you next week.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Mama Grizzly for Gayle

 This is the beginnings of the page I made for Gayle. Her theme is All Creatures Great and Small. I wanted to do an animal that is native to Montana so I chose the grizzly bear. I had a photo from a calendar that I used as inspiration. I thought just the face coming out of the page would give a bigger impact and give a sense of the size of grizzlies. I painted this with a combination of walnut ink and Jacquard paint.
 Then I thread sketched the bear. I used about ten different shades of brown for this. Even with two stitch and tear sheets behind the page, it still distorted quite a bit. But except for a few wrinkles here and there, I got it flattened back out again. The shape of the page makes her look a little like a cone head, don't you think?
 Here's a close up of the eye. I left the white part of the eye unstitched so that caused a bit of distortion.
 Here's another close up.
And here's the back. I hope you like it, Gayle. This is the last page I have to do for this swap. Next, after I get my last two pages, I'll be putting the book together.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Design Focus Friday - Form

 Last week we talked about form as it relates to a two dimensional work and how to imply form on your picture plane. Usually, I work in 2D more than 3D but I would like to do more 3D work. The sketch above shows what I plan to do with my Traveling Pages to make all 13 pages into a book form. As my theme is trees, the covers will resemble bark and the "posts" on the book will be red twig dogwood branches.
 When you're thinking about form in three dimensional work, sometimes it helps to make a model. I used some leftover heavy interfacing, chopsticks and duct tape. All things I had around the house. The model is about half the size of the actual pages. The photo above shows how the book will look when closed. I'll have to make sure that the red twig dogwood branches aren't too "bushy" on top or it won't close well. Although I will probably always display it open. I won't be using duct tape to secure the real book together (although it has a certain chic). I plan on using a heavy thread (like button thread) to attach all the pages to the posts as shown in my sketch in the first photo.
 Here is it standing up. All the front side of the pages will be on one side and then when you turn the book around, all the back pages will be on the opposite side.
Here's a view from the top. I think this form will be perfect for my pages. I still have two pages to receive and I need to finish up my covers but I plan on finishing the book by the end of February. This model is so cute that I want to cover the pages and make a smaller book too. Hopefully, I'll have time to do that.

Have you worked in 3D? What have you made? How did you determine your pattern and if it would work? Did you have to think about stability? How did you merge the need for stability and structure with the aesthetic? Leave me a comment and let me know, as I'd love to hear how you are using form in your work.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Another Watercolor and Rice Paper Collage

 Here's another rice paper collage with watercolor similar to last Friday's post. But this time I pasted down the rice paper first with no paint underneath. I then just added watercolor on top with my Neocolor II crayons and then added water. I really love the textures that develop with the base of rice paper. This one is much more subtle as I used less rice paper. This is based on a photo I took, can't remember when I took it but it was probably at Glacier National Park. Another one of my favorite surfaces - bark (again, I know!).
Here's a close up. I could keep adding more to this painting as there are so many little details when you look closely at bark. But I decided I like it the way it is so I stopped. I love the organic lines and the diagonals of the various bark pieces on the tree. I am doing a series of these surfaces in paint first as inspirations for embroideries after my hand embroidery class. What are your inspirations? Do leave a comment and let me know.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Studio Journal Work

Do you have a sketchbook or studio journal? I prefer to call mine a studio journal as I keep everything that relates to fiber in it. It has lists of things to do, inspirational photos, sketches, collages etc. Here's a piece that I started with line and I showed you the background before. It didn't seem finished so I added some flowers and a quote. This is really not my usual style or color combination but I am trying to play with more colors some of which I rarely use in my work. It's good to try to "paint outside the lines" and try something different.

 This is a sketch that I am working on to develop stencils and screen prints of fossils. These are ammonites. I do have one stencil of an ammonite but it is a bit precise and straight edged for me. I like the more natural look in this sketch.
And more fossils. This page is just barely started. I want to fill the entire page and then make a screen for screen printing. It will be more of a background texture than anything I think.

Have you been following the Sketchbook Challenge? It is a great resource if you want to try and work in your sketchbook or journal more often. Or if you just want to see what everyone else is doing, check out the Flickr page.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Hand Dyed Wool Embroidery Floss and Dyed Felt

 I've been working on getting all my embroidery supplies ready for my Level 1 Hand Embroidery class in February. This is lace weight wool that I made into skeins and dyed. I was trying for some earth tones, greens and a variety of rusty reds. Except for the reds, I got what I intended. I did make one bright orange for some lichen that I'm planning on embroidering. I have also ordered some supplies that I will show you after they arrive.
I also dyed the piece that I made in the sander tutorial. It is going to be used for the book covers for my Traveling Pages. I'm going to work this week on the mechanics of how I'm putting the book together. So more on that later in the week. I have finished my last page to be sent off to Gayle. I'll show you that as soon as she receives it.

Thanks for all your comments on the sander tutorial. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Fiber Nester Disappearance

 You may remember in December I made a Fiber Nester for birds to take fibers and make their nests. It was hanging up for several weeks and then last week I noticed it was gone. I thought the wind blew it down so I was looking around on the ground for it. I couldn't find it. Finally, I went out to have a better look.
And this is what I found. This is a branch from the same tree that it was hanging on. It is torn open with lots of fibers missing and draped over the branch. I thought maybe it was squirrels. They got cold and needed some extra insulation. My husband thinks it was a pack rat. What do you think?

I'm going to make some more and put them out closer to spring. I am going to make one with neutral, natural fibers and one with colored fibers. It will be experiment to see which the birds prefer. When I originally posted this, someone suggested they wouldn't take the colored fibers as it would draw predators to their nests. So we'll see. More later...

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Dyed Scarves

 These are scarves that I dyed a few weeks ago but hadn't gotten a chance to post about.
 I did a variety of colors and they are all done with low immersion dyeing with acid dyes.
 I am planning on using these as base for more surface design.
 I plan on using a combination of techniques including discharge, stamping, stenciling, screen printing etc.
 This one has both black and brown in it.
 This one is brown and is pretty boring but that's OK since I'm planning on adding more complexity.

I don't usually like blues too much but this one turned out nicely.

 And my favorite autumn combinations.
 This is larger than the others and is really black and red but the lighting was pretty poor when I was taking these photos.
 This one was dyed with walnut ink.

 This one was also dyed with walnut ink as the first layer. I then used flour paste as a resist on the entire scarf. If you haven't tried flour paste, it is really quite messy. I forgot one step but it still worked out. I didn't pin the scarf down and left it to dry on a piece of plastic. The flour paste contracted and rolled up the edges of the scarf. It was quite a sight. But I flattened it out after it was dry (24 hours) and cracked the paste. I then thinned black textile paint with water and covered the pasted side completely with black paint. It was really ugly then.
 After the black paint dried (another 24 hours), I rolled up the pasted and painted scarf and put it in a bucket of cold water. The paste peeled right off and I was left with this wondrous texture.
 I love it! I washed the scarf to make sure all the paste came out. The black lightened a bit after washing but I really like the soft look.
I am planning on adding fossil motifs as another layer. I have a bit of practicing to do before I add them to the scarf as I don't want to "ruin" it. I'm planning on using thickened dyes in shades of ecru and browns. I have the other walnut dyed scarf so I'm planning on trying the flour paste again. I may try them on some of the acid dyed scarves as well. More on these later after they have more surface design applied.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Design Focus Friday - Form

 I've shown you this photo before. It is the start of an exercise from the book Watercolor and Collage Workshop by Gerald Brommer. The exercise is to work from abstraction to representation. So you start with abstract shapes as above. I was thinking about making rocks so I chose the browns and blacks. I added the blues at the end because I felt it needed a little contrasting color.
 The next step is to tear up pieces of rice paper with fibers embedded and glue it over your dry watercolor abstract painting. You can cover the whole surface or part of the surface. I covered most of the surface except for some of the edges. You use half glue and half water to glue the paper down. The pieces of paper were generally less than an inch square and were very irregular in shape.
 Here's a closer view so you can see the fibers in the paper.
 You then let that dry and start adding paint again. I forgot to take a photo of the in between stage but I have to tell you it was really ugly. Could that be why I forgot to take a photo? I added lots more paint and made some rock shapes. But they were very flat and ugly looking. But I persevered and kept adding more paint, small shapes and line. Then you turn your piece in all different directions and look to see what is the best orientation to finish out your piece. So it ended up with the rings of the notebook on the bottom of the painting.
 Then add more paper if you aren't satisfied with your piece. So that's what I did. I decided to make it look like a river with rocks. So here's the added paper. I then added more paint on top of the paper once it was dry. I did scrub off some of the paint on the tops of the rocks as I felt they were too dark. I was trying to make the rocks have form and the painting to have some depth. I also added more shading to the rocks with black and grey paint. I worked on the water with white and turquoise blue. I spattered some paint and also drew some more line.
 And this is the result. I decided it looked more like the ocean with water pouring in at high tide over the rocks. I did use the photos from the book for a resource of what rocks look like and how the water flows but otherwise, this scene doesn't represent any particular place.

 How do you think I did? Did I achieve believable rocks with implied form on the 2 dimensional surface? Do you feel the depth in the subject?
Actually, I am amazed that I painted this. The collage process really adds depth and different colors underneath the water that I never would have thought to paint myself if I was trying to paint this type of scene. One of the things I learned with this process is not to give up when it is looking really ugly. Keep pressing forward adding more paint and more rice paper. You might amaze yourself as I did! Do leave me a comment if you are working on form in your work. I'd love to see what you're doing.