09 Sep

Sketchbook Challenge Blog Hop

Today is Day one of The Sketchbook Challenge big blog hop!


My date to post is on September 13th but there’s something to see every day. Because there are so many of us, it’s a long hop and many are offering tutorials and giveaways.

Here are the full details:

The Sketchbook Challenge Hosts have a surprise for you – for the next 21 days we are celebrating September’s theme of Houses and Hideaways with a blog hop! Each day, beginning on September 9th, you’ll find a new post on The Sketchbook Challenge blog related to this month’s theme that will also include a link to the artist’s own blog, where you’ll find tutorials, videos, studio tours, exciting giveaways and more!

On each day start by swinging by The Sketchbook Challenge blog and then follow the link to the Host’s personal blog for extra goodness. Here is the blog hop schedule and enjoy!

** On each day start at The Sketchbook Challenge blog!**

September 9 – Gina Lee Kim

September 10 – Jacqueline Newbold

September 11 – Sue Bleiwess

September 12 – Jackie Bowcutt

September 13 – Me!

September 14 – Jane Davies

September 15 – Lyric Kinard

September 16 – Terry Grant

September 17 – Carol Sloan

September 18 – Leslie Tucker Jenison

September 19 – Lesley Riley

September 20 – Traci Bunkers

September 21 – Lynn Krawczyk

September 22 – Desiree Habicht

September 23 – Jamie Fingal

September 24 – Mary Beth Shaw

September 25 – Kari McKnight-Holbrook

September 26 – Deborah Boschert

September 27 – Susan Brubaker Knapp

September 28 – Laura Cater Woods

September 29 – Jane LaFazio


23 Aug




This month’s theme on The Sketchbook Challenge blog is Journeys. You’d think that with all the traveling and visitors we’ve had this summer, I’d have a sketchbook full of journey drawings, but no. Instead, I’ve shared a journey of a different type. I use my sketchbooks most often as a step along the way from idea to finished art. With my show coming up, it seemed apropos to share Army Wife-related notes and thumbnails. So, go get a peek at my messy sketchbook pages and the finished textile narratives they led to here.

04 Jul

Arty Stuff

I’ve been blogging in my head again. I need to figure out how to plug my brain directly into my blog dashboard…


On the social front, I went to the American Visionary Artist Museum in Baltimore last weekend with the best dates ever for this kind of thing, Deborah and Tonya. No photos allowed inside, and we were too caught up enjoying the art anyway, so I don’t have much to show. The current exhibit is The Art of Storytelling, which we thought was well presented and offered a good variety of narratives both in style and substance.

AVAM Tonya

My favorites were the paper cuts by Beatrice Coron. There was also wonderful stitched narratives by Esther Nisenthal Krinitz and Chris Roberts-Antieau (who is new to me but so wonderfully dry-humored I question why I had never heard of her before). The museum itself and the wacky gift shop were fun too. Lots of mirror mosaic, like this Cosmic Egg by Andrew Logan. Oh, and though a bit pricey, the on site restaurant is delicious, and I thought worth every penny.


On the local art scene front, guess whose work is just inside the front door at The McGuffey Art Center’s Summer Group Show?

MAC Summer Show

Yup, those are my summer fields, Raps and Am Rand des Omas Weizenfeld, waiting for the lighting to be adjusted, but looking good nonetheless. Come by before mid-August if you’re in the area. There’s a wonderful variety of work on display and a lot of bright, summery, color.

On the educational front, I’m still attending the life drawing group almost weekly. Today’s session was particularly good.


Robert, who’s studio we use for the Thursday at Saturday morning sessions, has what he calls “The Cube,” which is actually a rectangular prism made of welded steel tubing covered with foam pipe insulation. It is also known as a “pose making machine” because the models can contort and balance and be supported in all sorts of ways not possible on the floor or in a chair. These are warm-up drawings, and drawings on top of drawings, but maybe the gist will come across. I love The Cube.




So, hopefully that catches me up on most things and maybe next time I won’t wait so long between posts.

19 Jun

Assorted Work

First, I tried using my very accommodating husband as a stencil last weekend, spraying fiber reactive dye on him and the fabric. The whole process reminded me of why I don’t enjoy creating my own hand dyed fabrics. There’s prep that needs to be done to the fabric, and the dye needs to be mixed, so it’s not a very immediate process. I hate mixing dye because I don’t have a dedicated area, and the powder can get away from you soooo easily, and it is such a pain to try to clean. After spraying the fabric, I think we spent more time cleaning up my husband and the work area than it took to actually dye the fabric. He was vaguely blue for three days. And then, even after batching in the sun, under plastic, all day, the finished color on the fabric wasn’t half as intense as I had hoped. I think that the fabric just wasn’t saturated enough. It was a good experiment, but not one I feel the need to replicate. I like the painted prints much better, but even they have faded and scuffed after washing. I may do them again and not wash afterward. I still have one more thing to try though…

Blue Man

In other news, I finished the apron with a bajillion french knots. This photo is not the best (I’m experimenting with where and when to photograph things, and the sun is just in the wrong position with this combo). Anyway, I think it’s titled Non-entity, but I’m not sure yet. That means something to me, but I don’t think it clarifies anything to a viewer. For me it’s about being recognized only by one’s husband’s rank and social security number, but I’m not sure that comes through. It’s pretty though, so I’m generally happy with the piece.


15 Jun

Experiments in the Sun

I’m kicking around ideas for a new series and needed to do a bit of experimentation. I pretty much know in my head what I want, and I think I know how to get it, but you never really know until you know.


I wanted to try a full body sun print. So, I laid out a piece of cloth on a large plastic tablecloth, painted it, dragged it out onto the patio into the sun, and lay down on it for almost an hour, from 10:00 to 11:00-ish. The first thing I learned was that concrete is really hard when you lay on it, unmoving, for so long. I also lost feeling below my elbows. The second thing I learned is that sweat messes with the process and makes the paint spread out in flowy puddles. Neat effect, but not the one I wanted. Sweat also makes it hard to tell when the rest of the fabric is dry. My smart phone, on which I was listening to a podcast also gave up in the sun. I called uncle and went inside to try again.


I figured that I was really better off trying again since it would be closer to noon and the sun wouldn’t cast unsightly shadows that blurred my face. This time, I got smart and laid out two thin sleeping mats side by side, then covered them with the plastic tablecloth. I covered that with a cotton tablecloth to hopefully absorb some of my sweat before it caused puddling. On top of that went another piece of painted fabric, and then me — this time wearing a long sleeved shirt to absorb at least that elbow to wrist sweat. I lay out for about 45 minutes, until just after noon.

This was much more comfortable, and created a much crisper image. The wicking worked so well that I have two ghost hands merely from setting my hands down on my way to the prone position. Next time, I must remember to only place body parts where heavier body parts will ultimately cover the marks. I faced the sun to get a better image. I wish I had a sweat-swabber to come out with some water and a straw every five minutes and a towel to dab my face, neck and lower arms. Unfortunately, everyone was inside and couldn’t hear my feeble cries over the podcast entertaining me from the shade of the screened door. Finally, my son came out and confirmed that the fabric I was not laying on was indeed pretty dry, and I was starting to feel a bit yucky, so I came in to hydrate and cool off. Still, I got a pretty good print.

I could stop with what I have, but it occurred to me that I could use myself as a stencil too, and that wouldn’t require so much time in the sun. I’ve ordered dye which I think will go through a spray bottle better than paint and will try out my theory when it arrives. Hubby wondered just how permanent the dye is. If you see me looking like a Smurf next week, we’ll know.

12 Dec


Today is 12/12/12, one of those auspicious repeating number days. Our Twelve by Twelve group was lucky enough to be able to schedule our challenge so that the last pieces for this year, 2012, would be revealed today. Our theme was Sweet, and we’ve created some lovely interpretations, from the sweetness of sugary candy to the sweetness of a group of friends creating together. Check it out

As the year draws to a close, I’ve been thinking about an overarching project for next year. I’ve never really done one, and I’m not sure I want to add more commitments to my to-do list, but I’ve been thinking that a simple drawn (or otherwise) self portrait per day would be informative. I shy away from studying myself and I’m not sure if that’s because I don’t think I look like I do in my mind, or if I have a larger distaste for self reflection as that would infer a follow-up with self improvement. Last year I had tried to draw myself regularly as a way to get to know me, but I didn’t stick with it. Perhaps stating in public that I will do a 365 day project will keep me accountable and I will do it.

I’ve been thinking about these things as I sit and stare at the ceiling, or my computer, and wonder why, with all this time that I have (my kids are, after all in middle school and leave me to my own devices for six hours a day) can’t or don’t I accomplish more. I stared at piles of Christmas gifts today, incapacitated by my inability to stick in and wrap them so that I could package them so that I may get them to the post office. I did finally decide how they should be wrapped, and found appropriate outer packaging, but had dithered too long and didn’t have time to stand in line at the post office before the kids would get home. So I thought about accountability here. I thought about my to-do lists and my ambitions and the things I want to do but are lower priority than the things I need to do, or should do. I thought about Getting Things Done. And I may have thought up another 365 day project. What if I wrote, every morning, what my aspirations for the day were. Then, I could write what I actually did each day — to include time spent staring at the ceiling, or the computer screen, or picking up the dry cleaning. I suspect the lists would be quite different, though I’m usually happy if I can cross one thing off my to-do list each day. Maybe by the end of the year I’d be better at reconciling the aspirational list with the reality of what I can and do accomplish each day.

I won’t blog daily lists (or portraits for that matter) as I know that would only encourage me to spend more time at the computer. But, occasional checking in would help keep me on track. Now, to start today (and end on 11/12/13), on the next solstice (the 21st), on my birthday, or at the start of the year?

05 Dec

Adjusting the Process

I may be easing into a new way of working. As I focus more on drawing, it is only natural that I try to make a connection between my works on paper and my works on fabric. The connection need not be obvious or intentional — I’m just trying to be mindful of it’s possibility.


The last Twelve by Twelve challenge of the year is Sweet. It will be my last challenge with the group, so “Bittersweet” came to mind. As usual, I went to my working sketchbook and wrote down things that came to mind when I thought of sweet or bittersweet. Then, instead of going to my fabric stash, or being satisfied with rough little sketches, I went to one of my heftier sketchbooks and drew/painted studies of bittersweet. I drew two varieties of the plant, and painted abstractions such as the triangles in the page above, and a stylized berry pattern on another page which also included a drawing of a pile of dark chocolate.


I like the concept, and there are some interesting elements going on. But I’m quite sure I don’t want to be so literal as to recreate my sketchbook drawing in fabric. So often, something is lost in the translation when trying to recreate a drawing or a photo in fabric. The medium is so much a part of the message. So, what to do, what to do?

Somewhere along the way, keeping up with the doings of our teenage German exchange student, something caught my eye. She had posted a cute picture of herself and her sister on Facebook. A friend responded with “sweet,” but in German, which is “suess.” He used the extended German alphabet, with contracts the double esses to an eszet (ß), which looks to Americans to be a funny B, and changes the ue to a u with an umlaut (ü) — which looked to me like a cute little happy face in the middle of the word! Süß! How sweet is that?! You never know where inspiration will come from.

Now I’m thinking I will go with the typographic interpretation of Sweet and not the bittersweet aspect. So, was all the drawing and exploration of Bittersweet a waste of time? Absolutely not. It was part of the process. It helped me clarify. It provided me with a color scheme I will stick with, and options for details if I want or need them. I’m thinking that the triangles could reappear as a quilting motif, and the red berry pattern could translate nicely to embroidery…