26 Feb

What is it? And does it matter?

This is going to be quick and dirty and kinda rambly because I’ve already wasted enough time on the computer and MUST get back to my knitting. (No really, I’m totally obsessed with knitting a shawl because I’ve already finished knitting it, but knew I could do better so I frogged it and started over and now must play catch-up with myself.)

Portfolio Books
(My portfolio books, because even I can’t define what I do)

I’ve been following blogs, emails, and Facebook posts of reports from QuiltCon this last week and I’m trying to wrap my head around it. It seems that there was a lot of discussion over the definition of Modern Quilting. On the one side was talk about what it isn’t and on the other is very cogent thoughts on what it could be if we’d get beyond the defining. Then there’s reactions to what was shown there: all too similar? too quilt police-y? not enough quilt police? not appropriate for the context?

I wondered then, does all this questioning and defining happen at the “regular” quilt shows? I had to ponder for a moment because I’m closer to that world and therefore a bit immune to it. Yes, there is far too much defining going on at the usual quilt shows too. The big one is whether one came to see art quilts or bed quilts and why are there art quilts anyway? Then there’s the unending discussion online of what is and isn’t art when it comes to quilts. Are photos on fabric art? why isn’t pictorial more accepted in the art quilt world? why are viewers so attracted to the pictorial and don’t “get” the abstract quilts? can one make art quilts with commercial fabric?

I remembered when I followed the crafty blogs and how it seemed that there was a formula for that too (something involving toddlers, robin’s egg blue studios, and book contracts). Is all this defining, labeling, and putting in boxes a female thing? Maybe just a human thing.

Why do I even care? I care because it makes me think about my own work and how I fit in. I am inspired by traditional quilts — that’s where I started. I am inspired by “maverick” quilts (something along the lines of traditional, but wonkier in construction) — that’s where I jumped over to my art brain. I enjoy Modern Quilts — to me they are an extension of the previous two appealing to a different aesthetic. I am inspired by fine craft (I’ll need to post about the Craft Council show we went to) — I always bow down to superior quality. I get a kick out of bloggy craft — give me a good geeky, meme-inspired, pop culture reference and I’m hooked. I’m inspired by conceptual art — why can’t I think of stuff like that? I love textile art of all types. I will always refer back to my art school training — it’s my foundation.

Given all of these influences, I struggle with where to show my work, or even where to go with it. Crafty blogging didn’t go anywhere. My work looks drab and out of place at quilt shows like IQF Houston where it’s surrounded by jewel tones and sparkle. I’m not interested in having a booth and traveling to art fairs (I’d have to change my work drastically if I realistically expected anyone to buy it for over their sofa). Right now I’m trying the gallery route. I’m excited to see where that goes. So, I follow the conversations in these circles I’m tangentially attached to, looking for a deeper connection for myself. Hoping that somewhere the definitions will break down a little and instead of closing doors between them, we can open doors and appreciate things like the foundations of Modern Quilting being in traditional quilts and that art quilts CAN celebrate the fabric at their foundations.

I’d love to see a show that travels between Quilt Con, IQF and the Mancuso shows that includes Civil War era antique quilts, classic Amish quilts, Baltimore Album quilts, Anna Williams, Gees Bend, Gwen Marsten, Jean Wells, Tonya Ricucci, Bonnie Hunter, Luke Haynes, Nancy Crow, Diane Firth, Wendy Huhn, Pamela Allen, Carole Taylor, Joe Cunningham, Sherri-Lynn Woods, Chawne, Victoria Findlay-Wolf, Jaquie Gering, Thomas Knauer, Ashley Newcomb, and you get the idea… I can connect a thread between all of these quilts and quilters, and I’d love to see others make connections too.

24 Feb

Self Portrait Sunday

It was a flaky kind of week. As any year-long or daily project naturally is, there is ebb and flow. I just wasn’t that into it this week. That said, here’s a few portraits:

365:65. I had been looking through photos of my art and decided to see what happened if I layered that with a portrait photo. Fun exercise. Obviously I could go on forever with different combinations of art, portrait, erasers, and levels of transparency.

So, I did another one for 365:66. Photo of branches, photo of me, cutout filter.

There are no 365:67 or 365:68 portraits. I blew off those two days (for no particular reason).

365:69. I had a good morning with watercolor pencils on pre-painted backgrounds at life drawing group, so I came home and did a portrait in the same manner. As I worked, I saw that I was obliterating the stenciled hand, so I didn’t expand the self portrait much beyond my face. Now it looks like I’m choking myself!

365:70. I went to the American Craft Council show in Baltimore with a friend and we had a great day looking at fine art and craft, being inspired, and taking mental notes. We each splurged on one purchase. I got a fun handmade dress which I am very excited to wear someplace. Anyplace.

365:71. We got dressed up and went to a wedding, but didn’t take any photos. We did take a post party, happy mood photo though.

19 Feb

My Designer Hat

I’m putting on my graphic designer hat right now.

My artist friends Natalya, Deborah, Robin, and Vivien and I have been working on a project together and now it’s my turn to give it some form. In order to do this the way I want to, I’m bringing myself up to speed on a much newer version of InDesign than I had previously been using. At the same time, some old school processes still work best. I spent a few hours this morning organizing and winnowing using paper thumbnails of photos spread out on my floor and then pinned to my design board as I made decisions. I really needed to see all my choices at once and be able to easily move them around. I am getting more and more excited about this project the more time I spend on it!

17 Feb

Self Portrait Sunday

365:58 The artist who runs the Wednesday night life drawing group almost always works in black Sharpie pen. I love the boldness of his work. So I tried a bit myself. I used a really fat chisel point pen which is a bit unwieldy. I probably should have stopped with the pen only and not added the paint, but this is all about trying stuff and not worrying about whether it will be pretty or not.

Since I wasn’t happy with #58’s paint, I took another stab at Sharpie only in 365:59. I also stood at the bathroom counter to draw this one so I actually have a torso! The drawing was too small to support that big fat pen though and it looks pretty goofy. Oh well, live and learn.

I got a little fat fingered texting on this day and gave my emoticon a double chin. I’ve been noticing the beginnings of a similar familial trait while doing my portraits, so I saw a bit of myself (or my future) in the emoticon as well. 365:60 kinda cracks me up.

365:61 is the day before I get my hair cut. It’s kinda droopy. I think I used the Photoshop Poster Edges filter on this one to emphasize the lines in my hair (or lack thereof).

Naturally, the following portrait, 365:62 is after my haircut. Yay, bouncy curls!

There’s no 365:63. I wasn’t in the mood.

I was still feeling a bit lazy with yesterday’s 365:64. I used the Crosshatch filter at my daughter’s request (she loves watching the various filters do their magic — especially when I adjust their tolerances). I added a border too. The more I play around in Photoshop the more I realize I really need some instruction in the program. There is so much I don’t know how to do.

15 Feb

Down To Sleep Exhibit

Did I mention that one of my artworks, The Other Woman, was chosen to be part of the textile exhibit Down to Sleep in Lawrence, MA next month?
I won’t be able to make it to the opening due to the kids’ activity schedules, but I hope to see the show in person before it closes in April. Do go see it if you have the chance — the sneak peeks I’ve been getting from curator Joetta Maue have been quite tantalizing. You can even give Joetta a Facebook heads-up that you’ll be coming on the Down to Sleep event page.

The show is at Essex Art Center in Lawrence, MA and will run from March 1st (the opening!) until April 12, 2013. Gallery hours are M-F 10 to 6.

11 Feb

Apron Progress

Welcome Home
I wasn’t sure if this one was done, but I think it nearly is. Yay! Visible progress!

Work in Progress
This one’s got a concept in my head, but has been a tough one to get out visually. I wasn’t sure if I liked where it was going or not, but got a little encouragement this weekend from my most excellent sounding board, Deborah. I’m going to keep moving forward.

Work in Progress
Though not an apron an apron, I’m slowly making progress on this. It is of the lowest priority, so I only work on it here and there. It’s far too big to take with me anywhere, so that slows it down too. I can see a light at the end of the tunnel though.

My next task is to actually write a proposal to the McGuffey (and maybe another venue) to show The Army Wife in the main gallery. I can (and should) do that.

10 Feb

Self Portrait Sunday

Oh, look at that — I didn’t post anything this week between Self Portrait posts. I will remedy that soon. I worked A LOT this last week on three aprons and a quilt. Nothing is quite done yet, but it’s all coming along nicely.

365:51. A pretty straightforward drawing last Sunday/Monday to start the week. I’m happy with it. This is like my “base camp.” I can always come back to it and regroup.

I was working with a pretty lace curtain and incorporating it into several pieces I’ve been making, so I drew my hand with it. I was deep into the making, so I didn’t get to a portrait on Sunday, but was willing to do two on Monday. 365:52

365:53 is a sharp turn off the track. Randomly opening a page in Wreck This Journal, I was instructed to scratch the page. OK, why not scratch a portrait? It’s ugly, but I didn’t really expect anything different.

Inspired by some fun doodles I saw on the interwebs, I traced a portrait I liked, transfered it to a new piece of paper and “colored in” 365:54 with doodles. Fun.

365:55 is ballpoint pen and watercolor. I’ve seen nice sketches done this way, and mine is not one of them. I’d do this combo again though.

Friday night I felt like using my colored pencils. I got in to the drawing and worked away at it. Then I stepped back and realized that I had lost my proportions somewhere along the way and now I look like a monkey! Oh well.

We had house guests Saturday, and were having too much fun to stop and do a portrait, so there’s no 365:57.

03 Feb

Self Portrait Sunday

Thank you all for your support of my rant, and for humoring me while I got those thoughts off my chest. Now back to our regular program.

I keep seeing people doing interesting things with painting apps on their digital tablets. So, I downloaded the Artrage app for my phone. It wasn’t quite as intuitive as I had hoped and ultimately I just made a silly mess for portrait 365:044. But one day I’ll get back to it and try again.

As I continue this project, I am refining my “rules” for it. I’ve decided that I don’t want to spend much more than 15 to 20 minutes on each portrait — otherwise I’d spend all my art making time on portraits and none on my textiles or anything else. Also, after talking with my friend Deborah, I’ve given more thought to what happens if I miss a day. Considering whether it was more important to have 365 portraits, or to record each day, I’ve come to a sort of middle ground. It’s fine if I miss a day or two. If I am in a similar mood, or a thought has carried over from one portrait session to the next, then I think it is fine to do several “make up” portraits. But, if the moment has passed and I’ve moved on then that’s OK too. So, there will probably be some gaps in the continuum, and there will be some days where I create more than one portrait. What there won’t be is a significant period of time that would not accurately reflect my daily state of mind.

After using my hair as a kind of stencil, I wanted to try printing with it (the hair, not a stencil). I missed a daily portrait, but the idea of making mono-prints with my hair persisted. So, I held that idea for another day and then when I had time, I got out my printing inks, a glass plate, and a bowl of paint and went to town. The prints did not turn out as I had hoped, but sometimes it’s like that. I chose the four best ones for my project but there are more that I trashed and a few more set aside. I may revisit this with a gelatin plate some day. Portrait 365:45 was made by dipping my hair in the paint and printing it on paper. The pen drawn frame is what ultimately pulled it together.

365:46 used my hair as a mask on the inked glass. There is not nearly the detail I had hoped for and I find the texture of the ink on the glass to be distracting for the hairs. I added white pencil later to create some focus.

I got all messed up in my numbering. This one is really 365:47 despite the 43 written on it. It is another dipped hair print with a border drawn later.

More messed up numbering. 365:48 is a print masked with hair and then dipped hair printed on top of it. Not quite what I had envisioned, but the process was kind of fun. Not to worry, all the paints were water based and washed out of my hair even easier than I had anticipated.

After all the silly stuff, I was feeling like I was cheating portrait-wise. I know it’s my challenge and therefore my rules, so if I felt like it was time for a more traditional drawing then it was time. I had a nice drawing session in the morning at figure drawing group, so I carried that home with me and did a “comfort zone” charcoal pencil portrait for 365:049

Then I realized I was a portrait ahead of myself, so I gave myself a day off. Yesterday, I was fully intending to do a portrait, but got caught up in a knitting do-over that consumed me. So, I took a photo of me shaking my yarn in frustration and played with layers and the Glowing Edges filter in Photoshop. What I’d really like to do is learn about masks in photoshop. They have eluded me for years.