Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Daily Practice

I'm taking on a new daily practice related to my art. It is an assignment for the ArtCloth Mastery Program I'm taking. Between now and our next meeting in April, we are all supposed to start some type of short daily practice designed to further our skills and knowledge. I'm not sure if it will truly be a daily practice, but I hope to keep it up at least 4-5 days a week.

I have chosen to focus on design and composition because of several informative discussions we had in class on that topic. I generally don't spend a lot of time thinking about design and composition in my work - it happens intuitively. So I thought it might be interesting to see what happens if I intentionally focus on it.

Right now, my daily practice is to look at photos of art and analyze the composition. I begin by paying attention to where my eye is first drawn and then observing how my eye moves around the painting. Then I analyze what it is about the design that draws my attention - color, shape, movement, size, etc. I'm really enjoying this and I actually look forward to it each day. I have found that it also changes the way I look at art. We went to the art museum this week, and I realized that I was doing the same analysis on the paintings there.

After analyzing paintings for a few weeks, I plan to create small drawings each day, using different design elements. I also intend to consciously plan the design and composition of my work over the next few months, rather than just letting it happen. What effect will this have on my work? I don't know, but I'm looking forward to finding out.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Circle Squared

A colleague of mine, Michelle Belto, has a new exhibition of encaustic work, The Circle Squared, in San Antonio. Michelle creates her own hand made paper and uses these as the "canvas" on which to paint with melted wax. I went to her opening reception last night, along with some other fiber artists, and was awestruck at the beauty of her work.

The process of encaustic involves applying multiple layers of wax to the surface of a "ground". In this case, Michelle's hand made paper is the ground. The wax has a translucent effect, so you can see through each layer to the layer below. In some cases, fibers or other objects are encased between layers of wax. The medium also allows for a glossy smooth surface or one with lots of texture and roughness.

Below are photos of some of the pieces in the exhibit. If you are in San Antonio, I highly recommend going to the exhbit. It runs through December 31 at the Citrus Room in the Hotel Valencia.

Michelle Belto, Joy Lavrencik, Barbara Schneider

Alchemy's Window

Four Faces of Earth

Red Mandala

Searching for Balance

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Play Day in the Studio

I've spent some time in the past few weeks creating fabric samples for my classes. I usually bring in finished pieces, which works well, because participants can see the techniques used in a finished art piece. However, finished pieces are more cumbersome to transport, and when they are on exhibit, I can't bring them in as examples. So, I decided it was time to create samples specifically for class. Some of them turned out so well, I hate to leave them as samples. I may end up using some of them in my small works!

This piece has two layers of flour paste resist, painted with thickened dye and overdyed.

Oatmeal - one of my favorites! I applied it with a spoon, and left some spots open.

This piece has multiple layers of textile medium screenprinted on the cloth, then dyed. The textile medium does not completely resist the dye in an immersion. In some cases, it seems to wick in the dye and make it darker rather than lighter.

This piece was screenprinted using a print paste resist on a silkscreen. I applied print paste on the back of a silkscreen, then placed a variety of texture objects on the paste. I removed the objects once the paste was dry. Then I screenprinted with thickened dye.

This piece has a layer of flour paste resist, which was painted over with thickened dye. The next layer was soy wax. Then it was overdyed. Then another layer of flour paste was applied and discharge paste was painted on after the paste had dried. The final layer was a thermofax image screened with thickened dye.

This piece started with a flour paste resist and was painted with thickened dye. Then soy wax was applied and the piece was handpainted with dye.

The first layer on this piece was a screenprint with potato dextrin on the screen as a resist. Then soy wax was applied and it was overdyed. The final layer was a thermofax image discharge.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Power of Visualization

"If you can see it in your mind, you can have it in your life." I came across that phrase a number of years ago, in my former incarnation as a corporate training manager. I was very stressed at the time, working 60 hour weeks and doing a lot of business travel. I printed out that sentence with a picture of a tropical beach and taped it to the inside of my briefcase. I knew my life was not going as I wanted, so I needed a new vision for my life. "Success" isn't all it's cracked up to be. At least not the traditional definition of success - moving up the corporate ladder, making lots of money. There are definitely trade-offs to that lifestyle.

So, I envisioned a new life, and now, 15 years later, I am living it. But it took more than just a vision. It took a lot of planning and work on my part, along with a willingness to take advantage of unexpected opportunities that came my way. It also took a leap of faith to quit my job 10 years ago, not exactly certain how I would make my living. I believe that my ability to envision what I wanted was instrumental in my achieving it. That vision helped me remain open to change and gave me the confidence to take the actions that would lead me here.

I have used visualization throughout my life, even before I was consciously aware of it. I remember situations when I used visualization, even as a child. My first memory of doing so was in grade school. I was in the nurse's office at school because I didn't feel well. I remember being by myself in a small room, lying on a plastic covered couch. It must have been April or May, because the air conditioning was going full blast. I was freezing! I pictured a blanket at my feet, and then pictured it moving up to cover me. I know it sounds strange, but I really did feel warmer after that. I had never heard of visualization at that time, and it wasn't something I did consciously, it just came intuitively.

My most recent experience with visualization was just last week. I was thinking about the possibility of winning an award for my work. I thought it would be nice to have another award on my resume. So I pictured myself winning an award in two of the exhibitions in which I currently have work. Last week I learned I had won an award at the Celebrating Our Creative Spirit exhibit in Houston, and at the Fiber Artists of San Antonio Annual Exhibition. I was very surprised and excited at the recognition.

So, did I win those awards through my visualization? There are many people and many books that would say "Yes, you absolutely brought that to yourself through your visualization." I'm not quite ready to go there, however I do think that visualizing opens up possibilities. If you can picture something in your mind, you are better able to accept it as a possible reality. That can lead to more self-confidence and it can keep one focused on taking action to achieve that vision. So winning the awards may not have been a result of last week's visualization. Perhaps it was a result of my having a vision of myself as a successful artist and the many hours of hard work in the studio improving my skills and perfecting my technique.

P.S. If you'd like to see photos of the pieces that won awards, follow the link on my homepage,

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Fiber Art Exhbition

The Fiber Artists of San Antonio have their annual exhibition going on this month. It is at Gallery Nord through October 29th. The exhibit features a variety of fiber art from 25 artists and includes artcloth, art quilts, art dolls, wearable art, handmade paper and hand stitching. Below are some photos of the exhibit and reception.

Eight awards were given out this year. Normally there are 5, however the juror wanted to recognize several additional pieces. Below are photos of the award winning pieces from this year's show.

Most Innovative Use of Materials

Ole by Pat Schulz and Laura Jeanne Pitts

This colorful and whimsical piece was created with Oil of Olay face cloths.

Best Interpretation of a Concept

Pangolin Scales by Caryl Gaubatz

This piece, created from rusted and dyed fabric, beautifully represents the scales of a South American animal called the Pangolin.

Warrior Artist Award

Attracting Opposites, by Laurel Gibson

This piece was made with used coffee filters and features extensive hand stitching and beading.

Surface Design Association Award of Excellence

Peacock Palace by Caryl Gaubatz

This beautiful silk jacket features a variety of surface design techniques, including degummed organza, shibori and screenprinting.

Honorable Mention

Compassionate Mother by Linda Rael

This figurative representation of two birds features hand sculpted and painted faces and detailed hand stitching and beading.

Third Place

Balancing Fate by Laura Ann Beehler

The juror chose this piece for it's simplicity and use of color. The piece features hand stitching and metal leaf.

Second Place

The Raven by Georgia Zwartjes

This piece features "feathers" made of silk that has been frayed and trimmed and is accented by an antique beaded strand.

First Place

I Am . . . Love by Lisa Kerpoe

This piece was chosen for the design and use of color. It is accented with hand stitched beads and metal leaf.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

10,000 Flowers In Progress

In an earlier blog post, I committed to recording my progress on my latest series, 10,000 Flowers. I haven't posted about it in awhile, because I haven't made much progress. I don't really have any good reasons for not working on the series, just plain old procrastination.

I finally started working again today. Two of the pieces had several layers of printing, the other two were only dyed. They have to be finished by October 18, for the next session of the ArtCloth Mastery program. Or at least, as close to finished as possible.

One of the things I focused on today is adding more value contrast. So, here is how they look after a day of intense work.

10,000 Flowers

This piece represents spring. The vision in my head is our wildflower garden when it explodes after the spring rains. When I started this morning, this piece was only dyed. I added 8 layers of printing. It is essentially the same imagery, just different sizes and different colors. It is pretty close to being finished, but I'm not yet sure what my next step will be.

The Moon

This piece represents autumn. Several weeks ago I screened the moon imagery in several versions of yellow-orange, but only one of them shows up well in the photo. Today I added the crackle image for additional texture. I used several different values with the crackle to achieve greater depth. I need to add another image in a lighter value, so I'm thinking of using the moon image in a larger size.


This piece represents winter. Several weeks ago I screened the small snowflakes in several shades of blue. Today I added the dark blue background texture and the larger, lighter colored snowflakes. This piece is pretty close to finished. I'll let it sit a few days and then look at it to decide what, if anything, it needs.
I'm feeling like I accomplished a lot today. Proof that when I stop procrastinating and do something I can achieve a lot!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

ArtCloth Network Exhibition

Last year I became a member of the ArtCloth Network, a group of about 25 artists who focus on creating artcloth. The group is dedicated to educating the public about art cloth through our website, and with gallery exhibits of our work. The group's latest exhibition opened in Houston last week. It features 17 pieces of artcloth by 12 artists. The exhibition theme is Unexpected Patterns: Quake! Each artist has interpreted this theme, some focusing on the impact of sudden change in our lives and some focusing on transformation that occurs more gradually. The photo above is the detail from my piece, Entering Consciousness.

Other artists whose work is featured in the exhibit include: Sue Copeland Jones, Rayna Gillman, Judy Langille, Mary-Ellen Latino, Joy Nebo Lavrencik , Russ Little, Barbara Schneider, Wrenn Slocum, Bev Snow, Katherine Sylvan and Maggie Weiss.

The exhibit is on display at the Archway Gallery in Houston through October 24th. If you don't have an opportunity to get to Houston, you can view the pieces on the ArtCloth Network website.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


I guess I can't procrastinate any longer. After a two week hiatus from blogging, I need to jump back in.

Procrastination is one of those nasty habits I'm trying to break - but it's very difficult. I've always been a procrastinator and was never too concerned about it. I figured, "that's just the way I am." However, I have come to realize it has many downsides. The primary downside for me is the impact it has on my stress level. When I put things off, I have the weight of that unfinished task pressing down on my shoulders. With each task I put off, more weight is added. After awhile, I get so stressed, I can't think!

Another downside is lack of productivity. Now, I left the corporate world, so just using that word, "productivity" brings back some feelings of anxiety. However, I have lately been thinking more about my future and what I want to do with my life and my art. I realize that I could accomplish my goals much more easily and quickly if I would just stop procrastinating!

I have also become aware of the things I am doing to procrastinate. Lately it manifests as house cleaning, which is pretty ironic, since that was one of the things I used to avoid.

My mantra this week is "do it today." I have procrastinated terribly on a series of pieces that need to be finished in two weeks. I found all kinds of good reasons not to work on them. I got myself involved in too many things that had earlier deadlines, so it was easy to put this off. So, here I am faced with two pieces of dyed fabric and two pieces half-finished, with little inspiration. I know that once I get into it the ideas will come, but it's just so easy to say "I'll do it tomorrow." And, I hate to admit, it will have to wait until tomorrow (actually 'til Tuesday) because of some other commitments I made for today and tomorrow. Ah well, I can always stop procrastinating tomorrow!
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