Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Making Marks

This week I started experimenting with making marks. I chose a variety of brushes and other tools and played around to see what kind of marks they would produce. I was inspired by a friend of mine who took a strip of rubber and was able to come up with 15 different types of marks. This is all part of my desire to work directly on the cloth, rather than relying on screenprinting.

This concept of making marks isn't completely new to me. I have used it often with black paint on paper to come up with images that I could turn into a silkscreen, stencil or thermofax. This time, I am using thickened dye on fabric, to get a better understanding of what each tool can do.

I started with some basic brushes - a large round watercolor brush and a large square brush.

Then I moved on to a paint roller and some ice tongs.

A spring whisk and window chamois make interesting marks.

My favorites are a putty knife...

a rubber spatula...

and a wire whisk.

I'm running out of tools to try - time for a trip to the thrift shop!

Friday, April 23, 2010

From Hand to Cloth

I feel I have been in a surface design rut the past few years. I have a lot of surface design techniques in my repertoire, but I tend to rely heavily on just a few. I have focused a lot on screenprinting and I really enjoy it, but this year I have felt drawn to applying dyes and paints directly to the cloth.

Reading about the artist, Helen Frankenthaler, started this shift in thinking. She uses thinned paints and applies them to canvas using a variety of non-traditional tools. The idea of creating directly on cloth appeals to me now. I haven't done much of it, mostly because of that nasty perfectionism thing. A hand painted mark has a lot of variation. One time it might look great, another it might not. In the past, I have mostly chosen to take a more controlled approach by creating thermofaxes and silkscreens.

I started playing with this a bit in the ArtCloth Mastery class last week. The above photo is one of the small pieces I created in class. I really enjoyed the process and I'm pretty pleased with the result. Over the next six months, I am allowing myself to experiment with applying paints and dyes directly to the cloth. It's a little scary - having to rely on the inherent imperfection of the human hand. But I'm looking forward to working in a freer, more spontaneous way.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Artcloth Mastery Program, cont'd

After six days in class, I feel discombobulated. I had planned to publish more photos of the work class participants had completed. Unfortunately, my computer somehow lost the photos I downloaded from last week (it couldn't be operator error, could it?!). All I could find was the above photo of Jeanne Sisson's tribute to Gustav Klimt. So, instead, I'll share some of my insights from the week.

It was an intense week and I came to realize just how important participating in this program has been for me. I initially chose to participate after seeing the transformation in the work of people who had attended the first two sessions. That, along with the lure of working with a group of artists over a two year period was appealing. Now halfway through the program, I find I am getting so much more out of it than I expected.

The program takes a lot of commitment. It is more than just showing up for a week of classes every six months. We have interim assignments after each session. Those assignments include the creation of 2-4 pieces of artcloth, along with other projects, such as color studies, book reviews, presentations on a favorite artist, design studies and thoughtful planning.

Some of the assignments have been enjoyable, some tedious, some difficult to accomplish, but they all have contributed to greater proficiency in my art. So, what have I gained from this program?

  • I have a much better understanding of color and color relationships. I find it much easier to achieve the colors I want and I am more daring in working with unusual colors and combinations.

  • I have been inspired by my exposure to other artist's work and ideas.

  • I have learned a lot about myself - my strengths, challenges and fears.

  • I have enjoyed the synergy and support of working with a cohesive group of artists.

  • I feel comfortable taking some risks that I wouldn't have six months ago.

So now, time to work on this session's interim assignments, along with getting caught up on all the other aspects of daily life!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

ArtCloth Mastery Program - Week 3

This week is the third in a series of five workshops as part of the ArtCloth Mastery Program. The week long sessions are spread out over a 2 1/2 year period, with "homework" assignments in between. Below are some photos of the work that people have created since our last session in October.

Lynn Luukinen

Gay Kemmis

Joy Lavrencik

Priscilla Smith

Liz Napier

More to come...

Monday, April 12, 2010

10,000 Flowers - Finally Finished

I put the finishing touches on four pieces in my 10,000 Flowers series last week. I started them at the end of December, but took a two month hiatus this spring because of a heavy workshop schedule. This is the second version I have created - I wasn't satisfied with the first.

The pieces were created for the ArtCloth Mastery program that Jane Dunnewold teaches. They are based on one of my favorite poems.

I incorporated both flour paste and soy wax resists, along with multiple layers of dyeing and screenprinting and even some handpainting. The pieces are in a rayon/linen blend. The lovely look of linen with the soft drape of rayon. They are long and narrow - approximately 10 feet x 24". Below are some detail shots of the pieces.

10,000 Flowers

The Moon

A Cool Breeze


Two weeks ago I decided to add a fifth piece to the series to represent the last line of the poem "This is the best season of your life." It is still in progress, although I don't envision a whole lot more. I think just a little bit of copper leaf is all it needs.

The Best Season

Feels good to have them finished. Now it's time for the next project!

Friday, April 9, 2010

To most people, the above photo would look like a very dirty sink. That is the sink in my home dye "studio", aka the laundry room. This is the best it has looked in two years. Two days ago, the entire inside of the sink was a battleship gray color.

When we bought our house, the laundry room had stained concrete flooring. No, not the kind currently in vogue - I mean 50 year old concrete with a lot of stains. Then, because of a plumbing leak, we had holes in the drywall, no baseboards and stains on the walls. We finally got around to a laundry room remodel this month. When we were putting everything back in place, I just couldn't put that dirty sink back in there. So, I scrubbed and scrubbed and this was the best I could do. I know it will just get dirty again. But it is nice to have a fairly clean sink, even if only for a few months. Now I just have to figure out how to keep that nice new vinyl flooring free of dye!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Color Choices

Most of the time, I choose colors intuitively. Sometimes they are driven by the theme of the piece, sometimes by my current favorites. Rarely do I choose based on their relationships on the color wheel. That has started to change a little since I read Colorworks by Deb Menz. The book has examples of color schemes based on various color wheel relationships, triad, tetrad, analagous, etc. The photos show numerous color combinations, many of which I would not have thought would look good together. Yet they are stunning!

In the dye class I facilitated last week, I asked participants to limit their colors during the week, so I decided to do the same for all my class demos. I used a rectangular tetrad combination of blue-green, blue-violet, yellow-orange and red-orange. I was surprised and pleased with the results. Even in cases where the colors mixed and mingled, the resulting blends were appealing.

Here are a few of the samples I created during class....

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Cloth to Dye For

Last week I facilitated a dye workshop at ArtCloth Studios in San Antonio. It was a whole week devoted to all aspects of working with fiber reactive dyes. We immersed, we painted, we poured, we sprayed, we sprinkled. Participants chose 3-5 colors to work with over the course of the week, some chose by intuition, others by standard relationships on the color wheel. Many decided to use colors outside their normal palette.

In addition to low water immersion, we spent time working with applying dyes directly to the surface of the fabric by sprinkling on dry dye powder...

painting on thickened dyes...

and screenprinting with thickened dyes...

We also explored the use of several resists, including sugar...

and gel glue...

By the end of the week, we had transformed yards of white fabric into beautifully colored and patterned cloth.

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