Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What Do You See?

I've been intrigued lately with the research indicating that we tend to discount facts and data that contradict our beliefs.  We like to think we are open-minded, but we tend to dig in our heels and stick to our position.  We tend to see what we want to see and hear what we want to hear.  It seems like every few months there is a story on the radio about new research or a new book on the topic. 

I faced it first-hand recently.  A friend of mine uses a different technique for dyeing fabric than I do, and she feels she gets more vibrant colors.  She decided to do a side-by-side comparison of the two methods.  I didn't really feel that I was tied to my way of doing things. I was interested to see the results, to see if it was worth trying her technique.  She showed me the the samples, and just as I was thinking, "Hmm, not really that much difference between the two.  I guess it doesn't really matter."  she said something like,  "So you can really see the difference - how much brighter the colors are with my method."  My first thought was that she  was so attached to her method, she saw what she wanted to see in the samples.  She believed her method produced more vibrant colors, so that's what she saw.  And there probably is some truth in that, but I was doing the same thing.  When I first looked at the samples, I did see a difference, however it didn't seem significant to me.  Not significant enough to change the way I was dyeing.  So then my brain ignored the difference that was there.

It just amazes me that we were both looking at the same "facts", but we each saw something different. I like to think I'm open-minded, but I see how easy it is to get caught up in that way of thinking.  So the question is how to remain open to new information.  I suppose awareness of these tendencies is a good place to start. 

Thursday, July 22, 2010


I had one of those flashes of brilliance a few weeks ago.  You know - you're lying awake at 3 in the morning and all of a sudden you get a great idea.  Lately I have been uninspired as far as creating goes.  I've been putting so much energy into creating and teaching workshops that I haven't made studio time for myself.  And the less time I spend in the studio, the fewer great ideas I seem to have. 

So, after a dry spell, I was excited by my 3 am musings.  I was out of town at the time and couldn't wait to get home to try out my ideas.  But when I got home, there never seemed to be time.  Every day something else seemed more important, or at least more urgent.  It finally hit me that my procrastination wasn't due to lack of time, it was fear.  I know it sounds strange, but I was afraid to try out my idea.  I think it's because it sounded so great and had such interesting possibilities, I was afraid I would try it and it wouldn't live up to my vision.

When I realized what I was doing, I made myself go to the studio and play with my idea.  I had a blast!  I'm not completely pleased with the results, but I think a little tweaking will do the trick.  So, lesson learned.  Sometimes you just have to jump in.  You'll never know if an idea will work unless you do.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Oatmeal on Cloth

Last week I created some samples of cloth using oatmeal resist for a demo I'll be doing later this year.  I've done a lot of work with oatmeal, but I wanted to have a complete set of samples showing how altering the variables affects the cloth.  After creating these samples, I have a renewed enthusiasm for oatmeal. 

I started working with oatmeal as a resist about 5 years ago.  It's a little more involved than flour paste, but it creates a very distinctive pattern.  It is also very versatile.  You can achieve vastly different patterns depending on the ratio of water to oatmeal, whether you let the oatmeal dry or not before handpainting and whether you handpaint or immerse.  Below are photos of a few of my samples.

Oatmeal on silk

Hand painted while the oatmeal was still damp

Oatmeal applied with a spoon.  Looks kind of like popcorn, doesn't it?

Immersed instead of hand painted.  If you look closely you can see the paw prints where my cat
jumped up and did "the slide".

Friday, July 9, 2010

Color Studies

I've been so focused on my summer workshops, I haven't spent much time in the studio working on my assignments for the ArtCloth Mastery Program. The little I have done has been centered on color studies.

I used soy wax and gel glue as a resist, then handpainted on thickened dyes. I'm still intrigued by the low intensity colors you get from mixing a color with its complement, so that was my focus. I worked with the 12 primary, secondary and tertiary colors to create intensity studies with each. Below are a few of my samples.

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Softer Side of Art

A fiber exhibition featuring artists from South Texas and the Hill Country opened Thursday at the Kerrville Arts and Cultural Center. The exhibition features work in a variety of media, including art quilts, figurative sculpture, basketry, weaving, artcloth and stitching. Below are a few photos from the exhibit. Please join us for the reception on Saturday, July 17th from 1-3 pm.

Weaving by Letitia Rogers

Figurative sculpture by Linda Rael

Three dimensional mixed media sculpture by Lana Book

Woven basket by Mary Lee Tennant

Artcloth by Lisa Kerpoe

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