Friday, September 24, 2010

More Vertical Lines

Yesterday I received a package in the mail.  It was a piece of artcloth I created in 2007 for the Surface Design Association exhibition.  It's been on the road in a traveling exhibit since then.  I didn't take a photo of the piece before I sent it off, so I had forgotten what it looked like.  It was interesting to have this piece of my past suddenly enter my life. 

In some ways it seems so different from what I am doing now, yet I see some similarities, too. It is from my "screenprinting period".  For about 2-3 years I did no immersion, I only screenprinted with dye. I really enjoy that technique and created some of my favorite pieces during that period.

What I hadn't really noticed before were the vertical lines in the piece. The vertical lines are not as strong of a design element as in some of my current work, but I do see a vertical component.  That made me think that my current focus on vertical lines isn't really new - it's just more of a conscious effort.  And that thought leads to the whole idea of artistic style. I've given a lot of thought to that issue over the past two years.  What is it that defines an artist's work?  What is it that connects two works of art so we know they are created by the same artist?  How do we create a balance between creating fresh, exciting work, yet still maintaining a distinctive style?  I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.

Monday, September 20, 2010


This year I took two vacations, within two weeks of each other. And I'm here to tell you that vacations are an important part of keeping creative.

I can easily become obsessed with the projects I am working on.  I'll wake up at 3 in the morning, my mind racing with ideas.  Usually when that happens, I just get up and start working - I know I won't get any more sleep!  In my old career in the corporate world, I considered myself somewhat of a workaholic, but that's just who I was.  I figured it would be different once I gave up that lifestyle.  Imagine my surprise when I realized earlier this year that I am just as driven about my art. Hmmm, some things don't change.

I don't believe that type of drive is a bad thing in itself.  It represents a passion for what you do.  I think it becomes detrimental when it takes over your life. When you can't stop the chatter in your brain long enough to enjoy the fall breeze, or the migrating hummingbirds, it's time for a break. 

My vacations were both short - four days each - but I left my work behind.  No email, no deadlines, just enjoying myself with my family.  And I came back with lots of ideas to keep me awake at night!  A lot more ideas than I'll ever have time to act on. 

When was your last vacation?  Is it time for another?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Sacred Art of Altars

Time once again for the Seventh Annual One People, Many Paths: Sacred Art of Altars Exhibit sponsored by the Celebration Circle. The exhibit and silent auction features 55 altars by San Antonio artists. We each started with the same hand-built wooden altar and created our version of the sacred.

The show is on display throughout September inside the lobby of the Bijou Theatre at Crossroads Mall.  The exhibit will end on September 30, with the reception and final bidding from 6 pm to 9:30 pm. You can view the altars and place a bid anytime during normal business hours, 11:00am - 10:00pm.

The altars this year are absolutely fabulous!  If you can't make it to the show, or if you want a sneak preview, look at photos of the altars on flickr.  I used some batiked paper for my altar this year.  I've been experimenting with using soy wax mixed with fiber reactive dyes on paper.  Very interesting results!

For more information about Celebration Circle or the event, visit their website.

Featured Artists Include:

Jane Appleby, M.D., Zet Baer, Michelle Belto, Ana Maria Berry, Laurel Bodinus, Momo Brown, Pam Bryant, David Caris, Massie Center, Hebron Chism, Suchil Coffman, Dinah Coakley, Sue Cooke, Jamie Damon, Susan Damon, David Elizondo, Sheila Fitzpatrick, Dana Fossett, Joan Frederick, Dimitri Garcia, Laurel Gibson, Sam Gonzalez, Kat Gustafson, Rudi Harst, Dale Jenssen, Zach Jewell, Deborah Keller-Rihn, Lisa Kerpoe, Mark Kohnitz, Charmaine LaBold & Keith Creel, Tim Lapping, Sharon Legg, Naomi Leissner, Jaime Martinez, Nancy McGalliard, Jai Medina, Beverly Meyer, Kathleen Messina, Susie Monday, Cindy Palmer, Ray Palmer, Cynthia Phelps, Rachel Rainwater, Thom Ricks, Mark Rue, Regina Sanders, Randy Schwartz, Sharon Shelton-Colangelo, Tirso Sigg, Jodi Stauffer, Daniel Stoneham, Rebecca Coffey, Julie Troilo

I hope to see you at the reception on September 30th!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Fat Quarter Studies, Part 2

I've been working on the rest of the fat quarter studies as part of my artcloth mastery class assignment.  These are a series of 8 pieces in which I am using a similar composition, trying different techniques to decide what I want to do for a series of larger pieces. All of the pieces incorporate the use of resists and handpainting.  All of these need a bit more work - some just a little touch of metal leaf, some a lot more!   But, it's time to put them aside for now and start on the larger pieces.

Below are photos of the remaining five pieces in the series.  I posted photos of the
first three a few weeks ago.   

This is my favorite of this batch.  I used a potato dextrin resist on silk/soy fabric, along with handpainting and discharge. I'm planning to add a little metal leaf as well.

This piece started with a sugar resist on silk/soy, painted while wet, followed by a flour resist. To create additional depth in the background,  I added a few layers of handpainting with thickened dye.

This is silk broadcloth, with potato dextrin brushed through a plastic grid, then handpainted.

This is another silk/soy with a sugar resist.

This started with soy wax resist, then several layers of handpainting. This still needs a bit more. I have some ideas, just not enough time!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Vibrant Color is Finally Here!

We had a few production delays, but the new DVD I'm doing with Jane Dunnewold has finally arrived. In it, Jane and I demonstrate three processes for adding MX fiber reactive dyes to soy wax.  It all started a couple of years ago when Jane began to experiment with creating soy wax dye crayons.  I helped her out with the testing, and then we started talking about adding dye to hot wax.  And things just took off from there.

For more info about the DVD or to order, visit the store at

The dye crayons are great for drawing or writing directly on the cloth.  They also work well for rubbings to create unique pattern and texture. 

The hot wax application is one of my favorites.  You get the benefit of the color in the dye and the resist properties of the wax.  After applying the hot wax/dye mixture, it will act as a resist when the cloth is overdyed or handpainted. 

The wax paste is a creamy texture that works perfectly for stenciling or brushing directly on the fabric. The nice thing about the paste is that you can achieve the exact amount of coverage you want.  You can apply it so that it is a solid, opaque image, or you can let some of the underlying fabric show through.  It is also easy to blend multiple colors.

If you've seen the DVD or have experimented with some of the techniques, I'd love to hear about your experiences.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

New Work

I just finished two pieces for the latest ArtCloth Network exhibition. Els van Baarle is the juror and we'll know in mid-October which pieces are accepted.

My pieces are inspired by my continuing fascination with humans’ tendency to focus on anything but the present moment. We often spend most of our time either anticipating a date in the future or reliving a day in the past. It may manifest as remembering happy times or feeling regrets over what we did or did not do.  Or we may spend time worrying about something that may (or may not!) happen.  Many of us find it difficult to focus on the current moment – to give our attention to the people and circumstances that currently surround us.  These pieces represent my own journey, my quest to move from marking time until a future event to living in the present and fully enjoying this moment.

My vision was to use two pieces of cloth that complement each other and represent the dichotomy of these two ways of being. I used silk noil and incorporated soy wax resist with multiple layers of dyeing, discharge and overdyeing.  I also added some handstitching and metal leaf.

Marking Time

This Moment

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Old Habits Die Hard

If you follow my blog, you'll know that I am trying to reduce my dependence on silkscreens and thermofaxes.  So I didn't plan for any screenprinting on two pieces I am creating for the ArtCloth Network exhibition.  But one of the pieces needed a little something, so my solution was a thermofaxed image.  I had just the image in mind.  I drew it and rushed off to the studio to make the thermofax. 

The machine seemed to be working fine, but the image didn't burn into the screen.  A moment of panic, then I realized I must have had the wrong side against the paper.  Try again.  Still not working!  Hmmm.  It worked fine a few weeks ago. Maybe there isn't enough carbon in the photo copy. Oh no, now what?  I could make a stencil.  I know, I'll draw it with india ink.  That works instead of a copier to burn a thermofax.

So I brushed my design on paper with india ink. Ran it through again.  Still not working.  Panic set in again.  I have to get this finished by tomorrow!  .......Then the irony of it all hit me.  I said I wanted to limit my use of thermofaxes and what is the first thing I turned to under stress?  But the Universe was teaching me a lesson.  "You really want to focus more on painting directly on cloth?  OK, I'll just take care of the temptation from that nasty thermofax machine."

So I steeled my nerves, took out that big beautiful $20 paintbrush I've been saving for something "special", and started painting.  The design was very simple, so why did I even think I needed a thermofax? That old fear that I will screw it up came creeping back in. With a thermofax, one can practice, test it and figure out exactly what it will take to get a perfect image.  But with handpainting, there's a good chance it won't be "perfect".  As I struggle with my perfectionist handcuffs, I am coming to accept and appreciate the "imperfection" of a hand painted image.
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