Monday, January 31, 2011

Trying Something New

Ever since I started playing around with acrylic mediums to create texture on the edges of my collage-on-canvas, I have felt a pull to paint with them.  Now, I have never done any acrylic painting - just a little watercolor years ago.  It's the allure of texture - using gel mediums and modeling paste to create a 3D surface.  Up to now, it's just been that idea in the back of my head.  Then, at Quilt Festival, I bought the book, The Creative Edge, by Mary Todd Beam.  I also picked up Painting Abstracts by Rolina van Vliet. Both books have a number of exercises using acrylic paints. So, last week I gathered my supplies and got to work.


My first step was to cover several boards with gel medium and make marks on the wet gel to create texture.  I realized this was going to be expensive, because I was using a lot!  So I pulled out the wall patch compound and used that on some of the boards. I have one that has an acrylic base, which is important.  Without that, it will crack off the surface when it is dry. At least that has been my experience using it on the edges of canvas.

Beam recommends illustration board, but I used mat board since I have a lot on hand. After the medium/wall patch dried, I applied gesso so I would have a nice surface for painting.  Below are a few of my textured boards, ready to paint.

Scratches with a bamboo skewer

The medium was squeegeed through a piece of heavy lace.  Can't really see the lace pattern, but it has an interesting texture.

Here I used a spring whisk, part of a plastic ceiling grid and a skewer.

This is pretty much like using the sgraffito technique on flour paste, so I felt right at home creating these backgrounds.  Then I laid the first wash on one of them. That takes me back to my watercolor days. I love the soft effect even more with the textured background.  And when I paint over it, those colors won't bleed into the 2nd layer.

It's a slow going process, since I only have a short amount of time to devote to this right now.  But I like working in stages like this. And I know they don't look like much, but I am having so much fun doing this. The neat thing is that I don't really care what the end result is - I'm just enjoying the process!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Quilting Arts TV

I received some exciting news last week - I have been invited to participate in the taping of Quilting Arts TV next month. I now get to join the ranks of some of my favorite artists. The show airs on PBS in some markets.

I have been writing a series of articles for Quilting Arts magazine on resists from the kitchen, so they asked me to do a segment on that.  I'll cover oatmeal, instant mashed potatoes and rice cereal.  I'll also tape a segment on brayer printing. Below is a sneak preview of the results from some of the techniques.  No news yet on when they will air, but I'll pass it on when I know.

Circles and Squares, mashed potato resist, hand stitching 

Kundalini , brayer printing, hand stitching

Sunday, January 23, 2011

ArtCloth Network

108 Beads by Barbara Schneider

The ArtCloth Network, a group of artists dedicated to promoting the medium of cloth as an art form, is currently having a call for membership. I've been a member since 2008 and I joined to be part of a community of other artists working in this medium. Members of the network meet annually to share what they are working on and to discuss professional concerns and opportunities. Part of the group's mission is to educate people about artcloth and one of the ways in which we do that is to produce an artcloth exhibition for members each year.

I have enjoyed the opportunity to talk with others about techniques and processes, about art-related concerns and frustrations and about approaches to creating. The annual exhibition has provided deadlines that push me to create when I might not otherwise and it has also pushed me to create work outside my comfort zone.

If you are committed to creating artcloth and are interested in joining the group, you can read more about it in the membership application and requirements.

Friday, January 21, 2011

In Class

I spent last week in an Independent Study class with Jane Dunnewold.  Jane holds it every January and it has become a new year's ritual for me.  Many of us have been returning for 3-5 years. Everyone works on their own thing.  I find it a great way to jump start the new year and it is fascinating to see what everyone else is working on. I came away with a lot of finished cloth and a lot of ideas for more! Here are some photos of the week.

Leslie Jenison shows some of her Spoonflower fabric. It was like a guessing game trying to figure out what the original photo was.

A graffiti-inspired cloth by Leslie Jenison  

Linda Dawson works on her unique process for transferring color to fabric from paper.

The finished pieces

This almost-finished cloth is by Jeannette Davis.  At the beginning of the week, all she had was the original dyed fabric.  Everything else was done in class.

Diane Lopez displays her natural dyeing techniques.  This cloth has iodine (and some other unidentified substances as well!) Diane sells her beautiful scarves at Kathleen Sommers in San Antonio.

Vivian Mahlab works on layers of screenprinting

Another piece by Vivian

This is one of my layered resist pieces - 3 layers of soy wax and immersion dyeing.

This is three layers of potato dextrin resist, handpainted

Another one of my pieces - multiple layers of Jacquard resist and acrylic medium resist

Friday, January 7, 2011

What Is It I'm Really Teaching?

Another one of my wide-awake-at-four-in-the-morning ruminations. It struck me that not only does every instructor bring a different perspective to their teaching, I believe that we are really teaching something much more than is reflected in the catalog description. For example, I bet if I asked another local artist and instructor what is the essence of what she teaches, she would answer "tapping into one's creativity."  Each class may focus on a particular project or technique, but she is really sharing her enthusiasm for the creative process. Another instructor I know spends hours experimenting with new techniques and doing research on materials and techniques.  So she is not only an innovator, she has also developed a high level of knowledge and expertise that she is eager to share with students.

I began to ponder the essence of my teaching. I had a flash of knowing, but it is hard to articulate.   I guess what I really want people to come away with is the confidence to stick with it, to work through difficulties and to be open to new possibilities. It's easy to get frustrated when trying a new technique, especially if it doesn't turn out the way you think it will. There is a learning curve to everything, and some people move through the curve more quickly than others. (I know - I'm one of the slow ones!) My hope is that participants won't be discouraged by a "failure".  Failures can lead to interesting new possibilities!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year!

Don't you just love the beginning of a new year?  So much hope, so many possibilities, a chance to wipe the slate clean and start over. I always feel fresh, energized, with renewed enthusisam for my goals.  And yet, why do I limit these feelings to the new year?  Everyday is an opportunity for a fresh start and I often forget that. One of my intentions this year (as it is every year!) is to take time each day to be in the moment, to release baggage from the past and anxiety about the future.  It is a difficult goal to achieve.  Sometimes I'll get through the whole day and realize I never stopped my mind long enough to just be. But I keep trying!

May you have many fresh starts this year, and many moments to enjoy the present!
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