Friday, October 31, 2014

Weekly Report 2014 - 10/31

Tips, Thoughts and Techniques:

The poison dart frog after it had been painted with pink.
What a difference a little white paint can make!
I resisted the temptation to give it a french manicure. :)
BOO!! Today is Halloween in the US. It is time for children to dress up as witches, ghosts, zombies and other characters of their imagination, head out when the sun goes down and go door to door asking "Trick or treat?" I still recall how terrifying it was at young age to head out into my neighborhood with my friends on Halloween. It was a very safe neighborhood, but walking through it in the dark amongst zombies and witches was just plain spooky. What is it about "safe" fear that we crave? Is this why I create art? 
In order to create Night Vision I have had to face and overcome my fear on numerous occasions. I know how to work with cotton fabric, but working with vinyl is another story. Then there is committing to a free motion quilting pattern. I test ideas off quilt, but eventually if I am to make progress I must paint that frog, secure it in one place and start the quilting. Will the result be a trick or a treat?
The poison dart frog takes center stage
on his tropical leaf dominion.
If you click on the image you can see
an enlarged image that should allow you to
see the quilting above and to the right
of the frog.

This week has been a mixture of both tricks and treats. Most things have gone as planned and resulted in delightful treats. I conquered my fear and started quilting Night Vision. Stepping up to my machine and pressing the pedal sure felt like a strong potential for a trick.

My take on Lori Kennedy's Squared Flowers 
1) Night Vision - (Due January 1, 2015)

a) Finish painting the poison dart frog - Done!
b) Appliqué the frog to the quilt top - Done! Actually I fused it using Heat 'n Bond.
c) Prepare the quilt sandwich - Done!
d) Start quilting - Done!

2) Free motion quilting practice. - Done!

It was very tempting to skip this and count the free motion quilting on Night Vision as my practice. I didn't. The reason is simple. I find free motion quilting practice so liberating and joyful. The quilting on Night Vision hasn't reached that level of comfort. Free motion quilting is my excuse to just let go and breath. 

There were several challenges involved in this lesson.
First, was to work small. My whimsical wizard is just shy of
5" h x 4" w. The second was to create a face that read
male vs. female.
I modified Lori Kennedy's design, Squared Flowers. My quilts rarely have square spaces for quilting, so when I practice free motion quilting I like to practice it in an irregular, curvilinear shape.

3) LifeBook 2014 - Do the assignments. - Started

This week's LifeBook lesson was by Steven Speight. Do check out his site. He has a bold, detailed style that he uses to create characters that would be perfect for an adult Halloween party. His lesson was just as involved and creative. I devoted a full day plus and only finished 1/3 of the class. I would have kept going and I will definitely return to it on Monday, my mixed media day, but I had to be true to my priorities with hard deadlines.

4) Surprise for my sister (Due November 24) - Started

Step one - seam the 40 strips into two duplicate 20 strip pieces.
The first half sister I met about 14 years ago, my birthfather's daughter, was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer. She begins chemotherapy on December 1. Shhh! She doesn't know it, but I plan to surprise her with a throw quilt in her favorite color, purple with a stripe of colon cancer blue. I have started piecing together the strata.

I can't wait for next week. I am eager to get to work on every project I have in the line-up that follows:

1) Night Vision - (Due January 1, 2015)

a) Continue quilting
b) Blind stitch the frog in place

2) Free motion quilting practice.

3) LifeBook 2014 - Do the assignments

4) Surprise for my sister (Due November 24)

a) Finish piecing the 40 strata strips.
b) Cut the strata
c) Start piecing the the cut strata.

I am now linking up to two blogs on Fridays. The first is Nina Marie's Off the Wall Fridays and the second is Free Motion Mavericks.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Weekly Report 2014 - 10/24

Blue print for poison dart frog appliqué
and masking pieces.
Tips, Thoughts and Techniques:

The hurdle I had to leap over this week was how to cut out and paint the poison dart frog that I will be appliquéing to the background of tropical leaves in Night Vision. Painting free hand terrifies me. I had tried to mark the black vinyl with a thin white chalk marking pencil and it left no discernible mark. So, I opted to mask (cover up) those sections I wanted to leave au naturel and apply the paint to the unmasked areas. I didn't take pictures of the process, but I will outline my method for you.

1) Using a pencil create a line drawing of the frog on tracing paper
2) Outline the interior splotches of color
3) Once satisfied with the drawing use a black permanent marker to go over the frog's outline and a different color permanent marker to go over the blotches. 
The poison dart frog is painted.
4) Using a copier enlarge the drawing in reverse to the scale that you want your drawing.
5) Trace the enlarged drawing onto freezer paper with the shiny side down.
6) Iron the freezer paper to the backside of the frog fabric. I used a pressing cloth since I was working with vinyl that was backed with felt.
7) Cut out the frog following the outline on the freezer paper
8) Remove the freezer paper. 
Current favorite position for the poison
dart frog perching on a leaf.

9) Cut apart the sections to be masked from the sections to be revealed. Hint. I did this one section at a time so I could remember how to reassemble them.
9) Using a Zig 2 Way Glue pen  apply glue to the paper side of the masking segments. Wait for the glue to dry clear. This allows the segment to be moved or removed just like a Post It note.
10) Stick the masking segments to the right side of the frog fabric with the paper and glue side down.
11. Paint the unmasked areas with So Soft Opaque Fabric Paint. I used five layers of paint to get the depth of color I wanted. I let the paint dry between applications. So Soft does NOT have to be heat set to be permanent. 

Pumpkin Patch is my own design.
It has been a very busy week from strategizing how to paint the poison dart frog to preparing for a solo exhibition in December and a group exhibition in January. I did stay true to my commitment of creating art three days a week. Here is how the art portion of the week went:

1) Night Vision - (Due January 1, 2015)

a) Prepare the quilt sandwich - the backing and batting are cut
b) Continue testing paints - Done!
d) Paint the poison dart frog - Started.

2) Free motion quilting practice. - Done!

I was inspired to try my hand at designing a free motion quilting motif using pumpkins. The trick is to get from one pumpkin to the next. I solved that with loops and leaves. 

3) LifeBook 2014 - Do the assignments. - Done!

Many of the LifeBook assignments focus on acknowledging the negative in life and then obscuring it with the positive of art. This lesson by Christy Tomlinson, who suffers from fibromyalgia, was no exception. I modified it a bit to suit my own aesthetic.  

I'm not completely satisfied with the poison dart frog yet. I want to add some white lines and dots just to help the frog pop a bit more off the leaves. Next week will have me focusing on pondering. Does the white work? Is the frog positioned correctly? It will be a different busy. Of course I will continue to work on keeping up with my free motion quilting skills and learning mixed media. 

1) Night Vision - (Due January 1, 2015)

a) Finish painting the poison dart frog
b) Appliqué the frog to the quilt top
c) Prepare the quilt sandwich
d) Start quilting

2) Free motion quilting practice.

3) LifeBook 2014 - Do the assignments

I am now linking up to two blogs on Fridays. The first is Nina Marie's Off the Wall Fridays and the second is Free Motion Mavericks.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Weekly Report 2014 - 10/17

Tips, Thoughts and Techniques: 

Any guesses about what I have been doing this week? That's right, experimenting. If only I could have been as delighted with all my experiments as the cheerful young lady gleefully combining her chemical potions. The truth is many experiments don't produce the result your are hoping for. All they really determine is what not to do. After my week that has successfully ruled out nearly every option I have tried, I just may have to settle for last week's strategy of getting close enough.
Night Vision after all the
seams have been sewn
Pink Acrylic
Gold Lumiere
The week was not with out its accomplishments as you can see by the progress made with my review of my plan of attack from last week:

1) Night Vision - (Due January 1, 2015)

a) Finish the piecing - Done!

White Acrylic and Blue Lumiere
That single word "done" barely scrapes the surface of how tedious and difficult the final two long undulating seams to piece the leaves together was. I pin basted them often as close as 1/16" of inch between pins and still there were  close to ten "tricky" sections that needed to be ripped out and sewn again. Yes, I settled for close enough. There are a few places with puckers that, fingers crossed, will disappear once the piece is quilted or the frog covers them up.

b) Prepare the quilt sandwich - Not yet

c) Test the new paints - Yes and no

Neon Yellow Fluorescent after four applications
I have tested acrylic paint, Jacquard's Lumiere and Jacquard's Neon Fluorescent paints. None cover the black vinyl the way I like. I would have loved the look of the neon fluorescent's but they would not adhere to the black vinyl as they were being brushed on and they are very, very translucent. Even if I could get them to stick they would require a minimum of five layers and would show the layers with uneven lumps and areas of varying degrees of opacity. I have one more set of paints to try next week. If these don't work, I am going to the use an opaque acrylic.

d) Paint the poison dart frog - Not yet

2) Free motion quilting practice. - Done!

Testing out the latest free motion quilting motif
with an eye to capturing leaf veins for Night Vision.
Testing out paints wasn't the only experimentation I tried this week. I had high hopes that I could quilt Night Vision with Superior's NiteLite thread. The thread on the spool looks granny smith apple green. I figured if the quilt was displayed in light it would blend nicely as the veins in my tropically leaves. Then if the quilt was displayed in the dark it would glow. How cool would that be? Unfortunately when quilted, the thread looks white in a lit room and that is how it would be displayed 99% of the time. Also, the thread stretches a bit. In my polymer thread expert's (my husband) parlance it has a weak tensile strength. It broke once while I was quilting the sample. My guess is that it is probably as fussy as metallic threads. On the right quilt this thread would be spectacular. 

Artwork based on Traci Bautista's
experimental prompts

While testing out NiteLite I figured I might as well see if I could come up with a free motion quilting design that made sense for the leaf segments. At least this experiment wasn't a total bust. It worked as I hoped, especially some of the repetitive traveling stitching so that key veins are slightly thicker and more pronounced than others. 

3) LifeBook 2014 - Do the assignments. - Done!

Artwork created from taking Tamara
Laporte's finger painting lesson. 
Two teachers provided lessons on what was considered a bonus lesson week. These are suppose to the be the less intense weeks. 

Traci Bautista gave us 12 exercises that could be done to jump start creativity when your muse is on vacation. I took bits and pieces from several of the exercises to create a mixed media piece.

With over nine months of dabbling in mixed media I have come to really look forward to Tamara LaPorte's lessons. She was inspired by the work of Cy Twombly.  The flowers are made predominately by finger painting. I love this piece so much I have been dreaming of ways to recreate it in fiber using the snippets technique.

Neon pink fluorescent paint. Really? It looks very red to me.
Looks like I will have plenty to keep me engaged for several life times. Oh the joy of being an artist. :) That is why I do my best to stick to the current game plan or I wouldn't get anything finished. Here is my plan for where to focus next:
1) Night Vision - (Due January 1, 2015)

a) Prepare the quilt sandwich
b) Continue testing paints
d) Paint the poison dart frog

2) Free motion quilting practice.

3) LifeBook 2014 - Do the assignments

I am now linking up to two blogs on Fridays. The first is Nina Marie's Off the Wall Fridays and the second is Free Motion Mavericks.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Weekly Report 2014 - 10/10

Sketch for Giant Leap before adding
numerous layers of paints and ink
Tips, Thoughts and Techniques:

Are you a perfectionist? I probably am. The irony is that I am a perfectionist in trying to let go of my perfectionism. Sometimes it is just good to laugh at ourselves.

My husband has a favorite joke he tells to explain the difference between a chemist (perfectionist) and chemical engineer (strives for perfection, but never reaches it.) I have rewritten the joke to be more fiber artist friendly.

Night Vision as it appeared halfway
through the week.
There were two fiber artists. Fiber Artist 1 would carefully stamp and stencil her cloth making sure every pattern and layer was perfection. Fiber Artist 2 was looser with her technique. She did her best to stencil and stamp, but also relished the serendipitous things that happened when paints bled into each other or new designs occurred due to missing sections of a stamp. FA1 and FA2 were told to stand at one end of a large work studio. At the other end was a huge stash of heavenly batiks, hand dyed fabric and the latest in embellishments and tools that would be theirs if they could reach it. Then they were told that they could move to half way across the studio. Every minute or so they were told that they could move half way from where they stood to where the stash was. The distance between the fiber artists and the stash was soon less than arm's distance away, when they were told that was as far as they could come. FA1 was sorely disappointed. FA2 exclaimed, "Close enough." She reached out and grabbed the stash.

Dizzy Daisies is a filler design by Lori Kennedy

It seems every week I need to relearn that art is not about control or perfectionism, it is about being close enough. Also, the longer you are in the business of making art, the tougher it is make visible improvement in your understanding and techniques. It can seem as though you will never get there, wherever there is. When in fact you are close enough. It would be easy to focus on my screw ups this week. Instead I am sharing how I got close enough.

1) Night Vision - (Due January 1, 2015) - Done!

a) Continue the piecing

Finally, all the leaves are pieced. I even managed to piece most of the leaves to each other. 

Closeup of Dizzy Daisies
I have also been playing with how to create the frog. I will be painting the stripes and spots on black vinyl. The trick at the moment is to find the perfect (or should that be close enough?) color so that it contrasts with the black vinyl and the leaf that the frog will be sitting on. None of my paints did the trick. So I have purchased DecoArt SoSoft paints because no heat setting, just drying time, is required to make the paint permanent. Hopefully, either the hot pink or primary 
yellow will do the trick.

2) Free motion quilting practice. - Done!

Once again I turned to Lori Kennedy for inspiration on what motif to do in order to keep up my free motion quilting skills. I don't recommend Dizzy Daisies for beginners. I can see that my scale got noticeably bigger from start to finish. I did enjoy the challenge and I do so love all over, filler designs.

3) LifeBook 2014 - Do the assignments. - Done!

Giant Leap is my interpretation of
LifeBook 2014 Lesson 41 by
Tamara Laporte.
Tamara LaPorte, the creator of LifeBook 2014 was our teacher this past Monday. She encouraged us to select an animal that best represented how we were feeling about our progress from the first of the year until now. For some reason I had frogs on the brain. I do feel that I have made a clear leap forward with my mixed media skills this year. Giant Leap is an homage to the iconic image of Neil Armstrong standing on the moon. Sure I have a lot farther to go with mixed media. I have come quite a distance and believe it just might be close enough.

Will I be able to keep the perfectionist at bay next week? Only time will tell. Here are the projects I will be focusing on:

1) Night Vision - (Due January 1, 2015)

a) Finish the piecing
b) Prepare the quilt sandwich
c) Test the new paints
d) Paint the poison dart frog

2) Free motion quilting practice.

3) LifeBook 2014 - Do the assignments

I am now linking up to two blogs on Fridays. The first is Nina Marie's Off the Wall Fridays and the second is Free Motion Mavericks.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Weekly Report 2014 - 10/02

There are many wonderful sites on line for how
to draw a face. I turned to one of them for the
first step in this week's LifeBook 2014 lesson
by Kate Thompson
Tips, Thoughts and Techniques:

One of the comments that I receive almost weekly on my blog is that the person posting wishes she could be as organized as me. Yes, I do see  myself as organized, but certainly not as the paragon of organization. Truth be told I don't have much of a choice. I am innately organized. I have learned to accept this and go with it. I do have a few tips:

1. Take advantage of your computer's calendar system. I use iCal because I have a MAC, but really any calendar system will do. I schedule my art days as a recurring event. Every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday are blocked out from 7:30 - 4:30 for doing art. I do the business of art on Wednesday and handle personal finance and domestic duties on Friday. I rarely, rarely, really rarely vary from this schedule. I also create an entry nearly everything I do and intend to do on the reminders list. This includes a note for everyone's birthdays and anniversaries so that I can get cards and messages sent. I also make a note of when I must send out a quilt to a venue or pay my quarterly taxes. I have over 150 items on my reminders list. It could be daunting. However, knowing that I will be reminded I don't think about most of them until they land in "today's" list. Even then I only focus on doing them in priority order. Guess what today's #1 item is? That's correct, writing my blog.
Night Vision as of October 3, 2014

2. Be flexible, but don't go for easy, quick gratification. If you aren't familiar with the Marshmallow Experiment, do check out the six minute TED talk about it. The gist is that whether a four year old child gives in and eats a marshmallow now versus waiting 15 minutes to get two marshmallows is a great predictor for that child's future success. I use delayed gratification frequently for accomplishing what I want to accomplish versus just doing what I feel like doing at the moment. I will be rewarding myself after I post the blog. :)

Last week I anticipated that this week time would be limited. Instead I was delightfully surprised to have almost no emergency interruptions during my scheduled art time. It felt wonderful to wallow in art. Here is what my wallowing accomplished:

Abstracted Leaf with echoes.
1) Night Vision - (Due January 1, 2015)

a) Continue the piecing - Done! 

I always think I can do more than I can.  Nevertheless, I am pleased to have gotten as far as I have. I still need to add the veins for the final leaf. After that comes creating the poison dart frog. If anyone has tips for sewing with vinyl, especially sewing vinyl to lesser weight fabrics I could use them.

2) Free motion quilting practice.  - Done!

No surprise with the leaves turning color in the midwest and other areas of the US, I just couldn't resist playing with a leaf design. 

3) LifeBook 2014 - Do the assignments. - Done!

My take on LifeBook lesson #40 by
Kate Thompson.
This week's LifeBook lesson by Kate Thompson was a killer assignment. There is no way I could have done it as my first assignment of the year. It really helped to have worked with all the materials before. Kate did a fabulous job of demonstrating how to layer paints and inks to achieve skin tone, highlights and shadows. As a result my lady actually looks like a painterly portrait. 

Night Vision is at that point when if I could I would be working on it 24/7. I just can't wait to see whether I can pull off the poison dart frog and if so, how it will look against all those lush tropical leaves. However, I know that to be truly successful, like one third of the children in the marshmallow experiment, I must be patient. I do my best work when I pace myself, including taking time for reflection, experimentation and other diversions. Here are the plans for next week:

1) Night Vision - (Due January 1, 2015)

a) Continue the piecing

2) Free motion quilting practice.

3) LifeBook 2014 - Do the assignments.

I am now linking up to two blogs on Fridays. The first is Nina Marie's Off the Wall Fridays and the second is Free Motion Mavericks.