Thursday, December 6, 2018

Herbal Chai: a winter crud aid

I've been down for the last week with some flu like bug that just will not give up.  And I realized it's been years since I posted my herbal chai recipe.  So here it is again, as I make the second quart for this week.  It helps with feeling chilly, congestion and low energy level so if you have any of those, you might give it a try.  I got this recipe from an acupuncturist when I was living in Boulder.


1.5 inches fresh ginger root (peeled or unpeeled, doesn't seem to matter) sliced thinly
8-10 cinnamon sticks (I split mine in half to get more exposure to the water)
10 cardamon pods (or about 50 cardamon seeds if you can't get pods) Split the pods open slightly
10 whole cloves
5 peppercorns




I put a small amount of water in the bottom of my glass double boiler and turn it on high while I prep the spices.  I also fill the electric kettle to get the rest of the boiling water.



 Simmer for 30 minutes total. I reduce the heat and put a lid on the pot with a slight gap at the edge of the lid. Add honey, lemon, milk or rice milk to taste. I have also used heated herbal chai as water to make tea with when I want the kind of chai you get at a latte stand.



After the 30 minutes, the liquid will all be a lovely cinnamon brown color.  I strain through a hand held strainer into a quart measuring cup and watch it disappear quickly.  Yields about a quart of chai.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Developing new dancer piece

We had a lovely vacation in Canada the week before Thanksgiving and then went to our daughter's house for a small Thanksgiving dinner and amidst all of that, I have neglected the blogging.  Part of that is feeling like I didn't really have anything concrete to write about.  Vacation was a very relaxing time with lots of short walks along the bay and talk about books we're reading but I left my camera battery plugged in at home so my usual vacation blog about birds would have had no photos.  Altho I did take some interesting textural ones with my phone but talk about those will probably happen when I actually do something with them.

And Thanksgiving week was all about recovering from vacation and downtime with the family.  No big events there either.

So I almost did a book report this week.  Fortunately for all of you, I did start work on a new dancer piece using my new poseable figurine to give me some shots to work from.  I actually posed her on vacation and was very happy with how easy it was to photograph her with my phone.  That was the whole point of getting the gray rather than the flesh tone figure since it would give me an almost black & white silhouette to start with.



Once I got home and had uploaded my camera photos via Dropbox, I popped the picture into Photoshop for cropping and color shifting a bit.  Then printed it out and did a tracing with my trusty brush tip marker giving me this nice silhouette.



But wait, there's more.  This gives me the first silkscreen I need so I can lay down the background color for the dancer.  Next, I need the dancer silhouette with the body art so I pulled out some of my spiral screens & stencils and played around and got this. 


Unlike my earlier dancers, I stopped the tattoos below the arms.  When I tried them on paper in b&w I really didn't like the loss of detail for the face and arms so I went with this look.  Now, I've printed this out in multiple sizes and am ready to make my silkscreens to try out my new composition.  I should have some colored versions on paper by next week.  I am really happy at how quickly this process went as this makes it much easier to do composition changes and variations. And that means I get to focus my time & energy on the color play which is my fun place. 

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Tracking time & productivity in the studio

This post was going to be about the fun experiments I was doing in the studio, but, alas, the flu struck on Wednesday so that whole thing got derailed.  Instead, I'm sharing one of my current tools that I find very useful in meeting my goals.  An app called ATracker.  The free version allows only 5 activities to be tracked but the upgrade cost is under $5 if I'm remembering correctly. 

I've been using it for a couple of months now and really find it helps me track how much time I'm spending on which part of being an artist.  I usually set my weekly goals for hours of work done in a particular area since I long ago discovered I totally suck at estimating total time for a project.  This way, I just keep working at it until it's done. 


History view for this week

So, how's it work?  You add activities you want to track, I added categories (Art, biz, selfcare) and then you click on that activity when you start working on.  Click again when you finish.  Then you get to pull up the data at the end of the day or week and see how much you got done where.  I also add a note to items saying what particular art project it was so I can see how much time I'm spending on particular things.  I use 2 views:  the history one above which gives more item detail and the pie chart from the Reports, see below.





And of course, I love the color coding possibilities.  Lots of choices on how you tag your activities, great options on how you can analyze the data and so far, only one minor bug.  (Sometimes the day shows yesterday's activities when I bring up the app so I have to manually set it to the new blank day. No big problem. )  If I were rating the app, I'd give it max stars because it does what it's supposed to do very well and is inexpensive.  

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Fiber Artist #5: Hollis Chatelain


In keeping with my focus on persistence and finishing, here's my fifth and final female fiber artist.  Hollis Chatelain came to my attention (in the 90's?) when one of her fabulous pieces sold for mid 5 figures, setting new goals for many fellow art quilters about possible income.  I've continued to be aware of and admire her work since as an influential artist in my field.

Blue Men by Hollis Chatelain

As you can see above, her work is realistic and detailed, striking in composition and content.  For a fiber artist, the way she works is inspiring.  She starts with a large piece of white fabric, sketches the design and then dye paints.  If she was working on a stretched canvas, this would be the total effort to create a painting.  But then, she stitches to add detail and texture to the surface.  Amazing work and I highly recommend checking out her webpage, https://www.hollisart.com/

I'm looking at her work with a new perspective as I try to simplify my processes so that I can still be productive with my lower energy level.  One thing I'm looking at is working whole cloth rather than doing fabric collage.  One of my challenges for this next several months is how do I do this and looking at her process is very helpful in giving me ideas.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Thermofax tribulations


This is apparently my month for challenges in the studio.  First, the sewing machine eluded my ability to thread the needle, then my whole thermofax creation process fell apart.

After I spent an afternoon unclogging the nozzles on my just for the thermofax printer, I tried making some nice fish screens to use on the current piece.  I decided to use the the new white screen because it's narrower than the old roll of green screen I have and then the problems began.


Fish art for thermofax screen

Small summary of the thermofax process for those who aren't familiar with it.  A thermofax is a quick and easy way to make a silkscreen by running graphite line art through the thermofax machine layered against the screen.  The graphite ignites from the heat of the lamp in the machine and burns off the top layer of the screen exposing the little squares in the screen so that paint can be pushed through.


The first try didn't burn the screen at all.  I ran it through 3 times and it burned so lightly that the screen slid around over the art and I got triple faint lines rather than one good solid line.  So I went over the artwork with a thicker charcoal pencil.  That burned a hole in the white screen.  After a few deep sighs and breathing exercises, I ran that art through the thermofax with the green screen.  That resulted in big blurry lines for the spirals.  I decided to stop for the day, think about it and try again later.

green vs white screens of same art
This is where I am now, with this being the green screen fish on the top and the white screen fish on the bottom.  I spent a few hours perusing videos on YouTube about making the screen transition and decided I'll have to do way more experimentation than I have time for right now so I'll be redrawing the fish with a lighter line and using the green screen to make yet another screen later today. 

Here's where I am on the piece.  I did yarn around the edges of the salmon stream and then started doing yarn around the edges of the fish and really didn't like how it looked.  So I tried hand stitching but that didn't work so well what with the 4 or 5 layers of quilting cotton plus batting that I had to stitch through.   After checking prices and reviews, I've ordered the low end Brother self-threading machine and will be seeing if that solves my stitch problem.  At this point, I can only be really thankful that the show application deadline is the end of November so I may be able to finish in time despite all these issues.  Wish me luck!





Sunday, October 7, 2018

No sewing machine, now what?

This week in the studio was a challenge.  I started the week with anticipation.  I had finished fusing the current project, had selected the threads to use and was ready to begin the stitching.  And then I tried to thread my sewing machine.

The whole vision problem has been improving with every treatment and I'm now having no problems with most visual tasks.  I still adjust the text size in a book now and then, but no longer have migraines and don't need the eye patch.  The sole exception, until this last week, was using the binoculars while birding and that's been improving too so I thought I was really over the problems.  Until I tried threading my machine.


first use of satin stich in my collage

I learned to sew on a machine when I was 8, 55 years ago.  I used my mom's Kenmore and my great-grandma's treadle machine both.  And I've been making my own clothes since I was 11.  I have 3 machines right now.  Over the last 20 years, as my eyes and my back had their own issues, I've added supplemental LED lighting, various magnifying lenses, and threading tools as needed to keep on doing the things I love to do with a sewing machine.  It took me an hour to get it threaded and I was so frustrated that I wanted to pick up the machine and bash a hole in the wall with it.  So I walked away and cooled off and came back the next day to actually sew.  And I got about 3 inches of test sewing done and broke the needle, probably because I couldn't see the sample sewing well enough and pulled too much.  So, I'm taking a break from the machine. 


If all goes well with the eye treatments over the next few months, then I'll be back to sewing happily.  For now, I'm going to assume that I have to be like Matisse and find another way to make my art.  The rest of this month, I will be experimenting with different ways to give that textured colorful line that I used the satin stitch of variegated thread to create with my machine.  Instead of the stitched line, I'm looking at using yarn, perle cotton, and other thick fibers.  I may do some hand stitching to get the variety of colors & textures I like. 

variegated stitch example

I'll be reporting on my trials here so you can follow along.  And I'll be using what I select to finish up the Salish Sea Mandala #1 that is my current project.  Right now it feels like 2 steps back and a half step forward but I have a plan and I'm confident I'll find a solution.    And I have a deadline of November 31 for SSM#1 to be finished so "make it work" is my mantra now.  Wish me luck!


Saturday, September 22, 2018

Sluggy progress on Salish Sea Mandala #1

This last week, I got a new sink in my studio.  Huzzah!  Now I can paint, dye and silkscreen without running into the house and around the corner to the kitchen sink every time I need fresh water.  That meant moving around all the shelves on that wall, and adding a couple over the sink, so my progress on Salish Sea Mandala #1 was less than I had hoped for.  However, I still made the milestone of completing the top which is now ready for stitching.



I like the wavy edges on the different sections and I know what kind of stitching I want to do around the salmon stream and the fish themselves.  I think I'll wait until I have that stitching in place to try and decide if I want to make the piece smaller or add another circle around the center.  I also think I need to paint the white patches in the fabric around the globe as right now those patches compete with the globe for attention.  Fortunately I have a smallish scrap of that fabric left so I can do some painting trials before working on the actual piece.

It's good to see that even with frequent rest breaks, I can make noticeable progress when I focus on just one thing. 

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Salish Sea Mandala series or transitioning from Energizer Bunny to Slug


Fall is here in the PNW as signified by rain, clouds and the start of crowds of kids on corners in the morning.  This is one of those times of year when I stop and take a look at how I'm doing overall.  As part of that look this year, I realized I need to accept that this sudden and severe change in energy may be permanent.  I've gone from being an Energizer Bunny to being a Slug.  Despite the sadness that realization brings, I'm also realizing that slugs get where they're going by persisting.  And having one goal.  So, I'm doing one thing at a time now and the big goal for this next year is creating a body of work with the working title "Salish Sea Mandalas".

I started this first piece by pulling the 3 salmon out of the "in progress" drawer.  Then I picked fabrics, and started cutting and fusing.  This process was going well until I started to add the background fabric and discovered I had seriously miscalculated how much I needed. 


So here's the center motif without the background.  As for my slugginess, I am discovering that I can work about 2-3 hours a day for 3-4 days a week.  This time gets split between making things in the studio and doing the computer work that goes along with the making.   As I recalibrate my  expectations, I will be blogging weekly about where I am so I can measure my progress.  I'm not yet to the point of putting a slug as my profile pic, but I'm getting more comfortable with my pace and I'm working to embrace my inner slug.







Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Fiber Artist #4: Susan Shie

I'm struggling with the eye issues and the fatigue issues, so this week, it's back to finishing up the list of Five Female Fiber Artists.  Today, I introduce you to Susan Shie.

Susan caught my attention in the late 90's when I was beginning to seriously go outside traditional quilting and I started consciously looking at other fiber artists and their work from an artist's point of view.  Susan's work is very different from what I "like" in art.  Too much is not enough is her basic design credo.  And lots of words.  Lots and lots of words.  Here's a recent example of her work completed in January of 2018 in response to the situation in Puerto Rico.


Shaken And Stirred by Susan Shie
I'm pretty sure the first thing that caught my attention was her chatting about her Kitchen Tarot pieces on the quiltart list.  I'd participated in an online group doing a fiber art version of the tarot deck just a few years earlier so I was full of respect for anyone taking on the project of doing really large pieces for each card.   She published a book in 2010 that showcased 22 of the Kitchen Tarot cards, her version of the Major Arcana. 

She also teaches regularly and frequently and when I was struggling with fatigue due to the undiagnosed failing kidneys, I looked at signing up for a week long class at her place.  You have to go see her webpage to see how many class options there are.  Check out www.turtlemoon.com here.

I also recommend spending some time exploring her art on her site.  Her work is exuberant, colorful, and high energy.  When I'm feeling blah and tired, it's just the pick me up I need.  I hope you enjoy her work too.



Saturday, July 7, 2018

Birthday birding: Downy at Scudder Pond

This week I went to Scudder Pond a couple of times.  The first time I just took my binoculars because of the eye troubles.  I didn't want to get a headache from trying to do too much focus change by using my camera.  This was the second time in a row I left the camera behind and once again, I had some birds do amazing stuff right in front of me.

Let me explain.  Once the trail gets past the pond and into the area between the pond and Whatcom Falls, there's a trail that heads down to the water to the left.  Right at the intersection of these 2 trails there's a dead tree trunk.  As I walked past it on Tuesday morning, a Downy Woodpecker flew in and entered a big hole at the top of the snag.  I stopped because downys are always cute and there might be fledglings.  While I was waiting and watching, the other Downy flew in.  They were both being very active so it took me quite a while to be sure they were Downys rather than Hairys and the whole time I'm standing there watching, I'm thinking I should have brought my camera.

Picture from my yard
So I went back, on my birthday, with the camera, all ready to get some fabulous shots.  Not only was the place swarming with mosquitos, but nary a woodpecker to be seen on that snag.  So you'll have to be satisfied with a backyard shot of the Downy woodpecker to show you how small and cute they are. But the camera is back on the regular birding kit list and I'll be checking again in the next couple of weeks to see what happens at the Downy home.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Baby stepping to success

I'm spending some of my down time right now thinking about what do I do if this eye thing is permanent.  And the fatigue thing.  How do I manage to be happy & creative within these limitations?  And one of the things that is helping me right now is a blogger/writer named James Clear.  More about him in a few paragraphs. 

One of the other things that is resonating in my head is this quote:

“Your beliefs become your thoughts, 
Your thoughts become your words, 
Your words become your actions, 
Your actions become your habits, 
Your habits become your values, 
Your values become your destiny.”

― Mahatma Gandhi


And then there was the movie "What about Bob?" which introduced the phrase "baby steps" into our family.  

What about Bob?

I've long found the baby steps approach to work.  Just keep plugging and you'll get there.  And certainly, both my career as a software developer and my years as a quilter have shown that persistence pays off.

How do I apply these now is my current question.  And James Clear's most recent blog post has some excellent information and ideas about how to create change and keep it.  Identity Based Habits discusses how to make sure the changes stick by starting with changing how you view yourself.  And do it in a small way so that it's easier to be successful.  See how the quote above and the movie connect in?    I think I'm heading in the right direction as I am changing my definition of myself as an artist from one who creates lots of work and exhibits it often to someone who regularly creates work that matters.  But it's going to take time to see how this plays out.  In the meantime, I'll just keep on baby stepping...


Sunday, June 17, 2018

Miss Zukas tidies my brain

I discovered a couple of decades ago that I turn to mysteries for reading material when I'm feeling overwhelmed by life.  Given the current & ongoing ankle and eye medical problems, it's not surprising that I recently started reading the Miss Zukas series again. 

There are multiple appeals to this series by Jo Dereske.  Miss Zukas is a professional librarian who is amusingly precise in her manner.  The series is set in the fictional town of BelleHaven which bears a certain resemblance to Bellingham:  on the bay off the San Juan Islands.  Now that we live here, it adds another dimension to reading the descriptions.  The series was written in the mid to late 90's so there is also a lovely layer of nostalgia.  And the writing is perfect for a cozy mystery. 


I'm about halfway through the series (a dozen in total) but the one pictured above is my favorite of the ones I've read so far.  Miss Zukas grew up in Michigan and her uncle made her a wooden canoe.  I grew up in Indianapolis and my family had a fiberglass canoe.  And I spent my teen years going canoeing on the White River with my best friend on the weekends.  It's the top thing on my list of things I was supposed to do in Washington but haven't yet.  So I really enjoy Miss Zukas canoeing in the Snow to Surf relay race in this book. 

I recommend the series if you're looking for some nice scenic mystery reading.  No gore, interesting characters (I especially like her BFF Ruth, a very tall artist with unruly hair), and writing that occasionally takes a gentle poke at society or otherwise steps outside the genre's expectations.    I am certainly finding this series a refreshing break from reality that is recharging my sorely depleted energy.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

when eyes go wonky

I'm going to be even more erratic in my blogging for the foreseeable future as I'm having a medical problem with my eyes.  The prognosis is good for no permanent damage but right now I'm getting headaches from trying to do things with printed pages, either paper or digital.  So, not too much typing in my immediate future.  I'm much more likely to be posting to instagram (lizcopelandartist) while on my walks or while I'm in my studio doing some small stuff.  I'll also be trying out my new electric scooter which is supposed to help me go on longer birding walks so here's a picture of it. 



That's the ever supportive and helpful hubster Jeff in the background.  He not only helped me unpack and assemble the scooter but went out for an eyepatch to see if that helps prevent the headaches.  I am always grateful for him but especially when life tosses us something difficult.

Any good thoughts, wishes, energy or prayers gratefully accepted.    And may you also have supportive family and friends when life wacks you with something like this.


Thursday, May 10, 2018

best of this week's birding

I got out twice in the last week, well, actually 8 days but it's close, and Pauline and I found several of the sought after birds.  The best of the lot was the Wilson's warbler we got shots of yesterday.  Pauline moved here from the east coast less than a year ago, and the wilson's is a lifer for her.  It's also a tiny little bird, all yellow with that black cap on its head and moves around a lot because warblers do that.  So usually hard to see anyway.  This one got annoyed enough at us chasing it about that it came out into the open and yelled at us.  We apologized profusely and took pictures.  I hope we were all satisfied with that outcome.

From cornell webpage cause mine were too blurry


I didn't take many shots on the earlier trip this month but I did get an interesting series of Common Loon shots.  It was a fairly sunny day and the loon was close enough in that I thought I had a decent shot at catching the green ring around his neck just below the white ring.  The green is usually right at the water level so it's hard to see well but I thought I had a chance with these.

zoom in & see green ring on neck

Then he switched direction and gave a better view of his back.




And then he spotted lunch.  Usually, when the diving birds are diving, it's pretty common to get lots of photos of their backs at the end of the dive just like this one. 



All of these are cropped, of course, to delete all the water around.  This last shot is uncropped to show the expanse of the water and  unexpected second bird (almost to the rocks) I caught without intending it.  The lovely thing about digital cameras is you just keep shooting.



Saturday, May 5, 2018

Birding fever begins

Now that I'm past my scheduled art activities for early spring, I can concentrate on birding.  While I'm getting a somewhat late start (earlier is better because leaves are in the way now), the reports coming in from other birders about warblers and western tanagers have me fired up to go walk in the woods.

Yesterday, Pauline & I tried the Chuckanut Pocket Estuary which has a history of having many birds in May.  We got there just at high tide which brings the seabirds in closer and would have had a fabulous day except for the wind coming in off the water.  The smaller birds were not coming out of the bushes and who could blame them.  So we heard lots of common yellowthroats for example, but mostly saw ducks and other water birds.  We did see a small flock of house finches before we gave up because the birds weren't the only ones who didn't like the wind. 

We ended up hitting Marine Park where we finally found the elusive green heron and then going to the other side of the railroad tracks to pursue the warblers we were hearing but couldn't quite get bins on to get a good look, with the exception of a couple of yellow-rumped warblers who crossed the tracks to tease us.  Our first bird on the dog trail/heronry side of the tracks was a bewick's wren doing a fabulous display of singing style. 

Bewick's wren belting it out

We got a nice number of species of birds on that trail but not many good photos mostly because I was having so much fun looking that I forgot to snap photos.  I totally failed to use my camera on good shots of herons in the heronry, the 2 black oystercatchers grazing along the rocky shore of the lagoon, and a fabulous kingfisher who spent a couple minutes flying back and forth between the rails on the tracks and the snag on the far side of the lagoon.  The sun was out, the wind was calmer here and it was one of those days that sparkle in my memory.

I'm looking forward to several more days like this during May.  I hope you get to enjoy spring as well.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Golden workshop on pouring & marbling acrylic paint

Barbara de Pirro is the Golden rep/artist in Western Washington and she does regular workshops & lectures at art stores in the area.  I've attended a couple of her lectures/demos in Bellevue at Daniel Smith so when this class came up in her newsletter, I jumped on it despite the drive from Bellingham to Seattle for a 5 hour workshop.  And it was well worth it.

We started with a demo/talk about the different mediums to use in pouring acrylics and why it was a bad idea to do some of the things seen in various YouTube videos on the subject.  (Short answer:  some of things added can break down the acrylics over relatively short periods of time.)  We each got a folder of info about the materials and she demonstrated several techniques and styles of pours.  Then we got turned loose with our own bag of mediums and *huge* bags of fluid & high flow paints to experiment. (We got to take the sample sizes of the mediums home but could borrow the paints.)  I love marbling so I tried that first.  Here's my most successful attempt at using marbling techniques with acrylics on canvas board..

Calling this one twinkling stars


This was actually my second attempt, the first one turned to mud as I tried to swirl the paint around. But the one above is going to be the starting point for my next batch of experiments with this technique.  I'll be using the results in two ways.  First, I can silkscreen dancers on top of them and voila, I'm doing paintings.  Second, I can get a good photo of the marbled acrylic and print it on fabric and then make a quilt version with fabric dancers collaged on top.  This will give me a direct comparison of my two choices right now for creating small dancer pieces.  As part of my current process of figuring out what parts of creating give me joy, this direct comparison of paint vs fabric should be quite informative.

I started with my basic blue & yellow palette which is what I favor for the dancers.  Darker blue, teal, golden yellow and bright yellow were my starting point.  And if you don't put down a layer of acrylic first, when you drop the colors on a canvas board and swirl them, well, here's some mud.



Note how the blue and yellows combined to give me some streaks of green.  There's only a bit of recognizable swirls on the left but otherwise, an epic fail.  I am really pleased that I so quickly diagnosed the problem and corrected to get the twinkling stars above.

Having one success and one failure, I then attempted to get the swirling marbling that I like so much in my traditional marbling work.  I did two different attempts, adding more blues and some greens to my palette.  The bottom blue one was an attempt at sky horizon and the second was adding more colors and seeing how well the swirling worked with greater contrast.



These satisfied me on the marbling techniques.  I feel I've got a handle on what works and I will be working further with it in the next month or so.  The rest of the class, I spent playing with the pouring technique and creating acrylic skins which was all kinds of very messy, drippy fun.   As I play further with the skins I created, I'll share what results from those.

Regardless of the future experiments, this was a hugely successful experience for me.  I got into that creative joyful spot and enjoyed myself tremendously.  May you do the same real soon!


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Fiber artist #3: Carol Bryer Fallert(-Gentry)

Yes, I know, the #FiveFemaleArtists thing was for March but life happens, no?  I'm going to finish anyway.

Carol Bryer Fallert came to my attention in the late 90's when she started her feather studies series.  I share her love of color & curves,  and appreciated the change in perception of zooming in on a familiar object.   Here's the first in that particular series.



But it wasn't until she did a large dancer piece at the same time I was beginning my dancer series that I decided to keep an eye on her.  Her work dealt with similar concepts as mine while differing in treatment enough to generate interesting ideas for me.




She not only has an extensive body of work which can be seen  at http://www.bryerpatch.com/ but has reached the point in her life/career where she is mentoring the rest of us with her free articles and tutorials.

I'm spending part of this week exploring what she offers at http://www.bryerpatch.com/faq/faq.htm.  I appreciate her offerings not only because of her decades of experience creating and teaching but also because this is a wonderful collection of articles relevant to my work in one convenient place.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Thinking of birds while doing taxes...

Norwescon was wonderful except for the walking more than 12 miles and trashing my ankles.  Then getting the flu.  And then starting on the taxes, almost done, huzzah!  But during this tsunami of life stuff, I took half a day to go to Canada so I could go to part of Washington:  Point Roberts.  Where Pauline, my local birding pal, and I got to see 36 Harlequin ducks bobbing about.  And a sea lion.  And almost a dozen eagles.  I'm thinking there were some schools of fish out there somewhere...

But the Harlequins!  They are gorgeous birds and I've never seen that many of them in one place nor heard them make so much noise before.  I particularly enjoyed the group that came up almost onto the beach and played in the surf.  My camera battery died, so this picture is courtesy of Pauline.

Waiting for the wave


These guys were riding the waves as they came on shore and playing in the surf.  One of those amazing birding experiences that keep me going out there as much as possible. 

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Fiber artist #2 - Esterita Austin

Continuing my #5femaleartists posts about fiber artists who have influenced me with Esterita Austin.  Esterita teaches nationally (mostly at quilt stores) and I was fortunate enough to take her class about using paint on fused applique compositions.  The class I took is no longer listed on her page as she's developed new and more interesting classes. 

For me, that class was an eye opener.  It was in the early 2000's and I had not yet discovered silkscreening or even painting on quilts.  I was doing everything with fabric and thread.  The class used a composition she had developed with rocks in the foreground and a couple of tree trunks on the right.  The fabric requirements specified multi tone and color fabric.  And I learned an amazing amount about letting the fabric carry the values of shadow and highlight and adding emphasis through paint. She was originally trained as a painter and all of her classes use that training skillfully to teach quilters to use an artist's eye. Clearly this workshop was important to me since I'm remembering so much detail 15 years later.


Workshop result with some additions

After the workshop, I was in complete love with the tree trunks.  Most of the texture on them was added by some delicate painting which really popped them as 3D.  I later added the sunset sky by printing on sheer fabric from a nice photo I had.  And there was some other experimentation with shiva paint sticks and rubbing plates done that added visual texture to the water. 

Several years later (2013/2014)  I took a second workshop from her on doing fabric self-portraits.  The piece that came out of that workshop (see below) is the only piece ever displayed in my Georgetown studio that had someone walk into the studio, make a beeline to the piece, and ask loudly "Whose is this?  How much does it cost?"  That was a thrilling moment for me but I told him it wasn't for sale. 



I found the emphasis on tone rather than color freeing and have used things I learned from her regularly in my work.  I haven't browsed her class list in a while but looking at it for this blog is making me think it's time for another workshop.  This time I'll go for the paint on sheer fabric one as I already had using sheers on my experimentation list for this year.

I heartily recommend browsing her gallery and her students gallery for some other samples of this type of colorful work.


Friday, March 23, 2018

Fiber artists who influenced me - Deidre Scherer


It's Women's History Month and the National Museum of Women in the Arts is doing a  #5femaleartists  thing on social media.  So, this is me joining in while I am in the final week of assembling work and finishing the papers for Norwescon.

I'm going to post about one artist a day from a list of 5 fiber artists who had a big influence on me.  Today's female fiber artist is Deidre Scherer whose name I can never spell right the first time. 

In Thought

It's not even that her work inspired me altho her use of thread to create line and shadow on fabric opened up possibilities for me.   I was at my in-laws house for Thanksgiving and Dr. Doug was talking about a trip to the east coast and a museum.  He started describing these amazing detailed stitched portraits but couldn't remember the artists' name.  I looked at him and said "Deidre Scherer".  And he was amazed I knew of her.  This was in the late 90's when I was just starting to exhibit so it really made me feel like I was truly an artist.  Because even if I wasn't producing lots or exhibiting lots, I knew my field and the fellow artists.

She's added paper and lino prints to her work since then and you can see all of her work at her webpage, dscherer.com.  The work displayed is still focused on elder portraits regardless of the technique and I find both her woven paper pieces and lino-cuts intriguing.  Looking at the variations she has done gives me some ideas about ways to vary my dancer pieces while I experiment this year.