Friday, January 29, 2010

Light Electric Vehicles (LEVs) aka electric bikes

Today's email features a lengthy article about Light Electric Vehicles, a category designed to include both scooters and electric bicycles. It mostly focuses on the bikes, and the huge increase in popularity in Europe, but I found this quote compelling:

"...the average cost of owning, operating, maintaining, and driving a car comes out to 71 cents per mile for an average car driving an average of 10,000 miles per year. In contrast, it costs about 2.7 cents per mile to drive a LEV the same distance."

For those who go short commutes, it might make sense to switch, at least for the shorter trips. For more info, here's the link to the full article.

Friday, January 15, 2010

50 Collages, lessons learned

Class on Tuesday was very interesting. Few of the others in the class did all 50 of the collages, so I felt pretty good about my having "only" done 30. The other interesting thing I noticed is that my 50 were not as tightly related as most of the others. My theme, spiritual journey, is kind of a large one and I did a couple of different sub-themes. I also didn't have a particular palette. Obviously, my word for 201o (Focus) comes into play here too.

So, for the next class assignment, I've narrowed my theme significantly. For now, it's hummingbirds, but while I like the sketches I've done, I'm wanting the spiritual aspect to be there too, so I'm going to have to think about how to bring that back in. And I sorted through my fabric stash in my studio. I'm moving some of it downstairs, as it's not the right visual texture for my current work. If it's not in the studio, I won't be tempted to use it, and can more easily develop my own palette.

Our next assignment is to do a diptych on the theme as we're developing it. I've picked the phrase "Joy & Comport" as a working title. I wanted a vague background, impressionistic in style, so I did my preliminary sketches (size 9"x12") using watercolor pencils and then did some experimenting with adding a wash to blend them. I like the effect, and I'm looking forward to experimenting with the pencils on fabric in the future. For now, I'm working with the hand-dyed silk I have on hand, except for the piece I need for the sky which I will be painting today.

The class assignment is for at least 14" on each side in size. I've set myself a personal goal of producing 6 sq. ft. of art per week. So, in line with that goal, my fabric version of the sketches will each be 18"x24". We'll see if I can actually finish them in a week. I'll just keep telling myself my new mantras: Focus, Use what you have, experiment. ( These are the things I've gotten from the class so far.)

At the very least, I should have the fabric tops done by class but I really believe I stand a good chance of having the complete pieces, or at least 75% of them, finished by next Tuesday. Whatever happens, it will be a grand experiment!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

50 Collages, day 4

I took Sunday off, how traditional. I was back to work on the collages yesterday, and got 7 done. I also had a couple of epiphanies about my work process, and I'm mulling over how to change things. I'll be talking about the changes when they're done, I expect. I find I have a hard time doing more than 5 - 7 collages in a day, given the restriction on each of them being different. When I did fabric postcards for an exchange, I did small collage like things, but did variations on a theme in sets of 5. That I could do really fast! This has been a very fruitful and productive assignment, in both work produced and insights achieved. I'll be talking about what I learned tomorrow when I wrap up with things I produce today.

Yesterday's work yielded these 2 among others.

Number 24 came about because I was reflecting on how literal I can be in my thinking. Then I looked down at my work table, saw the remaining pile of dancer figures already cut out, and the image just popped into my head. This one was almost instantaneous which was a nice break from the slogging I felt I'd been doing all afternoon. I was good until the fifth one for the day, then I started slowing down, overthinking, and generally having to push to keep going.

This one, #25, is the visual sketch for a piece I'm doing for an online challenge. I wanted to try out the TAP paper (Transfer Artist Paper) which worked great on transferring the hummingbird images from my computer to the fabric background. I also wanted to try the composition which has been sitting in my head for a bit. I find I really like doing the visual sketch. I had tried doing a pencil sketch, but I need the color and the texture that comes from the fabrics I use to really evaluate the idea. The word theme for the challenge is Comfort.

In addition, I want to share #14 which was the one I used ExtravOrganza on for the first time. Given that I'm sharing the experiment with TAP, I thought I'd include my other experiment.
I like the transparency of the globe that I printed using Extravorganza and I expect I'll be using it in the future, unless I actually get around to the image transfer experimentation I have on my want-to-try list.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

50 collages, day 3

Yesterday was less productive, but I had anticipated that which is why I tried to get off to a big start. Not only did I have a morning appt, but I slept poorly so I was brainfogged. However, I got in 3 hours of solid work, producing 5 more (total so far is 18) collages. In addition, I had some insights about my work process and how to integrate this collage process into it, and got some prep work done. Here's a couple of the ones I did yesterday. They're getting more sketch like as I go along but that's okay, these are conceptual sketches, reminders/tryouts of the ideas, and I'm now to doing one in 20 to 30 minutes max. I foresee this being what I do in my sketchbook when I have an idea, and want to see if it's worth developing.

This was #17 in the collages. The idea was to visually present walking a maze. I like the strong graphic imagery, and think this one might work really well on a larger scale, where I could stick in lots more detail in the walls of the maze. I intended for the green fabric to imply one of those garden hedge mazes and that would give me lots of room for birds in the hedges, etc.

This next one was the last one I did yesterday. The hummingbird theme is a strong one, but it's not as prevalent as it might seem based on the pictures I'm posting here. I'd estimate the hummingbirds only show up in no more than a third of the total so far.

I originally laid this one out on the peltex which is 8.5 x 11", and then when I realized I was using paper, I switched to the 9 x 12 watercolor paper for the base. This led to there being more leafy stuff at the bottom. I'm contemplating cutting some of it off. On the other hand, I kind of like the slightly topheavy feel. I'll set it aside and think about it later, I suppose.

Going to bed early did not solve the sleep problem, which is probably related to the beginning of tree pollen season, so I anticipate today will also be low on the collage count. So, I'll be catching up on my accumulated email, doing some miscellaneous stray studio tasks, and tidying my work area so I can go big tomorrow. Realistically, I'm hoping for a total over 35; I think I've already benefitted tremendously from doing this exercise so I'll be happy with whatever happens from this point on.

As part of my relaxed day, I put one of today's collages into jigspot as an experiment. I've been meaning to do this but haven't gotten around to it. Here's the link to it.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

50 collages, day 2

Well, I did it. 10 collages yesterday in 7 hours, for an average of about 40 minutes each. The last few were in about half an hour so I should be just burning through them today, assuming I don't fall over from the effort. *grin* Only 37 more to go...

I had a couple of comments on Facebook that brought it to my attention that I forgot to mention the size. I started out using 9"x12" watercolor paper as a base. Spiral Dance was cut down to a square, 9x9. Then, because of the curling factor for the paper and because I'm scanning them in to show them here, I cut peltex to 8.5 x 11 size. So, they're roughly the size of a piece of paper.

I did 10 and then laid them out on the floor to see them all at once. This was instructive because I could see visually how my thoughts had run. Since this was something the instructor had mentioned in particular, it was nice to have it happening so early.

These two, selected from the day's production, deal with an image that I was already wrestling with to turn into a larger wallhanging. It's very useful to play with the composition in this smaller format and I'm looking forward to seeing if the design that works in the small can scale to a larger piece well.

I don't think I've told the story about the hummingbird we feed, or one of them, going into the garage and trying to fly through the window in the back. He didn't smash himself, he just kept buzzing at it. I had to run an errand, and he was still there when I got back, so I went to get the feeder and held it hanging from my finger to try and get him to turn around so he could see the open door. He ended up landing on my hand to rest which was an amazing sensation. That experience has deepened my fascination with hummingbirds, and is leading to a whole series of pieces so I tried out one of the ideas for this collage.

This was #10, done after the above one. I finished the first one, and I'd printed out some smaller globes to use, and thought about fingertips, smaller globes, that led to multiple hummingbirds, et voila!

More tomorrow!

Friday, January 8, 2010

50 Collages in one week, Yikes!

My new Fiber Arts instructor gave us our first assignment: make 50 collages on a single theme in one week. This will be an interesting learning experience, for sure. Class is next Tuesday evening, and I have 3 done so far. I spent one day brainstorming, so I have a huge list of ideas to explore, and assembling materials from various nooks and shelves around the house. The first 2 took over 3 hours to make; the third took one hour. I set a timer on myself on the third one so I could keep it to an hour. Today, I aim for 10 collages, and less than 45 minutes each. We'll see how we do. I need to let go of doing a finished piece, and do a compositional sketch or I'll never make it to the total number. And as he explained, the idea is to experiment and see our own conceptual connections so it is important to do the whole 50 (plus or minus a couple...). Somehow, I still feel like I've been pushed off a cliff and am trying to learn to fly as I go down.

My theme is Spiritual Journey and here's the first 3 collages. I particularly like #2. These are all a combination of fabric and paper glued or fused to watercolor paper. I'm thinking of using peltex as it's a bit stiffer for the ones with mostly fabric. The watercolor paper is curling on the boat one.

The first one is from an idea that's been simmering for a while, based on a song, Sailing a Blue Boat.

Second one is Spiral Dance, probably #1. I expect more along this path in the next few days.

And this one is based on the Solstice Stocking I did for a friend a couple of years ago. It worked better as the stocking, I think, altho I like the idea and think it would work better with more detail.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Monthly Games playing day, or doing more but buying less

I spent a chunk of time on New Year's Day playing Mah Jong with my daughter and a couple of friends. It's been a year since we played together, and we all remarked on how nice it was. I had talked with another group of friends the night before about doing regular board game playing get togethers and we picked a day, and set a time. So I suggested the same thing to my Mah Jong buddies and we did the same. I now have a monthly day playing games of some sort and I expect it to grow as interested friends get added to the notification list. So I noted with interest an article from the NY Times about people buying less, and doing more interactive things with friends. Yup, me too. The article can be found here. I must admit I've always had a tendency to prefer simpler pleasures and have never spent $1000/month on designer clothes. (Okay, $100/month on books maybe...)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Fiber Arts Certificate Program, First quarter wrapup

Now that I've had a little time over the holidays to digest how the first quarter of the Fiber Arts Certificate Program went, and I've uploaded the photos of our last assignment, I'm ready to share.

It's been a challenging quarter. Our instructor's intent was to shake things up for us and she certainly succeeded for me. We only had 2 major assignments so the work we did wasn't primarily creating things but was instead questioning our assumptions, and giving us a broader perspective.

Our final assignment was to do a bigger than life size self-portrait of one persona or aspect of ourselves. I got tangled in the "bigger than lfe size" part of it, and feel my own piece was a major belly flop. A fabulous learning experience however. I was attempting to portray the emotional impact of having a hummingbird land on my hand - an experience that delighted, and astonished me. I also got caught up in the mechanics of doing the shadows and shading, not to mention some serious trouble getting the photo to start from. (That was also part of the assignment.) So, my piece was incomplete when it was time to present. It wasn't until after the class discussion that I realized I didn't need the bottom 2/3rds of the piece. I'm now working on tightening the focus, and doing this again because I do want to do a piece about this experience.

Several of the other members of the class did wonderful interpretations. Here's one of the ones I particularly liked. Roberta captured her love of swimming and water so well visually, at least in my opinion.

I think we've all learned a lot. I know I have. Most of my lessons have to do with my own process, and how I need to tighten my focus, do a bit more planning of the intent of a piece before leaping in and working. I have to balance that with the fact that once I'm in the flow of working on it, I work intuitively and need to not push myself into a box to meet some requirements. The other big thing I'm taking away is to use what I have to make it work while staying focused on the intent and the goal.

Now to see how we all do on applying these lessons to creating work this next quarter. We were warned that the next instructor pushes us to do lots of work; to the point of requiring 50 collages in one week at one point. Yikes! This will be another, and different challenge.