Thursday, August 8, 2013

Spirals and surface texture

I am really excited about my newest work which grew out of an exercise to try out some variegated thread in a different way.  This is now turning into a whole new series where I explore spirals and surface texture and do a lot of work with my sewing machine.  I had to stop using my machine for most of the last year due to back problems but those have been resolved enough that I am now stitching away again.  And, WOW!, is it fun.

Here's the first of the small samples I did.  I liked the layering of the batik with the sheer with the stitched spiral quite a lot and have done several more of these which should show up on my webpage over the weekend.  This piece is 6 inches square so the spiral stitched part is about 4 inches.  A lot going on for such a small space, eh?

The little spirals came out of trying out samples of stitching for this larger piece which is 14 inches square.  I handcarved the yin-yang stamp and printed it on a piece of hand dyed organza.  Then added the stitching to emphasize the texture.  This piece will probably be framed with a mahogany wood frame which will pick up some of the darker tones in the smallest spirals.  It too was an experiment in simplifying my focus and working with one element in differing ways.  

With both of these pieces, I had a lot of fun varying the width of the stitch to change the color of the variegated threads.  Not to mention the joy of painting with thread again....  I am excited about the work and really happy to be hitting that sweet spot where I'm full of joy and playing in the studio.  

Saturday, June 29, 2013

New Studio & Gallery space in Georgetown - Come visit!

I am incredibly excited and pleased to announce I am mostly moved in to a new studio/gallery space in Georgetown that I am sharing with two other wonderful artists, Karen Dedrickson, a sumi painter,  and Francine Moo-Young who does wonderful accessories in handpainted leather.  Since I work in textiles with a strong preference for silk, we decided to call our new venture Sumi, Silk & Leather.  And will become active sometime in July.  We're still in the moving in and settling phase, so right now, our hours are M-F 11 - 4 and by appointment.  And of course the Georgetown Art Attack night, the second Saturday of each month, from 6-8pm. The building is an old bottling plant that has been turned into a mixed-use commercial space and is the northern anchor point for the Art Attack van loop.  Our address is 5628 Airport Way S, Suite 236, Seattle WA 98108.

We signed the lease 10 days ago and have been painting and moving since. Here's a picture of the empty space, pre-painting.

This wall has become mostly white with some darker green trim and that has really increased the light reflection and spacious feel of the space.  We've filled it with work tables and are in the process of hanging lots of art on the newly painted walls in preparation for the potentially overwhelming July Art Attack night which coincides with the 25th anniversary celebration of Sub Pop records.  Details here, at least for the music part of the day.  I have no idea how many of the music lovers and general partyers will wander into the building and visit during the Art Attack time but it should be fun finding out.  We are going to wait until August for our Grand Opening on August 10 so as not to feel totally cast into the shade by the silver jubilee so I hope to see locals at one or the other of these events.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Cedar Waxwing: Lake Larsen Bird of the Week

My big art project this year is to develop a new series using my bird photos.  I'm going through various ideas and techniques and I've decided I really need to narrow my focus.  (All of my friends and artists pals who just snorked their coffee, sorry for the lack of warning.)   So, I'm using an idea borrowed from a more famous collage artist - go find something and use it that day.  Only I'm giving myself a week, and it's going to be a bird I photograph on my weekly long walk at a local park.

This week, I was at the greenbelt at Larsen Lake.  Clouds were blowing in, and it wasn't clear whether it was going to be sunny or stormy so the birds were alternately hunkering down in the bushes and enjoying the sun.  I caught a cedar waxwing catching the rays in the top of a snag, as shown below.

I like these birds because of their subtle coloring and texture combined with the head crest and I particularly liked the branches of the tree he's in.   I have about 15 shots of this bird to pick from so I'm sure I have one or more that will work.

In fact, I'm discovering fairly quickly that it's easy to have too many pictures.  I did a 45 minute walk this morning and took 81 pictures.  I took multiples of most of the subjects but even so, that's at least 15-20 different elements for the weekly collage.  We'll just have to see what I do with it and see if I need to narrow the focus even more.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Fun with Sumi, taught by Karen Dedrickson

Two weeks ago, I participated in Karen Dedrickson's dress rehearsal of her new class in exploring contemporary sumi painting.  I adore her birds, (see them here), and we are good friends, so I was thrilled to help her out and get to play with her techniques all at the same time.  We had a blast and I learned some things that I think will transfer well to dye painting on fabric.  Sumi painting is traditionally done with just black ink on rice paper and a particular style of brush.  These technical limitations mean that it's easy to focus on subtle variations in flow, brush use and shading with the ink by diluting it.

In keeping with that type of limitation, we used one of her owls as a starting point for our exercises and did 6 quick pieces varying one major thing per piece.  I was really pleased with the class and here are some of the owls I did.  (My daughter has already asked for one for her bird art wall.  What a compliment!)  Along with some comments about what I learned from doing them.

Here's the first bird.  My brush was loaded with lots of undiluted ink, so there's that really dark first stroke.  That led to my going with some darker imagery with the head/eyes.  Not one of my favorites but others like it best.  (Taste varies.  Really.)

This was the third of six.  I was trying out dry brush strokes with this one so it seems more energetic and almost frenzied to me.  Still going all the way to the edges which doesn't work so well when framing something.  (Karen has figured out how to help students with this earlier in the class.  Go, Karen!)
I like the feet on this one.

And my personal fave, the Buddha Belly Owl.    I went much smaller and was trying out prewetting the paper with dirty water.  Then adding more ink using dots over the earlier ones.  I'm not sure why the paper has wrinkled so much but that does add some interesting highlights to the belly area.

All in all, it was a great class.  Karen is knowledgeable and articulate and did a stunning job explaining things one on one with all the different people in the class.  I learned more about how hard it is to do the work she does and I learned some techniques I will be playing with on fabric.  In color, of course, since that's what I do but I can see new ways to approach my own work and that's a big thing to take home from a class.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Earth Day Bird walk

This morning was so lovely and sunny that I went for my morning walk on the greenbelt with great anticipation and joy.  And I was not disappointed.  I had a stellar's jay come in close to the trail and hop around in a tree right in front of me.  Close enough I could see the blue streaking on his forehead.  (The picture below is from a different day at a different park since I didn't take my camera this morning).  Then I went another 10 feet down the path and a towhee, a sparrow and a hummingbird all popped up to give me a look.  I continued on to the lake pier and got a some nice looks at a couple of male mallards.

On my way back to the car, I had a momma mallard squawk at me as she was herding her little brood of ducklings across the path and into one of the waterways that feed into the lake.  I hurried past so she could continue on her way with her incredibly cute little balls of fluff.  A wonderful way to celebrate Earth Day and I am glad I took the time.  I hope you have a chance to connect with the natural world today too.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Latest marbling experiment - what do you see?

So I spent some time in my studio playing with my new marbling ideas after getting everything all set up for the new show I talked about last post.  And I decided to try out using a stencil.  Great idea.  Unfortunately, I also forgot the "change only one thing at a time" rule, and decided to go ahead and try on hand-dyed cotton fabric with an alum presoak instead of the ready for inkjet white silk.  This is my tendency to change everything breaking free again, alas.

Here's one of the results, the one that came out the closest to what I was thinking I would get.  And I want to know, do you see a lotus blossom or a turtle?  Or just a big blueish purple blur?

So, back to the marbling bin and this time, just one change at a time.  Really, I mean it....

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Upcoming show at TK Corridor Gallery in Pioneer Square

This is the second of my shows this year, and it opens next week.   I am pleased to note they used one of my pieces for the art on the back of the postcard.    The Gallery is open on Fridays and Saturdays from noon to five so the opening during the Pioneer Square Artwalk may be the most convenient time to see the show and is certainly the only evening time.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Melting glaciers and why you should care

Today's email brought this link to an article about melting glaciers and the effect on global climate.  Besides  rising sea levels, the two biggest impacts are the shifts in the jet stream (you know, the high level air stream movement that keeps thunderstorms moving along rather than dumping all their rain in one place) and the loss of glaciers & snow packs as water reservoirs  for areas where the regular runoff is used for drinking water and hydro-power production.  In the US, that means Alaska, California, and probably many of the Rocky Mountain States.  It's worth reading the article to get a better understanding of why people are saying this is a big deal.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Marbling fabric - fun times in the studio

Having survived 3 bouts with the flu this winter, and needing something to motivate me to slog through the accumulated chores and mail, I promised myself a play day in the studio.  I got the last stack of papers sorted and filed, and Karen Dedrickson and I spent several hours in her studio last week, doing some basic marbling.  She took a half day workshop in it several years ago but I have never done this before so this was our chance to see if all the ancient materials we had both accumulated over the years would work and if we liked it enough to do more.  Karen works on paper, usually with sumi ink, and does these fabulous & amazing birds so she was working with black ink and her rice papers.  I brought various fabrics to try out and two types of fabric paint.  We had a fun time, learned that we need to learn more and generated some pretty samples.  There will be more days like this in the near future.

So, on to the details.  First, I used the setacolor paints I have.  They are really nice for doing color washes on fabrics and I have a lot of different colors, so I thought I'd give them a try.  First, I used some organza that I have that is backed with paper and prepared to accept inkjet inks.  Here's how it looked with the backing paper still attached.  The white blobby spots are air bubbles from my lack of experience in putting the fabric on top of the tray of goo (technically called size) with the paints floated on top.

And here's how it looked after the backing paper came off.  I put a piece of white paper behind it offset from the edge a bit.  My scanners lid is black so it looks very different depending on the backing.

Then I tried some habatoi with no paper backing.  I got the colors on to the size pretty well but forgot to do the combing and pulling to make it more than just blobs of color.  Altho the blobs can make some interesting designs if the colors are layered in an interesting way.  The habatoi is somewhat light in weight and the paint is transparent rather than opaque so this piece came out fairly pale.

And the last piece with the setacolor paints was a piece of inkjet ready silk.  Since it was a leftover bit, I'm not really sure what weight it was.  It came out the best of the setacolor ones, both in color and patterning.  Experience counts, I guess.

Next, I moved on to try the neopaque paints.  I have fewer colors in these but they are opaque and heavier.  I found they just sank right away in their out of the jar thickness.  So, I added some water, and tried some different methods of applying them and got some good colors.  This was a piece of the habatoi used above and the colors were nice and vivid and I'm starting to get the hang of the patterning.

I was still having problems with the paint sinking.  The troubleshooting guides we found said that either the size was too thin or the paint was too thick.  I didn't really think I could thin the paint much thinner than I had it so I did one piece of cotton, a white on white print, to clean off the remaining paint from the size, and here's how that turned out.  The little hints of reddish color are actually a metallic rust paint but it was particularly bad about sinking fast so not much of it showed up.  This piece is mostly to show that cotton does take the paints well.  One of the books I've been reading about marbling said that silk was the best fabric to use but I'm not sure I'd agree with that.

We had a fun day and got some good ideas about where to go from here.  We spent yesterday in my studio trying out some of our ideas and I'll be reporting on that day later this week.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

2013 Goals and Intentions

I had intended to do this post fairly soon after my 2012 year in review, but the flu came back again for a 3rd round and delayed me.   That took me right up to my first weekend retreat with other creative people and here we are, three weeks into the year already.

I suppose I can feel good that I got a great start on my major studio goal for this year - creating a body of work based on my bird photographs.  I have two pieces that have been well received that used my bird photographs but I've been somewhat stymied on how to expand on this start.  So, this is my first and most ambitious goal.    The two pieces I've already done are Backyard Bushtits #3 which I posted in the year in review and Quantum Lake seen just below this text.  Quantum Lake is now matted and framed so the binding doesn't show anymore.

I have some ideas about how to pursue this series and trying them out will bring other goals to the forefront.  The other major issues in my goal setting for the year are my various health issues.  I have knee & back problems from injuries that are decades old and will probably continue to decline.  What that means right now is that I need to focus my effort in ways that do not require me to personally travel extensively or lift lots of heavy things.  So, I came up with goals that minimize my physical effort and travel time.   Here's the list of those related goals.

  •   Using my new camera which will allow me to take photos in RAW mode 
  • Learning to use Photoshop to more precisely manipulate and enhance the photos 
  • continue creating my own cloth using dyes and various surface design techniques
  • experiment with different styles of work using my photography as a major component (this might include adding text elements or even doing things that are primarily writing)
  • Explore online ways of teaching or sharing my experience in various techniques
  • Explore other ways to market my work that minimizes my physical effort

These goals don't easily lend themselves to measuring so I also came up with a list of easily measurable items that will set my habits and give me some sense of accomplishment no matter how the exploration in the studio goes.

  • Put in 700 hours in the studio for the year.  Aim for 10-15 hours in the studio per week on average.
  • Blog twice a week.  I did that for a couple of years when I started and once I got the habit going, it worked well.  My knee replacement surgery and moving disrupted that habit so now it's a matter of getting it back in place.
  • Write my newsletter at least every other month, aiming for 6-9 times a year.  Shameless self-promotion:  Send email to if you'd like to get it.   I mostly use the newsletter to talk about the shows I'm in and new galleries that show my work so they're short with lots of pictures.  
  • Submit to at least 6 relevant shows.  I want to more tightly focus my marketing efforts so I'm going to be looking for regional and national shows with thematic relevance.  
  • Do one marketing/admin activity each day, Monday through Friday.  
  • Read art related magazines or other material on Sunday afternoons.  I have a huge stack backed up, it's time to whittle that down a bit.
Then there are the personal goals.  
  • Work the back pain issue.  It's time to get another look at just what's going on;  is there still a bulging disc or is it just the leg length difference from the knee replacement surgery irritating things?
  • Exercise regularly and do this first.  If I don't do it first, I tend to skip it.
  • Meditate daily.  This too got irregular over the last few months when I was putting more energy into working at a co-op gallery and traveling enough to really aggravate my back.  
  • Lose weight.  Aim for 4 pounds a month on average.

So, now I have a list to check back on and help keep me on track.  

Friday, January 4, 2013

2012 - a year in review

Whew!  We made it through 2012 with a few bumps, several challenges and some losses.  As I do every year, I spent some time at the end of the year writing down my artistic accomplishments to see how I did compared to what I thought I wanted to do at the start of the year.  This was a big year for me despite the physical and emotional challenges the year presented.  What did I get done?  Glad you asked!

Biggest accomplishment was taking and implementing lots of the material from the Artists' Trust EDGE Professional Development Program.  This class met once a week for several months for a full day of intensive work in particular areas such as portfolio creation, gallery submission, legal stuff, pricing.  All the nuts and bolts of being a working artist.  We had a guest speaker each time and then spent the rest of the day boring down on the material and how to apply it to our work.  My class was a dozen artists working in different material and we really gelled as a group and have continued to meet and support one another twice a month.  This class helped me clarify my artistic vision, my personal goals for the next 5 years and gave me the tools to do what I want with confidence.

Next up, I sold more than I've sold before in six months.  The class ended with a group show at the ArtsNow Gallery in the Edmonds Conference Center.  I had 4 pieces in the show and three of them were bought for the Permanent Collection at Edmonds Community College.  (Our group sold over 10 pieces, a new single show record for the gallery.  Just sayin'.)  I sold 3 more art pieces before the end of the year, and on top of that I did another batch of sales of accessories, including a commission, another first.  One of the pieces that sold to ECC is below and will be part of the direction I go in the next year, but more about that in the next post.

Backyard Bushtits #3
Then there was showing my art.  I joined Gallery North, also in Edmonds, where I learned a huge amount about presenting art, got to practice talking about art, and relearned how to sell to individuals.   I also  joined Artists Connect and was in their member show, ArtSplash, in July.  And I had 3 of the 4 pieces I submitted to the Edmonds Art Festival accepted into the show in two different categories.  Another area show in November finished off my season.

I updated and improved my webpage and my marketing materials.   This is an ongoing process for an artist and I'll be doing another pass at it this month.

Last, but certainly not least, I took an online class from Lisa Call about Working in a Series.  I've been struggling with where to go with the pieces that incorporate my bird photography and this class helped me focus my intent for the series and gave me some process tools to make my studio work more productive.  Again, material that I will be using in the next year.

Then my back called a halt to this mad gallop I was doing.  So now I'm resting and thinking how to work within the physical constraints imposed by my health issues.   I have some ideas and I'll talk about them in my next blog post.

I hope your year was as productive!