Sunday, January 31, 2016

Orange dragon colors finalized - ready to paint on silk

While I liked the basic color combo of the warm colored dragon, I wanted to tweak the color choices a bit.  And I had two pieces of cotton with dragon outlines screened, one in red and one in black.  I know I already said the dragonflies looked much better with a black silkscreen, so this is a validation of that applied to warm colors.  And yup, it is still true.  Looks much better with the black outline.  I painted these two dragons with the same colors, actually at the same time.  The other conclusion is I really prefer working on the silk.  The paint flows much better and gives the watercolor effect that I like.

orange head rather than red, different red for body

The red outlining just kind of muddies the colors and looks less crisp.  So, give up that idea.  Clearly I was somewhat attached to the idea of using something in the same color family as the silkscreen color but this last experiment has convinced me to just let it go.

Red outline 

And for reference, here's the original color tryout on paper with the black outline.  I mention the color differences under the redo photo above:  body color a different, more orangy red, and I did the head in mostly the upper wing color rather than the body color so the expression is easier to read.  The one below is not bad for the first try but not what I really wanted.

first try with red colors on paper

And I'm now at the end of the month of experiments.  I haven't even made it into dye trials but it was very productive in narrowing my materials and helping me focus my work in a particular style and subject matter.  Winged things on silk, that's what I'll be doing this next month.  As for the dragons, I will be getting the fire-breathing part done next and then the backgrounds.  More trial and error fun!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Electric car or hybrid? Choices are growing!

I've been tracking electric vehicles for a while now so I'm really pleased to see the announcement from Tesla that a new Model III will hit the $35000 and be available in 2017 or sooner.  Since my husband has been mentally deliberating on what kind of EV to get to replace his current almost too old car this is good news at our house.

From Tesla announcement

But which is better right now, plug-in hybrid or electric?  Here's a good article analyzing the choices (click here) and best of all, the article has an example from a total cost over 5 years calculator, Edmunds True Cost to Own Calculator.  I'll be running the numbers on the choices altho my inclination is to stick with the hybrids until charging stations are more common.  This calculator makes it easier to see the benefits of going electric because the maintenance costs can really shift the total cost to own over the 5 years so I'll have to play with it a bit.  I have to admit I love the idea of having a car that doesn't run on gas and saves me money.   My idea of a win/win scenario.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

3 different color variations for dragons

On Monday, I painted.  I did 4 different dragons with 3 different color combinations.  I painted the first 3 on paper:  the red & blue combos that I want to do for gifts (and need to finish this week, eep!) and a purple/teal/silver combo for a FB friend who did one of those quizzes that said her fantasy creature was a dragon.  I asked what color of a dragon would she be and voila! got my third color combo to try.

Lesley's dragon

I'll probably do this one again with a bluer and lighter purple for the body.  This is just too much like grape juice for me.  The silver is actually a metallic paint which really doesn't photograph well.

Here are the two paper versions of the red & blue combos. The reddish one came out fine.  Not so for the blue one.  The blue one was done with transparent paint on the body and front of the wing and opaque teal for the feathery edge in the middle of the wing.  I messed up the color on the right wing, and wanted to try my transparent teal instead of the opaque one to increase the contrast.  

So next I did the blue one again on fabric.  Here's both of them in one shot to show the differences.

fabric one at top of photo

I like the changes in the paint colors on the fabric one but ended up overworking it by trying to fix some unevenness in the body with a water wash after I finished painting.  Let this be a lesson in the dangers of overworking...  I will probably attempt to save it by adding paler blue sky background and see if I can blend the bleeding into that.

Good colors but bleeding resulted from overworking

Overall I'm liking the results and enjoying the process.  The artistic sweet spot would be totally achieved except I started having back spasms this morning.  More painting will have to wait until tomorrow when I will use my posture alert tool to see if I can keep from stressing my back.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Dragon color sketch in red/orange/yellow

Friday I got the dragon silkscreens made and on Saturday I printed outlines in both black and red on 3 cotton pieces then did the same on sketchpad paper so I could try different color variations on the paper before doing them on the fabric.  Then I had to wait for them to dry.  Which meant painting didn't begin until this morning.   Here's the dragon screened on paper with a sample of the colors I was trying out for the red/orange/yellow version.

And here's the first paper color trial.  I narrowed the colors to 5 total but only used 3 in this first pass.  The other two colors are for shadows and blending.  I wasn't careful about my brush work since this was a try of the colors themselves and the details aren't as important for that.

First try of colors

I like the combination and I'm sure some more shadows and highlights will make it fabulous.  I'm also counting on blending being easier to do on the fabric than on the sketchpad paper.  Tomorrow will bring multiple dragons in different colors on paper and fabric.  Fun times in my studio!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Baby step progress on dragon pillow

My progress on my studio goals for the week was very slow this last couple of days.  Wednesday was a sick day and today was cleaning lady day so I had to do the "shift to the part of the house she's not working in" dance.  I did get the dragon sketch inked and got separation drawings for making silk screens done.

thermofax and dragon pieces

I use a thermofax machine to make my silkscreens and it has a limit of 8.5 inches wide so I have to separate the image into pieces to make 2 different screens to make one large dragon.  I should get the screens made and samples done tomorrow.  I had hoped to get them done today but life, what can you do?

The other big accomplishment was to gather together all the household, financial and personal files that need to be moved into the new file boxes I got.  The old arrangement was a lovely piece of furniture that I have to bend at the waist to read the file labels.  Since that particular bend is no longer easy to do, I got new boxes that can be put on a higher shelf in my computer work area.

non-urgent papers accumulated since first back surgery in 2013

And the current winner in the "never say never" category is today's dragonfly paint samples.  In looking at what I had done earlier, I realized that the watercolor dragonfly on watercolor paper was screened with black ink and the cotton ones were not.  So, not really a good comparison.  And I realized I hadn't done any on silk which is my preferred fabric.  So, two dragonflies on silk with black for the screen.  I used the same colors I had used before, the rightmost dragonfly on each fabric was done with watercolor alone first then with a topcoat of thinned medium.  The left one on each fabric was done with watercolor paint mixed with the medium.  It made a big difference on the cotton, less of a difference on the silk.  The silk ones are also almost as bright on the back as the front whereas the cotton ones are faint ghost images on the back.  I'm really liking the watercolor on the silk and will be doing more with it in the future.

cotton on left, silk on the right

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Watercolor dragonflies - really, truly, the last of the paint experiments

The last two days have been spent making progress on decluttering and setting up, then doing,  some watercolor experiments.  I had bought these granular watercolor paints because the samples at the local art store were very different from anything I can do on fabric with dye or fabric paints.  I wanted to see if I could get the same effect on fabric.  Unfortunately, today has been a bad allergy day despite all the usual things that help somewhat.  This meant only one set of comparisons.

The colors are so pretty in the white dishes but not so great on the watercolor paper on the left or the cotton fabric on the right.  Up close, there is some of the mottling and visual texture I was hoping for but not a lot.  On the fabric, the rightmost dragonfly was painted with just watercolor and the leftmost one had fabric paint extender added to it.

140 lb cold press paper on left

Here's some closeups of the dragonflies so you can see the color differences better.

watercolor paint on watercolor paper

And the 2 on fabric:

left one is with extender added

Here's the paints I was using today.  I used 6 drops of water and a lentil size blob of the paint.

Daniel Smith watercolors
My brain fog is bad enough that I am going to wait until tomorrow to draw my final conclusions but I think all the watercolor paints are going to leave my studio.  I'll keep the pencils and bars, but right now I'm thinking the tube paints are not worth the space & effort.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Studio hack for affordable easel

First off, I'll be going to a Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday blogging schedule starting today.  Writing daily helped get me back in the routine again quickly but my bigger goal is to find a sustainable pace and rebuild my studio practice in a way that fits into a balanced life.  Writing every day was getting stressful so I'm cutting it back.  Looking for that sweet spot where I feel productive but not pushed.

Today's achievement was finding a nice studio hack for an easel.  The only one at Daniel Smith that was meant for table top use cost over $200.  Since painting is not a big part of my process, this seemed like much more than I needed to spend.  On the drive home, I started thinking of ways I could improvise while waiting for anything I found online to ship.  My iPad holder fell over as did the plate display holder I had in a closet.  But my quilting rulers rack worked great.  And is available for $9 from Amazon so I'm ordering a couple more to use for painting.

16x16 plexiglass sheet in rack, 9x12 sketchpad on left

I already have several of the plexiglass sheets around because it's an easy way to tape a sketch underneath and put lightweight silk on top and paint.  It also cleans off easily and is lightweight.  I got them made at Tap Plastics here in Bellevue and had them round the edges slightly so my silk doesn't snag and I don't scratch myself.

Next up, trying out the watercolor paints I'm not positive I want to keep.  I'm keeping the Derwent Inktense pencils because they are wonderful for detail work on a fabric piece.  I can add both shadows and highlights and either leave them dry if I want the sharper line and the piece will be behind glass or I can use some fabric paint extender and get that watercolor wash and turn it into permanent paint.  I also will be trying out the sushi soy sauce dishes I got at Daiso.  I like porcelain in the studio because even acrylic paint won't stick to it.  I have chopstick holders that I use to prop my paintbrushes on so using the soy sauce dishes just continues the theme.  I'm sometimes easily amused.

watercolor pencils & granulating paint with soy sauce dishes

I had hoped I was done with the paint experiments but that was before I checked all the drawers in my studio to be sure I'd gotten all of them.  Nope, watercolors left.

This next week my goals are:  1) to refine the fire breathing dragon and enlarge it, 2)  mix dyes and soy wax dye cream in Seahawk colors and dragon colors, 3) create dragon silkscreen and 4) dye paint both dragonflies and dragon samples.  All of these will need the dye table cleared of clutter and made ready.  But after doing them, I should have the first version of a fire breathing dragon pillow and a Seahawk color silk scarf.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Eight more dragonflies - last of the paint experiments

I was a busy painter today.  I did the last 2 sets of paints on 4 different fabrics for 8 dragonflies in all. The left dragonfly on each fabric was painted with my marbling paints.  They turned out to be too thin so I ended up using Jacquard extender with a few drops of the intense colors mixed in.  This gave me a nice transparent color and allows me to use my marbling paints in multiple ways.  The right hand dragonfly is painted with the Jacquard Neopaque which is also usable for silkscreening.  Here's the dragonflies on white fabric so you can see what the colors look like in their pure form.

The opaque paints turned out to be difficult to use with the small spaces in the dragonflies so I didn't do the body of the dragonfly on any of the fabrics.

I actually painted on the two silk fabrics first.  The purplish fabric was first and the blob at the end of the dragonfly tail on the left is from trying the marbling paint without the extender to thicken it.  It just spread like mad which is why I immediately added in the extender.

These 2 fabrics were to see if the paints were significantly different on silk, one dark all over, one with lighter color.  It turned out the silk was a tiny bit different in how the paint flowed on it but not enough of a difference to change whether a paint type was usable or not.  And the blobs of blue around the right hand dragonfly are what happens when you make multiple images with one screen without checking the bottom to see if any paint transfers.  This would be a problem if I were doing something other than experimenting.

And last we have the dark cotton which shows why I need the opaque paints.  (Left one is transparent, right one is opaque.)

Thus ends my experiments with paint types.  I have now reduced my paints from 6 different types/brands with 4 different mediums to just two paints and 2 different mediums.

Next up, dye painting with soy wax resist and refining the fire breathing dragon.  This means tomorrow is most likely a day of mixing dyes and working on the dragon.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

What kind of dragon do I want?

Today was spent reading some dragon drawing books and doing some sketches.  Two dragons from today will be taken further.  The first is what I'm dubbing SeaDragon.  I only got the initial sketch done and will have to ponder what patterning or other fringe or fins I might want to add.  I also have to think about how the patterning will work as a silkscreen to be colored in.

first sketch of SeaDragon

This Feathered Dragon is already a few steps from the first sketch.  I've added some feathers on the wings and along the neck and tail.  I want to refine the tail feathers and think about whether he should have back feet showing or not.

Fire-breathing dragon?

But neither of these is quite right for my young friend.  I'm thinking a dog/lion based dragon might work for him since he likes to roar when we talk about dragons.  So, tomorrow more dragons and more painting samples.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Long desired Marbling book arrives: Shiny squared!

Today was not a studio day.  First, I woke with an awful headache which has spent all day hovering on the brink of migraine despite every medical bullet in my inventory.  But... a really great thing happened.  A wonderful art book about Turkish marbling written by Hikmet Barutcugil arrived.  I got an empty box with a note for Xmas saying it was on it's way from Turkey.  And it came today.  Just when I really, really needed to just sit and read.  How nice!

Front cover
inside cover & dj flap

I particularly like that he has experimented with pushing the bounds of traditional marbling going well past the traditional techniques.  This book covers those traditional techniques and some of the blendings.   What is great about it is the information covering the why of the techniques which is what I need to do my own experimenting.

 While I like the non-geometric traditional work, like the blue sample above, I really love the pieces where he combines wavy marbling with traditional art elements.  

The other wonderful thing about the book is his philosophy on the spiritual side of marbling.  I had no idea he thought that way.  Which is interesting, considering I've decided to use marbled fabric to represent the flow of the universe/spirit in my work.  Synchronicity rules!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Recap of first week of 30Day Challenge

It's been a challenging week.  And re-reading my blog posts so far in January, I realized I had not clearly stated some of my goals.  I want to simplify and focus my efforts.  That became clear this week with the experiments with different paints.  I have too many choices.  One of my painter friends who is very productive works with sumi-e ink and brushes.  While trying to make sense of all the different paints and why I had them this week, I really started to envy her simplicity of materials.  One ink, one paper, one style of brushes.  Walk into the studio and go.  I am sure it's not really that simple but faced with my tendency to try out every shiny art thing that comes by, well, it seems that way.

And I want to make my own fabrics.  I am really tired of running out of a particular fabric because I didn't buy enough to start with or the size I originally cut isn't working when I get to the collage state but what I have left isn't big enough to redo the piece...  You get the idea.  If I make my own fabric, then I can always make more.

batik I'd like more of

  For example, there's the blue batik above that I was using as background/sky/starscape on a piece.  The project I was creating it for specified a size that I ended up not liking.  (18x30 portrait, for the curious).  First I didn't like it having to be portrait because I was doing the PNW myth about Raven stealing the light back, like Prometheus.  But I struggled on because I was excited by the idea.  When I got to the final collage stage where all the pieces were to go together, it just was not going to work with that ratio.  I needed more width for that height.  And I had no more fabric.  So that piece is on hold until I can find a reasonable substitute or I work out how to make some close enough to make it work.

Another goal that I really didn't articulate well is that I want to shorten the time needed to make a piece.  Part of that is paring down the different parts of my process and part of it is simplifying what I do so that I gain unconscious mastery as Steve Barnes puts it.  Then I can stay in that flow zone and zoom along like a kid riding a bike with no hands.

As part of that simplifying, I'm boxing up unnecessary supplies and will be selling them on Etsy or donating them to local art groups who do worthy events.  Simplifying, focusing, creating my own materials so everything is simpler and my supplies are fewer.  We'll see how it goes.

This next week, I hope to finish the paint samples with the dragonflies and start doing some dragon and bird sketches.  The bird ones will be based on photos I have taken on birding trips while the dragon ones will be based on 50 years of reading Sci-Fi and Fantasy.    Another of my unspoken goals for this month is to do a dragon pillow for a 4 year old of my acquaintance.   And I think that's all I can attempt without losing my focus.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

More blue dragonflies

Today, I figured out what sets of paints I want to test and laid out my different fabrics to work with.  I screened blue dragonflies on the dark green cotton and the 2 silks.  Then I painted using the paint set I used yesterday.

dark green cotton
The paint didn't flow as well on the 2 hand dyed silks and I realized I should change the color on the tail that alternates with the gold when I change the background color.  On these silks, it should really have been a green rather than the russet I used.

purplish silk

variegated chinese red silk

Painting these 3 dragonflies took about 75 minutes.  There were lots of small bits where I had to use a tiny brush so it took a fair amount of time.   I think the other paint sets will go faster as I gain practice in painting multiples at one time.  I'm looking forward to seeing how the samples come out.

Friday, January 8, 2016

25% Taking in inspiration

One of the books I've read by working artists talking about how to have a sustainable creative process said 25% of an artist's time should be spent taking in things that can be used as inspiration.  Today turned out to be one of those days.  It started out well with a great workout at the gym where I took a dozen shots of some crows being spooky in a tree in the fog, and me feeling all pumped up about a whole day dedicated to painting.

Then I came home, did my stretches for the first time since Thanksgiving, checked out the studio for air quality, and tried the recipe for a pomegranate smoothie.  After drinking the smoothie, I started feeling woozy.  Long story short, I was soon felled by a severe allergy attack with at least 3 possible causes.  *sigh*  Productive work today:  watching some more of the online class on inking, reading some dragon drawing materials and contemplating the crow photos.  The one above is the only one that caught any of the crows in flight.

While the iPhone camera failed to capture the spooky fog, it did well enough at giving me a good dark image on a light background which is what I need to make a good screen.  I have shots of a couple of other leafless trees and have spent part of the day contemplating how to combine these into an interesting collage.  Or use them as screens in vivid colors with birds.   Tomorrow, I swear, I will paint dragonflies.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Pacing: sometimes life interferes

Today is cleaning lady day so I got a late start.  I also had to run a couple of urgent errands.  And I woke with back pain so all together that seemed to be a message for me to have an easy day in the studio.  I decided to be inspired by the tone on tone dragonfly reference shot and try out some of the different fabric paints I have to see how they work in this style.  My secondary goal here is to cut back on the number of different paints I use.  Here's today's paints and the little palette plate.

SoSoft takes the lead!

I love the lumiere russet on the far right of the row of paints.  It's the perfect thickness straight out of the jar for silkscreening.  (About the consistency of gel toothpaste for those who are curious.)  The SoSoft paints surprised me.  I was expecting lesser quality as fabric paints at, say, JoAnn's or Michael's tend to have less pigment and be paler than I'd like for this exercise.  Nice surprise.  

Here's the finished dragonfly with gold & russet on the body and the various blues on the wings.  I did the left wings first and decided I didn't like the color layout so the right wings are what I did to fix that.

Glitter is there in person but not on camera
My evaluation of today's dragonfly:  I liked the transparency of the SoSoft non-metallic blue (wingtip on the right wings).  The metallics were more opaque as expected.  The SoSoft metallic turquoise worked well, much better than the Lumiere darker blue in the middle of the wing.  Overall, I like the coloring in of the silkscreen.

Thoughts that came to me while working:  I wonder if I could use the marbling paints with the pearlescent base to create metallics that work for this?  And would the marbling paints I prefer work with acrylic medium to make a good silkscreening consistency?  That would really simplify my paint situation.  Right now, I have silkscreening paints from Speedball & Versatex, marbling paints that are mostly Golden Hi-Flow, transparent & opaque & metallic sets of Setacolor, and a bunch of lumiere and neopaque fabric paints. And a box of fluid Golden acrylics, red, blue & yellow in both warm and cool.   ( I also have a whole set of dyes which are transparent.)  Too many choices to make when deciding what paint to use.  Not to mention all the studio space to store all of them.   The dyes and the marbling paints stay, absolutely.  Beyond that, I'm looking for flexibility and color intensity.  Hmm, how to test these paints against each other with minimum effort and maximum info resulting?  I'll think on this tonight and plan in the morning.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

First 2 painted dragonflies are done

Progress today was good but not what I expected to be working on.  I finished silkscreening the fabric I had already sized and pressed.  I got one test of Setacolor shimmer vs transparent paint done.  Since I'm still reacting to the studio air, and I didn't have the painting supplies to make other test, I spent the rest of my work time today watching a class on Skillshare (Mastering Inking).  I hope this will be relevant when I get to working on the dragon drawing.

For tomorrow, I have *lots* of silkscreened dragonflies in various colors to do the paint experiments with.
all screened with metallic paint

The little paper plate above is what I used as a palette for the mixing of transparent Setacolor with matte medium.  I did this to increase the transparency of the paint.  The big gold/green blob on the plate is watercolor gold mica mixed with thinned medium and textile medium.  I used those paints on the smaller dragonfly.  The bigger dragonfly was painted with the Setacolor shimmer opaque fabric paints.

transparent vs opaque fabric paints

The painting lessons learned for today are:  1) even with a teeny brush the opaque paints are more time consuming to use if I want to keep the silkscreened lines.  2)  the shimmer doesn't really show so probably not worth the time/effort to use the opaque paints.  3) the transparent paints work great with a larger brush and go on quickly & easily while still showing the silkscreen lines well except for the tip of the tail where I used a blue that was too close to the blue of the lines.

Looking forward to some extended painting tomorrow alternating with some more info about brushes, inks and brush strokes from Skillshare.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Handling the unexpected aka the challenge part of a challenge

Today I went in and quickly cleared the area in front of the sink before lunch.  As I got closer to the wall, I discovered that it is a bad idea to lean a big piece of plastic against the wall and then close up the basically unheated room for a few weeks while there's company visiting.  Condensation, closed space, well, not nice.  After a vigorous scrub with alcohol, and the beginning of some serious sneezing due to my mold/mildew allergy, I realized I was going to have to revise my expectations for my day.  So, I made lemonade.  I grabbed some of the fabric, a box of the paints, my favorite brushes, and the padded board I like to work on with silkscreening, moved the UV light air filter fan into the studio and closed the door.    Resulting in this folding table with a view of the backyard bird feeders.

minimal workspace with a view

Then I broke for some allergy meds and lunch.  This meant a late start on the silkscreening and painting but at least I was still making progress.  I started with the t-shirt and discovered that the Setacolor shimmer colors lose most of the shimmer when dry brushed on lightly.  I decided to switch to another fabric for trying out the paints.

tshirt with orange & gold on big dragonfly

Since I have a request for the dragonflies on dark fabric, I decided to see which dragonflies worked best on the dark fabric with the various metallic silkscreen paints I had in my box.  Here's the result with the medium size dragonfly from the t-shirt.  On the t-shirt, this was done with a non-metallic paint.  Here, I used silver on the top 2, red and gold on the middle 2, and the bottom was peach and bronze.  This dragonfly has very thin lines and doesn't work very well with the metallics.  Altho, looking at the picture now, I can think of times I might want the almost ghost image of the dragonfly that the bottom pair turned out to be.

thin lines

The final tryout repeated the darker fabric with a larger dragonfly and the 3 most successful colors from the one above:  red, gold and silver.  Looking good! Crisp lines and good paint density from the silkscreens.

Ready to paint

Results from today:  I wrote on the folder for the medium dragonfly to not use it with metallics.  Way too iffy on the results.  And I got out the transparent medium and the Speedball pearlescent base to see if I can get the slightly glittery translucent tone I am looking for with the painting.  I also ordered some mold/mildew remover/sealant which should come sometime tomorrow.  That means tomorrow  I will be continuing to work on the folding table and my goal is to paint all the dragonflies I screened today.  If I get all that done and still have work time, I'll start working on sketches of dragons.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Ready, set, (wait for it...) Fabric & paints for the 30Day challenge

Progress not perfection is becoming my motto as I make leisurely progress in my 30 days of Art Experiments.  The decluttering of the studio is taking much more time/effort than I expected but today I did get fabric selected, cut to size, ironed, and paints picked out.  See the inspiration producing layout below.   I did find a few surprises lurking in the previous clutter.  Namely, some leather wristbands and acrylic finish for leather.  So added to my experimenting list is silkscreening on leather.
fabric and paints ready to go

Left to right, I have fabrics in front: t-shirt, 5 longer lengths of muslin, 3 white cotton 12" squares, a stack of about 9 smaller muslin squares, 3 9x14 dark green cotton pieces, and 2 hand dyed silk pieces in medium pink & purple.  Karen visited on Saturday and admired the t-shirt, asking for one on a dark green similar to the dark green fabric so I added that fabric to the experiment list to see if the paints will work on a dark background.  And she also suggested doing some scarves for Columbia City Gallery where we both have work on sale.  That suggestion moved the silk fabric up the list. In the background I have (again left to right) lumiere metallic fabric paint, setacolor shimmer, some tube acrylics, interference acrylics which will get some fabric medium added to them, and the versatex silkscreen paints in the big jars.   I had hoped to get the dragonflies screened onto the fabric today but after 3.5 hours of work today, this is as far as I got.

This seemed like a good stopping point as the next thing is to clear a path to the sink.  My thermofax screens need to be cleaned very quickly after I use them so having the sink just a few steps away is a big plus.  Unfortunately, since I reorganized the studio, the corner in front of the sink has become a clutter zone.
Clutter R Us
Fortunately, it won't take as much work as it seems to clear this up.  The elfa cart in the foreground is on wheels and will move to the dry studio on the other side of the back wall very quickly.

Tomorrow, I paint!  If I get all the fabric that I've prepped used, I will feel extremely productive.  And I'm going to take copious notes in my studio notebook as I failed to do with my sample chicken (more about that later).

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Dragonflies have amazing colors

Today's task for my 30 days of art experiments was to find some dragonfly reference photos on the web.  Research is one of my favorite things and a great way to procrastinate when I'm getting tired of decluttering the studio.  Not to mention Sunday is my day off.  But I digress...

Tyson ecology research

I particularly wanted to get some variations in the wing colors but wasn't sure if that actually happened in real life.  Well, I was very surprised to find the amazing variety of patterning on both the wings and the bodies of dragonflies.  The one above was the best of the variegated wing ones.

This one is the variegated body patterning that caught my eye.

And this one caught my eye for the multiple colors and the body patterns.

Tomorrow, assuming I get a clear surface to work on, I start playing with the paints.  

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Art Experiments Challenge or what I'm going to be doing in January

As I explained yesterday in the 2015 wrap up, I am going to be blogging daily about my studio experiments.  Today, since my studio currently looks like this:

Today's work: clearing room for experiments!

I'm going to talk about what I want to achieve and how I'm going to approach it.

Primarily, I want a faster, less physically challenging way to create work.  Part of figuring out what that means was re-reading How to Get Focused and Create What Matters by Dan James.  This is one of those books that I need to reread periodically as this is an issue I struggle with.  (My friend Lisa says I suffer from project interruptus.  I say I have a low saving roll against shiny.)  And I like his approach to pricing it.  What could be better than picking what you pay for an ebook?  See his page about the book here.

What did I re-learn from the book?  I have to focus on one project at a time.  This does not mean I can't have more than one project in progress, but that I need to put all of my attention on one while I'm working on it.  Go into that flow state.  For me, this means only 2 projects at once and different spaces for them.  I definitely need to declutter the studio to start!  And I need to trust that my most important ideas will insist on getting done so I don't need to spend time dithering about which idea I should work on now.

Given those, I then started my list of experiments which will undoubtedly change as I go.  That is the way the whole experimental process works after all.  So this is essentially a place to start.  I learned from my chicken project that I wanted to head more toward making my own fabrics.  And I need to reduce the number of steps in my process which also probably means reducing the number of techniques I use.  My first step will be experimenting with silkscreening.  Can I use silkscreening to create my own fabrics with textures I like?  How about doing some batik style patterning?  And combining the silkscreens with painting so that I use silkscreens as outlines, kind of like a coloring book.  And what about dye painting?  I have a formula for making a soy wax cream with dye in it and it works well with silkscreens.  Definitely want to play with that.  And finally, I have 2 household projects I want to work on that I will use as a focus for the topic.

To put it in list form, experimental starting points:

  1. silkscreening and over painting
  2. silkscreening with soy wax cream
  3. Textures on fabric
  4. soy wax silk screening and dye painting combined
  5. faux batik (with discharge?)
  6. Dragons & birds, especially using my photos of local birds as a starting point

Here's a t-shirt from my drawer of not quite right things that I will be using as a starting point for experiments.  And yes, it's not dragons or birds but this is all experimental so I'm starting with what I have.

Tiedyed tshirt with silkscreened dragonflies

Tomorrow, I'll be overpainting the dragonflies on the t-shirt.  And probably creating more dragonflies to try out different paints and different techniques.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Farewell to 2015, a difficult year

The first week of January 2015, I had a spinal fusion surgery.  Then, within a week,  I got the first bout of what turned out to be 8 months of sinus problems & infections.  So basically, 2015 was a challenge.  I've worked out adaptations for my new physical limitations in most of everyday life but failed almost totally to get that transferred into my studio practices.  With one big exception:  I made some chicken collages in October that I am quite pleased about.  And while I think they are lovely chickens, what pleased me most was working out a process that was not a challenge physically and was a good workflow for me as an artist.  

photo by Karen Dedrickson

In addition to developing a good workflow, I got to work with a metal substrate which was new.  Artists love doing new stuff, worse than programmers even, so new stuff is good.  And doing these 2 chickens added several new things to my studio goals list.

photo by Karen Dedrickson
First was creating my own fabrics.  While I enjoy selecting the fabrics from my stash, I'm heading more towards wanting my own textures on top of the colors that predominate in the fabric.  Working with metal, and continuing to use the variegated satin stitch also went on the list.

This list got further refinement during the sinus infection that followed finishing the chickens.  I spent a lot of time reading and thinking about what I need to do next.  And whether I could physically do what I want to do.  And if not, what do I do instead?

All of that has caused me to give myself a challenge to blog daily about Art Experiments.  And in order to blog, I must do.  So, January will be my experimenting month.   I'll talk more tomorrow about how I plan to structure this experimentation so please, follow along, and see where I end up!