Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Bamboo and the Deep Blue Sea

More Playing with Paint. A very ugly bit of pink & purple cotton that resulted from an earlier experiment with scrunch dyeing, stencilled over with Shiva paintsicks. Still ugly.

The blue and green fabric is silk, painted and manipulated into folds while still wet, then sprinkled with coarse salt. I've never had much luck dyeing with salt, but this is almost OK. It has a wonderful feel, since it's a very luxurious 11.9 mme silk charmeuse. I'm really getting hooked on working with silk! But what to DO with it, once I've dyed & painted and stamped and stencilled my little heart out on it - I still hate sewing with its squirmy, slithery self!
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Pomegranates and Pistachios - a Visual Feast?

Here are 2 little bits from my Playing With Paint class (Quilt U, Lyric Kinard). The assignment was printing with fruits & vegetables, so I dutifully made a nice vegetable soup and carefully saved various stumps & interesting little pieces and set them aside to dry. Next day, they're nowhere to be found - my dear sainted husband had foolishly considered them compost, and off they went to enrich my garden. Hmmmm, there's a song in there somewhere - no, wait, it's already been done, perhaps by Pete Seeger...And I know, I know, how much complaining can you do when the man is tidying up the kitchen, eh?

Anyway, not being in the mood to embark on any further cooking when I was in printing mode (what, again with the dinner? I don't think so!), I was left with a dried out old pomegranate and some pistachio shells to print with. The base fabric is some previously hand-dyed cotton that was loitering around in the vicinity of my desk. I used at least 2 closely-related colors to print with, one of them a "shimmer", but you can't see that in these pictures. The purple "smudges" in the green piece are very fine prints of a shell I found in the Bahamas - they show up very well in person; I guess this is a crappy low-res scan. Also better in the flesh: the repeated but barely visible print suggesting wild grasses that I mad a long time ago by glueing some leftover slivers of fun foam on a piece of box cardboard.

And then, because everything looks better with a little sparkle, I whisked a little "shimmering pearl" and/or some very diluted metallic gold hither and yon over the whole thing.

I have to admit to loving the little pistachio shell prints - so clean, so shapely, so available, so free of any preparation other than eating them! I predict that they will be making future appreances in my work. And I learned something useful about pomegranates, too: even when they appear to be all dried up past edibility, the seeds inside remain juicy and fully, edibly, tasty. Handy to know, huh?

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

More Playing With Paint

Or "Evolution of a Colonoscopy"... after I ironed out this piece of scrunched & painted silk , I noticed that it looked like, well, something best not seen outside of a gastroenterologist's office. So I tarted it up with Shiva Paintstick rubbings over a couple of my hand-carved rubber stamps and a little piece if plastic needlepoint mesh that was lying around. Because it is silk, it has a nice flow and drape. Still don't know if I like it, but it's growing on me.
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Monday, February 16, 2009

Elizabeth Gilbert's TED talk on creativity

Here's a link to one of the most amazing talks I've ever heard:


Unlike many artists, I am amazingly bad at talking about The Creative Process. What is creativity? Where does it come from? "Where do you get your ideas?" - now there's a conversation-stopper, at least when it's addressed to me! Why do some people "have it" while others "aren't creative"? (heinously not so, in my understanding of the way things work, but a surprisingly ubiquitous view).

And why am I so mute when someone tries to engage me in conversation on the subject? ME! A normally bright, funny, opinionated, articulate person, and certainly not loathe to blather on about almost anything. Whether or not I know anything about the subject at hand! Yet when it comes to the topic of how/why I do what I now spend my days doing, about all I can manage is a self-disparaging "Oh, I just make stuff. Small art quilts. Surface design. You know, fabric..." Well, nobody's too sure what that means...must be code for "Beware - Flaky Artist on the scene; better get your crystals out and align your chakras!"

I could go all mystical: "I don't really know - things just happen. I just like to play." (Kinda true, but incomplete, inadequate, insufficient.) Or I could go cerebral, launch into long theories and "process" talk, most of which leads directly and in short order to the kind of pompous, self-congratulatory mental masturbation that drives me right straight crazy. Or there's always the time-honored Tortured Soul route - that's an archetype that our society has a definite place for. (And how come, by the way, we have no tradition of the Cheerful Artist? The Gleeful Soul, who creates for the sheer joy of being in the Universe?...Ooops, I see that leads right back to The Flake!)

Mystical Flake, Fatuous Narcissistic Ass, Tortured Artist: surely the creative life deserves more! Gilbert comes closer to expressing my own experience and understanding of creativity and the artist than any I've come across so far. I'm not going to recap what she says here; just, please, if you're interested in the subject at all, take the 19 minutes and watch this video!

And then let's talk!

Monday, February 9, 2009

"Playing with Paint" class

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While not particularly lovely pieces of fabric, these are the first 2 in the class I'm taking through Quilt University, taught by Lyric Kinard. Couldn't figure out how to send them to the class gallery, so I'll just put them here. (I'm inordinately proud of having figured out, for the first time all by myself, how to get the pix out of the camera and into the computer. Maybe tomorrow I'll progress further!) The first cloth is done by drawing the tree-ish lines on white fabric with plain ol' Crayola crayons (I broke a whole bunch of them in the process; good excuse to go buy a new box, since I find broken crayons very disturbing!), then washing over the whole mess with fabric paints. I used various mixtures of blues, and you can't see it but there's a little pearly sparkle going on. I was too impatient to wait for it to air-dry properly, so I zapped it with the heat gun for a while, then ironed it between clean newsprint (all right - it was kinda dirty newsprint), and voila: the fabric dried, the wax came out into the newsprint, and the color stayed in.

Second piece: just swashing color around on damp cotton, then scrunched up a bit to dry. But again I was too impatient, so I ironed this one dry rather than waiting. I know if I'd just let it sit there till tomorrow, there would be more contour-type lines, but oh well...

It struck me as I looked at these two side-by-side that they reminded me of November (or December, or January, or _____)in the Bahamas and the same winter months here at home in upstate NY. Guess which is which!