Friday, December 14, 2012

That was then and this is now....

Too bad the artist can't develop as fast. Here are my finished "tiles". The original image was a closeup of my face, taken by obliging Tatiana, another of the artist group, and processed, with transparencies, varying degrees of intensity xeroxes, by Donna Senopoulos, the gallery manager and manager of this project -- she's an artist, as you can guess. So here's where it's at.

The charcoal drawing is one I did many years ago, not of my own face, but resembling it somewhat at that period, as most drawings of faces tend to resemble the artist. Then there's a paper weaving with a stenciled nautilus image, in another, and a "series" of artist faces in another, superimposed on paintings, and a painting of my workbasket packed with scraps and bits, in another. That last one is probably a good analog of the artist mind, come to think of it. Anyway, here it is.

And here am I. This is the day before my birthday, so I thought it was a good way of leaving the old year with a bang!

Portrait of the Artist as a Work in Progress...aren't we all

I'm part of a group project, referring to the town I live in, and the people who live and work and play there. One part of this, which will be exhibited in due course, once everyone's had his or her say, is a series of small self portraits, artist style, on illustration board. They'll be shown tiled, and I'm working on mine. The first three, one still to think about, are at this stage of realization:

More will happen, and they'll be trimmed down to squares, but this is where it's at right now. As I say, the artist is a work in progress, and so is the art!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Home and Away

At home, here's the big Douai bible and the little Douai bible (same bible, different print and page size), in their new covers, as planned yesterday.   Some fabric left over and I'll figure out what its destination will be at some point.

Then, a rescue work:  among the belongings of the local EGA chapter, one of the outgoing Presidents found the banner, unfinished, and all forlorn. 
So she presented it to me when I became one of her (three!) successors,and I've hemmed and dowelled and pressed it, and plan to hang it at our monthly members meetings, in case we forget what chapter we're in...I just wanted to honor the stitchers who designed and almost finished it.  There's a pencilled in place for an escutcheon, too, which will probably house a stitched emblem of the chapter, but that can wait a bit.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Catharsis hurts

Sometimes recycling hits home in a way that is hard to handle. This current piece is the opened up bag, which originally contained the ashes, in a container, of Handsome Partner. The ashes long since scattered in a favorite place, the bag, a dark blue velveteen, has been sitting in the coat closet on a shelf, because it was such a dilemma. You can't toss such a thing. You can't use it as a bag, though it was designed as a drawstring bag, so it has sat there, causing a stab of pain when I went in for a coat.

Then today it occurred to me that HP would have been very amused to see it given a new lease on life. I cut it open, and have stenciled, in metallic turqoise and copper, a natural design. This will be a book cover, probably for my Douai bible. And there will be more fabric left over, to use for some other respectful kind of cover.

This feels much better. And handling it when I handle the bible, will feel good, too. But all the same, suddenly I feel very tired.

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Pairs Project continues

Here's the latest pair which has emerged:  a film photograph collage, which I made some time ago, choosing subjects very close to my house, and a tapestry rendition of the same concept, using embroidery floss,crochet thread and beads. 

Marginal photo rendition, darkest day of the year, I guess, despite my adding light here and there.  click to see better, though.  Size of photo piece about 5 x 8 inches, of the tapestry about 5 x 12.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Silk dyeing for upcoming workshop

This is the later stages of my preparing for a workshop for my embroidery buds.  I'm leading them in a session of free form embroidery on silk.  I've taken habotai silk, handrolled squares, and hand dyed them with silk dyes, various techniques.  I did twenty, each an individual artwork, and probably there will be a couple of extras after enrollment is filled.  I showed a couple as a preview at the holiday party, and they went over well, so I hope this will be a good experience.  Click to see these better.

Many hours in the studio to do this!  after this I decide whether to use a fixative -- these pieces are for stitching and framing, not washing -- and I have to press all the pieces for best presentation. Then wave them about to release the static!  but great fun all the same.  And I have to wrap a bunch of hoops to protect the silk as the stitchers work on it.   And write the how to guide for seeing, deciding, choosing stitches, colors, areas to work in, and so on, for people most of whom don't have experience in the fine arts, but whose stitching skills are off the charts good.

Aside from the days I had to empty the studio in case the walls had to be cut into for the famous leak situation...but all is calm now.

This experience, of teaching a stitching group, is a real crossover for me, working in fine and applied art at the same time.  I already know the people, and they're very receptive, so it ought to work.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Local art association

By way of a complete contrast to the more formal event last evening with the embroiderers, we had a regular meeting of the local artists' group, with some excellent new artworks on display, and discussion.  Nice group, good friends there, too.  Tatiana, this means you!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Embroiderers' Holiday Shindig

This is the main holiday party I'm going to this year. Everything else is low key and few people.  But this was the firstEGA holiday party I've been to since I joined the embroiderers, and it was great.  Wonderful dinner, all chef cooked, pastry chef did the desserts, wine, atmosphere, everything.

And a big turnout, most of the chapter came, and we had a business meeting in between present giving and awarding of awards for various activities, the extent of which would make a person's head spin.  This is a busy group, what with outreach teaching and membership promoting and donating needlework materials to people who need them.  And we did a show and tell of work completed this year, a fraction of what actually took place. Also in attendance at the bash were the husband of one member and the mom of another, caught them both in the fourth pic down.

All the members do embroidery in all its forms, needlepoint, cross stitch, hardanger, pulled work, crewel, and some also do quilts -- some miniaturized quilts seen here -- and my own door prize was a great pattern for pulled and drawn threadwork, one of my favorite stitching adventures.  I showed a few of the silk pieces I'd dyed for the workshop I'm teaching in early February, seen in the second to last photo, end of the table,and the participants perked up on seeing them, so I think this will go well.

Some of the pieces on the show and tell table are rescued -- including the Princeton chapter banner, stitched on heavy linen, and now in my custody for my term of office, newly installed tonight,the banner found in the general stash, nobody sure of its history, but we plan to take care of it. 

All in all, good to be us!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Artist books keep coming...

This is this afternoon's haul.  Saddle stitched, rounded corners and covers, nice little notebooks.  I like to give this kind of thing, not an elaborate present, but more than a card.  And there's a memory of HP in the covers, which I will explain to the recipients in due course.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Artist's books

Part of my holiday prep is to make a few artist books for gifts. Here are the three latest:  using knitted wire, computer parts, stamping from my handcarved stamps, binding with fabric, and stitching.  Making art helps me get through this, my least favorite, time of year!

Sent also to: 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Blink! my part of the Traveling Art Journal

Remember the art journal I built, for our local artists' association to pass around and contribute to? 
here my kitty Duncan plays happily with the ties before I wrap it to send to the next destination.

My own page in the journal is named Blink!
  -- it's four strips of landscape fixed onto the page sequentially as if the viewer is seeing a strip at a time.  Which is just about what we do in real life, only glancing rather than looking.

And in another part of the journal I inserted a little painting, not pictured here, since the recipient doesn't know about it yet.  She'll get to see it next time the journal's in her hands.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Looking back a few years

For several years, I had art adventures with Stefi Mandelbaum, using the nom d'art Unified Field. We were accepted into juried shows, had our own exhibits, Liz, Stefi and Unified, like three artists, while continuing with our own individual art lives. If you're interested in seeing a few of the works we made in those years -- others were sold and live in collections now -- go here Same copyright restrictions apply to Unified Field as to both the artists.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Dollivers conduct an art workshop

This afternoon was a private session of drawing from nature, and the Dollivers were all over it, complete with special Art Hats.

Packing all the equipment for the art safari

And meeting FB, one of the adult students

After many drawings in a number of media, ready for home

But not before admiring six year old KBs charcoal drawing.

This was a wonderful afternoon partly of reminding, partly of teaching, a family about the approaches to drawing in general, drawing in nature particularly.  We spent the first part of the session indoors working on using a viewfinder, holding the pencil for drawing rather than writing, learning to start seeing.  Then we moved out and worked from nature (or from the house exterior steps, preferred by the six year old artist).  Everyone used charcoal, various pencils including carpenters', and graphite sticks, and papers ranging from very good to scratch,   And learned the use of the kneaded eraser, and why you work on a  vertical surface when you draw.  And why standing to draw is better than sitting.  And how it's fine to saw off pencils to suit your own hand, and cut up the drawing paper for your own purposes, and break the charcoal stick to suit yourself.

All in all, a good time was had by all.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Meanwhile, back at the stitching...

The Fish is Finished!  the oriental stitch that forms the background is 1.  very lovely when it works and 2. very difficult for people with astigmatism who have great trouble perceiving exact diagonals.  I'm just sayin. But it's worth working through, all the same. The fish was stitched separately, appliqued, then stuffed, trapunto style before final attachment. 
This piece will probably be framed at some point.

And the pillow goes on apace, now in full swing with long armed cross stitch, which has become my favorite stitch of all time, even getting ahead of flystitch and feather.

In the studio, dyeing for the upcoming needlearts workshop started today.  I'll be making quite a few of these squares, lovely China habotai silk, handrolled and stitched hems, very lucky to get these, since nowadays these squares are usually machine hemmed, the hand stitchers either aging out or refusing to do it any more!
Here's the dyeing area of the studio set up ready to fire off.

And some of the squares I'll be working on. These will probably be overdyed, too.

The paper, you ask? that was on this clothesline?  it's ironed flat (I iron only in the studio, my clothes never experience a hot iron), and pressed under weights to stay flat till needed. It's under the glass table top under the silk on the line.  Art marches on, and I needed to get on with the dyeing.

Drawing workshop for a family on Sunday, so that prep is done now, too.  Great nostalgia value for me, teaching drawing again.

Aside from that, Mrs Lincoln, nothing happening at all.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Papermaking Part the Next

Today I decided it was time to experiment with sizing my handmade paper.  Up to now I've always made it waterleaf, i.e. totally porous, not suitable for marking on, because it was art material of a different kind, that I used in my artworks but didn't mark on.  So I figured my handy book on papermaking from plant material was a good guide.

I decided to test it on a couple of the pages of the daylily paper I made (the rest, about a dozen sheets of 8x5 paper, is being pressed under a heavy weight) as well as some abaca and cotton linters paper sheets I'd made at other times.

This was a gelatin mixture, one box of four envelopes of plain gelatin (at the supermarket) to one quart of water.After softening the gelatin in cold water,

then bringing it to the boil, I poured it into my papermaking vat,
and dipped the pages in, one at a time,leaving them to soak through, then lifting them up to drain.  I made several discoveries in the course of this adventure, one that only the sturdiest of my pages could handle the gelatin sizing, and two, that the cotton linters was especially fragile.  The daylily papers stood up fine, though, so we'll see how it works once dry.  They may become covers for handmade books.

The pages had to be hung on a clothesline in the studio to dry completely, hence the washday aspect of the pix here. 

Because the studio is on the third floor, and the cooking area is in the kitchen, this little post of paper cost me many flights of stairs, great aerobic exercise.
It's good to note that this entire papermaking exercise,from gathering the foliage to finishing the sizing, is all nontoxic.  Safe in the kitchen, the gelatin being food grade.  Otherwise I wouldn't mix art and my cooking area.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Daylily Paper

My Stella d'Oro daylilies,  from one plant I bought about twenty years ago, have proliferated and I've populated at least ten other gardens with them, plus some stealth gardening, beautifying corners here and there.  You'd think that was plenty from one little ancestor.  But it occurred to me yesterday while cleaning up front yard debris from Sandy, including a lot of late daylily foliage, that it could have yet another life.
Props to this book,
which reminded me that making paper from plants needn't be a major enterprise and can be done with safe materials.  So, a bucket of daylily foliage, patiently cut up into half inch lengths, cooked for several hours with washing soda, then rinsed and drained and beaten by handsful in the ancient Osterizer, two speeds, on and off, and I was able to make a vat of pulp,
for a pretty good post of paper.  First pages on the felts
Draining on the mold, notice the deckle in the background, removed for draining. I made all my molds and deckles, from artist stretchers and screening, and picture frames, and embroidery frames for oval shapes. Here I wanted a series of rectangular pages, so I used a picture frame mold and deckle.
Here it is drying outside,
and if it rains on it, no problem, it will make nice lacy designs, all good.  When it's dry and removed from the felts (actually interfacing from the fabric store, been in use for about thirty years and still good), I'll let you see how it works. 

If it's good stuff, it will probably be part of the pairs of media series I'm working on.  How that will happen is yet to be revealed to me.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Art Space gallery show

Homefront is our Mercer County NJ organization which assists homeless families, helping with job placement, establishing new homes, and generally supporting people through very difficult lives in this expensive part of the world, where it is possible for an adult to work a full 40 hour week and still not earn enough to pay rent on a modest apartment.  Run with professional staff and a cadre of volunteers, one of their programs is Art Space, where people of all ages can make art, to add a dimension of expression to their lives.  Art is also about squaring up to life, making decisions, and developing the stamina to complete even difficult work.  Vital for people whose everyday life is full of challenges.

I was at the art opening at the Plainsboro Library Gallery this afternoon, met with some of the artists, whose work makes a very strong show, and with Ruthann Traylor, who directs the art activities for Homefront, and volunteer artists who work with the Art Space participants.  Many years ago, I used to teach art workshops to Homefront children, and I've followed the organization with interest ever since, watching the good work they do in the fact of serious odds.  Ruthann knows the value of art for everyone, particularly when life is tough.  It's a core, lifesaving, need.

The artists are serious in their approach, one, E., a poet, talked to me about her notebooks filled with poems, all very personal, and perhaps just for her own eyes, but she's also working currently on a novel, which she hopes will eventually see publication. She also paints, but sees herself as more of a writer.  K. a painter creates powerful images, two of which were on view today.
Here's one


Student Andrew Marfitsin volunteered his services to play excellent classical guitar for the opening. 

This is a teen community volunteer, offering performance as part of his community hours for school. His mom is Tatiana Sougakova, a prolific and exciting artist -- you last saw her at the Festival of the Arts, creating the Clothesline installation of paintings.

Left, Donna S., gallery manager who organized and hung the show,  then in the middle Ruthann T,, both engaging the exhibitors in discussion of their work and plans. 
Homefront can use donations from people no matter where they live, who care about all of our population, and can use volunteer efforts from local artists who want to take part in their work.  To see their own website, and get a sense of the scope of their work,  go here:  

The holidays are coming up.  Nice to remember them when you're thinking gifts.  I'm just sayin'