Saturday, March 31, 2012

EDM March 31 while embroidery marches on

Today's drawing, Pilot Pen, and Caran d'Ache crayon, sponge brush, usual old book, I'm definitely going for a different shape in my next one, when this one's filled. In fact I'm planning on making my own book for the next adventure, more about that later.

Here is the last flowering of the begonia plant, with a neighboring Boston fern leaning into the picture frame, to give me some nice negative space. Like my animals, most of my plants are rescues, too -- the fern from the dumpster, the begonia from a dying parent plant, just snatched the leaves in time to start them in water then in a pot.

And the embroidery is progressing, too. Here, specially for Minimiss, is the back of the trapunto section of the labyrinth.

You see the muslin, and the tiny holes here and there which were slits into which I stuffed some very fine cotton stuffing, very silky stuff, remembering that this entire motif, the labyrinth section, is only about three inches square, so you have to use very friendly stuffing for it to actually travel nicely down the narrow channels.

At this point, the dividers within the labyrinth are in place, and it's walkable with your fingers, if you remember when you go in and turn right, to step over the little blue rocks at that point. Not possible to leave it open as in real life, because of the trapunto.

Then here's the rest of the design. The heads will not be using trapunto, more likely couching. The whole design, finished and stretched will probably be about 8 x 15, not more. I had drawn the heads on paper, and had to use a lightbox to transfer the image to the satin. Lightbox sounds very grand, in fact this involved taping the paper and the satin over it, many adjustments to get them all in the right places, onto the patio window, then drawing directly on the satin.

And the meaning of the piece, screamingly clear to the artist, might not be to the viewer, but I'll have to figure out a title that illuminates it a bit, possibly. Unless blogistas, you'd like to chance your arm at explicating it? that would be a huge help.

Friday, March 30, 2012

embroidery and EDM for today

Following on my new policy of not looking for special "drawing" subjects, just picking up my gear wherever I happen to be, I did this quick line and wash drawing of the coffee table complete with usual clutter.

The new Pilot pens are very nicely water soluble, and I used Caran d'Ache watercolor crayons (little puddle of water in the top of the metal tin lid, brushed color off the crayon into the water, using my trusty one inch sponge brush, makes just enough for a small area of wash, without saturating the surface, which is not really a watercolor-ready paper).

And I'm in the midst of a three part piece of embroidery on the concept of the labyrinth. Here, not finished, since trapunto (stuffing from the back)is yet to be done, is the center piece, the labyrinth, on white satin, in blue metallic thread, chain stitch.

The choice of fabric is a reference to church vestments, as is the metallic thread, because the labyrinth, though nondenominational in itself, has become part of a number of denominations' physical buildings. But there's more to the concept, at least my take on it, which I will get to right after I finish painting Easter eggs...

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

EDM and Pilot Pens revisited

I've drawn with a lot of kinds of pencils, hard soft, carpenters', graphite stick, charcoal, crowquill pen and my homemade walnut ink, reed pens, and I alway seem to come back to my favorite fine point Pilot Pen. Which apparently had gone waterproof, to my annoyance, since I liked it for a quick ink and wash effect. If it won't run, it won't wash, if you follow me.

Anyway, today I managed to find a card of pens at Staples, after much assistance from a baffled clerk, who assured me that these were waterproof, that all the pens were, etc, and since manufacturers have a habit of improving things to where they're useless, I figured, okay, but I'll work around it, since I like the movement and the glide and the fineness of the line, very sensitive effects.

And went ahead at home and drew my worktable, in the middle of a new embroidery on satin, with a bag of thread next to it. You'll eventually see this embroidered work when it's completed, barely begun yet. And set about a bit of wash here and there. And found that it does, too, run. Which is a good thing in a way, but it did create a certain amount of mud here, sigh. I guess you should be careful what you wish for! all in all, though, the plusses outweight the mud!

Here's a pic of the drawing

and a pic

of the actual setup, so you can see the editing I put in for the drawing, for the sake of balance and openness. I was at a slightly different position for the photo, and I did push up the embroidery in the drawing, mainly for effect, not sure if this was good, but oh well.

did you know the difference between a drawing and a sketch? a drawing is a work in itself, for no purpose other than to make it. A sketch is a preparatory work, to be worked into with other media. I made sketches of the current embroidery before transferring my image in running stitches to the fabric, ready to stitch. You can sketch out the blocks of a painting before going in to paint. Just an interesting and quite useless little point. I bet Eileen, the Chair of the Clatterford Guild, could make an entire public lecture out of this, complete with visuals, come to think of it..

Monday, March 26, 2012

One wall at a time, oh, and a drawing, too

To find out what this cryptic title means, go here

My other blog, where this post is set up, is Field and Fen, a meandering continuing artwork covering daily life, book reviews, the adventures of the Dollivers, and a lot of other stuff that blogistas kindly read.

Friday, March 23, 2012

EDM: Drawing whatever's there

Sunny day, sitting on the patio idly wondering what to draw, and realized no need to look, there are subjects all over the place.

So I turned a quarter turn toward the wild cherry tree planted long ago against the fence by birds, and drew part of the trunk, with the armature wire I curved around it years ago, to the birds' delight, in an outdoor sculpture.

The net thing is another sculpture, knitted from heavy twine, and the object of a lot of attention from squirrels tearing at it in case it's good to eat, wrens swiping bits for their nests, and general vandalism of that kind, which have all reduced it to an interesting relic of its former self, interesting to draw.

And the S hooks were originally for hanging plants on the patio, from the tree in summer, but were so popular with the birds who used them as a playgym, that I have just left them out there all year round.

Usual pen, I must find water soluble Pilot pens, if they still make them, great for ink and wash, and Caran d'Ache crayons used as a wash here and there.

In fact the stone jug was originally painted as a wash, using my trusty sponge brush (so long since I used my official Brushes) then I drew on top of the suggestions of shapes.

The stoneware jug is another year round feature, better than a stone gnome, anyway!

This particular drawing book is a real challenge for me, since the pages are square. I really don't like working in the square -- too blocky and unyielding, much prefer a golden rectangle or at least a rectangle -- but I figured why not at least give it a try, and make allowances for the shape of the page in relation to the proportions in the drawings. Jury's still out on this.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

TAST meets EDM!

I know, when in doubt, do everything, my policy in life and in art!

Finished work which incorporates a couple of the challenge stitches in the Take a Stitch Tuesday (TAST) ongoing project. This is a modern piece of Japanese printed fabric, changed with stitching, drawing and painting over.

Seen as a whole, about 30 x 18, and

a detail in a vain attempt to show stitches closer up. The thing is that this kind of work tends to blend so well that you kind of have to be there to get it! it's all about subtle texture, and that's very hard to convey with the camera. Anyway, that's my excuse!

And here's today's EDM drawing of a begonia using ink pen and Caran d'Ache watercolor crayons.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The green piece done!

This is a piece of cotton fabric I hand dyed, drew and painted into and stitched into. It's about 18 x 30 approx, had to cut a special board to mount it, so it's not a standard size.

The stitching and the drawing follow each other, with each echoing the other around the design. Not intended to be trompe l'oeil, but to be a commentary on each by the other.

It's planned as one of the June exhibit pieces, so we'll see what comments you have to make here, seeing a picture, and what reactions it gets in rl, when people see the piece itself, complete with texture. It might be titled Greenpeace!

I've often thought that seeing a picture of a piece then seeing the actual artwork is like seeing a photograph of a person and then meeting the person -- quite different experience.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

EDM -- Everyday Matters

Or maybe it's Every Day Matters. Anyway, plenty of meanings to unfold in this drawing challenge which I discovered via Pintangle's blog, and have joined. Very friendly group, on yahoo, where you can ask and answer questions, post links to your own work, follow other people's work on their links, and it's just the ticket for getting a bit of drawing done. Yes, all I needed, one more art activity. This is as well as preparing the exhibit, creating the traveling journals for my local artist group, teaching a workshop in the Spring, the TAST stitch challenge, and who knows what else will come about.

Here's today's work, the first one being a very early challenge (they're up to about 6,223, and I've just started, but that's fine) of a table lamp. Just that.

And then today while I waited for my car to be serviced, I noticed a nice complicated arrangement of coffee machine and the workings, complete with tangle of cords and boxes underneath, nice subject.

Just as well I did it right away, since they're renovating the building and shortly after I finished, two men came and bore away all the stuff I'd just drawn.

Both drawings were done with some nameless pen, on nice paper, in a spiral bound book from the library book sale. Basically, just what I picked up on my way out the door this morning.

It reminded me of Handsome Partner, who learned years ago, before he put his shoes on, to check if I were drawing them, and could he have them. Or before he took a piece of fruit from the bowl making sure it wasn't my next subject, all set up. He'd learned this from my roars of rage at finding he'd walked off wearing my subject matter, or eaten a pear arranged just right in the bowl.

I would really encourage anyone who fancies trying a hand at drawing to do something like EDM, just for your own fun. One drawing now and again. The trick is to keep a pad and pen or pencil available, or a bunch of 8x5 file cards in the glove compartment of your car. Amazing how often you have a few minutes when it would be fun to try. A lot of the participants in EDM are making illustrated journals, but that's not a requirement, though it's great to look at their work.

To find out more, go here

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Drawing Chops, aie, where are they...

Drawing is both a great pleasure and a humbling experience. Once you've drawn something -- I'm talking here about drawing from objects, rather than abstraction -- you know so much more about it than you did before. And every drawing reminds you how far you are from getting good at this stuff.

With daffodils blooming and the weather warm enough to sit outside to work, I did a couple of fairly shabby old attempts. But the attempt is the whole thing when you're working your skills back up. Without these attempts you'll never get back into the spirit of drawing, and letting yourself just do your best with no ambition to excel.

I notice that the last two drawings I had done in this book date to March 2010, which was probably the last time I was free to get lost in a drawing with no awareness of what was going on around me.


Favorite subject of mine: orchids and peace lilies

The snowdrops were important that year, since I picked them and took them in to HP's hospital room so he could have them with him, to remind him that home was waiting for him.

This was shortly before HP came home from the rehab, and I wasn't free to become to engaged in this form of absorbing art again till quite recently. Drawing takes you to quite a different place from other artforms, which you can in fact pursue, though it's difficult, in short bursts of concentration, and I did that, quite prolifically.

But getting into that other area of the mind that drawing asks for, that's not very possible unless you are free of the expectation of interruption and crisis at every moment.

The empty bird feeder is a sign of spring: the birds can fend for themselves just fine once the weather warms up and insects and plant life provides them a living. I still keep the suet feeder, though, so as to see woodpeckers and nuthatches.

Daffodils again, my perennial favorite, growing out of pachysandra.

I noticed today that as I sat quietly on the patio with my cup of tea and my simple materials, just a blank book of good paper and a ballpoint pen, all I had to hand at the moment, that the birds came back to the suet feeder and trotted about the branches overhead, undisturbed by my presence. That was a very good sign! It could also mean that everyone's an art critic.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

More embroidered adventures

This is a silk piece you saw a little earlier, full view and a detail. It's now stretched to 20 x 16. It's part of a piece of designed silk fabric, on which I embroidered and took the design in some different directions, without departing far from the color range of the original.

I used some traditional stitching, and adapted some for my own purposes, why are you not surprised at this...anyway, if you look at the top right of the detail, you'll see a kind of wandering feather stitch I used to simulate the crackle glaze on antique Japanese pottery, just a reference.

The metallic threads and the shiny rayon thread are references to the use of silk and precious metal in embroidering Japanese formal artworks.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Homefront Art Exhibit

It belatedly occurs to me that just as I do the occasional book review in my Field and Fen blog, I could do an art exhibit review in here, duh on me for not doing that before. Because I do get out and about, it's not all about The Great Me In The Studio!

Today was a trip to the next town over, at the new West Windsor art center, great use of an old firehouse, where there's a current exhibit by people who make art under the aegis of the art activities of Homefront, a wonderful organization, founded a couple of decades ago by Connie Mercer, who simply decided that homelessness was not acceptable in Mercer County, where affluence reigns for the lucky folks, and set about putting help into action.

Information sheets at the exhibit detailing Homefront's purposes.

Flyer telling more.

Not enough space here to detail all her efforts and successes, but for more on Homefront, you can always go here

I have a special fondness for the art side of Homefront, since many years ago I was recruited by them to be one of a cadre of artists to teach their kids, once a month per artist. The youngsters were collected by a social worker in their bus, and they drove to Princeton Arts Council, then a funky old building, now a very posh affair, for an hour of art followed by a meal cooked and brought in by volunteers, before going home again with the output of their art afternoon.

The group could range from five to teenage, no knowing ahead of time, since their lives were so chaotic, and I had to figure out what could work for any number, up to about 20 max if I remember rightly, bring in all the materials we needed, and teach a skill or a project, with the eager help of teen volunteers. I was blown away by the talent I was seeing, and the wonderfu generosity of the kids to each other,sharing, asking, taking care of their sibs (this was why we had very young ones, if they had to come along with older sibs, fine by me). I got at least as much out of it as the young artists did.

I used to wonder what became of them, and partly wondering if any of them were in this exhibit (I don't think so) I went along to support the concept. And once again was blown away by the force and energy and power of color in the exhibit.

I chose some of my favorites to show you. I did not credit the artists by name because they are in difficult places in their lives, doing art as a therapeutic outlet, and I was fearful that exposure here might impact on their job seeking or home finding, since some have multiple obstacles to cope with. But I did want to honor them here. This may be more cautious than I need to be, but it's their identity, and I think I must protect it.

Friday, March 9, 2012

TAST Week Ten Running Stitch

I showed another example of running stitch in a handdyed silk panel a while back, but here's a new one. This is a silk fabric already imprinted with a design, which I'm altering and embellishing (word beloved of stitchers and cqers!) as I go, with various stitches. I just started this one today, but here's a small sample of using running stitch in neon yellow rayon thread, along with other stitches in blue metallic thread.

There will be a lot more done on this area, but this is the start. This piece will be on stretchers 20 x 16, stretched like a painted canvas.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Long ago, in a different life, I was a miniature furniture maker and specialized in miniature needlepoint rugs, which I designed and sold, and various other forms of needlepoint, pillows, picturees, firescreens, all the serious miniature collector could ask for! for a couple of years I had a miniature needlework club, with a new design shipped every month together with a one page newsletter, chatty stuff about the garden, various forms of needlework, how to rescue good work from auctions, and so on. Such a long time ago!

Today, since I had to fill the space left by the departure of HP's book collection to the local library, in his memory, I brought out miniatures and other small pieces, including a few netsukes, Limoges porcelain pieces, little silly animals, all kinds of tiny stuff that had to be packed away for lack of space and time to attend to them.

Now they're baaaack! at least on display. I'm not making minis these days, as you probably observed.

Anyway, if you would like to take a look, go here

Saturday, March 3, 2012

TAST Week Nine Couching

This was a great opportunity to make something I've had in mind for years. I used variegated chenille yarn (did you know chenille is French for caterpillar? very graphic when you study the yarn!) along with unplied embroidery flosses, using all six strands; the couching thread is a metallic thread which I plied out so I worked with a single ply. This bit into the heavier threads enough to keep them in place.

I worked this in a three part piece with a kind of Josquin (early music composer) feeling, on heavy handmade paper I'd created ages ago, too. this time the top section was on finer paper, easier to penetrate with a needle, to give a light feeling to the top panel. But the other two panels, much heavier, needed a hammer and nail to create the holes before I could work them. I never realized embroidery could involve hammering and a lot of noise. Since I love hitting, this was in fact a bonus experience.

The designs follow down (or across, haven't decided whether this is a vertical or horizontal piece yet) and the empty space between them makes the eye complete the pattern. This is very early music-like, where emptiness is important.

Anyway, here's the finished stitching. Complete work seen here vertically (I'd be interested in feedback on whether horizontal or vertical is better, by the way)

Here's the top, or left panel seen horizontally

Panel two, the middle, either way, horizontally

Panel Three bottom or right, depending! seen her vertically

The actual backing and presentation, which won't show at the front at all, is yet to be done. But I couldn't wait to show you anyway.