20 July 2008

keeping the committment

At the beginning of each year I sit down and decide what goals I really and truly want to pursue in terms of my artwork. Usually there is a BIG one (like being published in a book or magazine I admire) and a bunch of small ones. I don't beat myself upside the head if I don't meet these goals but they are a guideline for me to focus my energies when the mood strikes.

But this year? This year I had one very simple rule that I planned to follow: don't enter shows unless I already had things completed hanging about that could go and don't decide at the very last minute to torture the snot out of myself trying to complete something for a specific show.

Which is why I'm letting the idea of entering Quilt National go.

I've enjoyed letting myself make work for the sake of work and not pressuring myself into creating things for specific shows. There are exceptions to this rule, which were decided on at the beginning. I would make work for the Michigan Quilt Artist Invitational, the American Sewing Expo, any exhibit I was interested in that the fiber art group I belong to was doing and my exhibit, Breaking Traditions. These are all "close to my heart" type shows so they were not placed on the chopping block.

But QN? Not this time. I still feel like I'm getting my head screwed back on tight after the mayhem of the past few years and as a result, I think my artwork has gone through yet another change. I haven't figured it out yet, so I feel like I need to leave it alone and just work and that means its just silly to try to enter something so grandiose this year.

And to make sure I don't change my mind, I'm showing pictures in this post of what I was working on. No going back now...

This is a yard of fabric I printed with coffee grounds, paint, and walnut ink.

I decided I wanted to do several image transfers on it and then cut it into smaller pieces so it appeared more random. Here are the transparencies prior to printing. (Yes, that's my face there in the middle. Its not a vanity thing that I print my own face. Its more that I'm not likely to sue myself over copyright infringement so it just seems easier all around.) These look no where near as intense after the transfer.

To prove that last point, here is what it looks like when I'm peeling the transparency back. This is a technique that I learned from Lesley Riley when I took a class from her several years ago. You use inkjet transparencies, matte medium and a brayer. Simple, consistent and by far my favorite method.

Here is what the transfer looks like after its done. I intentionally wanted this subtle and blendy. (I think that's a word.) Which is why I printed the images on the transparencies in a sepia tone. If I had used regular color they would have been much more obvious. Not the goal this time so I'm happy with how these came out.

I did more to this poor fabric. But I'll save it until its done to post more photos. I'm going to get six small pieces and one long one. I'm calling that series "Talk to Me Now."

I also managed to resolve a major design problem I was having for a series of small quilts I'm working on that involve plant cells. The series is called "Stained." Don't worry, I haven't been dragging fabric through garbage piles. Again, there hasn't been a ton accomplished so I will post pictures when they are done.

But I did vow to use my sewing machine with both these series. Here's proof:

I took a deep breath, made the sign of the cross and shoved the fabric under the needle before I could come to my senses. (That's one from the "Stained" series there.) But I'm changing the order in which the stitching is done as the part that I seem to struggle the most with is keep the three layers from shifting around.

I don't think this an ingenious approach, I think other artists do this as well. Some stitching on just the top layer, surface design, sandwich for three layers and a little more stitching to hold all three together. Its a plan, hopefully a good one.

I decided to pursue that course after machine quilting this:

Its not horrible but it has lots of room for improvement (she says with a snort and "duh!" look on her face). I may do another since there are some aspects that make me twitch. Did I ever mention I have horrible perfectionist tendencies that are enough to turn anyone into a looney? These are the moments when those come out commando style...

I did manage to finish one thing:

Well, technically its four things. These are 6"x6" blocks for a charity group RWS is doing. I stitched these by hand last night. These are lino cuts I carved and wanted the hand stitching because it matched the feel of the print. They are done. Mark one off the list! Woo!

It was one of those kind of days in the studio when it worked right. Hopefully that means my muse is also getting her head back on straight, she's been AWOL for a while.

Yesterday Leann and I went to the Corner Brewery in Ypsilanti for the Shadow Art Fair. My sister-in-law Jill was selling her cool buttons there so we decided to go check it out. It was an interesting show, obviously insanely popular since people were packed in solid. There was a lot of outsider art there and I was really happy to see that.

When we got there we saw this in the parking lot:

The evil kitty sees you and he will smack you down if you misbehave.

Leann indulged in beer:

I opted for coffee:

It was a pleasant weekend. Full of art and slow and relaxing. I'm planning to lock myself in my studio again next weekend to hopefully keep the ball rolling.

Right now I have to turn my attention to my mother's socks. She oh-so-subtly reminded me (in the form of whining) that they are half done and she wants them on her feet.

So off to the knitting needles I go....


Bec Clarke said...

I just wanted to say how much I love those Lino prints, I am just about to have a go at doing some myself and would love any suggestions you may have.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I love your prints too! I can't wait to see them in person.

kathy said...

I don't make stuff specifically for QN either...I figure it's not really going to be good if I think about it that hard.