Sunday, January 3, 2010

What Was I Thinking?

A few days ago I told a fellow blogger in email that I had taken a forced vacation from art. I must have been out of my mind. I strolled into the studio this morning to be sure it was in readiness for the launch of a new work week (and year!) tomorrow, and realized that I had evidently spent much more time immersed in creative pursuits during my "vacation" than I was willing to admit to myself.

For instance, I took this perfectly respectable, small-scale commercial fabric that I think is pretty but would never actually use as it is...

and turned it into this:

That was so much fun that I whacked another piece off and did this to it:

(And while I'm at it, I might as well own up to the fact that I broke my own rule and used a stamp I didn't design and carve myself. This one's a commercial stamp.)

I started a tutorial for transforming ugly fabrics but then I realized that most of the folks reading this blog probably already have that skill in their arsenal. However, as stated in a previous post, I'd be happy to finish writing that tutorial if there's any interest in it.

Also during my "self-imposed vacation" from art (it sounds so important when it's said like that, doesn't it?), I dyed fabrics. These little beauties, to be specific, or rather, the top eight pieces, anyway:

Are we seeing a pattern here? Yeah, not only do I live in a state of denial about exactly how much time I really spend in the studio (way, way too much, I'm starting to suspect), but also, that sometimes I can't seem to get away from a specific color palette. Apparently, I had violet on my mind last week, and everything wound up influenced by it.

Like these lovely papers:

From top to bottom we have Yupo painted with Dye-Na_Flow. Yupo is a thin plastic that behaves much like watercolor paper except that you have the ability to lift the color all the way back to white with the application of a wet brush, if you choose. This allows for some pretty cool effects. It comes in a pad of sheets just like watercolor paper. This sample was actually painted several years ago, but the colors were weak and uninteresting. This past week, I dug it out and gave it a light wash of violet. When it dried, I sanded some areas back to white.

The middle sheet is cold-press watercolor paper (which I prefer to hot-press for its' more textured surface) and the bottom piece is a large sheet of Bristol velum. The Bristol was painted with the off-loaded pigments from the other projects I was painting and puttering with. The artist Sherrill Kahn aptly names these bits of painted work, "serendipity pieces".

And speaking of off-loading pigments, I also keep baby wipes on my desk to mop up all that color I willy-nilly splash around. Once dry, I reward their hard service by giving them some character with a little paint and stamping.

They're now ready to be stitched or glued onto a future project. I used these hand-made stamps...

Do you make your own stamps? If not, would you like to learn how? Let me know... it could be another tutorial in the making!

Finally, in my obsessiveness this week with stamping, making stamps, painting,  dyeing, and violet- all that stuff I convinced myself I was on vacation from- my stamping board took on an interesting character...

This board was made by covering a piece of masonite with an old towel, turning a length of ugly fabric to its back side and wrapping the board/towel in it, and then painting it with several coats of Gesso. I may soon have to pull this cherished tool apart to use this now not-so-ugly fabric in a quilt!

It's a new work week, and it's a new year. There are so many things to get to this year that I'm bursting with energy.

In the first few months of this year I will:

~ Take myself slowly and carefully through the book Experimental Textiles, by Kim Thittichai. Kim was a Cities & Guilds instructor in England and taught this class for years until her retirement. There was such an outcry that her cirruculum might be lost, that she recorded it in this book. The first half of the book are exercises I am very familiar with, so I will skip those after a careful reading (it never hurts to brush up on familiar subjects) and then move on to the lessons I have yet to learn.
~ Take myself slowly and carefully through Gloria Hansen's book, Digital Essentials.
~ Using Gloria's book, I will teach myself how to use the new copy of Photoshop Elements I just installed on my machine.
~ I will complete my client's art installation.

The garage studio remodel is coming along beautifully. The AC/Heating unit has been plumbed and wired, the drywall has been repaired and the electricians have begun running wiring into the attic. Next, the sink, the track lighting, the insulated garage door and the new electrical outlets will be installed. It's possible that most of this work will be completed by the end of the week! I'll post before and after photos when it's all complete and put back together.

Until then, happy creating!
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