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Getting Back on Track

Yes, I am still here!  What happened to me since my last post?  Well, things like chocolate chip cookies, writing poetry, planting seeds, fresh baked bread, spring flowers, bird watching and so on.  Of course, I have been stitching too, though my color and design project is definitely going to be a two year endeavor.  Other than the neutral palette pieces that I have previously introduced, I have pieces started for the second workshop (monochrome) and the third workshop (complementary color).  Additionally, I have selected fabric for no less than six collages dealing with the fourth workshop, complex complements.  I’m getting back on track with posting once a week here, so please check back for profiles of my continuing color adventures.  I will discuss the monochrome workshop next week.  Meanwhile, here is a picture of one of my neutral palette collages with some stitching:

The first workshop also incorporates an investigation of balance as it relates to art design.  This is the example for radial balance, where the design emerges from a main focal point.  This particular collage also uses informal or asymmetrical balance, even though I have another collage for that type of balance.  I am finding that some pieces of art straddle more than one category of certain design elements.  In these cases, a piece of art will usually be a better representative of one category more than another.  When I finish my intended sample of informal balance, I will post it alongside this radial balance piece, and I’ll compare and contrast the two.

Until next week, I will keep stitching, and searching for the ultimate chocolate chip cookie.

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Finding Balance with the Colors of an Ohio Winter

Already, I have made my yearlong color and design project more complicated than I intended, but I am having fun with it.  I have taken to heart my own advice to play with the elements of composition.  My monthly goals have been revised a bit, I am going to aim for having the fabric pieces placed by the end of each month.  The stitching on these will take much longer, especially since I started out by trying to make five wall hangings for January’s workshop on balance using a neutral palette.  This has been an unusually snowy winter in my part of Ohio, the neutral palette required of this workshop is exactly what I see outside.   Here is what I have so far:

Formal or Symmetrical Balance

Informal or Asymmetrical Balance

Radial Balance

Crystallographic Balance

I have several questions that I keep asking myself about the pieces as I work on them.  Am I using the full range of values (light to dark)?  Is the viewer’s attention going to move all around the piece?  Will I want to keep looking at each piece?  Is it something I want to live with?

There are more things to think about when evaluating artwork.  Right now, I need to think about workshop #2, February is half over already.

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Looking Forward with a Past Project

Again, I have changed course from my intended plans.  I’m being flexible!  The pumpkin and autumn leaves that I promised in my last post will come some other time.  Meanwhile, I have my 4 x 4” squares from November:

In the eleventh month of this project, I am finally pushing myself to get more creative with my stitching by filling the shapes created by the fabric pieces and jumping outside the edges.

Looking ahead to 2021 (and hoping that we get to go to art festivals, quilt shows and sewing industry expos again), I have decided on my yearlong project.  I am going to revisit the book A Fiber Artist’s Guide to Color and Design by Heather Thomas (Landauer Publishing, 2011), and complete all twelve workshops in the book.  Back in 2011 when I bought my copy of the book, I completed the first workshop, and then never went on to the second.  I am going to start over, since my skill level has improved since 2011, not to mention my creative vision changing over the years.

I will also investigate some new fabric collage techniques in this project, with the intent of making multiple small quilts for each workshop to test out all of the new things I want to try.  Ambitious?  Oh yes!  I have already started cutting fabric.  The first workshop focuses on value, texture and balance using a restricted neutral palette.  I’ll start off with pieces of commercial print fabric cut to the intended finished size.

These first four collage quilts for Workshop 1 will be collaged with bits and pieces in much the same way that I have stitched my 4 x 4” squares.  The bits and pieces will include assorted fabrics, trims and funky yarns.

Another set of collaged quilts will emerge from pieced backgrounds that will have more fabric pieces, lace, doilies, trims and stitching added to them.

How far will I get with this?  I could work on the neutrals for an entire year!  Keep checking back to see what happens in my latest creative adventure.

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More Little Squares

October was another successful month of churning out my funky little squares.  I need to get all of them out and start looking at them with an eye to finding any possible trends that I developed in them.  My main goal for the project was to make four squares each week this year, and I feel like I have the self-discipline to finish the year on target, and to keep that stitching habit going.  After December 31, I don’t know if I will make many more of the little squares, instead I want to keep that time I have ingrained into my routine to finish older projects.

A couple of secondary goals for the 4 x4” square project was to play with composition and color and to work on making my hand stitching more interesting.  The color and composition play has been mostly successful.  I think that there were only a few squares that just don’t cut it visually, but that is all a part of creating.  I will be able to judge myself better on this when I get all of the square out together at the end.  The stitching goal hasn’t quite gone as planned.  I am just now, in the eleventh month of the project, doing some truly unusual and creative things with my stitching.  Part of my lack of growth in stitching comes from needing to complete each square quickly, and from the size constraint.  These factors slowed stretching myself in this aspect, so moving forward I think I will be able be more innovative in my stitching.

Next week, some musings on projects involving pumpkins and autumn leaves.

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Lessons from Eggplant

Every once in a while, I completely forget that not everyone has had the same life experience and knowledge that I have.  We’ve all done it.  Recently, at a local produce auction, I was inspecting some lovely white eggplant that, unlike the eggplant that most are familiar with, was two inches in diameter and 5-6 inches long.  An older gentleman came up to me and asked, “What are those?”  I was stunned that someone buying vegetables at a produce auction wasn’t aware of different varieties.  Take a look at photo transfer image on this little art quilt that I made a few years ago.  Among an amazing assortment of peppers, there is a basket of tiny green eggplant, and another basket of white eggplant looking very much like… eggs.

Eggplant isn’t just eggplant, there are the standard pear shaped black, and then there are other shapes, colors and tastes.  The same goes for most other cultivated fruits and vegetables.  Of course, I politely explained the world of eggplant varieties to the man, and perhaps he went away a bit wiser.  I have a series going of heirloom vegetable quilts.  Here is a fabric portrait of carrots that I grow, in colors true to the real roots.

A week later, I was contemplating a half peck of okra that I wanted, and another bidder asked me a familiar question, “What are those?”  Another teaching moment, and this time, I piqued this gentleman’s curiously.  He asked if he could have a few to try if I ended up buying them.  I readily agreed, wanting to encourage him to try something new.  I was the high bidder on the okra, and I kept my promise, giving him a generous handful with cooking instructions.

Those of us who are creative in the visual arts need to look for similar encouraging teaching moments in our encounters who might be curious about making something but think that they cannot.  Take a travel kit of art supplies wherever you go, sit out where others can see you make something.  Have some finished artist trading cards to give away, or even give out some extra supplies like a blank card and a few colored pencils.  Encourage anyone who asks about what you are doing.  Be positive, talk to them about being persistent and patient about learning something new.  Ask them if they make a craft, or if anyone in their family has a special skill.  Share your knowledge, and look to learn new things from others.

In case you are curious about the world of heirloom vegetables, check out Seed Savers Exchange and Baker Creek Seeds.  And for the record, I am not a vegetarian, I love a good hamburger and many other delicious foods.