Friday, August 18, 2017

Choosing Titles - Off the Wall Friday

Discarded Roses, Pierre-Auguste Renoir (great title!)

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet." 
William Shakespeare  

Really???  Does Will Shakespeare really know what he's talking about when he suggests that a name is just a label to distinguish one thing from another?  Well, maybe.  I mean the title of a piece of art doesn't make it any more worthy or successful.  In fact, some artists feel the title is so insignificant that they use "Untitled I", "Untitled II" etc etc.

But for me. . . . OPINION WARNING. . .a name is significant.  It holds great power.  Both in my Christian upbringing and in forklore, speaking the true name of someone holds mystical powers.  At the very least, not giving much thought to a title of an art piece is wasting a chance of one last expression of the piece.  

During my recent class with Cynthia Corbin, we had a discussion on how we name our pieces.  For a long while, I would pray on it and name my pieces after scriptures.  As I started working abstractly, I started choosing titles that spoke about the piece.  I've even named my titles after the nicknames I've adapted in this blog when it was a work in progress.   Really, I can't remember one time when I the name of the piece wasn't blatantly apparent by the time I finished it.

Cynthia suggested that we don't chose names that give too concrete  a label to the piece.  That way the artist can let the viewer choose her own mental name. I understand exactly what she means!  How many times have you looked at a piece and it strikes you one way but when you read the name you see it in a whole different light? Still, knowing the artist's title hasn't dampened my personal viewing experience of the piece though.  In fact, sometimes, its a "Ah-haaaaa" moment.

So are you having trouble naming your pieces?  Here are some suggestions on where to start!
  1.  What is the piece?  Give it the simple name that it actually is.
  2.  Use Adjectives that describe your piece or the feelings you were trying to evoke
  3. Use the most important thing you strikes you about the piece
  4. Ask a friend you trust
Other hints?
  1. Avoid Cliches
  2. Don't be pretentious and use words people know the meanings of
  3. Shorter is always better
Still Stuck??  There is always an online naming site!!
This all came up because I'm going to spend the next month finishing up some of these pieces I have in a stack in my studio.  Included in finishing them is labeling them and included in labeling them is NAMING them.  I promised myself I wouldn't start anything new until these were completely done soup to nuts!!
So What Have Been Up to Creatively?

Friday, August 11, 2017

Off the Wall Friday

I spent my studio time giving my room a good fall cleaning, so this week, I'll just host.  BUT I do have a long weekend this week with a plan of finishing some pieces that are almost done!

So with that. . . . . .

What are you up to Creatively?

Friday, August 4, 2017

Circular Abstractions - Off the Wall Friday

Orbital 1, Heather Pregger and Marks IV, Kaci Kyler

Recently, I was lucky enough to see the exhibit, Circular Abstractions - Bulls-eyes Quilts at the Schweinfurth Art Center in Auburn, NY.  The exhibit was born from a challenge issued by Nancy Crow to fellow artists, former students, and friends to come up with  their unique bulls-eye quilts (circular designs in a four quadrant pattern).  Obviously, when Nancy issues a challenge, people comply since what resulted was an amazing 51 full size quilt extravaganza.  The collection is so big that the Schweinfurth could only hold half!

Here's just a sampling:

Memory, Karen Querna and Roman Glass, Monica Johnstone

Ideas 5 by Julie Drake

Tumbling, Patricia Guthrie

Frameworks, Julia Graziano and Rolling Color,  Patricia Guthrie

Marks III. Kaci Kyler
So needless to say, this ain't your grandma's bulls-eye quilt.

So What Have Been Up to Creatively?

Friday, July 28, 2017

What's in a Word - Off The Wall Friday

This one's Mine all pieced

After spending a week abstracting out simple words, I've decided that letters are simply fascinating.  Obviously, my class did to, because our teacher, Cynthia Corbin, only had to explain briefly what she
wanted us to do  and the next thing ya know. . . .  there was color and shape and value EVERYWHERE.  I sat in the back corner so I had a good view of my very prolific class.  I mean, you should have seen some of the great results Cynthia's exercises produced. 

Here are just a handful of what was up on our boards this week! These ladies very generously gave me permission to post these here - but they are NOT done - they are all Works in Progress!

Literally this is OFF THE WALLS!!

Peg W.

And all these abstractions are actually words!!  I wish I had written down what the words were  - but alas - I was too busy just taking in the great use of value, color and shape!  I'm quite sure that most of my class is NOT done with playing with their letters!

So What Have Been Up to Creatively?

Friday, July 21, 2017

Quilting by the Lake 2017 - Off the Wall Friday

Greetings from Syracuse, New York!!

Cynthia Corbin
 Here I am sitting in my on campus suite with all the images of the week swimming in my head.  And what a week!!  Between a great class, a super quilt show and some amazing programs, its enough to jump start anybody's creative life!

 I'm taking Cynthia Corbin's The ABC of Composition.  Basically what we are doing is taking simple text or words and abstracting them out to form new compositions.  So the idea of the class really isn't about using words in their normal recognizable form but to have them morph into something new!  Let me tell ya - So - Much - Fun!!   Cynthia is such a great teacher.  She manages to meet a student wherever they are on their creative journey  and give them the encouragement to succeed.  Sadly she is retiring though so I'm blessed to be able to take one more class with her.  Luckily for me - it all sort of clicked this week.

On Monday, I worked on an exercise using a short word and make it into a small composition.  It wasn't too hard and a great way to warm up for the week.  I chose AIM.  In this piece, I played with soft and hard edges and used a diagonal composition.

On Tuesday, she asked us to start a new piece where the word was not recognizable.  So I chose the Viva.  Now let me just stay that Cynthia suggested we work simply.  Somehow that did NOT work out for me!  I came up with a nice simple composition  and then it all sorta got out of hand!! (Note to self - if a teacher suggests working simply - then you might want to work simply)

Here is the original idea.  See the VIVA?

And then I decided it needed a complex background (negative space).(Of course I did!)

THEN it was toooooo complex and started to take over the whole piece.  So I needed to add quiet spaces which made it much strong.

I'm not quite done piecing it all together - but I will be before its time to pack up!!  I wish you could see the body of work my class has been doing.  It was like an explosion of color in the room.  So many interpretations of the theme.  It was fascinating to watch everyone work!

Its been a bit of a tiring week - so I'll just ask you sleepily... .

What Have You Been Up to Creatively?

Friday, July 14, 2017

Spoonflower Review - Off the Wall Friday

One Week before Quilting by the Lake and what am I doing??  PACKING!  Its always such a job and there is always a nagging feeling in the back of your mind that you are forgetting that all important item.

Alphadreams, Clair Higgin

I did get a nice surprise last week.  Spoonflower, an on-demand digital printing company, was having a BOGO fat quarter sale.  Now, I've been meaning to try Spoonflower since it opened in 2010 but have been put off by the price of the process. But with this kind of sale, I thought I would give it a try!!

First of all, I decided not to design my own fabric but browse the thousands and thousands patterns of other designers.   Among the many, many, cutsy modern prints, I did find some amazing surface design type patterns.  I finally settled on ones that used letters and numbers in their designs and made an order.  Here are my findings!


Soft City, Jay Trolinger

1.  You can easily design your own fabric exactly the way you want it.  The site shows you how with
plenty of information.

2.  Ordering is easy and the lead time for fabric is less than 2 weeks.  I paid a little extra and got it in 1 week so I could take it with me to QBL.

3.  The print looked closed to what was depicted on my computer screen, with the lines nice and crisp.  I did notice on one of the darkest of the designs the colors were more muted then shown in the online picture.  (I like the muted version anyways)   The site shows you exactly how the print will come out on a fat quarter which is great so you can see the scale of it.

4.  The range of designs on the site is incredible.  Plus you can print them on a big array of fabrics which even includes knits.

5.  They're printed in the US.


1.  The process is still pretty costly.  The cheapest fabric still $17/ yd with a fat quarter being  $10.50.  I got the "Ultra Cotton" which I found pretty thin and next time I would spent the extra  $$ to have Kona cotton.  I can tell you, if I saw a print on that thin of cotton in JoAnn's fabric, I wouldn't buy it.

2.  Since these are digitally printed, the hand of the finish product is totally different than commercially made fabric.  It has a rough kind of feel.  Spoonflower recommends to wash the fabric with a non-phosphorous  detergent, which I did, and that helped a lot.  It was still a bit rough but MUCH better.  Still, I don't normally pre-wash my fabrics so this add an extra step.

Alpha Dreams,  Clair Higgins
3 I found the site's browse features pretty cumbersome to use and I had a hard time finding exactly what I was looking for.  There is so much there and it seems like there is gotta be an easier way to categorize it better.

4.  (This is pretty petty - but its a pet-peeve of mine)  My package did not come with an invoice inside.  It only had an inventory packing slip.  I like to have an actual invoice for my records rather than having to print it out myself off my emails.

So, as for this purchase, I LOVE the prints I bought and am glad that the royalties are paid to the actual designers.  I would have bought a lot more of their work if I could actually afford it.

In the future, I probably will order from Spoonflower again when I find something interesting OR I get brave enough to actually design something myself.  It definitely would have to be for a special purpose and not a "Just because" kind of thing.  I also, for sure would buy a thicker fabric!!

Friday, July 7, 2017

Hand Dye Marathon - Off The Wall Friday

Summers are made for Dyeing - hand dyeing that is!!   So I decided to take the long holiday weekend and do four straight days of hand dyeing.  Why 4 straight days?  Because for me to hand dye, I have to shlepp out all my dyeing paraphernalia  out of the closet, put away all projects in my studio, clutter up my kitchen AND have some major time to get it all done!  Its better just to prioritize it and do it all at once.  And that's exactly what I did.  To the tune of 33 yards!!

It was an exhausting, colorful 4 days!!  I had a plan - 1 day of gradations of 4, 1 day of more gradations plus red solo cup improv dyeing, 1 day of just red solo cup dyeing and 1 day of thicken dye surface design.  Sighhhhhhhhhhh but as usual things didn't go quite the way I planned!

On Day 3, I tried a new method of Red Solo Cup dyeing putting the dye water in and then adding the soda water to it after.  What resulted was a bunch of VERY dark fat quarters.   Now don't get me wrong, I'm a equal opportunity hand dyer, but I did need more than a big bunch of dark subtle shades!  So my day of thickened dye was postponed for another round of improv dyeing the right way.

By the end I had literally dyed every piece of pfd cotton (and any other dyeable cotton), I had in the house.  Not to mention, it was all washed 3 times and ironed and neatly put away.  Mission accomplished!!!

I'm super pleased with the results too!   There is a good range of colors plus a really big selections of dark fabrics (really can anybody ever have enough dark-darks????)   I now have enough fabric not only to take to QBL but enough to last me the year.

And as always, if you never dyed before and want an easy, fun tutorial on improv dyeing, I suggest you try my Red Solo Cup Dyeing.  You'll be surprised what great results you can get for such a little investment.

So What Have You Been Up to Creatively?