Saturday, August 01, 2015

Carlos and Me

It is kind of a funny story how my son-in-law, Carlos, and I came to be exhibiting our artwork together at City Hall. Carlos, who is from Ecuador, is a wonderful painter. Last fall I urged him to submit some paintings online to be juried for a city-sponsored art exhibit that I was also applying to. When he described the submission process it sounded unfamiliar to me, so we looked online together. Turns out he had misunderstood and instead submitted to the city's "art in public places" program. A second try got him the right exhibit submission form and we both had work accepted. But he also got an email from the city arts coordinator telling him his application for the "public places" program had been accepted and they'd like to show his work at City Hall this summer! Since he had only a few paintings to show, the coordinator suggested they combine his work with another compatible artist— did he know of anyone? He did. Me. We decided my pieces that depict Ecuadorean and Mexican architecture would nicely complement his work of similar subjects. It's not a big show, but it looks really nice in the foyer of the Beaverton City Hall building.


As a result of the show, we were the subject of a nice story in the little local newspaper.


Their reporter and photographer came to my studio and spent more than an hour asking questions and taking photos. I especially like the photo, below, of us laughing. I really like my son-in-law, and I think that shows in that photo.


In the course of our interview, Carlos said something that really pleased me. The reporter asked, "why do you make art?" I often hear the question and cringe a little at the pompous-sounding answers that often come out of artists' mouths—"because I must..." Because it is what I was born to do..." etc. Carlos said, " it makes me feel alive". Exactly.


Our small show is at The Beaverton City Hall through the end of August.

You can read the interview here:






Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Sprechen sie Deutsch?


This arrived in the mail last week. It is my quilt, "Red Umbrellas" on the cover of a German quilting magazine. I was surprised and pretty excited! Inside is a translated reprint of the article I wrote for the Dutch magazine several months ago. Here's what it looks like in the German magazine.


Crazy. Stuff happens— I'm not sure how. Well, it's the Internet is what it is. An editor sees something on a blog or a web site and contacts me or you or whoever posts it and proposes an article, then someone else sees the article and proposes something else and without ever meeting, documents and photos and discussions and translations take place and there it is. It's all so easy. Remember when it was all so hard? Maybe you don't. Maybe that was before your time. Not mine. I remember. I repeat—crazy.

And here's something else. Do you know about Through our Hands—an online fiber arts magazine, coming out of the UK? It is the creation of Laura Kemshall and Annabel Rainbow, two wonderful British artists. I loved it from the first issue. It is simply beautiful. And then they asked me to write for them, which pretty much blew my mind. I have just finished my third essay for the magazine, which will be in the next issue. (it comes out quarterly). Here is the cover of the last issue.


Click here if you are interested in taking a look.

So, gosh, I am feeling very worldly and international, all without leaving the comfort of my little woodsy, Oregon home.



Friday, July 17, 2015

Camas Prairie


Finished. The first of what may be many landscapes based on photos from our cross-country trip.

Things I was working to portray:

  • Color — not necessarily realistic color, but color with a kind of richness and sense of the memory of the place. I feel only partially successful with that goal. The sky doesn't entirely work for me. I think my digital sketch below works better. Why did I change it? I felt the sky in the sketch was overwhelming. Now I think the sky in the quilt is underwhelming and the color a little dull.
  • Simplicity — I have a tendency to get hung up on details. I wanted to reduce the scene down to a more essential study of lines and shapes. I am satisfied that I was able to do that and think I can push that further. I went back and forth about including the minor details of fence posts and windows. I'm glad I left them out.
  • Composition — I wanted to keep the out-the-car-window point of view of my photos, so placed the horizon line low, giving the sky a lot of attention. I like that, but I need to put some more thought into the sky I think.

This is my digital sketch, which was a really great way to work out color and composition. It really helped me in simplifying the forms and pull away from the photograph before moving to fabric. This was really a good challenge and now I'm looking forward to the next landscape!

Interesting to me I am noticing the landscapes around my own home territory with a different eye since we got home, especially the skies. It's good to shake things up every so often!



Saturday, July 11, 2015

Answers to Questions


After posting progress photos of my work-in-progress, I got questions. The questions were, "what kind of fabric is that?" and "where did you get it?" and "are those pencil marks?" So I thought I'd share an explanation of this fabric.

First, I have to tell you that in my mind this piece was about color and an impression, simplified, of a place. For the color, I turned to my stash of cotton solids to provide the base colors. Though the solids alone were pretty good, I decided I wanted some texture and a greater depth of color, so I got out my collection of watercolor crayons, which I often use on fabrics and started playing around. I made myself a little rubbing plate by gluing raw spaghetti—yes, as in pasta—on a little pressed wood plaque I found at a craft store. I know someone will ask, so the glue was regular old Elmer's. (I have made rubbing plates by gluing things to mat board in the past and they tend to warp. The plaque was an improvement.)


After the glue was dry I sealed the whole thing with a coat of acrylic medium. Then I could simply lay my piece of fabric over the plate and lightly rub with a watercolor crayon on the fabric surface to pick up the pattern. By turning the plate as I worked, I could pretty quickly cover the surface with a random pattern of marks. I laid a paper towel over the marks and set it with a hot iron. For good measure I spritzed it with a thinly diluted mixture of water and acrylic medium, which gives the fabric a little more body, but does not substantially change the hand.

I have started quilting and I like how the stitching seems to soften the rubbing designs.



And last answer to a question that wasn't actually asked. I was surprised that several people assumed quite confidently that this piece represents Nebraska. Actually, it was inspired by my photo of the Camas Prairie in north central Idaho. Glorious country.



Sunday, July 05, 2015

Fourth of July

Celebrated to perfection in my opinion, which meant right here. No parades, parks, crowds. Used to do all that and it was fun, but this was even better. I even got a couple hours in the studio before the family arrived for dinner on the deck.

Just watching the kids run through the sprinklers made me feel a little cooler. Then they posed for me in Grandpa's hat.

After everyone left and Ray went off to bed, I sat out on the deck and watched the sky turn from pink to purple, and a few fireworks through the trees. The neighborhood kids were whooping and setting off firecrackers, perfuming the air with that Fourth of July smell of gunpowder. The cat and I sat in the dark and saluted the end of another fine celebration.


Thursday, July 02, 2015

A start


After more than a week of getting my plan together, organizing fabric, shopping for more fabric, making sketches, making samples, enlarging sketch and just plodding through the debilitating heat, I finally grabbed my scissors and made that first cut.

Aaaaah.....that felt good.


Friday, June 26, 2015

Plaid Fatigue

So, I have these ideas about American landscapes and I made my little test landscape and I used my shirt fabrics because, you know, that's my thing, and that's what I've been using. And the more I have been doing my mental preplanning, the less excited I am. Not about the basic concept, but I am really just kind of burned out on the plaids and stripes. I didn't see that coming, but there it was. Last night as I was drifting off to sleep I had a vision of clean, pure flat color.

I have that. Twenty plus years worth of collecting solid color fabrics.

Most fabric artists don't really love solids. Many say there is just not enough variety available. They probably haven't been collecting long enough. Others just don't like that flatness. I sorted through my solids today. These are the bigger pieces. There is another tub of smaller pieces. I'm a little light on blues—not my favorite color. But I'm leaning toward setting the plaids aside for now and digging into those solids. I noticed I have a lot of white and more pink than I will ever use, so I threw a big chunk of each into my nearly exhausted blue-gray dye pot.

I am smitten with the smoky softness of this formerly pink, now dusky purple and that cool, foggy blue.

So. No fabric has been cut. I am thinking, thinking, thinking. I've made stuff with solids before.

American landscapes. I guess it's not really a new idea.