Monday, April 28, 2014

Crow again

Yes, I have been on something of a crow-a-thon. Purchased crow, homemade crow, digital crow and now another crow. 

Here's the latest iteration of the fabric crow.  I did some fancy machine stitching and added a snazzy lining to the wings. The biggest adjustment was a faux leather beak.  Here's a close up. 

I have some ideas for more of these, but I don't know how many of these I can make. They are labor intensive. They are all sewn by hand and the sewing is tough. Makes my hands hurt after awhile. 

As you can see, we are into the greenest season here in the Northwest. We are getting our usual rain, with the famous "sun breaks". Springtime in Portland is so green it hurts your eyes in a kind of wonderful way. After what seems like an especially long winter, it has been so nourishing to be outdoors again, even in the rain. The green, the green...

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Digital Drawing Day - Put a Bird on it

Well, I knew both June and I would end up with crows. We both have a "thing" with them. But, of course each of us took a different approach.


Crow-nies, Digitally Celebrated

Some years ago I was asked to do a small art quilt for a friend
celebrating a special birthday. It was during my "crow phase" of art making.

So "Put a bird on it" turned into many birds, on It and working on It.

I started with a photo of the art quilt I had made many years earlier. I
traced the photo in ArtRage with the Wacom pen, painted the tracing,
transferred it to PhotoShop where I played with some of the filters,
particularly one that changes the lighting. The lighting in PS changed
the colors, highlighting ones I thought I had muted earlier. So I
tweaked a bit more and then decided to send it along.

Photo of my original quilted art, traced and painted in ArtRage with
Wacom pen and changed with special lighting in Photoshop. All done on my
Toshiba laptop.




Mr. Crow

Crows are one of my favorite subjects, so this portrait was a lot of fun to do. I made it my challenge to make an all black subject more colorful. The layers functions are perfect for trying out overlays of color and texture. The experimenting I did on this crow actually gave me an idea I want to work out in my fabric work. I'll report back on that later. 

iPad, Sketch Club app, New Trent Arcadia stylus


Next week's challenge: Vegetable

June is taking a break from the digital drawings while she sells house, buys house, packs, moves and suffers the inevitable mental, physical and spiritual tolls of the transition. Keep her in your thoughts and consider sending me your digital drawings so I won't feel quite so alone out here on the digital frontier!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Earth day, art day

I have been lying low. I had oral surgery yesterday and while it was relatively minor, my mouth is achey and uncomfortable and it makes eating and talking difficult. I have a plastic stent covering the roof of my mouth, protecting the wound where tissue was cut out for a graft. ( I know—gross. Sorry I mentioned it...) so I am thpeaking with a lithp ath well.  Avoiding people contact.  This afternoon I felt up to a little art project.

I have a couple bags of stuff that are the remains, cut from the shirts I have been taking apart to use in my quilts. I intended to toss that stuff out, but somehow have been unable to part with those bags of collars and plackets and the flat-felled seams from all those shirts. 

Today I pulled out a big handful of seams and a buttonhole strip and decided to see if I could come up with something to hang outside. I like the idea of bits of art designed to hang outdoors to be affected by, and eventually succumb to the sun and wind and weather. I made weather grams in a class years ago and hung them in the garden and watched them weather and fade. They are a lovely tradition that originated many years ago here in Portland, by the famous calligrapher, Lloyd Reynolds. You still see them around the city. They were in the back of my mind, as well as Tibetan prayer flags, that are left out to the weather. 

I took my scraps to the studio and, along the way, picked up a couple sticks that I attached some to.

Then I pinned it up on my design wall and used more of the long seam "strings" to weave across the piece. 

I strung some of the buttons I've been cutting off the shirt onto a heavy thread and appropriated a little stitched heart that has been pinned to my wall for several months, and added them. 

Then I nailed it up on the big ash tree next to the bridge. 

I will see it coming and going from the studio to the house. I wonder how the elements will change it. My little recycled Earth Day banner. Maybe I will make more. 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

A little break in the rain

There are times when it is cold and gray and the rain seems endless, and I wonder why we chose to live in all this rain. But then I remember what it gives us. Glorious spring and summer, for starters.  It has been raining off and on today— gentle, fragrant spring rain that makes everything sparkle and seems to pump up the color saturation. This view out the back door made me think of Impressionist paintings. (The "Glaze" app helped the illusion along.)

So many parts of the country are in drought. Alarming. I wish we could share some of our rain. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Crow

Maybe you remember the birds I made a few years ago? I started making little stuffed birds, then I tried some more stylized birds using paper and/or fabric fused to a stiff backing and hand-sewed. I have had an idea of trying to design a crow, using the second technique, and I finally started working on it last week, and finished the prototype yesterday. Here he is.

I started with a flat drawing, working from crow photos found online as my reference. I pulled out one of my earlier, unfinished birds to refresh my memory of how I had used contour lines to start building components. 

Using those preliminary pieces I started giving the body dimension by slashing and spreading the pieces and then using bits of blue masking tape to fit the pieces together to create a three dimensional model. 

The masking tape is easy to remove and reuse as the pieces need adjustments. Little by little the paper model takes shape. 

When it finally looks right I carefully remove the blue tape and trace each pattern piece onto heavier paper. I keep a stack of old file folders for patterns—just the right weight. Then I trace the pattern pieces onto my fabric, which I have fused to a stiff backing. Here are all the pieces (except the wings), cut out and ready to assemble.

I sewed the pieces together, using a decorative joining stitch, by hand.

I need to work out a better stitch for this step, as this one allows the pieces to gap and move, so I had to add some hidden whip stitches on the onside. It was a lot of difficult stitching. 

In this photo you can see the legs and feet, made from wire, wrapped with florist tape. 

This is my prototype, from whom I have learned what worked well and what didn't. I'm looking forward to making another one. I have some changes in mind. Thinking the beak might need to be a separate piece from a different (shiny?) fabric. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Digital Drawing day - Snack Time

For the first time since we started this we missed our Sunday deadline. Or, more accurately, I missed the deadline. It was a brutal week, is all I can say.  To give ourselves a little breathing room, we are skipping a week and will be back on Sunday, April 27 with our next challenge. Now, on with this week's theme, Snack Time.


My favorite snack—a glass of wine and a handful of almonds. I started with a photo of the background cloth and gave it the Glaze treatment. It seems a little like cheating, but is such a slick way of creating a complex background. Once again, those semi-transparent shadows on their own layer proved the unifying piece. 

iPad, Sketch Club and Glaze apps, New Trent Arcadia stylus



Terry is determined I will do still lifes. It does not come easily to 
me, particularly when I'm hurried. Nevertheless -- I would call these 
healthy snacks: an apple, grapes, pear brandy.

I didn't control my layers, although I'm getting better. I'm learning 
how to blend without using a smudging tool. I haven't actually found one 
in ArtRage yet.

This was done in a great hurry, ill-advised when one is doing still 
lifes. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the grapes. And the brandy.

ArtRage, Laptop, Wacom stylus.

Next week's assignment: "Put a bird on it."

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Blue Two

I made a second "blue" quilt. I had an idea that I wanted to try, and as it turned out, it was a great opportunity to use my iPad drawing app to assist in its design.  It was very fun to make despite the 24" x60" size/dimension that I am growing to hate. I made it as 6 separate components that were eventually joined together. Here are 5 of the components as I began to assemble it. 

My abstract concept had to do with a vast night sky and a shades of deep blue, and superimposed by light and color (perhaps this part was influenced by our trip to Las Vegas). 

And (definitely influenced by that desert sky) I wanted to add a suggestion of the immensity of galaxies and planets and nights filled with stars. But starting to add a bunch of dots of paint was pretty scary. I could easily ruin the whole deal. So I loaded the photo above into my Sketch Club drawing app and tried out some digital paint on it.  I thought the dots might need to be only in the upper section, like this. 

Or maybe there should be dots in the bottom section, but with less contrast. 

Uh, no. It was becoming clear to me that this was where I was heading:

So, without actually touching paint to the actual piece I was able to find what I wanted to do.

Here is the final result, using real paint. 

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Digital Drawing Day - The Worries in my Head

Oh my! This was an interesting topic to consider! I am a worrier. I don't want to be. I try not to be, but it creeps in. Better, I thought, to assign those worries to an official "worrier." Here are our offerings for this week. Hope they are not too much of a downer!


The Worrier

My inner worrier comes out at night. She is a sad, humorless old woman, much older and sadder than I.

"Look at you." She says accusingly, "what have you done with your life? I doubt that anything you've ever done means anything to anyone. Your children will find you a burden as you grow older. You will end up dependent on them. Don't you think that pain in your back is something horrible? I'm pretty sure it is. Fatal, no doubt. And that spot on your shoulder?—pretty sure that's skin cancer. Did you forget to lock the back door? I think you did. Robbers are probably carrying away your camera and your computer and your TV set even as we talk. And I think the cat has fleas again. He was scratching. And, by the way, I think you missed the deadline to enter that show. Oh well, you won't get in anyway. With all the rain I wonder which tree is going to fall and crush your house, killing you in your bed? If the tree doesn't do it, it will probably be Cooper Mountain giving way and sliding right over top of you, just like that mudslide up in Washington. Doesn't seem like you will have enough money for taxes this year."

"But don't mind me—you just need to get to sleep now. Oh, wait—Do I smell gas???"

iPad, Sketch Club app, Glaze app, New Trent Arcadia stylus


 Worry, Family History

The family history of Ms. Digital Homework is as follows.

Digital Homework, working backward up the family tree, was begat by Finish/Not Finish who was married to Foolish. Foolish was the result of the union of Snort and No Snort. No Snort was the union of Mocking, who was begat by Embarrassed and Won't Know. Things get confused here because Won't know also begat Mocking who married No Snort.

On the other side of the family, Digital Homework's parent, you remember, was Finish/Not Finish. Not Finish was the result of the union of No Exercise and Exercise. No Exercise was begat by Weak and Fat. Exercise was begat by Tired and Sore. Sore was the result of the union of Cry and Quit.

Again, the lines get a bit tangled, as Cry seemed to have unionized with Quit, and Quit made a union with Embarrassed, whom you remember was also tied to Won't Know and they begat No Snort. But Cry also seemed to have married, on the side, Cry (2) who appeared out of nowhere.

And thus began the Family of Worry. And God created Worry and saw that it was Good."

Ta-ta, jou

Art Rage, Wacom pen, on PC

Next week's challenge: Snack Time

Saturday, April 05, 2014

I know you wanted to know...

what the "purple" surprise was that Sofia was planning. Among several nice gifts from my family were these wonderful slippers, picked out especially for me by Sofia. They are pretty and feel great!

My daughter, son-in-law and the grandchildren cooked breakfast for us this morning—crepes, fruit, bacon, juice, coffee. Lovely. Then Ray took me shoe shopping. (my feet fared very well on this birthday.)

I was looking for blue sandals until I saw this color...

Ray thought we might go for a drive somewhere after breakfast and shopping. Emily mentioned she thought we might like to head south to Woodburn to the tulip festival. Perfect. It is one of those things I have heard about for years and never got to. It was blowy and muddy and wet, but bracing and worth the trek. The colors—well, they don't even seem possible.

Can't think of a better way to spend a birthday. My eyes were ready for all this color after the long, gray winter. Thank you for all the good wishes. Another year down, and now onward...

Friday, April 04, 2014


It is birthday week. Two of my dearest friends and I have birthdays this week. My birthday is tomorrow. Muriel's birthday was yesterday and Paula's was the today before. We are all getting pretty old.  Not seventy, but perilously close. I realized this week that Muriel, who was my cross-the-street neighbor for 13 years has been my friend for half of my life now.  We have been through some pretty difficult, as well as wonderful times together. Paula has been a friend even longer.  they are both very dear to me. Longtime friendships like these provide perspective and are touch points in my life. Would life even be real if you didn't have friends that share your memories?

Earlier this week Paula and I went downtown to Powell's bookstore to hear our old Pocatello classmate, my first date, Tom Spanbauer, read from his new book. ( we are so proud of him!) We ended up on the elevator with Tom and he seemed so happy to see us and gave us big hugs and exclaimed, "Look at us! We're good!" Which I took to mean we have survived! A lot. And isn't it great? For sure. And yes we have.

Tom, signing our books. 

Birthdays. You can love them or hate them. Mostly I am stunned these days. Incredulous to be this age. Some days I feel those years. Mostly I don't. So much, right now in my life, makes me grateful for this life and grateful to be in good health and grateful for all the love and goodness I have known, and grateful that it— knock wood—goes on. So I can only feel gratitude for another birthday. 

Today Paula and I celebrated our birthdays. We went out to lunch at one of the big Antique markets in Portland. We laughed at how many of the "antiques" were things we grew up with. She was looking for  hammered aluminum serving pieces. I looked for my favored Taxco silver. Neither of us found what we were looking for, but each of us came home with something old—like us. Mine was a metal crow who now sits on a rafter overlooking our living room. 

"Never more."

Tomorrow I celebrate with my family. I won't even tell you how old I am. It really is just a number. And it doesn't matter to me.  A great moment today was a phone call from my granddaughter. "Hi Grandma. It's Sofia. I have a question for you. Don't ask me any questions, just answer me. Do you like purple?"  As a matter of fact, yes, Sofia, I love purple. 

I can hardly wait to see what my birthday present will be... Do you think it will be purple?