Sunday, March 31, 2019

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Last week on Art With a Needle

The "home" show is open, and those installing the work decided that my artist book needed a suitable display, so they put up a shelf that allows the entire book to be open and readable at eye level.  A great vote of confidence in a project that died many deaths before completion!

I made all the gallery tags for the show, which occupied many hours.  You wouldn't think it would be too hard to ask each artist to provide the title, size, materials and price for one artwork, plus a short artist statement, but you would be wrong.  It took at least a dozen follow-up emails to elicit the right info from 32 people.  So very little art was made this week.

Here's my favorite miniature of the week, made from the sharp tips of skewers that, cut down to size, are providing support to the back of the artist book:

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Beautiful shibori

On a beautiful, warm, sunny spring day I got out for a wonderful long walk, but beforehand, fit in a museum visit to the Carnegie Center in New Albany IN to check out the work of Elmer Lucille Allen, who has been a much-admired friend for many years.  The show featured nine of her shibori pieces, most done with stitched resist.

For a long time Elmer Lucille worked exclusively in dark blue Procion dye on white fabric (it looked like indigo) but here we saw her branching out into other colors. 

ELA 19-013, 72 x 43", 2009 (detail below)

This one spun an optical illusion in the gallery, although maybe not so much in the photo -- it looked to be like the vertical stitched panels were actually an open weave, showing the white gallery wall behind. 

ELA 19-009, 53 x 44", 2012

Here's one in color, on silk noil:

ELA 19-006, 44 x 24", 2014

And probably my favorite, the only piece in the show that wasn't made of a single piece of fabric but seamed, allowing her to combine both clamped and pole-wrapped resists:

ELA  19-001, 60 x 44", 2011 (detail below)

The show continues at the Carnegie Center for Art and History, 201 E. Spring St, New Albany IN, just across the river from Louisville, through April 20.  Paintings by Sandra Charles and Barbara Tyson Mosley are also on exhibit.           

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Last week on Art With a Needle

A bunch of interesting ideas for my "home" piece in the comments this week.  One suggestion:  "Print on fabric and add oomph with thread?"

Many years ago I tried printing on fabric with the aid of Bubble Jet Set, but always felt the colors were washed-out or otherwise strange.  For one quilt I printed out old black and white family photos without any setting solution, did thread line work on top, then put them through the washing machine.  A lot of the pigment washed away, giving a nice faded look to the photos.

One of the photos from that project came out more purple than black, so I made the best of it. 

Purple Myrtle

But since then I have avoided printing onto fabric.  I know that technology has improved and the colors turn out much more vivid, but I don't see this approach as part of my art practice any more. 

Then again, maybe I will try it some day and see whether my opinion has changed.

Another reader, after I revealed what I finally came up with for the "home"show, commented, "Sometimes the simple solutions give us the clearest picture of what we are trying to convey.  This looks like it does the job."

I'm not sure this was a simple solution -- it sure took a lot of work and worry to get there -- but I hope you're right that it does the job.  Thanks to all of you for taking such an interest in my trials, and for all your encouraging comments.

My favorite miniature of the week started with a tiny piece of driftwood that I found while scavenging with my son at the river after a lot of high water:

Thursday, March 21, 2019

I find home, finally

The consensus of my art pals was that they liked the photos, but they also liked the home songs.  So, too exhausted to keep fighting, I decided to combine the two and make an accordion book.  Printed out the photos quite small at the top of the page, then calligraphed songs at the bottom.  Put the book together with washi tape.

After all these months of angst and indecision, the execution was surprisingly effortless, except for the two pages that got inkblots on them and had to be redone.  And the two pages that got printed out before I noticed that the color cartridge was out of magenta.

Now I just hope that the pages -- printed onto card stock -- will be stiff enough to stand up on a pedestal for five weeks.  If not, I'll have to build remedial scaffolding behind it, but that might sort of fit the "home" theme too.

The show opens March 28 and will have work by all the PYRO member artists, plus a guest artist invited by each of us.  Drop by if you're in the vicinity of Louisville!

Monday, March 18, 2019

Still trying to find home

I wrote last week about my attempts to make "home" art with machine stitching, and how I abandoned them.  But meanwhile another train of thought was chugging along.

Previously a fellow artist in my gallery had suggested that I go through my 80,000 photos and find some having to do with homes.  I found a bunch that featured people's front steps, and I made 4x6 prints to show to my art pals.

They liked the photos a lot but thought it would not be sufficient to just hang the small prints, as I had done with a lot of photos in my solo show last fall.  Either I would have to print them up really big, or print them onto aluminum, or something else to give some oomph to the presentation.

I was not wild about these ideas, because I have never done any of those things with my photos and I don't have enough time to experiment.

What else could I do to get extra oomph?  Stay tuned.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Last week on Art With a Needle

Great drama in our home this weekend; I was awakened at 6 AM Friday with beeping.  Was it a truck backing up?  No, upon exploration it was a never-before-heard alarm from the Bose radio in the living room.  Either the 8-year-old or the 1-year-old, both of whom had been visiting the day before, had apparently activated the alarm while playing with the remote.

After only three minutes of hitting the wrong buttons I managed to turn it off and stumble back to bed.  Mentioned this to my husband, who said he had the user manual in his desk and would look up how to turn the alarm off.

I was awakened again at 6 AM Saturday with beeping.  He had not looked up how to turn the alarm off, but at least I knew how to stop the beeping on the first try.  Later we got out the user manual, followed the directions, and couldn't unset the alarm.  Cussing.  Looked up the Bose website.  Nothing worked.  Cussing.  Finally I noticed that the remote in my hand didn't look like the remote in the user manual.  Guess what -- the Bose in the living room is a different model than the Bose in the kitchen, although they look the same and both have always responded to signals from either remote.  Not that we ever tell the radios to do anything other than turn on and off and change volume.

And the remote sitting in the kitchen belongs to the radio in the living room, while the remote sitting on the table in the living room belongs to the radio in the kitchen.  Since the 1-year-old likes to take things from room to room, we suspect her as the culprit, but then it's always more comfortable to blame somebody else.  The other remote worked.  The alarm will probably not beep tomorrow morning, although I wouldn't put money on it.

Anna left a comment on my post where I described my unsuccessful attempts to make stitched "homes" for our gallery show:  "Thank you for the insight into your process.  I love that you can just push through the try/fail cycle."  Anna, I guess I love that too, although the fail part of that cycle is not much fun.  However, it does help to document the failures.  First, I can often get an amusing (to you, at least) blog post out of the most abject mess.  Second and more important, analyzing failure helps you figure out what to do next, whether that's a tweak to the technical process or an understanding of why something didn't meet your artistic expectations. 

A couple of other readers left comments that they like the stitched homes, even though I rejected them.  I took heart from Mags' and Mac's comments that they like the pyramids, even though they look like they're falling on their faces.  Maybe I will finish them and make more, leaning, bent, crumpled, bulgy.  Among lots of other falling-down structures, they will look deliberate rather than pathetic.  At least that's the plan.  So thank you all for your words of encouragement!

Here's my favorite miniature of the week, a sprig of lavender from California:


Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Finding home -- Plan F, or maybe it's G...

Faithful readers know that I have been struggling with something to make for our gallery theme show called "finding home."  I made a little stitched house, but that seemed too cutesy.  Then I made some stitched pyramids but the first one seemed to be not stitched enough, and when I made two more I failed to allow for distortion of the fabric under the stitches, with the end result that the pyramids were falling over on their faces. 

Then a brainstorm: instead of 3-D houses I would make 2-D houses and mount them on a thick black canvas.  Two years ago I had made some little hand-stitched pieces that I mounted that way, and they were all bought within days of going up on the wall in the gallery.  Maybe I could achieve a similar effect with machine stitching.  My plan was to make three pieces -- all with pink houses, but with different sky colors.  Maybe I would call them morning, noon and night.

I got two houses and one background stitched and showed them to two groups of art pals, who were generally underwhelmed. 

I was getting discouraged.  The art has to be on the wall two weeks from today and while I could easily produce three of them in time for the show to begin, I didn't feel great about it.  Usually I am not bothered by negative critical comments from others, perhaps because I don't often show work in process to others.  But for some reason this show has me jinxed, and I have lost my self-confidence.

What now????

Do not give me any suggestions, please; my problem now is too many ideas and too little focus.  In the next posts I'll tell you what I've decided (I think) to do for the show.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Last week on Art With a Needle

After I wrote about the "home songs" I'm doing in calligraphy, Gail left a comment:  "When I read this, my earworm immediately started alternating between My Indiana Home and Tie a Yellow Ribbon.  Yesterday it was Sweet Home Alabama and today it's Simon & Garfunkel's Homeward Bound.  LOL!"

I've already calligraphed (if that's a word) Indiana and Homeward Bound; Alabama is on my list but I haven't gotten to it yet.  But I had totally forgotten that Yellow Ribbon has "home" in it!  In case you've forgotten too, it's in the very first line of the song -- "I'm coming home, I've done my time."
So I immediately looked up the lyrics and did that as today's daily art.

If anybody else thinks of some home songs, please let me know.  Not the easy ones, like Home on the Range or Home Sweet Home, but ones like Yellow Ribbon where the magic word is incidental to the theme.  So far my favorite hidden treasure is Take Me Out to the Ball Game -- sing it to yourself and you'll find the home!

Here's my favorite miniature of the week.  When I was grating a nutmeg (hand-imported from Grenada) I realized that the inside was hollowed out, so I grated some more from the other side to make a ring.

You can check out all the daily calligraphy and miniatures here.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Home songs

I have written about how our gallery is having a theme show about "home," and one of the ideas I had about potential art I might create was to tie in with my daily art focus on calligraphy, by writing some of the many song lyrics that include the word "home."  Actually this idea struck while I was lying in bed at 3 a.m. not sleeping, and without even moving my head from the pillow I was able to think of at least a dozen songs that qualified.  A bit of googling the next morning, and three days of back-to-back music at a jazz festival gave me plenty of additional ideas.

I don't think this is going to be my actual art to exhibit, but I have been having lots of fun with "home" songs as my daily calligraphy.  You can probably even read some of them:

You can check out all my daily art here.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Last week on Art With a Needle

Not much happening in the way of art this week, as we are in California attending the Monterey Jazz Festival.  So far I have learned a lot in our educational sessions, including something profoundly disillusioning.

Ever since I took on the task of teaching myself to play Scott Joplin on the piano, I have clung to the mantra attributed to him and printed on his sheet music:  Ragtime should never be played fast.  This always made me feel better, because despite lots of practice, I could barely play it slow.

This week we were told that Joplin never said that, it was his publisher who didn't want to scare away potential customers.  And that real musicians not only played it fast, but won points among their peers for playing it fastest.  Now instead of feeling law-abiding I feel inadequate.

Here's my favorite miniature of the week:

You can check out all my daily art, miniatures and calligraphy, HERE.