August 29, 2008

cool link

I have been getting up to date with Tim Holtz's blog (link in my sidebar), and just now realized he lives north of Phoenix in Prescott, Arizona! How cool is that!?! Anyway, he had a link in a post to another blog that I need to read more of: PearlEsq. Check it out!!

August 27, 2008

AU 2008 Recap Part 1

My first class at Art Unraveled was Monday: an all-day class titled Two Art Quilts Two, with Jane LaFazio. I decided to take this class because I love fabric, I do like sewing sometimes (as long as the sewing machine isn’t involved, that is!), and because I loved the pet portraits in the class description… I still really want some sort of portraits of Cleo and Phoebe, and was really excited by seeing her interpretation.

I found Jane LaFazio through Flickr-surfing, I think. She does amazing watercolor journaling, and wonderful art quilts of all kinds. Since then, I’ve seen her work a couple more times in Cloth, Paper, Scissors magazine… fabric and sewing, sometimes combined with paper: what could be more perfect than that?? (perhaps only some glue and stamping added in for good measure!)

This is one of Jane's pet portraits... I love the buttons on the edge!!

We started with the pet portrait- I only had really crappy photocopy enlargements of photos printed off my Flickr account, but I think it turned out okay, considering what I started with. We started by tracing the major shapes onto tracing paper (think paint-by-numbers, or coloring book), then transferred it to unprimed canvas using a Sharpie marker. From there, we started painting using thin washes of acrylic paints…Jane said when coloring in the shapes, don’t think about the “actual” color of the pet, but rather, think about their “aura” and their personality. I had really wanted to make Cleo’s picture a really soft, sage-y, olive-y green, but couldn’t get the paint color right, so she ended up being kind of pop-art instead, but actually, when I think about it, Cleo wasn’t a soft, sage-y kitty in real life, so I think the blue and yellow fits, after all.

I think I managed to capture her personality in the facial expression; I’m really proud of that. The next steps are stamping her name at the bottom, layering the batting and backing with the front, stitching the outlines and details, and finishing it off with an edging of some sort… hopefully, anyway! I really had HUGE expectations of perfection for the results of this project, (like everything I do, naturally) so perhaps I shouldn’t have done something with so much personal meaning for my first try, but I still think I’m going to finish it.

My tablemate for this class was a member of the East Valley Mixed Media group; I mentioned that I recognized her from the one meeting I attended, so she invited me to lunch with her- How nice of her!! This group of ladies meets once a month (in downtown Chandler, in the evening) to learn/discuss/share all sorts of things associated with mixed-media artwork… I’ve been trying to figure out how to attend regularly, but with Tom’s unpredictable travel schedule and the distance, it hadn’t been working out. Anyway, we had a very nice lunch with a couple other members, then headed back for the Landscape Quilt portion of the class.

Below is one of Jane's examples of a mini landscape quilt: I really like the way she used the sheer fabric in the sky, and how the frayed edges of the fabric suggests grass and growing things. And, if you look close, each of the colored bits in the lower left is an individual fabric scrap, sewn on by hand!

Again, I had definite ideas of what I wanted to do with this project, but my creative muse decided otherwise- I had purchased several beautiful batik fabrics from a (sort-of) local quilting shop, and thought I would make a desert landscape with mountains in the background. Jane’s approach to this project was to take a few fabrics, lay them next to each other, see what worked, and pull out/replace fabrics till you get something that feels and looks “right” to you. While I was pulling my supplies for the class together, I decided to throw in some other fabrics from my stash to take in addition to the batik.

During my process of pulling fabrics out and laying them down, I tried to make the desert landscape I wanted, but some of the fabrics just didn’t work, so they got replaced with my other cottons… more of this trial and error process (“no, try this one” and “how about using a piece of this?” from Lulu’s stash of fabrics) led to my landscape changing from a desert mountain scene to Midwestern rolling hills and fields, instead… amazing how that happens, isn’t it??

This landscape also needs lots of work to finish, although I have ideas for some of the details: embroidered grass, running-stitch plowed furrows in the fields, and tan buttons to represent round hay bales. And perhaps some running-stitch swirling clouds in the sky… or maybe a bird or two flying over the fields…

This class was a lot of fun, and it led me to reconnect with a group of really interesting people I hadn’t thought I would be able to again… it also showed me that sometimes pre-conceived notions and thought-out plans about projects can be (sometimes need to be) discarded in favor of what works at the time with how you’re feeling, which can lead to a totally different (but no less successful!) result in the end.

August 25, 2008

there IS life in the AZ desert...

...although you wouldn't know it by the frequency of my blog posts, would you??

Lots of stuff happened in the desert this summer, but it all seemed to sap my energy for anything besides the necessary cooking, cleaning, working, and sleeping. Bringing baby Bisbee home brought the household pet total to four (what were we thinking, anyway!?!). It's been a lot of fun to see her interact with Sedona and the cats, but I definitely forgot just how much work a new puppy is!

Mandatory overtime at work (10-hour workdays with a 45-minute commute) meant I was getting up at 2:30 am in order to be at work by 4 am and getting home about 3:15 in the afternoon. (Yes, this was definitely a crazy work schedule, but there was a reason- I took the early shift and Tom went to work later; this way, the dogs were home alone for the shortest possible span of time.) These things, combined with the summer heat and some other family health issues back in the Midwest, left me feeling pretty tired.

This is how I felt most of the summer:

(by the way, this is Bisbee relaxing after a hard day chasing after Sedona and the cats... what a life, hmmm?!? Yes, I would admit that our pets are spoiled...)

Oh, we did do some fun stuff in there, too... we went to Seattle for a long weekend before Memorial Day, where we visited some of Tom's relatives and saw a few of the sights. It was great, but I already know I want to go back because there were tons of things we didn't have time to do... I do have pictures of that trip, which I will post on Flickr sometime (soon, hopefully!). We also headed back to Wisconsin for Tom's family reunion, and spent an enjoyable weekend relaxing in the woods outside Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. (...although we did have to fight off an incredibly prolific crop of mosquitoes!) Right after we got back from Wisconsin, it was already time for Art Unraveled... I took three classes: two all-day, and one evening class, after work.

This photo combines projects from two classes: the rubber stamp is one I carved myself after taking a really inspiring class on stamping with non-traditional materials with Traci Bunkers, and the book it's stamped in is one I made myself in a class with Kelly Kilmer (her classes are always a blast, although I'm usually a mess afterwards- the way I paint, as much paint ends up on my hands as on the paper, I think). The third class was Two Art Quilts Two, with Jane LaFazio, which was also lots of fun- I really think I need to make friends with my sewing machine again! (I have more pictures of AU and my projects which I will also post sometime soon!) One of the other things that was blocking my creativity most of the summer was the absolute CHAOS in my craft room... I'm not sure how it got so bad, but it was such a mess that I couldn't really face it... it needed to be cleaned before I could do anything in there, and I just wasn't up to it. I finally started two weekends ago (although it's still pretty messy, to the untrained eye!) and this weekend, I scored some great cigar boxes for organizing some of my stuff. Tom and I ran some errands on Saturday which took us up to Scottsdale where we visited one of his favorite stores, Cigar Warehouse. The entire store is a walk-in humidor (it smells wonderful when you walk in; the entire place is permeated with the fragrance of Spanish cedar!!); they had two shelves stacked full of empty cigar boxes to pick from... I brought home four boxes for free, since Tom was buying 15 cigars (yay- score!!), but usually, they sell them for less than $5 apiece... I think last time I got some we paid either $1 or $2 each. (Honestly, if I'd known I could get them for free, I would have gotten a few more, but we'll go back again.)

This is one of my new cigar boxes, now turned into an organizer for some of my small bits and pieces- buttons, spiral paper clips, beads, etc. (sorry about the glare in that photo...) I think I've figured out what happens in my craft room to make it so chaotic, and I'm hoping these organizational efforts will help to reduce that: I am one of those people who needs to see things or I forget about them, but spreading out my materials eventually leads to the chaos that paralyzes my creativity... hopefully, these cigar boxes will be the start of ongoing efforts that will assist in minimizing the chaos, so I can finish those AU projects and keep my creative juices flowing. (Not having to go to bed by 8:30 pm in order to get up at 2:30 am will help that, too!!)