The Universe is displayed in color. Vast stretches of vivid spectrums of lightness and darkness. Nature just flows in hues, shades and tints just waiting to be admired. I have always loved color. My boxes of crayola crayons and coloring books used to help soothe my tummy aches when I was little — they gave me immense joy.
While looking at my collection of fabric, I noticed a surprising trend. Beige. With all of my fascination with color I seem to have a thing for beige toned fabric. I think it’s because beige evokes a quiet calmness that I gravitate to. On the other side of that is my adoration for purple which has a magical and mysterious quality. Purple is my favorite color but I don’t wear it much and my fabric choices don’t reflect that. Artists are funny creatures.
All of this color introspection led to me to a decision. I am using up all of my paint and revamping my palettes. I will only buy certain colors and use particular palettes for various themes. My crayons, painsticks, inks, embossing powders and other surface design and marking tools will find their way into my work as they fulfill some sort of creative need.
I randomly plopped, spilled and then scrunched paint on mid-weight printed fabric, drill (a sort of canvassy type fabric) and canvas scraps. It was so much fun. I didn’t want to stop so I kept making more and more pieces. The result was some wildly seredipititous combinations that I will use for various projects.
I had been on quite a lengthy quest to develop my art brand. What I mean by that is coming up with a signature style so that when the viewer looks at a piece they will know that it is actually my work. Needless to say this is not an easy task especially since my tastes change like the weather. A couple of things that have stayed true with me have been my love of fabric and collage.
Some artists use the same color thread or the same basic materials and color palettes. A running theme regarding subject matter is even part of some artist’s signature style. Me — I like anything and everything so narrowing down elements has been quite the challenge.
Ultimately, I decided to go with mixed-media fabric collage with a spiritual touch; noting particular constants and basic themes. We’ll see how that goes.
Golden Fluid Acrylic – ultramarine blue
Piece of foam sponge
Metallic thread – gold
Polyester thread – copper
Found objects – old keys, metal no.4
To create the sun printed quilt top, I spread the paint out on the muslin with the sponge, making sure the muslin was highly saturated. It was a nice sunny day so I put the fabric outside on the grass and placed the metal number and the keys on top. When it was fully dry I removed the objects and added the felt batting. I thread painted inside the little openings within the object’s shapes then hand stitched the stones onto the quilt. Added the cotton fabric backing.
Tip: Metallic thread is iffy when machine stitching. I used a metallic needle and the thread still broke intermittently. Stitching slowly helps.
15) “puffy pear”
Jaquard Textile Color – golden rod, olive green, sky blue
Beaded trim Polyester fiberfil batting Polyester thread – copper
Transfer Artist’s Paper
Royalty free image – pear
After randomly tying the rubber bands around the tightly squeezed muslin, I put the fabric in a plastic container and squeezed out paint on top of it, purposely leaving some white spaces. I squished it with gloved hands to work the paint in and left it to dry overnight. Somehow the green took over but the tie-dye effect was a success. The pear image was printed on Artist’s Transfer Paper, cut out and then ironed onto the quilt top. The fiberfil batting was put under the pear shape and I stitched an outline around it to create the trapunto effect. I then trimmed of the excess fiberfil and made the quilt sandwich. I free motion stitched around the pear to bring out the puffiness. The trim was added to the bottom.
Tips: Although many paints nowadays are non-toxic, if your hands are going to be dabbling in a lot of paint, as a precaution it may be best to wear gloves. Regarding, trapunto, it is best done using polyester batting. It creates more dimension than cotton batting.
Hand dyed cheesecloth
Fabric paper scraps
Foil sheet – rainbow stripes
Mod Podge Fabric Glue
Sharpie – dark green
Thread – variegated
The fabric paper quilt top was made by saturating muslin with diluted Elmer’s glue then topping it with strips of tissue paper and cheesecloth. I ripped and randomly placed both the paper and cheesecloth in a way that allowed some of the paper to show through. Unpatterned placement in art tends to add interest and texture. After it dried, I made the quilt sandwich and free-motion stitched for additional texture and color. The dress is canvas that was colored with foil using foil glue and a bone folder to rub it on. The dress was outlined with a dark green sharpie to give it some dimension. I manipulated fabric paper scraps I had in my scrap bag and made the pin and apron. Making the pleats in the apron and the gathers in the pin was not an easy feat. The paper tore but I didn’t mind at all. In fact, it turned out to be a happy accident because of the textured look it created. I’m into texture, wonky and messy. Can you tell? But I digress. The apron was machine stitched to the dress. The fabric paper pin and glass beads were hand stitched on. The last step was gluing the dress to the background using fabric glue.
Tip: Outlining an element or motif with a dark or contrasting color can really add dimension and interest. If you find your piece is looking flat or washed out, trying outlining.
6) “gold speckled heart“
Golden Fluid Acrylics – burnt sienna, phthalo green
Golden Gel Medium Coarse Molding Paste
Gold leaf flecks
Ornate heart stencil
Polyester thread – copper
After covering the Gelli plate with paint using a brayer, I placed the text stencil on top of it then carefully laid the muslin on top. The same was done for the heart and bands of color. I placed the heart stencil back over the initial heart print and stenciled on coarse molding paste that I mixed with gold leaf flecks using a palette knife. After everything dried, I made the quilt sandwich and free-motion quilted the heart.
Tip: Gold leaf flecks tend to float around a lot. They are beautiful but not all that easy to work with. Work slowly and deliberately with the medium.
The little girl who used to love her new box of crayons and coloring book resurfaced within me when I began this sampler. The markers took on a life on their own and I just began drawing shapes, filling up with muslin with color. I sprayed it with alcohol which causes the inks to bleed and merge into each other. The fumes were pretty strong. The smell eventually dissipated as it dried. The muslin was put on top of the felt batting and I added the embroidery. The jewels were glued on and the quilt was assembled.
Tips: Use gloves and protective eye glasses when working with alcohol. Also, work in a well ventilated space.
It is really important to take some time out for renewal. I have done that and I now feel more equipped to share my artistic goings on. I am happy to be back.
Before I went on hiatus, so to speak, I was working with surface design techniques. My list of ideas were being taken on as a daily project to be made into a series of art quilt journals. The 3-D applique quilt was done but the rest… I am restarting today but instead of doing one technique a day I will be doing a three technique combo still sticking to the alphabetical order thing. For example my next art quilt will be made using applique, batting and block printing. I just received my beautiful wood print block that I ordered from the fantastic textile art website Colouricious. Below is a photo of the block.
August 22nd has come and gone. It has been almost two weeks since my plan to make art daily using my surface design/artful techniques list was excitedly put into effect. Then… procrastination and consternation took over. I have only my little 3D applique sample to show for all of my gung ho, full steam ahead, art adventure intentions. I made a couple of other things but they are just not good enough to share.
During one of my lengthy procrastination sessions I decided to turn the project into a series of mini art quilt journals. I love making art quilts and the hope is that by narrowing my options, the decision making process will be less harrowing. Decisiveness is not one of strengths but I’m working on it.
The mini quilt in the photo was made with cotton commercial fabric, warm n’ natural batting, freeform free-motion stitching and a little bit of hand stitching. My 3D applique is a heart pillow which I stuffed with bamboo stuffing, embellished with a button and attached to the quilt with some hand stitching. I call it “do more.”
“Collage is the assemblage of different forms creating a new whole.”
Collage has such an enchanting and vast history so I will only nibble at very limited edges in this post.
It started out as paper art in the Orient, way, way back in the day–the 12th century. Paper was held as sacred. Poems were embellished with flowers and other motifs from nature. Decorated text. Although it has evolved immensely, and is now a practice used by artists all over the world, it has held on to it’s roots. Collagists still decorate text and anything else that comes to mind. Not until the twentieth century was it considered a valid fine art method. Artists bringing painting, sculpture and assemblage to the collage party weren’t taken seriously at first but persistence has it’s rewards. The freedom of expression and spontaneity that collage offers revolutionized the way folks looks at art. Artists began collecting and using all kinds of stuff in their pieces. The limitlessness was tempting and many creatives gave in. There were of course many artists who were opposed to the abandonment of conformity but many were thrilled by it and their art displays a special passion. If I had lived back then I would have been one of the giddy ones. Anything can be used in a collage and that thought brings me sheer joy.
Fabric is my primary medium of choice. Occasionally adding found objects, paper, paint and anything else the piece calls for takes me on interesting adventures. One of the reasons for starting this blog is so that I will hopefully be forced into art discipline. Either I make stuff or my blog withers away. Blog withering is not acceptable. Experimentation and getting away from comfort zones leads to learning, growing and ultimately meeting goals. I intend to do much experimenting.
I am starting over in blogville. Since accidentally deleting old artsy notions and philosophical musings (due to my being indecisive and impatient) I have been so anxious to get back to sharing what I know about one of my biggest passions–collage. I will delve into many techniques that will help bring this expressive art to life. My intent is to learn as well as teach.
Collage has several technical definitions but I like how the thesaurus explains it: a mixture of pictures, an abstract composition, found art, photomontage. This is what I attempt to do with fabric. I adore “material.” That’s what my Grandma used to call the sweetly patterned light blue dotted swiss, the beautifully sheer organdy and all of the other meticulously cared for fabric she owned. The vast variety of textures and colors that make up today’s delightful choices make me swoon. I love it all. From the flimsiest georgette to the heaviest canvas, it all thrills me to the core. Walking into a fabric shop is like finding new money. So when something as liberating as collage is available to be toyed with in relation to the textile realm, I am all in! The general principles and elements of composition and design do come into play with collage in order to help a piece of work make art sense but many times instinct takes over. Doing exercises in order to learn and absorb those principles have helped to bring cohesiveness and order to my work which is sort of a weird concept when talking about collage which most of the time is without any order at all at first glance. I guess the challenge is to produce a sort of jumbled harmony. I like to work fast without much conscious consideration and I want my designs to adhere to that jumbled harmony notion. That is exactly why I have put those pesky rules safely in my subconscious where they silently come to my aid whenever necessary.
My next post will be a brief overview of composition and the principles and elements of design.