Posted in painting

#WorldWatercolorMonth Two More Days

It’s been a quiet week-end here at the studio. I have definitely been absorbed by painting.

Today I have two images to share. The prompt for July 3rd was Playful. I chose to paint some dolphins in a pool with their toys.

This is technically a mixed-media painting. I started out by scribbling on the white paper with white crayon to create a wax resist. I also used a little white gel pen, to see if it would resist the paint. And finally, I brushed on the traditional drawing gum resist. The frothy effect is the crayon. The white ring in the lower right corner is the gel pen, and the white marks on the dolphins’ heads is the gum. After applying the paint, I came back with black micron pen to add detail to the dolphins.

This was a fun and fairly quick painting. I like that it looks like a storybook illustration.

The prompt for July 4th was the word Quiet. Immediately I thought about a sleeping baby. If the baby is sleeping, momma tells everyone to Be Quiet! But then, I thought about sleeping owls. They also nap during daylight hours.

I found a good photograph of two sleepy owls, and made this sketch of it:

I really liked the sketch and was excited to render the image in water color. This was to be a traditional painting, with nothing but watercolor paints on top of a few pencil marks.

It took me all afternoon, because I had to wait for each wash to dry thoroughly before continuing. I reserved the white of the owls’ feathers with drawing gum resist. Completing the painting was satisfying, although some areas are not quite as I had intended them to be.

While the pose I rendered is exactly like the photograph, there is a some mystery about the image. Can you see the wing of the little owl on the left? It is tucked by its side. And yet, something that seems to be a wing is lying on top of the tucked-in wing. After thinking about this, there’s only one logical conclusion: The larger owl has its right wing wrapped around the smaller owl.

What do you think? Do owls give hugs? Or did the internet photographer doctor up the photo?

Posted in knitting

Finished Object Friday

Fresh socks off my needles and blocked

This is a stash-buster project, made from Cascade Heritage sock yarn.

The pattern is called Firefly. It features a two by two right twist cable that is inserted in a staggered fashion. I love how it looks and how much stretch it provides to the sock cuff.

Wearing them feels like walking on air.

I highly recommend the pattern, in fact I recommend the book where the pattern appears. It is by Clara Parkes.

The Knitter’s Book of Socks: The Yarn Lover’s Ultimate Guide to Creating Socks That Fit Well, Feel Great, and Last a Lifetime

I borrowed it from the library, but it is available on Amazon.

Posted in painting

#WorldWatercolorMonth Texture

I was happy with today’s topic. It’s time for me to practice painting textures. I especially wanted to paint a basket. This basket was stashed away in a bathroom cabinet. It is filled with Spanish moss – I’m not sure where I got the moss. So, two textures – plaited reeds and Spanish moss. To add a third texture, I posed a little wren, who seems keen to grab some of that moss for her nest.

Yellow ochre, New Gamboge, Burnt Sienna, French Ultramarine Blue and a little Payne’s grey. I added two ink colors using Micron pens – Black and tan. Paper is Paul Rubans watercolor block.

Posted in painting

#WorldWatercolorMonth Day 1

For the first day of #WorldWatercolorMonth, I chose the image of jumping for joy. Having my joyful figure on the beach at sunset gave me a ideal opportunity to practice blending colors in a wash. I used micron pen on the shore line and figure only.

She sure has a lot of hair.

Paynes grey, New gamboge, Quin red on Strathmore watercolor travel journal.

Posted in painting, quilting

A little of this, a little of that

It’s been almost two weeks since I posted last. My days have been full, if not busy, but nothing to write home about. At least I can catch you up on projects in progress.

Improvisational Quilt.

As you see in the photo, the quilt is under the needle. I have been whacking away at the quilting for days and days. This is the biggest piece of cloth that I have attempted to quilt with my lil’ old Bernina.

I’m doing a parallel- straight line pattern, mostly because this type of quilting doesn’t require much manipulation of the quilt. I start at a long section and keep sewing parallel lines until I get tired or run out of bobbin thread. My goal is simply to finish. Pretty lines and straight lines are both out of the question at this point. Optimistically, I’m going for quirky charm. My daughter loves that aesthetic.

Watercolor Painting

My water color painting results have been less than satisfying. When I crashed and burned at applying the background wash to the bird of paradise painting, it got tossed. I then resolved to start back at the beginning. To this end, I checked out a “teach yourself” watercolor instruction book from the library and began working through the techniques one each day. Today’s lesson was line and wash. I chose to paint from a photograph I took of a pond on our local walking trail.

Willow trees hanging over the water

Here is my painting.

I enjoyed working on this one and am happy with it. The only thing I want to add is darker paint on the the group of leaves at the right edge, giving the painting more contrast of values.

The garden has been getting much of my attention. But starting today, heat is intensifying. So I will likely shift my attention back to indoor activities.

Posted in knitting

Summer Stashbusting + Pass-along

This time of year I frequently find myself diving into my yarn stash. The goal is to USE it, and to use it in projects that are comfortable for the knitter to make on hot summer days and nights. Today I have three items that fit in this category.

First up is this quirky little hat.

Earlier this year my daughter gave me the small, beat-up hat you see on the right side of this photo. She had inherited it from another mom. Our baby really liked wearing it, but now it was too small and full of holes. I dove into my stash and found plenty of yarns that almost matched, color-for-color, the hues of the original hat. De-coding the pattern was quite simple, since it was a classic shape and used only stockinette with a few purl rounds. The only challenge was working the decreases at the top, to reproduce the “stem.”

During my stash dive I discovered several sock yarn skeins, some of which have enough yardage for a pair of socks. This deep blue yarn was left over from a sweater I made for myself a few years ago.

Love this Color.

The sock pattern comes from a book by one of my favorite knitting writers, Clara Parkes. The Knitter’s Book of Socks is quite good. It includes twenty sock patterns, each by a different designer. She also writes about the characteristics of different yarn fibers, and how these might match up with the qualities required by socks: elasticity, strength and absorption. I highly recommend this book for knitters who like making socks.

This pattern is Firefly, by Jennifer Hagan. The two by two cables are all right-leaning. She has them spaced out along the leg of the sock in such a way that they are easy to make.

My last stash buster started out as a pass-along yarn. Knitting friend Kathy gave me several skeins of Peruvian sock weight yarn in a so-so shade of blue. The blend includes alpaca and wool, but also 50% acrylic. In my stash I found a pale blue tweedy sock yarn bought on sale that had not inspired me. But by knitting them held together, these two yarns worked harmoniously. There was just enough for the skirt of a toddler dress.

When the pale blue ran out, I continued on up the bodice with the alpaca blend held double. The yoke includes a small pattern using strands of Cascade 220.

The dress design is mine, but the stranded design comes from a traditional Faroese Kettunøsin pattern. They are little dog heads.

While I sit here indoors, out my window it is raining heavily. This downpour is quite welcome, since it is the first rain since May. Gardening is out for the day, but knitting, quilting, writing and painting will keep me busy until dark.

Posted in painting

Bird of Paradise Work in Progress

I have been collecting images of the tropical flower called Bird of Paradise for a few months now. Initially I wanted to make quilt blocks with this flower as a motif. But lately, I have been charmed by this photograph offered by the San Diego Zoo, of a flower with hummingbird.

I decided it would be a perfect reference for a water color painting. There are three techniques that I could practice from this one photograph: color mixing, background washing and masking.

It occurred to me that I would be more successful if I practiced each of these techniques separately, before combining them into a finished painting. My first study was the hummingbird.

The masking fluid allowed me to reserve the white margins on the breast feathers and the wings. I think he came out quite nicely. While I was at it, I used the same paper to determine the color mixes for the rest of the painting. You can see my little notes penciled in above the bird.

As an aside – Did you know that hummingbirds are the primary pollinators for Bird–of-Paradise flowers?

Yesterday I painted a small study of the whole image. The scariest part was the very dark background wash. I used a mix of ultramarine blue and burnt sienna, with a small amount of lemon yellow to neutralize the blue.

This study is on 5″ by 8″ Strathmore travel journal

I feel I was successful in laying down the wash correctly, but it isn’t quite dark enough. There is also insufficient contrast between the bird and the background. And what can I do to make the petals more luminous?

Palette: Lemon Yellow, New Gamboge, Winsor Transparent Orange, Thalo Blue, Ultramarine Blue, Burnt Sienna, Quinacridone Red.

Posted in quilting

Rock the Block Quilt top Pieced

After a few days of fast sewing and meticulous pressing, my improvised Cunningham quilt top is done. Corner matching, as expected, was a bit of a pain. Promise that you won’t look very closely at them! Truthfully, I needed the practice, so all is good.

I am happy with the warm and energetic feeling that the quilt design suggests.

It has been fun to make it up as I go along. I’ve decided not to add any borders, but I still need to choose backing fabric and make a binding strip.

Posted in quilting

Improvisational Quilting with Joe

I came to learn quilting almost as an afterthought. As I started to get ideas for making fiber objects, I became aware that I lacked the skills I needed to realize them. Thus started my quilting education. There are some things about quilting I like – choosing fabrics, developing my design, adding surface details and actually doing the quilting. The things I dislike are cutting many identical pieces of fabric, squaring up blocks and especially matching corners.

So naturally I am drawn to improvisational piecing. Joe Cunningham (aka Joe the Quilter) and his process were a revelation to me. He offers the promise of freedom. Freedom from all the dull parts of quilting, which leaves more time for fun. The quilt featured at the top of my post is one of his. His website can be found here:

Joe Cunningham has been a professional quilter since 1979. His philosophy is unique. He doesn’t use patterns. He designs out of his head, adjusting things as he goes along. He has no specific end in mind. He explains that as the quilt approaches the finish, he finds out what it will look like. He practices randomness, chance and serendipity. To this end, his method relies on chance from the first cut.

As an example, the class I took with Joe featured a quilt called “Rock the Block.” Here is how to make it:

Step 1: Choose three fabrics. Include one big print. The other two can be prints that don’t necessarily go with the big print. Also choose a solid color that you will cut into narrow strips, which Joe called “sticks.”

Step 2. Cut out a square. It doesn’t need to be perfect, but does need to be bigger than 7 inches.

Step 3. Cut off a corner.

Step 4: Cut out a triangle from one of the other fabrics. Sew it to the square at the cut edge.

Step 5: Cut through the square, across both pieces of fabric.

Step 6: Sew in a stick.

Step 7: Press seams open and trim the block with a 6 and 1/2 inch square ruler.

Repeat steps 2 through 7 until you have enough blocks for the size quilt you want to make. Use all the different combinations of your three fabrics. Your blocks might look like these.

Or they may look entirely un-like these!

Now the fun begins. Lay out your blocks in rows. Move them around, arranging the blocks until they look “pleasing to you.” Lacking a design wall, I laid mine on the floor.

This arrangement is pleasing to me.

So far, this has been painless. Nay, it has been truly pleasurable. I plan to add more yellow blocks around all sides. Some of them will have patterned fabric crumbs and a few “sticks” sewn into them. Some may not.

While I acknowledge there will be corners to sew, I plan to adopt a laisser-faire attitude about the matching part. If this sort of design process is intriguing to you, I suggest you check out Joe the Quilter’s website to see more of his quilts.

Posted in painting

Heat Set

This week the summer heat has finally set it. I haven’t been posting for the past several days. Perhaps it’s because my energy is sapped, not only by the heat, but also by the unrelenting misery of contemporary human interactions. Wow, I don’t even know what that last bit means.

As a counterbalance I give you a photograph of some non-human beauty.

Ozark Sundrops in front of an old house.

I’ve been working daily with fiber. But nothing that I think is share-worthy. I have two knitting projects underway – a shawl and a baby dress – both are disappointing me. The local art association had another plein air meeting, during which I sketched. But I stopped before completing it, due to the heat.

The one bright spot in my week has been my water color painting. In an effort to hone my skills I made a goal to paint daily. Here are the two still lifes I painted this week.

This one was painted while following an on-line tutorial and a sample photograph.

My photography is not super-focused but I’m pretty happy with the painting.

The next painting was done while looking at a photograph, but I took off the training wheels. I worked out the color mixing and brush technique without a tutor.

Apple on cloth

What I like: The textures of each surface, the highlights and shadows of the apple, the rich mottled color and shaping of the apple. What I don’t like: The shading of the folded cloth. But it does have a sort of abstract appeal.

Okay, enough about me. What’s up with you?