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 hand embroidery, quilting

Finished Object: Sunset Abstract

Oklahoma Sunset

It took only a few days to determine and apply the surface decoration on this piece. And I have stretched the truth a little in calling this one finished. I have sewn on a wide border that still needs machine quilting, and the whole thing needs to be mounted to an artist’s canvas. Since I can’t purchase that item until pandemic restrictions are lifted, I am content to call this object finished.

This is a detail I altered from the original image. In my photograph there was a road in the foreground. I changed it to a stream and depicted it with sunlight glinting off its waters. I achieved this with metallic yarn sewn on with couching.

Here is my trick to get my running stitch straight. By using painter’s tape to mark my fabric, I could hand stitch while watching TV. Also I don’t have to remove marks.

Close up of lower right section showing sun. Clouds and stream are reflecting the sunset. The triangles were stamped onto the fabric using metallic paint.

I feel pretty good about this fiber object. It communicates well the idea of sunset and its color range. I like the balance between the elements and the level of detail. And it allowed me to practice my piecing and embroidery skills.

Posted in quilting

Status of Arch Quilt

I have finally finished piecing the Gateway Arch quilt. Next I stitched the blocks into three panels.

Left

Center

And Right.

Before I move on to making the quilt sandwich and quilting, I will be adding some details to the blocks using fabric paint and possibly some embroidery. This step will allow me to practice a new technique I learned over the holiday.

Posted in painting, quilting

Update on Arches Quilt

I last wrote about this project on November 16th – almost a month ago. In that post I made a list of next steps. While I have completed all but a few of those steps, I started to lose enthusiasm for the project while painting my fabric. It seems that all of my fabrics began to look alike. I told myself that the background fabrics SHOULD look alike, otherwise they wouldn’t retreat into the background. But I still wanted more texture and movement in the colors. So I decided to go back to Cindy Walter’s fabric painting class, to review my technique and discover what I’m missing.

https://shop.mybluprint.com/quilting/classes/fun-techniques-with-fabric-paints/35491

That did the trick. I worked a few variations on color washing and finished painting the background fabric. I now have enough fabric to start building the quilt blocks.

Looking at all the difference in the fabrics, it’s clear to me that I need to organize them in a way that illustrates the scene I want to paint. The solution came to me while I was in the shower. (Why do I get my best ideas while washing my hair?) The Arch stretches itself across three different backdrops.

Water.

City.

And sky

I have my design, my structure, my fabric and my pattern. Now I can begin to sew.

Posted in drawing, knitting, painting

Life in the Studio

As much as I enjoyed our little trip to visit family, it’s nice to be back into my routine. Just as an aside, the faux suede baby booties, while slightly too big, were well accepted by little L. In the meantime, she had also acquired two other items of footwear – a pair of sneakers and a pair of snow boots. She did a brief baby runway show, modeling all of the above. It was so funny to watch her toddle around the house awkwardly, although looking quite pleased with herself and her ability to work the crowd.

Back at home, I have picked up where I left off on various fiber projects.

First of all, I’m knitting a birthday surprise for my daughter. (A big clue to the surprise is found in the sketch above.)

Secondly, I’ve resumed efforts toward making the Arches quilt. It’s amazing how just writing down the next steps motivated me to work. I have finished drawing the full-size patterns for each block. And by completing this step, I have been able to determine exactly how may squares of each color will be required. Over the past two days I have been painting the background fabric. I chose to paint the background squares on a gray fabric, in order to keep the background looking like the night sky.

Next up will be the fabric for the quilt subject.

 

Posted in hand embroidery, painting, quilting

Leaf Study Quilt – Reveal

As I knotted off the last thread of the binding’s slip stitch, I drew my quilt around me and snuggled down into its folds. It is wrong to be in love with one’s own work?

This little lap quilt turned out very much the way I had hoped it would. The dark sashing focuses one’ eye on the beautiful leaves, as if each was a boxed jewel. I loved quilting in free-motion over under and around the leaf shapes.

The batik fabric of the border matches many colors in the blocks. And the botanical pattern on it suggests the sort of wooded area where one might find an oakleaf hydrangea shrub in the wild.

“Oakleaf Hydrangea Study” Hand painted cotton, cotton flannel, and commercial printed fabric; hand embroidered and machine quilted free motion style.

Posted in colorwork, painting

Another Hydrangea Leaf

…..With apologies to readers who might be tiring of images of leaves.

I’m experiencing momentum on the oakleaf hydrangea project. While I intend to create 12 leaf blocks, I promise that I won’t blog about every single one of them. But I think today’s block is worth a few words and images. Here is the reference photo.

After making my sketch on the fabric, I masked the veins with resist and applied a pale emerald green wash. In this photo the piece has dried, and the leaf is covered in resist before undergoing the second wash.

I went really dark.

After the paint dried overnight, I pressed the background in an effort to set the color, then washed out the resist. Before I started painting in the details, I sampled several colors of paint over the pale emerald on waste fabric, because I had no idea what color would give the effect I wanted. I ended up applying yellow-orange, let it dry, and then painted in the major and minor veins.

This image has strayed pretty far from the reference photo! It is no longer a summer leaf, but a slightly battered early fall leaf, getting ready to change color before dropping to the ground. I love the chalkboard look of the background. Because it is black, I was able to use an Ultra fine point Sharpie to draw the leaf margin.

Posted in colorwork, hand embroidery, quilting

Oakleaf Hydrangea – The First Leaf

Yesterday and today I resumed work on the oakleaf hydrangea fabric paintings. Above you see the reference photo for the first leaf I am painting. I chose to do two experiments. Here are the two paintings after the first round of painting. The color wash – resist steps were complete and the paintings left to dry. In these photos, the water resist medium has not been washed out yet.

And here are the two paintings, washed, dried and with final details added, using Jacquard Textile paint inTurquoise and Goldenrod, so palette was quite limited.

It was a learning experience, trying to paint on dry fabric with thicker paints. I discovered how to add depth to the background by dry brushing. And I learned that my skill in painting delicate lines needs work. After the pieces dried, I pressed them and continued on to the stitching phase. I chose to work with the purple piece first, hand quilting with embroidery floss. Instead of backing with regular batting, I used cotton flannel, since it would be easier to push the needle through.

I carefully stitched over the major leaf veins, and then made two borders around the leaf margin. After finishing the leaf, I just improvised the background, using two shades of purple and two stitches – feather and chain.

So far, undecided about how to stitch down the edges. The choices are blind stitch or use a decorative blanket stitch. Does anyone have a recommendation?

Posted in colorwork, painting

Consolidate. Gestate. Internalize.

For the past three days I have been irresolute about making new fiber objects. I haven’t been idle – not a chance of that! But I felt more internal about my efforts than external, that is, not ready to show or talk about them.

Consolidate: (verb) 1. to join together into one whole. 2. to make firm or secure.

Gestate: (verb) to conceive and gradually develop in the mind.

Internalize: (verb) to incorporate within the self as conscious or subconscious guiding principles through learning.

If you ever start to feel you are stuck creatively, I suggest you reframe your status with the verbs above. It could be that you are not stuck at all but are internalizing.

A week ago, I agreed to offer fiber arts lessons again to the local homeschool association. To keep from being overwhelmed, I suggested that I teach project or workshop-type lessons. So part of my time has been spent on writing syllabi for these workshops. The first topic is crochet. I propose to teach crochet in the round.

View of my worktable with two crocheted baskets in use.

I finished the syllabus for this workshop and made this sample.

It has been a while since I’ve created with yarn. It felt good to get back to it.

Secondly, I have been fooling around with pattern and paint on my color washed fabrics. Using foam, felt, cotton yarn and cardboard, I made these stamps.

Stamps sitting on color wash sample

I then proceeded to use them on this sample as well as a dark gray sample. My paint selection included Jacquard Textile paints, which are semi-transparent, Pebeo Setacolor opaque white, and some metallic acrylic paint I had laying around. Here are my doodles.

I’m loving the dark sample, especially the way the white opaque shapes and the glittery bronze shapes jump forward from the brooding background.