Friday, November 16, 2018

Show and Tell--with a Bit of Selling

Last week I got to try to make pieces that were not created to go together look like some kind of coherent whole in a small space. Since my studio is not exactly accessible to hordes of visitors, I participated in the annual Amesbury Open Studio Tour by setting up work on three panels in City Hall along with twelve other artists, always a challenge to those of us who don't work in tight series that produce closely related work.

The layout I worked out on the floor at home --

did not translate exactly when I put it up on the panels, but most of it worked:

Since I had done this before, I set off Saturday morning confident that I knew what to expect--always  a bad sign when you think you know the future. The predicted sunny morning became cold, rainy, and windy and a problem with the heating system in City Hall made most of the day uncomfortable for those who braved the weather and downright unpleasant for those of us who had to stay there. By Saturday evening I was asking myself why I was doing this. But Sunday showed me why. The day was brisk but sunny and I ended up selling a few things and having a number of significant conversations about my art and about art and life in general.

Making art is often a solitary experience because, for me, quiet encourages creativity. But on Sunday I was seeing glimpses of threads  of connection as people reacted to my work, I was strengthening the threads that form the community I now call home even though it still feels new sometimes, and I was creating new threads in the community of artists that inspires and encourages me. Like the spider I watched last summer who was diligently and accurately creating her web, I was working on those webs that connect us all in so many ways. It feels good to measure the success of the weekend in terms of making instead of selling.

And if you are still reading, thanks for the company!

Linking with Off the Wall Friday.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Wandering a New Path

After a summer of intensive hand stitching I was ready for something new. As I caught up on my reading, I came across Sue Bleiweiss' article, "Faux Metal Fabric," in Quilting Arts. It involved lots of scrunching of fabric, something I love to do, and then lots of paint. Since I had two small wrapped canvasses sitting in my studio reminding me I needed to do something for the upcoming 8x8 show at the Newburyport Art Association, it would be a small investment in materials to see where this technique might lead me--and I would perhaps fulfill my commitment to have something to enter in the show.

Sue's instructions called for silk habotai, which I didn't have, but I did have some silk organza earmarked for some dyeing experiments but it might work for this. So I began scrunching and ironing the silk until it was pretty thoroughly wrinkled. I added Mistyfuse to two background cotton layers sufficiently large to wrap around the canvasses and then placed the scrunched silk on top and ironed once again. All that texture was looking good!

Sue then slathers lots of black paint on the surface. I found a bottle of black acrylic that I had "won" at the end of a Jane Dunnewold class and that I thought I would never use; it worked perfectly! Another round of ironing followed. Sue's next step covers the surface with several layers of metallic paint so that it flattens out and begins to look indeed like metal. I couldn't let go of all that haptic-ness so I left Sue's path entirely and struck out on my own. I began to envision the metallic paint not covering the surface but highlighting the texture. And all that black was leading me to a question about whether there was hope in all that darkness. So I began adding suggestions of colors here and there and highlighting it all with glints of gilt.

The finished two, now named Hope Regardless 2 & 3, referencing an earlier piece I made in 2016, are meant to hang together:

They also work as single pieces and were hung separately at the Newburyport Art Association. The lighting in these photos highlights the texture a bit more:

And not a single stitch on either of them! My hands thanked me.

Linked with Off the Wall Fridays--check out what's happening there!