Summer delight

Do you remember the lazy days of summer during your youth? Growing up my brothers and sisters would run all day long during the summer. We would spend hours swinging trying to see how high we could go by pumping our legs harder and harder. Seemed hunger or tuckered out was the only thing that would get us inside. 

I always wanted the night to come during summer. The most amazing array of color in the sky would happen then. Blazing yellow and red one night, purple and pink the next. I still love summer nights, looking at a clear night with all the stars but wait they are too close. To my amazement they are the first signs of summer, fireflies.  The yellow and green fluorescent twinkling bugs that seem to make everyone smile. 

Fireflies landing on the dew dripped grass of the early evening, it makes me happy. Holding my hand still in the air they land and tickle as they crawl around. I was thinking of this joy as I started a new art work. 

I am a member of an art association called MOFA, Missouri fiber artists, who are a wonderful mix of fiber artists including weavers, art quilters, knitters, felt artists and paper makers to name a few. We are having a member show this fall and I decided I wanted to try and capture the fun of fireflies in the summer for the show. 

The show requires the use of a stretched canvas, 10 X 10, museum wrapped. This style has the corners mitered with the sides wrapped around to the back. A new venture for my work but the size would make the work go fast. I found a black painted canvas at my local art store that would be a wonderful start. 

The next morning while watching a morning show I saw a clip on amazing swarms of fireflies that light up the woods of the Appalachian mountains.  Folks will line up in their lawn chairs hours ahead just to be in position to see this summer wonder. That cemented the idea but how would I be able to capture those twinkling glowing lights? 

I started with a dark tree fabric, colored it darker with a variety of gray and black fabric markers. These were glued to the canvas to represent a forest of trees. I had green fabric backed with fusible adhesive cut in a fussy way to represent leaves from a prior project. Using a variety of green fabric markers I made some a very dark green. Laying the darkest leaves down first, out came the mini iron. Pressing them down made it go fast, no need to wait for glue to dry. Besides canvas is just another fabric. 

The rest of the leaf clumps were then layered on top. I decided I needed some contrast so added  embroidery using French knots in several shades of green along with a purple. Also added blades of grass in silk ribbon but they were too light in color. Out came the green and black fabric markers that adjusted the brightness just perfectly.  These were really easy to work thru the stretched canvas using a very sharp Japanese needle. I picked an extra long one so I could wiggle it between the canvas and the stretcher bars.  A bit tedious but well worth the effort. 

Now how to represent those twinkling lights of the firefly? Taking some time to research images of fireflies flying around,  I decided that small round sequins in floresant colors would work. Put in an order for 6 mm lime green, light yellow and clear sequins. Once they arrived I used a smoke colored Mylar invisible thread and started laying them on top of the trees, leaves and grass. It was fun to position them in a circular pattern. As I look at the end result from some distance I know it hit the mark. Yes I am smiling and dreaming of sweet summer evenings in the backyard. 


Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going. Jim Ryan 

This is true for most things in life. You get motivated to diet, exercise, remember those New Years resolutions? I stopped doing that years ago but I have to say it is habit that gets things accomplished. My journey to full time artist has happened mostly by habit or regiment. 

Regiment of my day, get the paper, breakfast and of course coffee, check email then start working on my art. Now this may mean looking thru my ever increasing photo file for ideas. Sorting thru fabrics and other supplies to use. I see I really need to spend a couple of days organizing, note to self. Or going thru art show entry options on line. 

I found a long forgotten piece in the stack of fabric last week. It was just the start of a landscape yet I had completely forgotten this work. The background is a yellow brown brick pattern, dark barked lilac tree along the right side. There is a window with a window box over flowing with flowers. 

I painted this scene years ago and must have decided to try it now in fiber. As I considered this as a start, I realized the window was wrong, most likely why I had set it aside and hadn’t touched it for some time. Pulled that window off and started again but salvaged the lace I had used for the curtain. I found a very fine weave cotton batiste in my stash that works for window panes. Now I see it needs a border to anchor the window to the wall. Digging thru my stash I find a scrolling trim that looks like decorative ironwork. 

I decided the tree needed a rambling vine that hangs over the top of the window so stitched some vines in black. Then added a mix of red brown and black floss for vine also.  Next were leaves in silk ribbon embroidery using two colors of green. I left areas open knowing I would be adding purple silk ribbon for lilac flowers. 

The brick looked too flat so out came the colored pencils to add depth and darken the color along with highlights on the shingles of the flower box. I also added a light gray in the corners of the window panes holding back not to add too much. 

The real fun came working on the lilacs. First because purple is a favorite color of mine but mostly because once I started this part it really made the tree and window pop. I love the way this is working out especially when I think I had originally given up on this piece. 

At this point I had to stop to run an errand, got to stop to feed myself sometime. Yet I would have stopped anyway because I was so happy with the lilac flowers that I began to worry about the rest of my plan. What colors should I use? Should I consider complentary colors for the flowers in the window box? How about the leaves for the vines that will trail down to the bottom of piece. 

On my way back home I passed a new home with a wonderful blooming window box. Didn’t have the time to take a picture so focused on the image to imbed it in my memory. Lime green trailing vines steaming down the window box, large blooms of fushia and purple and small but light lacy white dots for contrast. Okay that solves that problem.

I took that memory and started with trailing vines in light greens from the top of the window box. I added large blooms of pink, fushia and a darker fushia. The last were small dark fushia blooms to look like Shasta daisey for contrast. I decided no other flowers were needed because a white would distract from the cleanness of the colors. Picked up the light green in a tube bead for the staimen of the large blooms. 

So the motivation on this piece was to show my love of pretty colors. The capture of a moment of beauty. By using the habit of sticking to it and working thru what I thought was not working I know I have succeeded with this piece. It goes towards my goal of two new works each month, though this is two weeks late for my June goal.