Green leaves and weeding 

I really don’t like to weed but with the rain that came pouring down last week everything sprouted overnight. Not a good time to have the lawn mower die either. 

The rain broke two weeks of oppressive heat and humidity making for a wonderful day to be outside. As I began to trim the wandering vines and volunteer trees that are an unending battle, I begin to notice distinct leave shapes and colors. It always surprises me when you take the time to look you really can see beauty in the common everyday things. 

Of course I had to take pictures for reference later. This common weed is just about spent with it’s light colored seedlings waiting for a strong breeze. 

There is precision in the direction of each seed. Lined up all in the same upward direction, one across from each other. However looking closer I see some are bigger than the other and not nearly as precise as they appear. 

I move to another part of the yard to find what appears to be a weed from the fern family. No I am not any kind of plant authority but I like looking at plants. Leonardo believed that you had to truly observe something before you could even try to replicate it in art. I like the shape of these plants and they would be good to remember for my next landscape. 

Okay I will just show you the rest of the pictures I took before I bore you all to tears. 

So as you can see everything is green around here right now. I am awed by the various shapes, sizes and texture in each leaf. Something I admit I usually just pass by each day. But just in case you want some color here is a picture found on line of some colorful flowers, peonies I do believe. 

This color and the wild looking greenery just may show up in my next artwork. I certainly have several reference photos of green leaves to consider including now. 

Hot, hot summer

It has been a very hot summer here in the United States. The kind of burning sunshine and sticky humidity that makes you run for the closest shade and iced lemonade. I have been staying inside most days but I long to take a walk and be in nature. However that longing is not stronger than my comfort so inside I stay. 

As I look out my studio window I see my neighbors volunteer hollyhocks have sprouted again. Planted by a bird years ago it is beautiful in this heat. Tall strong stalks with large lush green leaves at the bottom. I notice the blooms have come up a pink color this year. With bees cross pollinating you never know what color they may be. The flower is a soft pink but not a pastel. The bloom has almost a cone shape that flares out at the opening with a ruffled edge. I see a yellow staemen contrasting the pale pink of the flower. 

The stalks rise high with more leaves that are smaller now along with distinctive buds ready to replace spent blooms. I have always been fascinated by the leaves of the hollyhock as they begin to dry and yellow. They dry with holes across the surface making them lacy and delicate. Reminds me of the lacy florentine cookies I ate as a kid.  I decide that these flowers will be the inspiration for my latest piece so I start sketching some ideas. 

I decided to place the flowers in front of a garden gate. I want to have a bright green door with a pale gray fence, light foreground and perhaps some green leafy branches overhanging the fence. Using one of my small wrapped canvases I lay out fabric in a medium blue for sky, the gray boards for the fence and a warm gray for the ground. Out come the colored pencils to add shadows, depth and contrast. I add bright green fabric for the gate and sketch in a whimsical crescent moon shape at the top of the door. Lastly I locate some fabric printed as bricks to anchor the door to something. 

Here is the top of picture showing the trunk and trailing leaves for the background. 

I really like using various colors of green silk ribbon for leaves. Makes it more realistic and interesting. I then used cotton embroidery thread to establish the stalks of my hollyhocks. A large French knot works for the buds. At the top of the stalks I wrapped these knots with silk ribbon. The ribbon was persnickety so stopped after 4 or 5 were done.

It seems silly to worry about these details that will just be covered up with leaves and flower petals but I believe they add to the depth and reality of the piece as a whole.  I bought a bit of fabric with printed leaves in the scale I needed at a quilt show. Cutting the leaves was a bit tedious but well worth it. I attached the leaves with a silk thread allowing most of the fabric looseto hang loose giving them demension. 

Now to tackle the flowers. I had bought some pink silk thinking they would make beautiful flowers. Cutting strips I then gathered them into a circle, adjusting the gathers so the flowers would lay the direction I wanted. I then added some darker shades of red with a fabric marker in the center and a bit on the outside edges. A loop or two of fuzzy yellow thread works for the stamens. I love the way this came out. 

Summer is booming

 I have been busy entering online for shows getting new work finished and photographed. Due to my month long two person show in May, I had put off entering shows. So because all of my work was up for this show I see I need more inventory. 

I managed to complete two new pieces, one made just for the member only show of Missouri Fiber Artist, MOFA. I found out I was accepted in the show earlier this week. Yet even better I received a wonderful critique of the accepted artwork today from the juror. 

This is what she said  “Immediately the colour and contrast in this work draw(s) me in. I’m seeing the piece now as a small thumbnail image and even at this size, I can sense the detail and texture in the work. I find the mixing of rich blues and greens with the brighter white coral forms to be full of harmony as well as visual interest. ” 

There is a theme for this show,  an altered environment. This is to show our air, water and ground is being polluted by human practices. The work could be realistic or not but each has a statement explaining what inspired the work. Only other requirement was the artwork had to be made of some form of fiber. My piece is 14 X 11 and is based on the bleaching of the coral in the Barrier Reef area. This is caused by the warming of the oceans and acid pollution. 

Here is Barrier Reefs. 

Here is a closeup. 

I really am digging the fan coral on my seascapes now. The turtles are pre-printed on cotton fabric that a good friend gave me to use. Thank you Marci! I just had to add more color to the turtles with my colored pencils too. The heavy white kelp is from white lace embellishments for wedding dresses. 

The show, Speaking of Fiber! 2017, will be at Maryville University’s Morton J May Gallery in St. Louis, Mo. It will run from November 9 through December 15, 2017. Reception will be Thursday November 9, 2017, 5:00 – 7:00 with a juror’s talk at the reception at 6:00. I know this is a way off so will repost when it is closer to that date. 

Boom it is now July. Oh how is this year half over? Stay tuned to see what else is popping! 

Results and other things 

My show is now finished. It took a bit of time to meld the work of my co-exhibitor Sean Christopher Ward. His work is as colorful as mine so we took our time trying to match colors to each of our work. 

The time taken was a smash hit. The night of the artists reception came May 12th with a small but enthusiastic group of fans. Most if not all were impressed with the layout and how well both my and Sean’s work meshed so well. In fact one friend of mine asked if we had colabrated on color choices ahead of time. Here are a few pictures of the show displays for you to judge yourself. 




I did sell a piece of work during the reception. One of my smaller works that I started doing last year. I consider these as a way to work out ideas without doing a full size work. Yet they are well done small works too. 

Here is a picture of Sunny Afternoon done on a 8 X 10 gallery wrapped canvas.  I wrote how this piece came about in a previous blog post-Small Ideas Become Big posted December 2, 2016. I won’t bother repeating that post but here is my smiling face with that sold work. 


Now that I have a show in the bag so to speak and have celebrated that goal accomplished, what is next? I will continue to enter exhibitions both local and national.  I also need to get serious with getting represented by a gallery. I have a very good lead on that point but can’t comment yet. More to come once it becomes final. I also learned from this show I need to produce at least twice as much work as I displayed. 

I do have plenty of ideas so I guess I need to head to the studio and get cracking. Before I do I want you to check out my fellow artists website at http://seanchristopherward.com

Off to the studio now that the dust had settled. More, much more to come. 

Busy, busy, busy 

Seems when spring comes everyday is filled  with more things to keep one busy. Today I am delivering my work to the venue for my two person show that is running the month of May. I have to say I am excited and anxious to get my work on the wall.

I am also not sure most understand the preparations that are taken to get to this step. First there is creating a body of work that I truly feel is of a quality that I am striving for and just plan beautiful. Then there is finding a gallery, finding out if they have any openings and the anxious part of applying.

One of the best part of this journey is the thrill of acceptance, they like me, they really, really like me. Wait I better count how many pieces of work I really do have ready to show. Now I need to get busy because I should have 3 more done. Ready, set, go get them done.  Guess my late winter was busy too, for I did get 4 more new pieces completed.

 


As I continued my prep, I had to mat the majority of my work then get them set in frames and wired for hanging. I decided to use the same frame style for each so went hunting for the best deal for 20 frames. I then set up a work station to mat then frame each. I did my best to keep this area clean and free of dust and lint but there is always that extra something that seems to always find it’s way between the mat and inside glass.  All ready to be delivered for this next step in my journey.

Set up day is here, time to meet my co exhibitor and the show organizers that not only picked both of use for this show but also decided to pair us up. I walk in and find the work of Sean Christopher Ward my co artist already in the midst of unpacking his work. I am amazed at the uniqueness of the work along with the color usage. It is bright and cheerful, it compliments my own work so well I am just tickled and happy to see such a wonderful pairing.

We all took our time moving each piece around to find the best location and which piece would work best with each other. The rest of the time was the grunt work of hanging, making sure they were level and moving around to full the space better, the grunt work. Yet the time flew by, knowing that with each it really is a wonderful showing. Nothing says how well a piece of art looks than putting it up on the wall and walking back a couple of steps to admire how well it looks.

I am so happy that this is happening finally, I can breath a bit from the busyness of preparing and relax.  I am sharing the link for the promo that Sean designed for his Facebook page for this show. If you can make this event please say hello.  If you can’t make the reception please come by  The R.G. Endres Gallery which is located in the Prairie Village Kansas municipal complex at 7700 Mission Road, Prairie Village, Kansas which is open Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

https://www.facebook.com/events/1423927907650292/

 

 

 

 

Spring surprise

Spring is always a season of beginnings, green sprouting plants, flowers and new birth of birds and bunnies. Even living in the city it is reuvinating to see things sprouting. I appreciate folks that plant pretty things in their yards and gardens. Mostly because I do not have the talent of gardening. Even house plants, catus,  air plants seem to die under my brown thump. 

So when I see a volunteer plant in my yard it makes me so very happy. Around this time of year my yard is filled with grape hyacinths once the first green grass sprouts.  I have no idea how these pretty purple flowers came to my yard. After a break in our current rainy weather I went to see if yet again I had grape hyacinths. I love to pick them, put them in a bud vase on my desk to enjoy the sweet perfume of these flowers. 


What a delight of purple against the bright green grass. I just had to take a photo before I picked them. This is a sparse grouping but much more are across the front walk. Along with dandelions and a ground cover of a light lavender flower I have never been able to identify. This and the dandelion are considered weeds but the bright yellow dandelion flowers are the honey bees first spring feeding. I don’t use weed killer because most of these flowers are gone with the first mowing of the season. 


As I continue to enjoy the color in my yard I turn the corner to find a fully bloomed daffodil. I did not plant this either. What a happy surprise for I know this plant comes from a bulb. After some pondering I believe an errant squirrel must have forgotten his hidden dinner before it sprouted. 

Now those that know me well can tell you I don’t like squirrels. Having a 100 plus old house they have wrecked havoc and holes all over. Guess you could say nature got one up on those pesky animals this spring. A very nice spring surprise indeed. 

Find your tribe

I am just now relaxing from back to back weekend long retreats with a tall glass of wine. It is the season to gather in like minded groups to share interests and friendships. My first retreat was with my quilt guild of ladies who are good friends. I do have a core group of best buddies in this group but also like minded friends who support and encourage each other in a very positive way. 

It is fun to be around such people, to give them encouragement as well as accept their encouragement. I accept each as they are without judgement but it is easy when you find that is given as well. 

This last weekend the retreat was with a group of very talented fiber artists. It always inspires me to meet with this group of creative people. Mostly because fiber can be so many different things. Paper making, wool felting, fabric collage, sculptures from  weaving, whatever inspires you that can be connected to fiber in one way or another. 

This group is also my tribe. They are artists one and all, so that makes it a given for me. Yet it is more than a group of artists getting together. We are all more than happy to share a technique, style or method. As such I was honored to be asked to teach a 4 hour workshop on embroidery. Thank you Charlene Fullerton. Especially considering I had never taught a workshop before this conference. 

As I decided what to teach I chose  to teach my basic stitches that I use in my artwork. They tell writers to write what you know. I knew from my technical teaching in my full time work you are most effective teaching adults what is second nature to yourself. 

I picked 5 stitches I know by heart, prepped with a written and illustrated handout of those stitches and gathered the materials and tools to teach those stitches. My previous teaching kept me from getting too nervous. However this was the first time I would teach to such a talented group of fellow artists. Add the unknown factor of never before attending this groups workshop retreats. Talk about possible stress, ugh! 

Once I got to the event and connected with friends along with making new friends, I had no fears or worries. I was well prepared, ready to prove my worth but not anxious to see it. I even surprised myself by being able to demonstrate four of those stitches upside down for the group. I did not prepare to do that ahead of time either. Guess I have watched Sewing with Nancy on PBS too much. Just seemed natural. 

I scored with this approach, being able to assist one student that had tried for several years to do a stitch to no avail. It is a personal accomplishment for me that I was able to gently explain what she had been doing wrong. I then alowed her to practice it enough to “get it” and produce the stitch several times on her own. 

I have to admit I had not considered this possibility but just went with the flow. Yes I do get a charge from this kind of discovery. I also celebrated this with the group. As an added treat I received more than one accolade from my students for what they learned from me. SCORE!!! 

I recall Sally Fields saying ” you like me, you really like me!” This doesn’t mean I wasn’t confident I could excel in teaching this class. However with like minded artists it is a golden feeling when you are accepted for what you can do, how you can show what you know and who you are as an artist. 

I HAVE found my tribe even if it is more than one group. My life is full and rich with each of these like minded people. We laugh, we cry (mostly from me laughing too hard), we support and encourage each in their own journey. I know I would not be the person I am now if not for you. Thank you.

I will now share the beginnings of my latest artwork. A seascape with autumn colors of gold, purple and deep maroon. This is a tease for the finished work that should be completed by Friday this week. Another new piece for my two person show in May. 

The beginning stages showing the base batik along with laying out the stringy yarn for a background. C Quite a bit further along, this includes a lot of scrunched purple velvet for the foreground, netting over the stringy yarn with more of the same on top of the netting to show depth. Stitching to emulate fan coral in a golden orange thread and couching of fusha trim for a funky seaweed. At this point the rise of the velvet is looking like a volcano. Need to resolve this or make it a focal point. What do you all think? 

Things are springing up

This year winter has been different. Very little snow or rain. Some days in the 70’s and other days gray as the wool on a sheep.

During this time of year I am mostly inside. Yet with the warm sunshine I have been out and about finding signs of an early spring.The yellow in these crocus are just wonderful and says spring to me. I really enjoy the contrast of the purple flowers with the exact same hue of yellow in the center no less!!  Now do you see why I am so fascinated with nature?

I know that spring means new beginnings, new growth, an awaking from the slumber of winter.  I have been busy working on new work and assessing what I will include from my current art for the two person show I will have up in May. I have heard other artists call their work as their baby. You mold it, create from your vision and once done hand it off to someone else that appreciates that creativity. It is a lot like a child but I have never really thought of my art work in this way.  I see this as a creation of mine  for sure but once it is completed or more like once I am almost done, I am already thinking of the next piece.

However it is good to see someone else appreciate the work you put into a piece of art. It is also good to see older work compared to what you are currently doing. I see progress and how some things have worked or not worked. I see new growth in each new piece I have done for this show. It makes me so happy to be able to reach the level that I have envisioned. I know that with this I will judge some of that older work as not acceptable. That does not bother me just part of the way you grow.  I also see the seeds of my personal growth blooming with my increased acceptance in shows and confidence.

I really enjoy showing everyone this progress and this is my most recent one. I wanted to continue with a smaller piece. It is a challenge to not overwork but get the rhythm and movement that I often use in my art. I also wanted to see if I could complete one of these small pieces in a short period of time. I have wanted to do a field of poppies so started with a 8 X 10 stretched canvas. 


I used alcohol markers in a series of greens and browns in short diagonal strokes to mimic a field of grasses. I kept puttering with the color then left it to dry overnight. I used a variety of green hand dyed silk ribbon for grasses stitched in the opposite direction for grasses. I added    green threads for contrast and texture. I did not want to cover the background completely so kept the stitching sparse. I also left some areas open were I would place the poppies. 

I used a very dark green thread for the flower stems. To keep them from mixing with the other threads I placed a base thread down. Then I wrapped them in a satin stitch that raised the stem adding a rounded top for the calyx. Finally I was ready for the flowers. I found a orange red bias silk about 3/4ths of an inch wide. Cutting a length I gathered it up pulling it into a ruffled circle.  I then placed it on the top of the stem adjusting the gathers as needed. I had a lot of fun with this step making a side fold over or keeping it completely open. Lastly I put black beads in the center of each flower. Completed in two days too! 

Guess I am springing forward in many ways. 

Empowered

As I see it lots of people know what to do but few do what they know.  

Reading the blog artbizblog.com last week the author, Alyson Stanfield asked what one word would we use for 2017. After some thought I chose empowered. 

I read books and studied the Small Business Admin. site over the years while working at a non art job. All of this research stewed as I worked towards my retirement. I set a 5 year plan right before my retirement date which started with producing art and entering shows. 

When I got accepted in different local juried shows I knew I was on the right path. As the excitement of retirement came near I knew it was time to decide where that path was leading. What was the dream? Acceptance by my fellow artists? My own solo show? Sharing my vision of natures beauty with the world? Making money from this art?

All of these questions were actually valid goals. My dream is a mix of all of them. Yet I had no plan, no way to get down the road further. Time for some research, head scratching and writing. I became more involved with a fiber arts group. I became a member of in order to enter their show. One of my first juried show acceptances was from this group. In fact they used my work on their promo postcard for the show. Thank you Missouri Fiber Artists- MOFA. You gave me validation and acceptance amongst my fellow artists. 

I continue to enter shows getting accepted in national and more prestigious local shows. I have blogged already about my commission work, check that off the list. My friends can see the progress of my art and see the beauty of nature I see. I know I am heading on the right path and in the correct direction. 

I recently found out I was accepted for a two person show in May of this year. I will be teaching an embroidery class at a retreat in March with my MOFA group. A fellow artist told me about a local juried show I had never heard of before. Got into the show with two pieces, yea!! 

The show is called Marti Gras 2017 put on by the Leawood, Ks arts council. It will held Friday February 17-19th at the Lodge at Ironwoods park, 147th and Mission, Leawood, Ks. Opening night reception is Friday from 6:00-9:00 with a $15.00 fee. Saturday and Sunday free admittance 10:00-4:00. I will be at the opening so join me if you can. The two works accepted are Fireflies and Wonderful Window Box shown below. 

I am empowered with the joy of my journey because I found the way to take action towards what I am meant to be. 


Fireflies 12 X 12 stretched canvas, fabric collage, sequins, silk ribbon and embroidery 


Wonderful Window Box 14 X 11 fabric collage, trim, silk ribbon embroidery and colored pencil 

January musings

I have blogged for a year now and see that art and how I do that art is my biggest subject. January has always been the month to look back at my accomplishments from the year before to see how far I have come. It is also the time to see what has worked and adjust my goals and plans for those goals as need be. 

As part of my on going goal I started another new piece of art. I have several cardinals that I enjoy watching outside my window this time of year. As the male bird begins to turn brighter red I know winter has really set in. Something about their sweet call and perky pointed top feathers just makes me smile. 

With the soft muted colors of a wintery forest I have to add the contrast of a bright red cardinal. But how do I depict the three demension of snow without making it just gray and white? Looking thru a search of winter photos on-line I see there are many colors in the shadows other than black and gray. There are purples, blues, greens and gray in the ditches and valleys. The white of snow reflects yellows and reds too. This gets my juices flowing so time to get these ideas into a piece of art. 

I started with a background of blue gray and muted white, a middle tone of the same blue gray and a hand dyed white with light streaks of blue for the snowy field. Next came cedar trees muted in a blue and green. I fussy cut them out from landscape fabric then bonded the blue to the background and the green in the middle. Out came my colored pencils, adding more white, light blue and gray green to emphasize snow on the trees. 


A fence row in the background helps to add depth along with colored pencil to anchor the trees. I wanted to show fluffy snow so glued down strands of white cashmere roving that gave the depth and fluffyness of snow banks. Roving is a long and narrow bundle of fiber. Rovings are produced during the process of making spun yarn from wool fleece, raw cotton, or other fibres. I added a pair of cabins in the middle of the foreground. The cabins are framed with tall cedar trees. The trees have to have snow too, so stitching over the green I used a white silk and wool mixed thread that worked perfect. 

I decided on a pathway to the cabins leading to one of the tall cedar trees. I added brown and black leading to the tree and cabins in a meandering diagonal line to move the eye across the piece.  I darkened the shadows in front of the tree lines and added purple to the fields behind the fence line. More cashmere roving was added all thru the piece along with colors to show valleys and clumps of snow. 


After looking at this stage the next morning I think it is looking too gray and the black appears dirty. Though snow gets that way after awhile this was not my intent. There is a bit of purple on the lower left side so used this along with a red purple to add some warmth to the pathway. Used these same colors on the shadows in front of the trees in the foreground. I worked on the tree lines adding white and a pastel blue gray to show snow on the trees. Blurred the lines to keep the distance of these within the picture. 

But wait, don’t forget about the cardinals! The scale or size of the bird will be tricky. I also need something like a fence row for them to be perched on. I try stitching the beginning of a bird on a limb of the trees in front. Don’t get very far when I realize it is too hard to see the bird. Scratch my head, get something to eat then I remember I have fabric that has a medium gray stone that would be a perfect contrast to the bright red of a cardinal. 


After I pull out the stitches of the cardinal in the tree I see that the rock fence line works wonderful. I added red dots of French knots in two of the cedar trees. The same white thread in those trees were used in the rock wall for snow. Some thin gray green thread was stitched in short stitches around the foreground trees to imitate stubby grasses. Finally the red cardinals are added on the rock walls. I do believe this is done though I may decide to pull some stitching on the bird at the far left. The scale seems a bit too large. Yet my hubby told me to leave it alone. 

Now to consider a name, perhaps Winter Wonderland? What do you think?