Friday, January 30, 2009

Color & Composition: Contour drawing & cutting

Well, it seems the results are at least somewhat humiliating, but maybe I can be an encouragement to others (heh heh) by demonstrating how little natural or trained skill I have. I keep telling myself it's not talent but perseverance that counts, and I will get better as I keep working at it and enjoying it.

Photo #1: Blind contour drawing.

As demonstrated in the book, the artist is to look only at the arrange fruit while drawing, and to keep from cheating by holding a piece of paper with the non-working hand above the paper you are drawing on. I knew my left hand would become extremely bored sitting there holding a piece of paper in mid air, so I rigged up a box top suspended by four glass tumblers, and broke my pencil in half so that it would be short enough to draw under the box top. This exercise, meant to take 25 minutes (it takes that long to disconnect your left brain and engage the right brain, the book authoritatively states, though I know some people who are in their right brain all the time) . I stretched it out as long as I could. Seven minutes.

Photo #2: Semi-blind contour drawing.

This is the same still life as above, but this time we could look when starting and ending lines, but still most of it was to be done with eyes on the still life.

You may or may not discern that this is a whole pomelo*, a peeled, halved pomelo, and a tangelo, easy fruits to procure, since they are now ripening on my trees. This one took 13 minutes -- closer to the 25-minute ideal.

Photo #3: Contour cutting.

This is a different arrangement of fruit, necessary since the halved pomelo had begun to mold by the time I was ready to start the fabric part. I used only fruit that was growing on my own trees, and only fabric that was already in my stash. The fruits are: Mandarin orange, tangelo, lemon, navel orange, and pomelo.

The cutting, as in the drawing, was to be done by looking at the fruit, while avoiding looking at your cutting hand as much as possible. The shapes could not be drawn ahead of time. I must admit I had a number of false starts before I got the proportions right. I think my left brain was fully in gear. I could not swat my naughty brain with a ruler, because it was so sincerely doing its best.

I am trying to use up my Heat 'n' Bond, that detestable stuff, to fuse these projects. It is unpopular with me because it makes the fabric so stiff that it is hard to sew through, but worse than that is the stickiness that never completely goes away, collects on the sewing machine needle, and causes skipped stitches and shredded thread. I am sure this product is good for something, but not for sewing through.

Photo #4: Contour stitching - "drawing" with a sewing machine needle.

The photos are slightly out of order, so that you can look above and see what this was supposed to look like.

I've never done free-motion quilting without a line to follow, so this exercise was challenging for me. However, I did enjoy it, especially since it ended up looking almost all right. What's a spare line or two? It's not like having a spare nose.

Photo #5: Abstract using the identical pieces as in #3.

I chose to use a radiating design. I started doing some contour stitching on this one, and it was while I was enjoying ruining this composition with my squiggly lines of stitching (not shown here) that I absent-mindedly boiled my pasta for an hour and fifteen minutes. See here for that story.

* A pomelo is the parent fruit of the grapefruit. The grapefruit, named by someone with a sense of humor, was created by crossing a pomelo with an orange. The pomelo is sweeter than grapefruit, much firmer, and huge. Should you ever have an opportunity to eat one, you absolutely must. They are delicious, and don't have the grapefruit bitterness.


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Studio Quilts: Online classes

I signed up for two online art classes through a Yahoo group, one dealing with color and composition, especially as related to fiber art, and the second dealing with surface design techniques and materials.

The first class has been going for 10 days, and I am entering unfamiliar territory: fusing. I've always loved the looks of seams, the way one fabric bends to meet another. This is why printing, reproductions, fusing, and whole-cloth quilts have had less appeal for me. But I am determined to grow past that bit of bias and learn to appreciate and use what an artist can do with constructions outside the realm of personal preferences.

I've been doing contour drawings of citrus fruit, since those are the fruits on my trees right now. In order to access the right brain and turn off the left brain, one is supposed to draw as slowly as a snail crawls and take at least 25 minutes to finish the drawing. This I cannot do. I am mentally and emotionally incapable of being so inefficient! Ha. Seven minutes is my best (longest) time so far.

Today, if I get my tax papers sorted soon enough, I will be doing contour cutting with fabric -- may practice on paper first -- of one of my drawings, and then fuse the pieces to a background fabric. Will post photos if the results aren't totally humiliating.

(Posted from my pillow)

Friday, January 23, 2009

Happy birthday, dear Mac

Photo: I made Mac a birthday suit (polymer clay tiles). Next I'll do the keyboard and mouse.

Today Mac, the computer that changed my world, is 25. I actually did the mosaic a couple years ago, and have been delinquent in finishing the keyboard.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The art quilter's conundrum

The word "quilt" makes most people think of bed coverings. Even the dictionary agrees. Quilt synonyms include:
  • comforter
  • bedspread
  • eiderdown
  • duvet
  • coverlet
  • counterpane
The more I work on quilts for the wall, and the more I edge toward making art quilts, the more I realize a good term for this type of work does not yet exist, or at least I haven't found it.

When someone sees something I've done and says, "I want something like that, but for my bed," all I can think of is, That means I'll have to wrangle a huge piece of multi-layered fabric back and forth and around under the needle of my domestic sewing machine for hours, to get it quilted.

Maybe I should call my emerging work "Contemporary Tapestry" or "Stitched Collage" (though I haven't yet made anything that would fall in that category). But I have at least one objection to the term "Contemporary Tapestry" -- I don't think the term would stand the test of time. Fifty (or fewer) years from now "Contemporary Tapestry" will be as contemporary as "your grandmother's quilt" is now.

Let's see, what are the options? (working on developing a comprehensive list):
  • "Contemporary Tapestry"
  • "Stitched Collage"
  • "Textile Collage"
  • "Fiber Collage"
  • "Images in Fiber"
  • "Textile Poetry" (now that I think on it, don't like the word textile; sounds too hard)
  • "Woven Collage"
  • "Fiber Art Tapestry"
  • "Textile Tapestry"
  • "Layered Tapestry"
  • "Vertical Quilt" (it's okay to get a little silly while brainstorming)
Tapestry synonyms (and other related ideas):
  • arras- a wall hanging of heavy handwoven fabric with pictorial designs ; too specific
  • curtain, drapery
  • dosser - this according to one online thesaurus, but look up this word, and you'll see it's definitely not what I'm looking for
  • wall hanging - better in the way of meaning, but needs a more interesting modifier than "wall"
  • banner
Here's a question: Would a term that just about everyone would have to look up be useful? No? I agree.

Collage synonyms:
  • collection
  • combination
  • assortment
  • hodgepodge
  • medley - the only one here that has any hope
  • mixture
  • hotchpotch
Maybe what it will come down to is this: Create my own terminology, and explain it in a subheading. Makes me feel I'm stumbling over my toes, just to think of it.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Caterpillar rising

Photo: This is the missing photo from my "Darn" post in December - shows how I avoided having to darn a hole.

Lee now tells me he's gotten some good reactions to the caterpillar residing in the hole on his shoulder. One girl tried to help him by picking it off, and just as her hand came close to the worm, he twitched his shoulder, causing the worm to kind of rise up out of the hole. She screamed and jumped away, naturally.

Ha ha, that's the way to have fun with life!


Friday, January 9, 2009

This new blog takes shape

The name Ya-Ya Quilts intrigues me because "quilts" can be read as a noun or as a verb. Nifty, ain't it?

Ya-Ya is a name my sister called me when I was almost 4 years old and she was just past 2. I remember standing on the hillside, not far from our house in Gimbie, Ethiopia, watching my dad, who had just butchered a sheep. At least that's what my memory tells me; a sheep was there, dead, hanging by its heels, and dad was busy doing something with it. Anyway, my sister was calling me, "Ya-ya! Ya-ya!" but I didn't rush to answer, because I wanted to see what Daddy would do next.


The purpose of this blog is to have a location for writing about and sharing my creative endeavors in a spot where those interested will not have to wade through life and living details that have nothing to do with the creative life.

I am in the midst of importing posts that deal with quilts and other creative projects from my other two blogs to this one. I am having troubles, however, with exporting all the posts from Further Adventures of Ya-Ya, because Blogger doesn't seem to be able to let me download more than 1 Mb, and I probably have 4 or 5 Mb in that blog.

My original plan was to transfer everything creative from those blogs to this one, but now I think I'll just make copies to put here. That will make it easier for family members to access everything I write without having to wander from blog to blog. Some of them might even be interested enough to read what I write about quilting...