30 June 2008

Illustration Friday - fierce

cotton fabric, bamboo batting, cotton thread, found object paper, acrylic ink, inkjet-printed fabric, stamped image and acrylic paint on 6" x 6" stretched canvas

I think that beetle looks pretty fierce, don't you?

26 June 2008

Playing with Materials

One of the best things about managing a quilt shop with a large art quilt department is playing with all of the materials that are out on the market. Yesterday I spent a little time working on some new samples to show how some products look used in an art quilt.

Inkjet-Printable Shrink Film Sample

I created a page in PhotoShop, made a background layer with color and texture, and then added copyright-free clipart images of bees. I printed the page out onto the shrink film, cut it into squares and punched holes in the corners using a hole punch. Then, off to the oven to shrink them down to size. What fun! Watching them as they shrink is the best part. Last week one of my students brought a big box of all different kinds of wooden cigar boxes to class to share. I, of course, scooped up a couple to alter. In the bottom of the box there were a couple of labels that had torn off the wooden boxes. I used a scrap of one in the bottom right corner of this piece.

Distress Ink Sample

I masked off a rectangle in the middle of my background with freezer paper and rubbed a light green distress ink pad all over the fabric. I removed the freezer paper and added collage elements, sewing and glueing them in place. To accentuate the line between the distressed section and the plain section of the fabric, I sewed a fairly wide, loose row of zig-zag stitching around that edge.

I found some really neat frames in Ikea yesterday. The openings are only 5.5" square and they're less than 1/2" thick. Perfect for displaying little samples and giving them some substance and a clean finish. I'm in the midst of a shop makeover right now, cleaning, adding new displays, re-arranging merchandise and just generally re-thinking how things are presented. I do this just about every summer to keep things fresh and exciting. I had a display inspiration involving apothecary jars, wooden spools, styrofoam balls and pretty fabric the other night - I'll have to show you the results - it actually came out the way I was picturing it in my head!

22 June 2008

Even more art

Can you stand a few more pictures? I am fortunate enough to own one of Virginia Spiegel's Moon Shrine series and it hangs in my dining area.

I adore every piece in this series and hope to acquire more of her work in the future. Virginia is enormously talented and very generous of spirit.

Shrine of the Planting Moon

Carlos' art, of course, is well represented on all of the walls in our house and we rotate his work on a regular basis. I love this painting, it's so dynamic.

I also recently had one of his prints framed, as well as a few of his father's sketches. These drawings were studies for paintings, haphazardly torn from sketchpads. My father-in-law, Alberto Davila, was much more well-known for his abstract expressionist paintings, but he also produced a large number of representational paintings of coastal Indians. He was an amazingly prolific and disciplined artist and he continues to be an inspiration to me. I'm really glad I came across these sketches while organizing and now have them out where we can see and enjoy them everyday.

This print of Carlos' is one of a series. I have frames for all of them but have to figure out where to hang them. We need more walls!

We also collect indigenous art. Every year for our anniversary we try to buy a piece of African art from one of our favorite galleries. This antelope head dress is from an anniversary a number of years ago. The passionate red painting is another of Carlos'.

I find the juxtaposition and contrast and compatibility of the contemporary (and hand-wrought) and the ancient (and hand-wrought) completely fascinating.

19 June 2008

More Living with Art

Come on in -- the hallway renovation is nearly complete! In between working on a big web design job, I've been taking breaks to rest my eyes and nibbling at the hall reno. I just have a couple of switch plates/outlets left to replace, the ceiling to paint, one more tracklight fixture to install and it'll be done.

While I'd love to paint the walls a color, a creamy white shows off the artwork so well. It also helps to keep our small house, surrounded by towering trees, as light and bright as possible inside.

This big painting of Carlos' is still waiting for a frame. Honey? Sweetie? Soon?

Last night I cut mats and framed the two pieces I purchased from Karen Stiehl Osborn. They are gorgeous collages from her Urban Landscape series and I'm absolutely in love with them.

I also framed the gyotaku collage I made last week. These two walls were unusable for hanging art until recently. I removed an (ugly) wall sconce from the far wall and moved the thermostat on the near wall and so have put both walls to better use - as well as improving the view!

12 June 2008

Fish Collage

I'm working on a new series of collages on bristol board and this is the first one. I've been completely fascinated with letters and numbers lately. Of course, the fish found his way in there too. This collage is a combination of paper and fabric and a variety of techniques. After working on it last night I discovered that I need more, yes, more paper. Goodie! an excuse to go buy more paper.

09 June 2008

Brazenly Radiant Art and positive energy

After finishing a week filled with disappointment, frustration and stress, I'm starting off this week with some art and positive energy. I'm donating a 5" x 7" piece to Fiber On A Whim's Brazenly Radiant Art auction to benefit the Atlanta Breast Cancer Challenge. The auction starts June 16 at the Fiber On A Whim website, please consider donating or purchasing a piece for this very worthy cause.

Continuing my quest for that positive energy and an appreciation of the little things, I got out the hummingbird feeder my daughter had given me a couple of years ago. I had forgotten how much I loved it. Our house has no eaves or porches from which to hang traditional feeders, but this little feeder sits on a metal stake and nestles among the flowers in the garden.

It's made in Mexico from recycled glass and I tracked it down online and discovered that it comes in other colors too, so of course, I ordered a few more. Aren't they pretty? They look very sculptural and when the hummingbirds find them it will be such a treat.

Yesterday I also continued our hallway renovation project. I removed a godawfully ugly wall sconce and changed it to a ceiling tracklight fixture on the same switch. Now we have another small wall free and clear to hang a piece of art (and the ugly sconce is gone, gone, gone!) While removing the sconce I discovered that the previous owners of our house had done a little "creative" wiring (i.e. unsafe, not up to code, forehead-smackingly stupid) to it, so even though I wasn't aware of it all this time, I slept better last night knowing the wiring was correct and safe now. Of course, finding (and accidentally picking up) the mouse skeleton while re-wiring the ceiling box (in the attic, in 98 degree heat, oof) was more than a little skeevy. And yes, to the people who've asked, I do simple wiring - adding switches, outlets and light fixtures when needed. It's amazing what a girl can do with the right tools and a couple of good books!

02 June 2008

Living with Art

Every time I get more than a day or two off from work, my husband and I tackle a more involved home improvement project. This past Memorial Day weekend we attacked a really ugly closet in our front hall. It's the first thing you see when you come in the front door and it's bothered me since day one. Of course, I forgot to take a true before photo so this is a very similar closet in another room. In a bedroom it's a great closet with practical doors, in an entrance it's not a very striking view.

Over the years, we've toyed with the idea of building some sort of sliding apparatus to cover the opening with a big painting, or removing the doors and adding shelves from top to bottom, or a myriad of other more artful solutions to its rampant ugliness. After we ripped out the doors, the hardware, and the moulding (because we're also slowly replacing all of the too-short, painted colonial moulding in the house with more substantial clean-lined moulding of my husband's design) the erstwhile closet looked like this:

The closet was nearly useless as it was before - it was barely 17" deep, so it was too narrow for clothes hangers, and did I mention that it was ugly?

Now we have an art niche with recessed lighting under the shelf and track lighting overhead, a terrific spot to showcase some of our art collection and a gorgeous view as you walk in the front door.

From the other direction you can see a sliver of the wall to the left of the niche where I'm auditioning two collages that I recently purchased from Karen Stiehl Osborn. Finding walls to hang art is always a challenge in a small house (especially when you live with a painter of very large canvases). That particular wall had a thermostat smack dab in the center of it, so while I was wiring an outlet and switch for the lights in the niche I moved the thermostat over so the wall is now usable for art. As soon as I frame the collages I'll take a picture of them hanging for real. So, back to the studio, with the occasional foray into the hall to admire the niche...

If you're wondering, the piece on the bottom shelf is a reproduction of a ceramic sculpture from the Chancay civilization of Peru. While all of the other pieces in our collection are originals, Chancay pottery, as part of Peru's rich pre-colombian heritage, isn't allowed out of the country (except for museums) and we liked the form well enough to compromise.