Sunday, November 30, 2008

Class Projects -
Invented fabric - our class photos, thanks to Louise.

Less is more

Another class, we talk about the project, some are having trouble with this. I don't think many of them have started, I'm thinking I probably have 15 to 20 hours in mine already and don't think I'm going to get done.

We again had slides to look at. These were all self portrait collages done in the past by students. Some were really amazing, stunning, graphic, and personal. For the technique, I would describe it as painting with printed magazine color. In a way they had a look of a "paint by number," but with interesting and intriguing twists. They were really cool. My first thought was that I was doing the project wrong and mine was too abstract, but then I thought, it's "my project" and I think it fits the assignment so I'm going to continue. But the "paint by number" did look like fun, so maybe I can squeeze in a small second project.

I'm driving home thinking about my project, it dawns on me that the size is too large, the past 2/3 side is taking too much away from what I'm saying about "turning the corner". I was being mathematical (is that possible???) before in my planning, since maybe 2/3rds of my life is over, that should be 2/3rds of the art, but now I think that is really wrong, it will have to be cut down. I was going to let the selvages be the finished side edges, now I'll have to hem 2 more sides! - more work!

Saturday, November 29, 2008


Ok, there is too much stuff, it's too dense, too solid. Why dye all that pretty background to have none of it show? I'm taking the little squares of burlap apart, unweaving strands to make it more transparent, it will have a more obvious grid to it, but at least parts underneath will show through. It will still say what I want it to say, but with less.

I'm also getting rid of the photo transfer parts, I don't think they're going to fit in like I thought, I spent so much time on them! Getting the materials, finding the photos, printing them out, and then ironing and ironing. In fact, I created so much heat and pressure that I warped a Corian cutting board - yup, it's not flat anymore, wobbles and slides all over the place -- who knew? Thankfully I didn't do it right on the Corian counter-top, a cutting board I can replace, a whole counter top? I think not.

Friday, November 28, 2008


I laid out the background on the table and placed my dyed fabric pieces where I thought they might go, overlapping them, incorporating the photo transfer cheesecloth photos, working mostly on the "past - green/blue" side.

It was a lot of stuff.

And I still had hopes of incorporating more bits and pieces into/onto the project. I thought maybe some bits of something shiny - metal maybe? I had these bike chain parts I could use, maybe some washers and wire pieces. What about the towel and canvas chunks I had dyed, what about them?


I went away for awhile, got stuff ready to go to work the next day, and came back for another look before bed.


Thursday, November 27, 2008


I spent hours dyeing pieces of burlap, ripped up towels, canvas, and muslin. I also made some pieces with the photo transfer paper - print out the photo on an ink jet printer on t-shirt transfer paper and then I tried to transfer the image onto burlap, canvas, felt and cheesecloth. I had great hopes for the burlap and the felt, but neither one worked at all. The canvas worked well, but the more intriguing was the cheesecloth, you could still see the threads through the photo, plus the photo was kind of transparent. Some times the transfer paper didn't "transfer" and I ended up with a photo with torn gaps in it, but that also looked pretty cool. I tried dyeing the edges of the cheesecloth around the photos, but it was a bit tricky, because if the dye went under the photo it darkened it and the whole thing got ugly and it lost the transparency.

I also took my background burlap (48" x 84") outside for it's color treatment. Our driveway is sloping so I used that to help the dye flow off the burlap. I did 2/3s of the burlap with the greens - blues - purples, let it dry and then flipped it around to do the other 1/3 with reds - oranges and yellows. I poured some of the dye over it and also used a sponge dipped in dye to re-apply color in other areas and to do the center edge where I needed more control.

All of this dyeing stuff was really fun.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Turning point

I'm going to show where I am in my life. Being in this class and at this time is a turning point for me -- at the crossroads -- turning a corner -- directing my future -- turning a page...

I'm thinking of having myself coming around a corner, maybe only half of my body showing. There can be stuff from the past on one side where I came from; how I came to be the person I am, where the shapes and colors came from, what feels right and what's important to me. And then show what may be my future on the other side, based on this "turning point." I need to show weaving/fiber art prominent on the "new me" side.

I'm thinking burlap might make a nice base. I can add things to it by sewing or un-weaving parts of it and reweaving colors back in to it. The burlap maybe a little coarse for my needs, but I guess I'd rather go that way than use something that is too slick.

I don't regularly keep a lot of little junk around, but I would like to add some pieces to represent details, added information, texture and depth along with some large colored areas.

The "past" will be the right side showing the places I have spent time. The farm with all it's square shaped fields, roads at right angles, and rows of crops. The color will mostly be greens. Other items maybe to add to this section would be things representing planting/gardening, maybe some yarns from the plant dyeing I did this fall.

Moving down the "page" the next section would have to be Seattle, blues and grays, and representing buildings, water, and where I have spent my whole work life.

Then the bottom wouldn't really be the past, maybe it would be more like the present that will move into the future. Happy colors - yellows and golds of California and other warm places that I've visited.

I want the "turning the corner" side to be sunny, happy, content, at peace with the what's to come. Instead of my face, I'll show a clock face (too obvious??), passage of time, the time in the past not well spent or time running out on what's important. There needs to be weaving and fiber arts shown - a hand - creativity. Maybe some open areas to represent what isn't known, parts to fill in, the future.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Scrap collage

The paper/magazine picture/scrap item thing is not really doing it for me. Maybe working with paper and photos is too much like work, which I'm not really emotionally connected to. I'm just trying to fit stuff together in a pleasing way, usually a collage of photos is done because there isn't one nice photo that says what we're trying to say, so we make it up out of bunch of pictures.

I think fabric is a better way for me to go. I have some leftover yarn scraps and I have dye. I know I can probably make something rich and interesting with soft pliable items. I feel like I can be abstract, not literal like a photo telling my story directly but saying it with color, layers, and texture. I'm wondering if using photo transfer paper (which I've been playing with) and incorporating some photo-like items and photo textures violates the no photo rule for this project. I wouldn't be adding pictures to the collage by way of transfer paper, but it would add a different texture to the piece and add some reality and life to the collage.

But I guess before I really can begin is to ask some questions. Who am I? What do I have to say? Where am I in my life?

Friday, November 14, 2008


Since I'm exploring, I thought I would first try to do something of which I think of as "traditional" collage. I ripped pages out of magazines, went through the trash at work and found a few interesting items, and I also found my small stash of paper samples left over from work.

I sat down at the table and cut stuff out, put similar things in piles, tried to come up with something to "say" with what I had found. I thought I would do an Obama piece, but my scrap photos didn't fit together, things were out of scale. I ended up printing pictures off the internet and scaling them to what I wanted and then filling in with cut and torn paper. When I was through, it seemed kind of dumb, it had a message, but I really didn't feel connected to it.

I put together another paper collage with and old RFID electronic tracking tag and an embossed paper sample from work, and some torn magazine pages. Again I filled in with torn colored paper samples. I don't think it had much to say, but was visually more engaging, but the interesting parts were the colored paper textures, not the found collage items.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Crafty Collage

I got a stack of books out of the library and went to a number of web sites. A lot of the books seemed rather "crafty" how to make interesting backgrounds and scrapbook pages, so that was a waste. There was one book ("Collage: Pasted, Cut, and Torn Papers" by Florian Rodari) about the history of collage starting way back with Picasso and Braque that were kind of interesting along with the social and political statements that came later. There was also the Rauschenburg pieces that I really liked, but couldn't see myself doing anything like that, it didn't feel like me. I probably best liked the Matisse stuff where there were simple colorful shapes cut out and placed on the page; that seemed more like me, maybe that was a way to go...

I also looked at web sites, some of the examples seemed kind of dumb to me, but many had a lot of color and texture to them, they could have been made of almost anything. I was mostly drawn in by the color, so if that's collage, maybe I could put something interesting together.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Collage - Ugh!

I don't really like collage. Can I say I hate it? I knew assignments like this were coming; and now here it is...

The assignment is "larger than life," we're suppose to make a self portrait. What do we want to say about ourselves, do some studies and go from there. I don't save bunches of stuff to make collage with, I don't hoard bits of stuff. We're also not suppose to use photos or words -- photos is what I do keep when documenting trips, stuff I've done, and projects.

Collage? It seems kind of simple, but it's not, so I'm shying away from it, I guess I don't know what to do. Am I frightened of this? that nothing comes to mind? Why do I think I hate this when I never really tried?

So much of what I've looked at seems wacky; weird stuff put together to have some great "meaning." Maybe I have nothing to say? Maybe I don't have enough angst to be an artist. Can a happy person be an artist? Can a person be an artist without having social and political views? Can things just be pretty? to first attract the viewer and then bring them in to a story? or do you first have to be perplexed and then find the big "meaning."

O.K. I'm just going to take some time with this, I'll do some research, look at some books and websites. I'll familiarize myself with this medium. I'll sit quietly... I'll think... I'll write...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Larger than Life: a Collage

the final assignment: use the information and materials you have assembled from previous assignments for this work. Construct a collage that has as its central focus a portrait of your persona along with some aspect of the work you think of as most central to your studio practice.

materials: ephemera – found, gathered, accumulated, compiled, purchased or otherwise obtained and related materials necessary to convey what you ‘do’.

consider: Color and value, line and shape, balance, rhythm, texture, contrast, and harmony are some of the elements of a visual grammar. There are many other ways of thinking about how you develop the underlying visual structure of your work – some of which relate to the choice of materials used, the scale of the work

format: 2-D, at least life size, overall format and shape to be determined by the content and intent of your portrait.

ephem-er-a n
1. something that is transitory and without lasting significance.
2. a range of collectable items that were originally designed to be short-lived.

per-so-na n
1. an identity or role that somebody assumes.
2. the image of character and personality that somebody wants to show the outside world.

limits: Construct a larger-than-life portrait of yourself without using any photographic images or written language in the finished work. using colors, textures, value contrast, and a selection of types of ephemera to convey the intent of this work.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

More class projects

Poured paint cut into squares. I guess she pours paint out on some kind of surface and them peels it up. Here she has cut it into square shapes and created her "cloth." Nice use of color and placement.

Key ring holders and key. This doesn't show well, especially with the big flare from the flash. But a really cool project of key holders - 210 feet of it - coiled in a big circle with a key in the center. I wish I could remember more of her statement.

Panties. Interesting visual, but again, I guess I just don't "get it." She has a social statement and is taking a stand, it's just not a favorite of mine.

String, cardboard, and beads. Lots of little pieces produced and then put together for her piece. I guess I like the simplicity of the total look although it's anything but simple in the construction.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Class Invented Cloth Projects

Beads, glue and mono-filament. Probably on of my favorite pieces. From the beginning, her studies and practice pieces had the potential for something wonderful and I think she achieved it.

There are far to many projects to show here. I picked some that appealed to me; I'm not one to say what is "best." Also many of the ones not shown and some that are, the photo doesn't do the work justice. I tend to take photos of colorful flat pieces, that's just me. Ones that were talked about a lot, but aren't shown here were many; such as the "bra clothesline," a row of colorful bras strung out across the room, a long skinny piece with thread and corrugated cardboard - the detail which made the piece wouldn't show well, a fragile piece made with the seeds and fluff from milkweed pods, and other projects made with with corks, plastic strips, and leaves.

Ripped up old paintings, paper strips and garden netting. The fact that she destroyed old pantings to make something new, I think took a lot of courage. I think it came out rather nice, I hope she enjoyed the process. She talked about putting them into the woods to compost and documenting the decay.

The black cow - roofing paper. Many had a lot to say about this piece, although bold in a way that could not be ignored, I didn't think much of it.

Gauze and bandages. I thought there were many things to like about this project. I thought the colors and placement of items were nice, although the project on the whole missed in a few ways. She said she had not really thought about the "end" of the project and the backing was an after thought, duh... but I think with a little more experience and options, she could have found a way to complete this more successfully.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Journey: An Artist Statement

Inner tubes, rubber bands and staples.
36" x 80"

Bicycle inner tubes to me represent travel. I have bicycled thousands of miles all over the United States, it's a big part of who I am.

The making of art is also journey. Just like a bike ride, there are short term and long term goals. The journey consists of areas to go through, challenges to overcome and parts just to enjoy.

Bicycling has a real yin and yang to it. When I'm sitting on my couch reminiscing about past travels, I remember the fun and the accomplishment. The bad and ugly days are tucked away in a corner, badges of honor to talk about with cycling friends who understand. I could have made a cloth full of happy colorful wavy lines to indicate the happy ease of bicycling, but that is not the case.

The overall circle pattern that runs through the work symbolizes the rhythmic circular pedal stroke, a constant and ever present part of cycling. When riding alone the rhythm of cycling brings out altered mind states. Pedaling is a kind of therapy that gets rid of the noise in your head after a week of work; you can figure out problems or just free associate ideas to ponder; kind of like puttering for the mind.

In my work I have shown the other aspects of cycling through patterning.

For every glorious downhill, the wind rushing past, the feeling of flying as you swoop though the corners, there is a big hill that is climbed one difficult pedal stroke at a time.

For every tremendous tailwind that propels you effortlessly down the road, there is a headwind that you fight for hours at a time.

For every vista of beautiful scenery, there is landscape devoid of anything interesting and one must look for beauty in tiny treats; small flowers in the roadside ditch, bugs marching across the asphalt, and the thought of a cold beverage at the end of the day.

For every mile of riding where everything clicks and all is right with your world, there are miles where your body just plain hurts and the brain refuses to function.

These are all a part of cycling, life, and art, but at the end of the day there is always the sense of accomplishment, becoming stronger over time and getting ready for the next journey.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Assembly of the rubber band project

So there I am at the dinning room table with rubber bands and "rows" of rubber inner tubes ready to add on and "grow" the project. My stapler and I sit and add colored rubber bands, using it as my "paint" to decorate the canvas. I'm creating a linear design from bottom to top which should represent the emotions and feeling of riding a bicycle. I'm also trying to use the bands to their max in creating different patterns to represent these feelings. I couldn't just keep making squiggles, I needed to add some texture and use the colors to represent the emotional sections.

I think I was fairly successful creating the project I intended. Part of me thinks the surface is very busy and the areas are not as pronounced as one would like, but on the other hand I wanted the surface to have lots of color - empty space is not something I'm good at, again maybe my graphic arts work; always trying to jam too much text into too small of a space.

Photo: detail of project

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Class discussion

I'm a little bit behind here, ill health is slowing me down. I wrote a bunch of stuff in my art log book, but I'll have to shorten it all to get the text up to speed with real time.

I went to class last Tuesday with my work in progress in tow. I'm never really sure where class is going to go, but I had the feeling I really didn't want comments on my project. I was far enough along that I didn't want to start again or feel like I should. I also felt pretty confident on where I was going with it. But class started and we chatted about the things/shows many had seen (how did they have time? I barely have time to get to work and work on my project). Finally Lyane asked who had items in progress that could be put up on a wall, not many raised their hands and I also thought, why am I here except to learn? I should welcome all comments, consider them and decide what path to take, I need to hear what others have to say and especially from our instructor, after all she has the experience and probably has seen almost everything after teaching many years.

So up went the projects on the wall. First was the bead and glue thing, which I really like, it's light and has a "growing" energy about it. There was lots of discussion on what she should consider and where she should go with it. Part of me thinks she should have a better idea of where she's going at this point, but it's kind of fun to think of where I would take this project if it were mine.

My project was next and there wasn't a bunch of comment, maybe because I wasn't asking for a lot of comment and maybe they felt my "confidence" or I knew where I was going with it. I considered some of the comments, but some I thought were way of of left field, plus I noticed many of the more vocal of the comment makers had nothing to show at this point. Did they not have clue what they were doing? were they done already? was it too much work to haul it in? Some how I think these excuses were not it and maybe some people are better at talking than doing.

Photo: detail of project