Monthly Archives: June 2022

A New Color Palette and Flowers, Sort Of

I have long maintained that flowers have little to no place in my work. I love flowers in a garden or a vase, but haven’t been drawn to them as subjects for my work. So, I was surprised that I based a piece now under construction on flowers, rhododendrons specifically. Each May I see the bold magenta floral clusters of those plants in the yards of the older houses in my neighborhood. I don’t know if they’ve gone out of fashion, but I don’t see them in newer developments. Of course, that color would give one pause and they like shade.

A mature rhodedendron

But I didn’t start my floral project with the shrub in mind. Instead, I began with a surfeit of high flow quinacridone magenta acrylic paint that I decided to splash on scraps of tablecloths, muslin, PFD cotton, and fabric already printed with bell pepper. Then after I noticed all the rhodies in my neighborhood I came up with a scheme to make a piece with a floral theme out of all that painted fabric cut into squares.

Not exactly a detailed sketch, but it was enough for me.

To the magenta fabric I added squares (including an old sheet) painted with green, yellow-green, and yellow; plus fabric monoprinted with Inktense colors. Once I had the squares arranged to my liking I added thin bias strips of fused fabric. I know that my inspiration shrub doesn’t have skinny leaves, but let’s pretend bindweed has clambered up on it.

The next step I plan is a few tendrils made of even skinnier strips. It’s easy to curve the bias strips as you iron them in place.

The new color palette I became enamoured of is that used by Zoe Zenghelis, a painter who pioneered an appreciation of the role of color in architectural design. The Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh has mounted an exhibit of her paintings, which introduced me to her work. You can read a review of the exhibit below.

Now, I don’t grasp all the architectural aspects of her work, but I do love the shapes and clear, melting colors she uses. I was transported to an alternative universe through her paintings.

Dali, 2019
untitled
Tatiana’s House, 1994
A few of the works on display at the Carnegie Museum of Art

I hope to experiment with my paints to achieve similar effects. Maybe I can learn some subtlety.

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Filed under Art quilts, Exhibits, In Process, Inspiration

The Final 5%

I know I’m not the first creator to feel the finishing touches of a work are the hardest to do. After the heady rush of creation and then the sometimes frustrating sewing, ripping out, redoing, and quilting steps, the last bits of edge finishing and hanging sleeve making can get put off. Sometimes they can be postponed a long while. As for labels, I write the quilt’s title, my name, and the year of creation on the backs. I admire beautifully embroidered labels, but done is better than pretty.

I have been forcing myself to do those last bits within six months of finishing a piece. Some of my earlier work has never been displayed because I never made a hanging sleeve. Over the years I’ve forced myself to fix that defect, but there are still some pieces without sleeves. They may stay that way as they are large works, and I can rationalize that they are lap quilts and don’t need sleeves.

Over the past two weeks I have totally finished three quilts. Two had been quilted months ago with binding strips cut, but left hanging in the closet. The third I managed to get faced within a month of quilting it.

“Homage to Escher” 21.5″ wide by 41″ high

I chose the darker fabric for the upper left triangle as it better reflected my mood following current events. All the quilting was done with my walking foot.

The other two quilts were made in Florida last winter. After I did basic walking foot quilting and bound them, I washed them to get a lovely crinkly texture.

“August” 26″ square

“March” 32″ wide by 33″ high

Both continue the month theme for what is now a quartet of quilts. Most likely I have enough scraps to make eight more, but I may fill in the remaining months with other already made quilts like “January Blues.” Now I have only seven more months to go.

“January Blues” 33″ wide by 24″ high

Speaking of finishes at long last, I want to share a photo of a years-in-the-making Dear Jane quilt. Jackie Vogel, its 92 year old maker, is proudly showing it off.

Jackie with her Dear Jane quilt

Sadly, Jackie has had a stroke and most likely will sew no more. Her family shared her fabrics and sewing supplies with local quilters, and I hope to put some of the fabric to good use. My visit to her overflowing sewing rooms convinced me to either finish projects or give away what I know I won’t get to.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Fridays.

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Filed under Art quilts, Commentary, Completed Projects

My Marketplace Is Now Open

I have built up a large inventory of original quilts in a variety of styles and sizes, and would like to find new homes for them. Many languish in storage as I have a finite amount of wall display areas. To that end I have set up a For Sale page on my blog, which lists some of the pieces I am offering for sale. Sizes, styles, and prices vary; but the quilts represent a good cross section of my work. Many have been exhibited, and some have won ribbons. All have been made over the last 10 years in a smoke and pet free home.

Here is a sample of what’s for sale:

“Hazy Shade of Winter”

“Crazy Bullseyes”

“Color Slide”

You can see more quilts on the For Sale page, a well as particulars of each offering. Contact me at snarkyquilter@gmail.com for more information and to request an item. I will invoice through PayPal for payment, and compute shipping based on your location. If you have a yen for one of my quilts not shown, email me at snarkyquilter@gmail.com, and I’ll see if it’s available.

This is a new adventure for me, so I appreciate your support in whatever form it’s given – from good wishes to purchases.

I’m linking to Off the Wall Fridays.

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Filed under Art quilts, Completed Projects

The Original Selfies

It seems you can’t escape people posing for selfies wherever you go. Most selfies show a fish eye lens view of their subjects, often in carefully rehearsed poses. I have run into this celebration-of-self behavior at restaurants, museums, hiking trails, and tourist attractions. I even saw one mother trying to take one of herself and her child on top of a wild buffalo in South Dakota. The buffalo didn’t cooperate.

But my snobbishness was brought up short when I realized that artists have been producing selfies for centuries. They’re called self portraits. One of my favorites is by Elizabeth Louise Vigee LeBrun, an 18th century French portrait painter. I love it because it is by a successful female artist from a time when such creatures were as rare as unicorns. Then there’s such panache in her hat, though her hair looks a bit unkempt. Finally, she proclaims her calling by showing her palette and brushes.

Painted in 1782

I am not someone who takes selfies, in part because I hate to have my picture taken even by myself, but I needed one for a Wanderlust class exercise. We were to paint self portraits using the three primary colors plus white. To give us a start, we were to take a selfie, posterize it to get the main blocks of values in our face, and trace the outline of our face onto paper or canvas.

At first I thought I’d skip this exercise, but then I changed my mind. It didn’t require butterflies, birds, or inspirational sayings, so it stood out from many other assignments. I duly took a selfie, posterized it in PhotoShop Elements, and transferred an outline to watercolor paper.

I used the high tech window method to transfer the outlines.

Then I began to mix skin tones from my four paint colors. My initial doubt turned to amazement when I saw how to do that thanks to teacher Christa Forrest. In fact, after a while my paint palette looked like I had been smearing it with makeup samples.

A coffee filter I used to clean my brushes.

The first passes were crude, with uneven skin tones.

The eyes are so wrong

Looks like I was rubbing bronzer on my chin and neck.

Once I was satisfied with my skin, I added collage paper to the page bottom and coated everything with clear gesso. After that dried I used colored pencils to fine tune details. The gesso gives enough tooth to grab the pencil lead and add texture.

Finished portrait. My eyes aren’t really that green. My hair is that gray.

I spent more time on this exercise than on any other ones to date, but the teacher broke down the process and made it doable. To judge from the work posted in the course forum, I don’t think as many students did this exercise compared with others. As was noted in last week’s discussion about classes, sometimes you learn more when you reach beyond just having fun.

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Filed under Commentary, Completed Projects, Techniques