Thursday, July 28, 2016

Process - Lady Feather

Despite the heat, I have been working (and sweating) on Lady Feather. I have been taking my time getting things right. I am about to begin the stitching on her body and I just got a brand new bottle of deColourant for using on her nest. I may work on that Friday out on the deck with my respirator, which is oh so much fun to use on a hot day. I will walk you through what has happened the past few weeks.

My first step to creating her was to prepare a piece of lightweight muslin by backing it with Wonder Under 805, leaving the paper backing in place. I then traced the outline of Lady Feather onto the muslin top with a peach Fabrico fabric marker.

I started the long and drawn out process of selecting the fabrics. No matter how much I plan to have just the right ones to pull from, I end up looking for something else through my stash and my baskets of prepared scraps. Here I am cutting out her face and neck from a base fabric of pinks, whites and golds with a touch of lavender thrown in for good measure.

The photo makes it look a bit more orange than it is. Here is the piece I finally cut and ironed down onto the muslin. Then I worked to create some shadows on her face. I use my markers carefully to direct where the eyes, nose and mouth will go.

This is my first attempt at getting the shadows on her face. I ended up changing color on her lips and recutting the shadow on the right side of her cheek. All of this takes hours and even days to cut, place, and recut over and over. Sometimes I just have to live with some colors a day or two before deciding whether to keep them or change them.

I filled in the eyes, changed the mouth color, which really needs much more definition from stitching, defined the shadows going from her neck through her left arm and laid down broad areas of color for the upper arms. I have wanted to use the feather batik since I first came up with this idea for a "bird lady." Above it became the base of her top. Sheer, blue silk organza helps to define shadow on the top and I laid down a few feathers to give an idea of how it will all come together visually.

The feathers will get tacked on after the body has it's quilting stitches done with one variable width satin rib down the middle of each feather as it connects to the leather strap necklace which will be couched onto her neck. 

She is a blond. Her hair will peek from beneath her nest. Here I have included a piece of tissue outlined in pencil showing where her owl mask will cover her face.

The forearms and hands have been completed. The left arm will settle down with stitching onto the background. But the right arm will have to wait until all the other pieces, including feathers, mask and a bird are sewn in and it will get set in on top with a bit of extra padding.

My next post will continue the process with a glimpse of how the stitching is coming on her body and my process of using discharge on the nest, complete with a respirator selfie. True to my word, the butterfly quilt (Apollo) background has begun on my other summer piece. But I am keeping that one under wraps for now. There is just not enough time in a day!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Dog Days

Here we are again, 80 degrees and rising in the studio! While I often have much to do in the summer, it is awfully hard to work in this heat. One of these years I have to get air conditioning installed in the studio.

It's been a busy spring. After it's premier at the Fuller Craft Museum the SAQA MA/RI exhibit "Art as Quilt" opened at Highfield Hall, a mansion and museum/gallery in Falmouth, MA on Cape Cod. As curator of the show, I got to bring the work down to Falmouth, help hang it and recently take it down to bring it all home. 

This was such a successful exhibit for the SAQA artists in MA, RI and CT. Six pieces sold while at Highfield Hall, so there are six very happy artists. The opening in Falmouth was on May 1 and the place was just packed.

Our second show, "Currents" was juried in May as well and my piece, Reunion, was accepted into that exhibit which opens at the Brush Art Gallery & Studios in Lowell, MA on August 7.

right: the crowd at the opening of "Art as Quilt" and Sue Polansky and Carol Vinick in front of their work

Co-Curator, Sue Bleiweiss has been working on the exhibit catalog which will be available soon through Amazon. Twenty-five pieces by fifteen artists were juried in. I am enjoying the process of curating shows and am looking forward to planning more in the future. It really is exciting to see so many amazing works of art come together in a show. 

On the homefront, I have set goals for entering calls for 2016. My first attempt was a rejection but as I mentioned Reunion was accepted into "Currents" this summer. I have two all SAQA big shows in my sights as well as a couple of others. They are all coming due from September through the end of November. I also have targeted a couple which come up in the first months of 2017.

The first call to come up is called "Layered Voices" and the deadline is September 30. I am working on a piece with butterflies and thistle. The butterflies are the Alpine Apollo butterfly, which is the rarest butterfly on earth and a partial lacewing, white butterfly with black and red spots. Organza is providing me the lacy wings. 

The shot to the right approximates the look I am trying to achieve with the background, which is a landscape of an Alpine grassland valley. My drawing is almost finished, the fabric sandwich is ready so I should be sewing this one soon.

Lady Feather has begun as well. I like working more than one piece at a time. I started with the background, which is a fantastic piece of blue and white from Carol Eaton. So fantastic that I didn't want to waste any. So I drew on tissue an outline of where the background would go, cut it out and fused it to plain muslin. 

Below is the fabric background stitched with a "windy" texture. My next move is to flesh out Lady Feather herself onto a piece of muslin and then to work her nest of a "bad hair day". 

I have been making her feather necklace bit by bit. The feathers are made in relief, sewn, turned, hand pieced together and then stitched.

Above they are sewn and ready for quilting.

And then the ribs of the feather are created with quilting.

You will be seeing more of this one as I continue working it. Apollo will remain undercover for a bit as I am making it specifically for a call for entry. I may decide to give you a shot or two of the background stitching as it comes together. But the butterflies will remain a secret surprise.

My last bit of news is that I am published! I have an article in "Art Quilting Studio's" June 2016 issue. Queen Bee Says No to GMOs, Mariposa and Empress of the Pines are featured in an article I wrote called "Nature's Portraits: Tapping into Imagination." I must say I am over the moon excited. I was just in a JoAnn's shopping the other day and I looked through the magazine section and found the issue I'm in. 

Well that catches me up for a bit. I am busy, busy, busy. I have taken on so many projects at once and they all have to be done by fall and winter so I may not be writing much. So tomorrow is another day with the heat, a fan and a sewing machine.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Developing Landscapes

Last summer I went a bit crazy taking photographs of landscapes with and without architecture. I amassed quite a few that I found to be perfect for possible quilts. After spending some time playing with Photoshop I ended up with several folders full of possible quilt subjects. I began creating a few earlier this year and just finished one as my entry to the SAQA Regional call for entry, Currents.

My first small sample piece became my donation to SAQA's Spotlight Auction this March in Philadelphia. It began with a photo I manipulated in Photoshop and then a black and white adaption of that photo.

I used a new tool to create my drawing. My LED light pad from Huion is 18" x 14" and has adjustable brightness. Once my photo was enlarged to the size I wanted it, all I had to do was trace the areas I wanted onto paper.

Because this piece was so small, I found myself using my tiny thread scissors to cut my fabric pieces. I also used my exacto knife to cut pieces and to cut reverse appliqué areas out of the top layers as I built from dark under layers up to the lightest.

The finished piece is called Surf's Up and was sold during the Spotlight Auction. 

My next piece was taken from a photo  I took last spring of Multnoma Falls in Portland, Oregon. After taking the black and white photo to my local print shop, I enlarged it to 20" square and used this enlargement as my guide drawing directly onto the print with a marking pen.

I used the same techniques to cut and fuse the pieces in this latest piece as I did  with the previous one. While I love the look that this work is producing, the tiny pieces are wrecking havoc on my eyes. I don't know how long I can continue to do work with pieces this small. 

25 1/2" x 25 1/2" 
Completed April, 2016 
Commercial cotton batiks, fabrics & hand-dyes; fused and machine quilted

I have another one of these begun which is taken from  a photo of the marsh areas in Eastham, MA on Cape Cod. It is a bit bigger and will finish off between 30 and 32 inches square. It's about a third of the way done  and I should be able to complete it before summer's end while I begin work on Lady Feather, my next in the series of fantasy inspired nature women. 

Here's some of what's coming:


Monday, April 4, 2016

Springtime in Philly

So I am sitting here in relative quiet and it's late at night. A train has derailed this morning throwing myself and several others into a panic about how to get home. This morning I woke in Philadelphia; tonight I am in my own bed in Smithfield. Last night I marveled at crashing thunder up in a twenty-third floor window with patterns of gust driven rain on pavement below as the temperatures fell at home sending a white blanket to cover my daffodils.

Life seems a bit unsettled as if on the cusp of change.

Detail, Fun House
Kerri M. Green
Art Quilt Elements 2016

It is always a whirlwind of laughter and serious consideration, warm embraces, introductions filled with the support of those who really get you. Wrapped in the warm cocoon of the safety of 150 like-minded artists, how can one not feel nurtured and fully alive with possibility.

And there is so much input into the human computer; flashes of brilliance, benefits of experience, knowledge and wisdom. The creative expressions of so many laid at our feet all shiny and wonderful beckoning us to pick up some cloth and stitch. It's all so amazing and sometimes overwhelming.

Detail,  Linear B
Kathleen Loomis
Art Quilt Elements, 2016

Tomorrow morning I will wake up and fall into the studio with a cup of coffee and I will be cutting, ironing and stitching as I always do. Only one thing will be different, renewed - my resolve to be the artist I was born to be. It is the change I spoke of that is in the air, the one that drives me to see clearer, dream bigger, work longer.

It was a grand time. Thank you Philly. Thank you SAQA for another wonderful Convention. And thank you friends, old and new for the pleasure of your company, the provocative discussions, the emotional connections and the sheer joy of playing amongst friends for a few sweet spring days.

Saturday, March 26, 2016


I am getting used to rejection. Entering calls for entry creates thick skin. Even if you have some successes the ones that don't end up getting picked up for shows can definitely have an impact on the way you view your work, like it or not.

Empress of the Pines was completed last summer and entered into the Visions Interpretations call for entry but was not accepted. So with different jurors I entered it again along with Queen Bee Says No to GMO's into Visions Breakout. Neither was accepted. Visions is a tough nut to crack but as it has been my one steady goal to have a piece accepted into a Visions biennial exhibit throughout my learning process since 1995 I am not stopping here.

As I go forward to my next work in this series, Lady Feather, I am looking to the things I think were successful and the things I think may have failed in both of these works in a critical way. To the right is my cougar. I see him as the greater success of this piece. His colors are well integrated; his eyes are the strong focal point and they do not disappoint. Colors are balanced and the yellow makes him pop.

Another thing that I think worked was my treatment of the tree bark. Using so many colors within the bark really gave it life especially when looking at it closely.

But on the whole there are some issues I might have changed now that I have lived with her for a bit. While I worked very hard at creating her skin fabric, I think I forgot that like the cougar she needed two things, contrast and a strong focal point in her face - her eyes. I will work on facial features with Lady Feather much more intensely, perhaps using thread painting or my markers to help define and enrich her gaze especially since it will be limited and defined by the owl mask. 

Looking also at Queen Bee who I consider to be a more successful piece in terms of the flow of composition and the blending of colors, I can see issues now that I did not see before. The violet piece which composes her neck shadow is too harsh a contrast. It needed more value changes leading up to the darkness far right. Instead of two value grades in this area, it would have been better with four or five. The shadow did not continue to her shoulder either which is a real faux pas.

Going forward I have chosen a grouping of fabrics designated as the flesh tones for Lady Feather. There is a great range from almost white to deep dark burgundy. I need to focus on developing a gradual progression of value through using smaller layers of color in any given area.

As for those quilts already completed, well, they are what they are. My art will change and grow as my skill increases and hopefully newer pieces will be more impervious to criticism, even from myself. Taking what I have learned from the Empress and the Queen, I will continue drawing these characters over and over again and working them in fabric. I will also keep entering calls like Visions.

The drawing for Lady Feather is finally completed and blown up to full size. I have searched out her fabrics comprising a color palette all her own from amongst my stash and I have purchased some to accent the ones I have. In typical fashion for me, I am still looking for the right background fabric. I seem to be forever working on creating the perfect background fabrics. More on how Feather comes to life in future posts.