Archive for the ‘documentation’ Category

musings…

Saturday, January 7th, 2017

detail of screen-printed wedding dress, lace and bridesmaid dress

In 2012 right after my Dad died and I was recovering from my second knee replacement, I felt like I needed a lifeline. I had been ruminating for at least two years beforehand¬†about creating¬†a mixed media women’s art group. So I chose 7 regional artists to join me, and six accepted. One from my past life in fiber, another three I knew from the arts council¬†and¬†functions there, while others¬†I knew of their work but had never met them.

It was important to me that they be working in different media than I and that they were already established, with a list of juried exhibitions, website, sales history etc. I had been in groups where I was the only one with that history and there was nothing for me to learn. I wanted more! We had our first meeting, set up ground rules and started right in inspiring each other with our work and process.

Now nearly 5 years since, the group has redefined our intention, seen changes and moves, lost members, gained members, retaining three original and settled¬†into a very comfortable¬†dynamic.¬†Now we are a group of six, three here and three in Sonoma and it just feels so right. We rotate each month, meeting in each other’s homes and/or studios. Although my original intention was fewer fiber and more other media, we now are comprised of five who work with fiber (paper and cloth) and one who works with metal;¬†yet none of us does exactly the same work. And all of us have long marriages, which that in of itself in today’s world is¬†both unusual and spectacular!¬†One of the things I enjoy¬†most about this group is the wisdom that transfers between¬†us as we each move in,¬†out and through our individual creative processes.

Last week I had been asked, by a visiting artist friend, how much time I spend in the studio?¬†She asked me if I work in the studio every day? I laughed…hardly! It varies I said but I guesstimate I work in the studio on average 7-10 hours a week. And yet that seems so completely inaccurate to me so perhaps¬†I should keep track. Or maybe count the times I walk past the door?

In¬†yesterday’s art group meeting the subject of studio time came up.¬†Not so much from the how much time do you spend in the studio part but more from the how much time is spent in contemplation and research for each new work? It was then that I really¬†comprehended¬†that so¬†many of my waking hours are spent contemplating the message for¬†each piece in¬†the¬†Defining Moments series. In¬†addition there is thoughtful consideration of how, as in technique to implement that message so when the viewer looks at the piece they understand what I¬†am conveying.

A lot more time goes into thinking about the construction. I used to be very spontaneous in my work, and still am to some extent; but there is also careful thought¬†of just how to construct it to get the most impact; and that thought occurs everywhere, in the shower, at the gym, while driving, ‘watching’ TV, when I should be sleeping, etc. Then there is the stitching. As I am incorporating more hand-stitching into my work¬†I ponder a lot about that.

Most recently I have also dealt with my¬†inner perfection critic… just how perfect these stitches must be?! I used to say I was a recovering perfectionist but clearly there is more work to be done on that front! I find it rather¬†remarkable that I am so drawn to hand-stitching, and sometimes actually crave it, yet when I do it, it’s so tight. A good metaphor for the state of my brain perhaps. So there is more thinking about relaxing¬†which is truly¬†ironic, although a good overall trait to possess.¬†When all of this is added up it seems I spend hours and hours and hours on the process, but maybe just 7-10 hours a week actually applying hand to fabric.

hand-stitching my headscarf through 4 layers of lace, cloth and batting

That said I am putting the final stitches, by hand, onto #16 which is about our marriage, which truly was a defining moment in my life. Because I thought I would be through by now, #17 is being drafted and #18 insisted on 3 am contemplation last night.  So progress is being made on the final 9 pieces of this series, which I still very much enjoy even if it takes up most of my headspace.

So how much time do I spend on my art weekly? How many hours are there in a week?

 

 

it’s the little things…

Monday, December 19th, 2016

the image I wanted to stitch to cloth…just married (1971)

One of the things I most enjoy about this series work is I am continually challenged by how to convey my message or tell the story. The piece I have been working on (#16) these past weeks is about our marriage. A couple months ago I began the prep work by dismantling my wedding dress, which my mother had sewn from heavy cotton pique, lined with cotton flannel. This dress was so well constructed & sturdy, I could have gotten married in the Arctic in January, instead off spring in the Bay Area. After I took the dress apart, I made Thermofax screens of our vows from a fill-in-the-blank book gifted by the preacher.

I printed not only the dress fabric but some of the flannel as well. Additionally, I had retained one bridesmaid dress which was also made by my mother. The wedding theme was based on my Russian heritage. The bridesmaids and I wore headscarves and their dresses were of a flimsy, but lined, cotton voile in a red/white/blue paisley print.

the headscarf upon which I wanted the image

The dresses were ‘granny’ style with a wide ruffle at the bottom. Initially I thought to incorporate the ruffle into the new piece but nothing about that spoke to me. I decided instead to fuse different size squares onto the now pieced wedding dress background. That gave¬†the entire piece a bit of a whimsical feel which certainly was not my intention, but worked!

I hand-stitched a piece of the dress lace vertically to the piece. Then I basted my great grandmother’s hand crocheted lace headscarf to the base and hand-stitched that down. Only in doing so did I find a few areas of disintegration that previously were invisible to the¬†eye.

My idea was to then layer and hand-stitch my headscarf on top; but something was missing. It didn’t¬†quite feel right as the¬†headscarf was a large triangle bound in trim and¬†essentially blank¬†in the middle. So I decided to hand-stitch¬†the image of hubs and I walking down the aisle onto the headscarf before I stitched it to the base.

the reverse showing the image printed to silk organza

That became my challenge. I didn’t want to trace it and potentially ruin the one and only priceless heirloom. I thought of several options but none seemed right, so I asked an¬†artist friend and a mentor for their opinions. And voila, from that came the solution. I printed the image onto silk organza which I pinned onto the back of the headscarf heirloom. Then I gingerly placed it into a hoop and stitched the image through to the headscarf. Only after I lost the light when the sun went down did I realize I could perfectly see the image from the reverse side, so I flipped it over and stitched from the reverse, remembering to knot accordingly. Ah success.

the finished stitching of the image onto the headscarf

In today’s morning light I cut away the printed organza on the back side and voila! I have exactly what I wanted.

It’s the little things that bring so much joy!¬†Onward to the next layer…

 

2nd layer showing part of GGM’s headscarf and bridesmaid fabric on top of screen printed dress…stay tuned!

 

coming up on #15…

Friday, August 19th, 2016
memorabilia photo collage

memorabilia photo collage

After an incredibly short month, a quick trip, a class, and a whole lotta hand-stitching I finished the new #12 not to be confused with the former #12. My reward for same was that I strained my dominant rotator cuff from all the hand-stitching. So I have spent most of this week recovering and finally today was able to get back into the gym, and into the studio.

Now back to where I was before I interrupted the series. Number 15 is about hubs. It’s interesting the stuff that is saved for us by our parents and that we then choose to save for ourselves. A couple years ago we found treasure in the attic, i.e. a box of his scouting paraphernalia: his Boy Scout shirt front which had been super glued to a stiff piece of cardboard, intention unknown; his Eagle Scout shirt respondent in patches and decoration, his Eagle Scout sash with 24 badges, plus all the paperwork for the accomplishment, the menu from the celebratory dinner, the letter from the then president of the BSA, a newspaper clipping about it in Swedish, another in English and a journal article. Most of this is going into this piece, or rather on to this piece as well as his Army photo, a couple great teenage photos¬†and fire department imagery. The shirt will be sewn on last.

Undoubtedly there are some who would criticize my use of these materials, as if I am destroying them. I met with some of the same resistance when I decided to dismantle and paint my wedding dress. I figure those who are overly sentimental have never truly cleaned out their attic or even begun to think about where all this ‘treasure’ will go when they are no longer here. I am simply upcycling, making art out of treasured cloth, which to me is far more exciting that having it sit in a musty box in the attic, to then someday be given to charity so some kid can wear it for Halloween.

I am pretty stoked to be on #15 (out of 25). It feels as though I have reached the peak of the mountain and am on the downhill slide. It feels good, and yet still so enjoyable.

and then what happened…

Sunday, June 26th, 2016

15.wed.dress.laceIn the month since I last blogged,¬†I completed, but not yet photographed #11 and #12 in the series. Synchronistically the Stanford rape verdict which made the news enraged me again¬†so I decided to go backwards and do a relevant piece and title¬†it the new #11 which will push the aforementioned two to #12 and #13! I went ahead and printed the cloth for the new eleven and will start stitching it next week. I’ve also gathered all the materials for #14 which I will start after I do the new eleven.¬†wed-040371

Today I began to tear apart my wedding dress for #15. I plan to both embroider and screen-print it.  My mother made my dress as well as the three bridesmaids dresses. I knew she was an exemplary seamstress but now have an even greater appreciation as I labored to take the dress apart! It was so well constructed it was very difficult to dismantle. It was not your average low cut sleeveless number but rather peasant style. The heavy cotton pique was fully lined with cotton flannel, apparently to give it body. We were not married in Alaska but Northern California in spring whereas the dress would have withstood an elopement to Aspen!

flannel lining of wedding dress

flannel lining of wedding dress

detail of handmade wedding dress

detail of handmade wedding dress

My¬†aching hands are¬†my reminder of¬†the¬†courage to tear the dress apart! I had about 10 seconds of remorse until I thought¬†what will I do with it otherwise? It doesn’t fit any one I know¬†who might wear it. Am I supposed to leave it lying in a trunk in the attic until I am no more, or move out of the house, and then it goes to charity? Or let some kid have it for Halloween? No! I actually feel really good that I am repurposing it.

I will likely toss the pieces into the laundry tomorrow to see if I can rid it off the old smell; after all it is 45 years old. And then I will begin the printing process.

As I have reached the midpoint of this series I continue to love this work!

reflections…

Friday, March 4th, 2016

reflectionsI spent hours today looking for ‘new work’ to submit to two juried exhibits. It was a fruitless effort which brought up a major pet peeve on this¬†subject. Dated work is something that happens predominantly in the quilt/art quilt world. It doesn’t happen so much, if ever in the fine art world. Galleries seldom, if ever, say no work made before 2013.

Since I have been engrossed in a three-year collaborative series since 2014 all my new work has been predominantly series work. I have taken time out to make a small piece for a fundraiser here or a members show there, but mostly nose to the grindstone on the collaboration.  It galls me no end that entry prospectus writers/curators request work made since a particular date; and that said date is usually just one or two years prior to today.

Granted there are clueless people who will enter the first piece they ever made in 1990 but most professional artists do not enter work to (a) “get rid of it” or (b) that is not their best work. Why on Earth would I want to show work that does not speak to who I am as an artist? Besides if they did allow entries from 1990, these shows are juried so the old work can easily be found and plucked from the pile. Think of the money they could make from all these fees for old work submissions! Another subject for another day…

People might say, well just make a new piece that fits the parameters of the call. I could but some 7-8 years ago I vowed to never make work specifically for an entry call. Never say never but mostly¬†I do not create work for someone else’s muse, only for my own. So that said I have nothing that fits the DATED call and so will not be entering my work. It is their loss really, as I see it. My work could add so much substance to their exhibit, were they not so rigid in their vision.

field trip

Monday, January 25th, 2016
Torn Earth, detail

Torn Earth, detail

Today hubs and I took a field trip to see Earth Stories at the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles. The stars aligned with a dry forecast, moderate¬†weekend traffic as opposed to heavier weekday traffic and best of all no Super Bowl festivities! We¬†returned through San Francisco¬†on a gorgeous clear,¬†sunny winter’s day. It was well worth the trip and a fun date!

All the work juried into this exhibit dealt with an environmental issue. My work Torn Earth celebrates the work of Architecture for Humanity, a non-profit firm dedicated to building a more sustainable future through the power of professional design. The organization’s projects focus on post-disaster development, design and reconstruction of seismic resistant housing.

Torn Earth

 

 

 

I had perused the exhibit catalog but there is nothing like seeing the work up close and personal. It was really intriguing to see how each artist dealt with their own particular cause. I was really¬†pleased that my work was installed correctly and that the journal of my work was holding up well despite lots of travel and handling. Several¬†of the journals were falling apart;¬†some¬†were detailed and interesting¬†while others¬†left me wondering about the artist’s process.

Light Towers by Mirjam Pet-Jacobs

Light Towers by Mirjam Pet-Jacobs

 

 

The pieces I most wanted to see did not disappoint, like Dutch artist, Mirjam Pet-Jacobs’¬†Light Towers¬†about energy saving lightbulbs. The piece was silk organza with lights wired within the layers. The¬†engineering feat alone was impressive, and made an impact;¬†yet it had to be flexible enough to pack and ship abroad.

Another that had caught my eye was Alternative vs. Fossil Fuels by Cynthia St. Charles. Her extensively screen-printed background was stunning and engaging using different texts, in varied fonts but in similar color paint.

Alternative vs. Fossil Fuels by Cynthia St. Charles

Alternative vs. Fossil Fuels by Cynthia St. Charles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kathy Nida’s¬†Wise Choice¬†was a piece was one that could be examined¬†for hours. There was so much intricate detail. Just beautiful and intriguing work!

Wise Choice by Kathy Nida

Wise Choice by Kathy Nida

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Both Kathy York’s Crowded House

Crowded House by Kathy York

Crowded House by Kathy York

 

and Paula Kovarik’s Stream of Consequences were chock full of surprise. Kathy decided to count the stuff in her house which took her six months. She then wrote all the 56344 items on the work.¬†After the exhibit will she¬†have 56345?

Crowded House, detail

Crowded House by Kathy York, detail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One could’ve breezed by Paula’s and think, oh, pretty work, until stepping closer to examine the stitching which was remarkable. The story lie in the details!

Stream of Consequences by Paula Kovarik

Stream of Consequences by Paula Kovarik

Stream of Consequences by Paula Kovarik, detail

Stream of Consequences by Paula Kovarik, detail

 

 

Hope is The Thing With Feathers by Mary Pal, detail

Hope is The Thing With Feathers by Mary Pal, detail

Mary Pal’s cheesecloth image of Dr. George Archibald in Hope is the Thing With Feathers was really gorgeous.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While Valya’s He Knew That She Knew That I Know was stunning on a bright red wall. The detail was as interesting¬†as the entire piece.

He Knew That She Knew That I Know, by Valya

He Knew That She Knew That I Know, by Valya

He Knew That She Knew That I Know by Valya, detail

He Knew That She Knew That I Know by Valya, detail

Tender Gardens by Marion Coleman

Tender Gardens by Marion Coleman

 

I also loved Marion Coleman’s Tender Gardens about community gardens in San Francisco’s Tenderloin where there are no grocery stores.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And Leni Levenson Wiener’s It’s A Shell of a Problem about the endangered turtle and tortoise species worldwide

It's A Shell of A Problem by Leni Leveson Weiner

It’s A Shell of A Problem by Leni Levenson Weiner

Lynn Krawczyk’s Latte Landfill ¬†was¬†about 40% of stuff¬†in the landfill being paper products and coffee cups.

Latte Landfill by Lynn Krawczyk

Latte Landfill by Lynn Krawczyk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And Noriko Endo’s Woodland, another intricate and stunning piece from her woods series

Woodland by Noriko Endo

Woodland by Noriko Endo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The exhibit is up until February 28. You might want to go see it!

Earth Stories at San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles

Earth Stories 

 

 

Earth Stories at San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles

Earth Stories

 

 

how long did that take you?

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016
collage images of DM10

collage images of DM10

There are two very predictable comments made to any person who works with cloth and thread: My grandmother was a quilter and how long did that take you to make that?

Today as I finished stitching #10 in the collaborative series Defining Moments I was reminded of the latter. I was reminded when the stitching of the windows took me 90 minutes while the entire building, sky and sun took nearly 3 hours.

A friend and I had a long conversation about this during her stint in Open Studios last year. She said folks would look at her work, then the price and immediately ask ‘how long did that take you?’

We know that in this society people affix value to something based on its hourly rate. To them it is a dollar per hour equation whereas for most of us who work in cloth it is often a per square foot price. She and I laughed about how we could divide the price we are asking for our work by a number below the minimum wage and use that number as our hours the piece actually took us to make. So when asked this redundant question, we could answer something like 900 hours!

pre- and post-stitch windows

pre- and post-stitch windows

While rethinking an answer to this most common¬†question I am reminded though of¬†all the actual hours that go into a large piece of my work. There are the hours spent in research which for this series has been many; hours spent in the design of the ‘cartoon,’ the hours considering¬†the best materials to use, the hours spent creating the exact fabric to convey my design, let alone if I have to go shopping for same. Then there are hours of thinking about it while out walking, REM hours and sleepless nights problem solving,¬†and never forget the hours of procrastination when I¬†really should be working on it, but would rather play Mahjong on the computer. And then there is the actual construction sewing and stitching!

Someone once said the best answer to how long did it take you to make that¬†is to state my age at that moment; for it took my entire lifetime up till now to conceive and create this work. Actually I think that idea goes over most people’s head so I prefer to just say, oh about 900 hours!

…on documentation and dawgs

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015
hand-dyes

hand-dyes from Soderlund class

A few years ago I added an important¬†form of documentation to the categorization of my work. I put together a 3″ thick binder, in chronological order, of all the work I have made since 1998. Initially resistant to the idea as I already have a website and hardcopy portfolio; the reasoning behind this was posterity. So when archaeologists are digging through my house in 2500 they will know why I made this work and what it entailed. Yea, I know, a big stretch. ¬†All the same it is good information to have especially laid out in chronological order.

So I was a tad¬†astonished today, while looking¬†at my documentation¬†binder to find¬†a¬†small work finished since 2013 to enter in the local arts center member show, that I only had two pieces that qualified and one of them I showed there last year. The remaining piece is the other half of the diptych and even though looks slightly different I am certain there would be outrage that I showed the ‘same work’ there two years in a row!

I was also surprised¬†that in 2015 I have completed just four large pieces of work. Throwback to 2009 when I made over 60 pieces in one year. It seems I have slowed down a bit in the past 6 years! Of course I have all kinds of reasonable excuses; both knees replaced, my father’s death, and a year plus of chronic debilitation, so that is understandable. I also have been engrossed in the 3 year collaboration, so the four pieces I made this year were for that. And there are all big ones!

It really is somewhat of a personal accomplishment that I have slowed down production so much. I’d been so prolific in the past in comparison. Maybe just maybe I am living life more presently¬†and making art differently as well. Before my work was fairly spontaneous whereas now it requires a lot of research and introspection before even drafting the design.

Mizu in dog friendly, fancy hotel dining room

Mizu in dog friendly, fancy hotel dining room

And then there are the additional procrastination modes: the¬†aforementioned rescue pooch who is both delight and terror barks at anything that stands still, or in hubs’ case exhales. My days are full of interruptions to calm the dog, to work towards ending her fear aggression. It is exhausting and yet somehow I get the message that maybe this is the point. The point is to get me to stop, breathe, stay in the moment, and chill.

And by¬†default I am the tech guru in the family. So a new modem-router threw everything connected to it out of whack. I have managed to reconfigure a few things but still have daily technology reconfiguration headaches. I’d much prefer to sit back with my crazy pooch and toss bonbons than try to reprogram the solar panel connector or the Netflix device that won’t allow me to sign in.

In a perfect world someone would come in with a magic wand, make everything work and calm the dog in their wake. Yea…and I believe in the tooth fairy too.

Artists Culture

Wednesday, July 8th, 2015
cover, Artists Culture, July 2015

cover, Artists Culture, July 2015

Some time ago one of my fellow¬†artists at the Arts Guild of Sonoma, an “ad man” in a previous life, mentioned ‘casting a wider net’ in our business marketing. As an example he sent a link to¬†Artist Culture¬†an ezine with over 400,000 circulation. ¬†I looked at the current month’s issue and decided to send in¬†an artist submission. I gathered¬†some images and answered a dozen questions and sent it off.

All throughout the questionnaire were suggestions that the submitting artist be thorough in their answers, as readers want to know more…where, when, why, how etc.  So I was very thorough in my responses, so much so that dinner that night was quite late. I seem to often do my best work when I would otherwise be whipping up some gourmet delight.

I had an immediate response that my work and I were accepted and that we would be in the June issue. ¬†June came &¬†went and no article so I checked out July and there it was! ¬†I ordered a hard copy which¬†arrived today.¬†¬†It’s¬†a Blurb publication, which¬†is well done, with accurate¬†color and clarity on the images.

The ads are a bit humorous though; an alternative for Viagra and Cialis, a steak company and a come-hither gal for a chatline that is also available in Spanish. And I love the cover because until emoji became the norm I pretty much hated the smiley face! Now I am often looking for the perfect emoji to sign texts but never choose Mr. Smiley. I think it a rather odd cover for an ezine about art and yet it makes me happy so go figure!

The other artists featured in the July edition are a woodworker, a painter and a photographer. I am overall pleased to add this hardcover/ezine to my collection. Artist Culture is produced by Steve Bryan, a commercial photographer at Cygnus Studios. He continues to look for other artists to feature in future editions, especially wood and ice sculptors, photographers and glass blowers. You can find out more by emailing the ezine. 

 

Art on the iPad, part deux…

Monday, June 1st, 2015
original carwash image

original carwash image

I just finished Susie Monday’s 6 week online class titled Art on the iPad. You too can take this great class chock full of resources from a very knowledgeable teacher. Her next class starts soon.

I learned so much from this class not the least of which is I have a really bad habit off not writing down the steps I take when¬†designing. What? Me follow directions? What? Me follow instructions? What? How did I design that? What app did I use? Uh, I don’t remember!

In¬†my defense it is really a challenge to be an honor student while still having great fun playing in apps. When one has the option to add several layers within one app, how much fun is it to stop, and write down each step? It is NOT fun, so mostly I didn’t do it. I purchased 23 different apps and tried all of them at least once, except for those where the only way out was to hit the HOME key.

I did take note though of the apps I most like and those are the ones I most often used to alter images. What follows were altered in more than one app. So like my art-making it all became a bit serendipitous, and really is that not what all of this should be about anyway?!

For the last lesson I had four fat quarters (18″ x 18″) printed on Spoonflower. Normally I am not a fat quarter kind of gal, but I was just trying out this easy-peasy way to print my own fabric¬†online. The fabric arrived a couple of days ago and so (ta da) I present the original images and the four fats!

The first image (above) was taken inside the car going through the carwash.

carwash, black and white printed on cotton

carwash, black and white printed on cotton

This is the carwash manipulated in MegaPhoto, Waterlogue, and Pixlr and printed on cotton. I so love the b/w piece as it looks so modern art, instead of some jive carwash while the color one has a bit of a camo appearance to it.carwash.SF.color

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In addition, I manipulated this image of an old weathered, painted, cut board leaning up against the wall outside a friend’s art studio. She works in metal and paper and uses the board to cut the metal against.

susan's studio cutting board

susan’s studio cutting board

This is the board rotated and manipulated in MegaPhoto, Pixlr and several others. Overall I am happy with the results and have no idea what I will do with them yet, so please don’t ask me!

rotated, manipulated in MegaPhoto, Pixlr and others

board manipulated in MegaPhoto, Pixlr, Pic Monkey

board manipulated in 3 apps and then tweaked in Pic Monkey, color change

board manipulated in 3 apps and then tweaked in Pic Monkey, color change