Fabric scorecard

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Until now, I had been proud of myself — for getting fast at making decisions and not waffling. Until I hit this pink wall of doubt. Looking at last night’s photos and drawings, I thought the pink background was too pale, so went fabric hunting and bagged some purple.

I don’t like to change background fabrics in the middle of the process — it’s a real time-waster. But after changing and studying the photos, I think the real problem is not the pink, but the too-dark river below. Besides, I like the fifties-looking texture of the pink better too. The purple has a polka-dot pattern, but they don’t show up on camera  and looks muddy = negative points for purple.

By the way, this is five feet tall. When I first started this series, my idea was to keep them small so I could finish several. But each one has gotten bigger and bigger. I guess it’s just part of the big-hair syndrome.

Why I like drawing with pens

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Guess where I drew this? Yup, when I was getting my hair highlighted! Since much of the summer has been spent away from the studio, I have been working a lot in my sketchbooks. I can easily stick a sketchbook and a pen into my purse or backpack and am good to go.

I like drawing with pen, usually a Micron 03 archival pen or Pigma archival brush pen, because it forces me to keep things fresh and think about the deliberate use of line. Things just happen in pen, both good and bad, and I have to start over with a new drawing if I want to make changes rather than re-work it or erase.

This is an idea I’m working on for Niagara Falls. First I had the idea of the waterfall hairdo, then the idea to add the wedding couple.

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Then the idea of falling off a wedding cake like a cliff. Also I added an embroidered dress I saw in the movie Kamikaze Girls (great funny quirky movie, my new all-time fav!) but it doesn’t look like a wedding dress, so may have to do a little wedding gown research.

Also, there’s not room for the groom on the wedding cake, so may have to re-think him too. In my overly-complicated way of thinking, I’d love to add a bunch of bridesmaids running for the bouquet, but I know I don’t have time for that.

I’d better brush up on my Greek Architecture

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The spirit of the Olympics has filled me, and I had to get to work on this rendition of an early Greek athlete. I had him trade in his dumbbell for an iPod shuffle though, so I guess that brings him up to date.

I print out big patterns for my quilts but nothing is set in stone. Throughout the process, I continue to have new ideas, so I’m often drawing the changes on the pattern as I go along. In this case, I finally had an idea how to use this great light table that Russ got at auction last spring. I don’t know the exact size, but for scale, that’s a Sharpie pen on the right side of the drawing.

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Sort of looking like a cowboy right now, but give it time. I’m loving working with all these new characters, it’s getting to be like a crazy party in my studio with lots of interesting wallflowers.

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Evacuate

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Well, I thought I was tough anyway, sweating it out all summer in my studio with no air conditioning. But truthfully, it has been a mild summer…..until last weekend. Finally it got so hot, and add to that no windows to vent all the heat of my overhead lights and an iron that is constantly on HOT, that I knuckled and resorted to my emergency heat evacuation plan.

I moved my sewing machines to the newly redone gallery, love that bamboo floor! But even better, the now all-white walls and big open space. Formerly a meeting room and kitchen, we redesigned this room to be more of a multi-purpose room, and now it seems a wise investment.

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The lighting’s not as even as my studio, but it’s cool! And I have all sorts of interesting new thoughts when I look up from my sewing and see the Russ RuBert beautiful sculptures. What a yummy place to work!

Working on a series

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Australian quilt top is done, but instead of quilting right away, I’m moving on to designing the next one. I’m trying to keep my momentum up to finish a series.  Some artists may think only of one piece at a time. But maybe because I’m married to a sculptor — I have in my mind an installation view of a series of work, and each piece will be part of the overall concept.

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Notes and sketches from the Creamery Arts Center. It’s kind of an odd gallery space, irregular and broken spaces. I’m working back and forth, between sketches in my notebooks, drawings on the computer, and the actual fabric constructions on the wall.

I Like to Draw Ears

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Okay, I have to admit it — I like to draw ears. They are always weird if you look closely, and always different. Was it Monk or Sherlock Holmes who could recognize murder suspects by their distinctive ears alone? But I also have to admit — this ear doesn’t cut it. It will have to be redrawn and recut. I don’t know why it’s wrong, maybe it’s just kind of boring. Also haven’t figured out the proper mouth for this character.

On a happier note, yay, Project Runway is back! Tonight was the first episode of the season, and it looks like a great line-up of new designers/characters.

Trying to Get to Blank

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Finally had to admit that to start a new series of work, I had to get rid of all the old stuff on the walls. So that meant taking down all the old PaMdora quilts that were pinned up on this wall for display for the last group tour.

But it also meant putting away all the little cutouts that I like to leave hanging around. As you can see, I still have trouble giving up everything. How can I give up my precious banana peel, a pink-polka-dot cat, and fuzzy pink mittens? Not to mention the headless dress form wearing vintage ribbons and the PaMdora screen print… Each one pains me to put away, but I don’t know why.

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That’s better. Nothing like a totally blank and boring wall to motivate you to start some new art.

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Finally after ditzing around all day trying to recover my water-stained (only on the bottom edges) pin boards, I get started trying to block in color and fabrics for a new series.

I like to look at the colors and abstract shapes to decide if I have a good design. I think these compositions look sort of static and that worries me, but the idea here is that I’m going to make a series of small quilts to hang around a central concept for an upcoming show in September, so the design of each one will be simple.

No, I haven’t taken up smoking…

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…but I’ve been collecting retro melamine ashtrays that make great brush/water holders for painting. And they come in great colors (I have bigger yellow and green ones at my studio.)

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This is a small one, which is good for travel, especially on a boat where your brushes might roll overboard. The watercolor pencils roll also, but at least they float when they hit the water, so you have time to dive in and retrieve them.

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Also for travel, I like using old watercolor tins to carry small brushes. They work better than anything new I can find, and add a nice flavor to the process.

Open Space, New Projects and Fear

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When I redid my office, I wanted a blank slate — with big project tables and open space to think up new projects. Then I saw a documentary about the architecture of a traditional Japanese house, and I understood what I had been striving for. There is no assigned function for rooms. The objects that are brought into the space define the function of the space.

Here’s one of my project tables, a little cluttered, but flexible space to work. Glass shelves held up by glass bricks, a piece of rusty metal for a magnet board. I’m thinking about painting the wall with magnetic paint (actually it’s not magnetic, it just makes the wall metallic so that magnets stick to it. Anyone tried that stuff?) But I don’t want to hang art on it. I like the white wall, like cloud, like a dream that hasn’t yet developed.

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On the other project table, I’ve brought in a small pin board to study my research. The internet is great for research, I especially am loving Flickr for inspirational photos. Photos like this or these. I don’t copy the photos into my art, only use them as inspiration for things to draw.

Working with new ideas is fun, exciting, but also scary. I wonder if I can really make my crazy ideas work… they seem pretty good in my head, but when I try to write about them or make them real, not sure how well that’s going to work.