Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Variety in Quilting Stitches

I've noticed that some quilt artists use a lot of straight lines or echo quilting in the background. I love the way that looks. It is restful and focuses attention on the subject. I wish I could do that more. For better or worse, I like to use a variety of quilting stitches in my background areas on my art quilts. This is partly because I get bored doing the same stitch over and over again, but also because for me it's more interesting to look at. 

For the Circle of Life piece, I took advantage of the print on the background and stitched around the squares in the checkerboard area. I really liked the way that looked when it was done. It made them pop out, especially the orange colored squares. In other areas I did echo quilting, wavy lines, curlicues, circles, and whatever came to my mind. On the tree trunk I put some leaf shapes. Here are some photos of the quilting:


circles and curlicues

echo in diamond areas

horizontal lines in sun

foliage and tree trunk area

The quilting spacing was fairly close, which I am liking more and more these day.   Thanks for visiting my blog!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Circle of Life - Foliage

Circle of Life

Today’s post is about the foliage that I added to the lower left and right of this piece. This section was fairly simple. Leaf shapes were cut from some purchased print fabric that had palm leaves on it. I also cut similar shapes from the dark red used for the tree trunk and sun, and leaf shapes were cut from the polka dot fabric used for the birds. I arranged in a way that looked pleasing to my eye. To add some further interest I added rick-rack leaf shapes and then embroidered some plant growth to the area. Here are some up close looks at the foliage:

Before Quilting

Before Quilting

After Quilting

Thanks for visiting my blog!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Love Birds Make the World Go 'Round

I've been working on a project that I would love to show on my blog, but I can’t reveal it yet! Darn! So in the meantime, I’m going to post about a couple things I made last year.

Today’s post is about a small quilt that I made for a challenge entitled “Circles”. This challenge was for the Textures Fiber Arts group. The size requirement was 14” x 14”.  I have several small things in my “UFO” box, so I took a look there for something that would fit the theme. This is what I found:

Hearts All Aglow

This is a small quilt that I made for an exchange. It was called “Hearts All Aglow”. This quilt was sent away to another person, but I liked it and wanted to make another similar quilt for me to keep. The basis for this quilt was a watercolor painting that I had done several years ago of lovebirds on a branch with tree leaves hanging down around them.  I had already cut out the “lovebird parts” for the quilt I wanted to make and keep. That fabric happened to have circles on it, and that seemed like a good start for me for a “Circles” themed challenge. 

This is the finished project:

Circle of Life

I called it “Circle of Life” because love is what makes the world go round, right? It is a little different from the “Hearts All Aglow” piece that I sent away, but it has my sweet little lovebirds on a branch.
I will show some of the steps I used to make it in upcoming posts. 

As always, thanks for visiting my blog!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

How to Create Trees Along A River Bank

Variety is the spice of life, and it is also the key to making a tree bank along a river. River tree banks have all sorts of trees and bushes growing along them. They squeeze themselves in every which way, each one reaching for their share of the sunlight. There are pine tree shapes, billowy leafy trees, dead branches, short bushes, tall bushes, fat one, rounds one, skinny one…

So when making a tree bank, add a lot of variety of shapes and many different shades of your tree bank colors. Be sure to add dark values because that gives it depth. Place some of the dark values near the intersection of the trees and the water, because that is where most of the darkest darks are located.

The fabrics I chose for this tree bank included cottons, organzas, tulle, commercial fabris, hand painted fabrics, you name it. Here are some photos showing it in close up view:

Thanks for visiting my blog!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Movie Review - "McFarland"

The subheading on this blog states this blog is about "Fiber Art, Watercolor ... and other stuff". Well here is an "other stuff" post:

Movie Review - McFarland

I enjoyed "McFarland" and recommend it to you and kids of all ages. This movie is based on the true story of a high school in a poor, rural agricultural community in the central valley of California. Kevin Costner stars as a teacher/football coach who transfers to this school after failing in other locations. He brings his family with him to this primarily Hispanic community. It doesn't take long before he recognizes that there are better opportunities for the students in cross country running than in football. This movie tells the story of the cross country team's development and success, but it's really about the coach and his family becoming a part of this community, and how they all benefit as a result. It's a feel good movie that's even better because it's true.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Painting Fabric Backgrounds

I often like to paint fabrics that I use for backgrounds and mountains. A wide variety of paints will work for this, including various brands of textile paints, acrylic paints, and acrylic inks.  I don’t tend to use Tsukeniko inks for large pieces because of the expense.  I also don’t use watercolors or other paints that may wash out with water. This may not make sense since fiber art pieces should not be washed, but I spritz with water at times during construction and really don’t want to risk changes to the colors or bleeding into other fabrics. In general I have found that paints that are permanent on the fabric after heat setting all work well. Acrylic paints, if diluted, are fine and don’t leave the fabric too stiff.

I prefer to paint large pieces of fabric on a table in the back yard because it can be “drippy”.  But, if the weather doesn't allow it, I do paint in my studio in the house. I protect the flooring with a sheet laid out in front of the table I am painting on. I also put plastic on the table top so that the paints don't stain the table.

painting on a table

I sometimes stretch the fabric on oil painting stretcher bars. Binder clips work great to secure the fabric to the bars. Fabric stretched on bars dries more quickly, but the paint drips off of it, resulting in lighter values. But, if you put salt on stretched fabric and let it slowly dry you can get some beautiful effects.  
stretcher bars

I like to mix the paints in plastic containers ahead of time. 

paint containers

Spritz the fabric to dampen it and then apply the paint in large strokes across it. I like to use a wide brush to apply it to the fabric. If you add more paint in some areas you can get streaks and light/dark effects.


For other effects you can paint unstretched fabric and scrunch it up or fold it to get light/dark lines. 

Or sprinkle salt on for additional texture. Or scrunch fabric in a ball and pour paint on it. It is fun to experiment with different methods and see what you get. Scrunching gives me fabric that is ideal for foliage or leaves. I have always found the result to be a fabric I can use.

The sky, mountains, water, and some of the tree/bushes were all fabrics created by painting using these techniques.

Thanks for visiting my blog!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

My Inner Self Portrait - the ForegroundI

It's A Wonderful Life

I thought I’d show you how I did the jacket, hat and rest of the foreground pieces in this post. The jacket and hat were made from purchased batik fabrics. You can see the jacket fabric below in this photo of my auditioning fabrics. As you can see, its pretty dark, and I had to figure out how to give the jacket some dimension. Normally dimension comes primarily from shadowing. But in this case, I added dimension with highlights.

auditioning fabrics

For the highlights I took some white textile paint and mixed it with blue/green textile paints to create a light version of the jacket color. I thought it worked pretty well to give highlights and blend into the jacket fabric. In this photo you can see the jacket folds and pockets made primarily by painting highlights.

jacket highlights

The hat fabric was a lighter shade of blue/green, so creating shadows was easier. I just painted the shadows as I normally would.

painting the hat

The fish started with a speckled beige fabric that I purchased. I painted the reddish/yellow and maroon tones on the fish body and fins to give definition. Additional speckles were added to the body by flicking paint with a tooth brush.

painting the fish

The shadow of the fish body and my arms on the water is made from organza. I used a couple different organza colors. Fray Block was applied to the edges to help prevent fraying. 

Fray Block

shadow placement

Each of these parts were cut out and painted separately and then assembled. Fabric glues and fusibles were used to temporarily hold them in place. Then I stitched them all down with machine appliqué.

Thanks for visiting my blog!