Friday, May 11, 2018

"The Range" - Watercolor Painting

This is a watercolor painting I completed recently. I based it on a photo I took while on a trip to Colorado a couple of years ago.  I was asked to put it in a local painting exhibit at the Potaki Center for the Arts in Mission Viejo, California. This center is located at 27301 La Paz Road, Mission Viejo, CA. The phone number is (949) 470-8470. 

The exhibit is up until May 26th. It has some very nice works and I invite you to stop in and see it. Thanks for visiting my blog!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Yellow and Green Beaded Bird

  I thought I'd show a couple of progress photos for the making of this beaded bird. The bird is about 6 inches long and 3 inches wide. I made a pattern for the bird through the time honored process of trial and error. I wanted a bird that had a wide body so it had some presence and stability. I also didn't want it to be too big overall because that would mean more beading. I didn't want to get bored with it before I finished it. I can always enlarge the pattern if I want to go larger. I made a few different bird patterns trying to make them resemble different kinds of birds. I don't know how effective I was. They tend to look pretty similar after they are done.

  I used wool fabric for the body. It is easy to hand stitch in to, and it doesn't show any indentations from the stitches taken in it. It is also strong enough to support the beads. I cut the bird body parts out and hand sew them with a whip stitch. The seam is on the outside. I leave the back seam open for filling.

  Here you can see the opening on the back. I put a sack filled with walnut shells in the bottom of the bird to give it some weight and stability. Then I stuff it with fiber fill or left over batting pieces. I stuff it tightly, using the wooden end of a paint brush to push the filling into the beak and tail. After I have it filled completely I hand stitch the opening closed.  Next comes the beading.

  This is my beading box. I put it on my lap or a table and even if I am clumsy the beads stay in the box. It is the top of an Apple computer box. It has a black fabric in the inside of the lid which provides a nice non-rolling surface for beading.

       I keep beads, scissors, needles, thread, a thimble, and bead scooper in the box, along with my bead hoop. The bead hoop has a spongy fabric in it that holds the beads and makes them easy to pick up.

I don't know what the design will be when I start the beading on a bird. I just figure it out as I go along.  Here are some detail pictures:

I put a flower on the cheek. The dark around the eye is a small piece of ultra-suede fabric.

I always like to put a heart button on the chest of my birds. I think that's all I have to say today about this bird. Thanks for visiting my blog!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

What I've Been Up To...

I have been working on an art quilt the last couple of months but I haven't been able to show it because it's for a competition that won't be revealed until May. So I thought I would show you a couple of other things that I've been doing lately:

Getting ready for a weekend retreat  -  This is the pile of projects I am taking to the retreat. I am bringing way more than I can possibly do, but I never know what I may want to work on.

Finishing up a beaded bird - This is my latest.  I started it months ago and just recently pulled it out again. I'll show photos of this from other views for another post. But it's nice to have it done!

Painting classes - I've been doing a plein air class one day a week, and a studio class one day a week. I'm trying to paint with oils outside and watercolor inside. Here are photos of a couple recently completed paintings:

 Watercolor from a photo a took in the Rocky Mountains.

A plein air oil painting from Crystal Cove ( I think that's where I was!). I started it on site and finished it at home.

Gardening - It's spring and that is a great time to garden.  I've been converting my garden to more drought tolerant plants over the last few years. It's starting to shape up to something I like. 

I look forward to posting my most recent project soon. Thanks for visiting my blog!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Barrel Cacti from White Velour

This post will show you another example of using non-traditional fabric in a fiber art piece. In this case I have used a white, stretchy velour fabric for the barrel cacti shown in the foreground.

I wanted this piece to cause the viewer to touch it, so fabrics with nap, shininess and texture appealed to me. I had some white velour in my stash so I gave it a try for the barrel cacti. It is a knit and it stretches. A stretchy fabric can be troublesome, but if you put a stabilizer on the back of it, it is manageable. I used a light weight interfacing for the stabilizer.

 Once stabilized the shapes are cut out and easy to use. The white was a little bit transparent so I added a fabric behind each cacti to make it opaque. It is hard to see, but I used a blue disappearing pen to mark the quilting lines on the cacti.

 Once they are arranged correctly, I stitch them to the background using free-motion quilting stitches. Some beads on the crown of the plant add a finishing touch.

Thanks for visiting my blog!

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Using Trim as a Design Element

I love using unconventional items on my fiber art pieces, so I thought I would show you how I used some trim intended for clothing construction on this landscape. The black leaf shapes on the lower right bush are what I am referring to. I have a close up of this bush below.

To make this bush I cut out a variety of leaf shapes from white and black/white fabrics and arranged them to look like the bush I had in mind. I put a fusible on the back of the fabrics before cutting so I just needed to press the arrangement once I got it the way I liked it.


I wanted to add something a little out of the ordinary to give the bush more interest, so I found a bit of black trim in my stash. You can see it below:

I cut out three short sections of the trim and played around with them to create the leaf shapes I was after.

Once I had them the way I liked them, I used a tacky glue to secure them to the fabric. The bush was placed on the landscape background and I began stitching the fabric leaf shapes to the background using free-motion quilting. The black trim leaves were secured with a Zig Zag stitch. I had to switch to my domestic sewing machine to do that.

Here is a detail that shows the stitching on the leaves. I think the trim gives added texture. They make you want to touch it to see what it is!

Thanks for visiting my blog!

Friday, March 23, 2018

Distant Buildings and Oil Paint Stick

I thought I would show how I use oil paint stick on my fiber art pieces. In this black and white landscape I decided to put some adobe like buildings on the hillsides. I have sketched buildings like these on trips to Arizona.

As you can see in this photo, I used a printed light brown fabric for the buildings themselves. I drew the buildings first, laid the fabric over the drawing on my light pad, drew the outlines on the fabric, and then cut out the shapes. I turned the edges under on most of the sides of the buildings. I also layered them or placed them next to each other to give the look of many different spaces in the structure. The windows or doors were cut out of the light brown fabric. I placed a black fabric behind the opening and glued it in place to hold it until I stitched.

I wanted to add a lighter side to the buildings to give a more true appearance, so I used an oil bar in a lighter value to that side. Oil bar is a semi-solid oil paint in a stick. The part open to the air hardens and you have to cut it off each time before you use it. After I cut off the hardened end, the soft paint is available. You can apply the bar to the fabric directly or use a stiff brush to gather some paint from the stick and put it on the fabric.

For this case I used a paint brush because the area to be painted was small and the bar would have been too large for it.

This is the oil bar I used for this project.

You can see me getting some paint from the stick here. I'm using a stiff short stencil brush.

I am applying the oil paint below. I put it on the sunny side of the building shapes and I put some on the black windows or doors to give a little variation.

I like the overall effect of this. It takes three days to dry, so I work on something else during those days. There is an odor of the paint that lasts for a couple of weeks, but it also goes away.  I don't use any solvents with this, just the paint. I've never had a problem with the paint getting on another part of the quilt after I've applied it either.

Perhaps an oil bar will work for you on one of your projects?

Thanks for visiting my blog!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

It's Easier the Second Time Around!

I never appreciated before how much easier it is to make an art quilt when the design is already done. I didn't have to spend time on sketching to decide on the design, I just had to pull out my drawing and have it enlarged to my desired finished size, which was about 18" x 22". I also knew already what colors the various design elements were going to be, so there was nothing to figure out there either. This art quilt is made from 90% black and white fabrics and 10% gold toned fabrics. I rummaged through my fabric stash bins and found almost all of the original fabrics that I had used previously. I show the fabrics I pulled from my stash below:

I needed to piece the black and white background first. It required a white sky, and black or black/white hills and foreground.

I cut out the various sections and glued them to a piece of white muslin. The photos below show some of this work:

Here you see me in the process of gluing a layer down:

 You can see the blobs of glue on the white muslin that is the support for the background fabric.

This is the glue I am using:

I squirt the glue on a white plastic disposable plate and then use a small flat paint brush to apply it. I learned this technique from Susan Carlson. I love it and now I use glue rather than fusibles in many cases.  Here is a photo of the plate and brush:

My next step is to make the buildings in the distance. That I'll save for my next post. Thanks for visiting my blog!