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!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

It’s a Wonderful Life – Face, Hair and Hands

"It's A Wonderful Life"

My last post showed how I created the drawing of me holding the fish. Once I had the drawing completed and enlarged, I had to figure out how to create it with fabric.

I decided to paint my face, hair and hands on white “prepared for dyeing (PFD)” fabric using Tsukeniko inks. A Frixion pen was used to draw the major features of my face, hair and hands on the fabric and then I put "No Flow" on the fabric to prevent bleeding of the inks.
face drawn on PFD

The inks were mixed together to create a flesh-tone that is close to my coloring.  I mixed the paints so that I had some light, medium and dark flesh values. The flesh tone inks were applied going from lightest value to darkest value. I am a watercolorist and that is my natural progression for painting.

One Hand

The Other Hand

I added some blue to the shadow areas in addition to the flesh tones. I like the look of the addition of cool blues to warm skin shadows. My lip coloring was the red that I used in the flesh tone mixture.

Face Painting

I didn't have to paint eyes since I was wearing sun glasses, so I mixed some dark blues and browns for the glasses and frames. My hair coloring was a combination of light, medium and dark browns.

The paintings of hands and faces were cut out and applied as you would any other  raw edge applique piece.

I should mention that I mix my inks with aloe vera gel and apply it to the fabric with paint brushes. This method is comfortable for me given my painting background. There are many people who prefer other techniques and that is fine. You need to use what works for you.

Thanks for visiting my blog!

Friday, February 6, 2015

It’s a Wonderful Life – Me and My Fish

It's A Wonderful Life

Today’s post is about how I created the drawing of me holding the fish. I actually caught the fish that you see me holding here, but my husband messed up the photograph by cutting my head off and taking the shot with the sun at my back, putting me in shadow. Here is the photo that he took:

Me and the trophy fish

Can you believe it? The fish of a lifetime and he messes it up? Did you notice that the fish is not cut off? You can see what he was looking at! Ultimately I decided to forgive him, I think. Yes I'm definitely over it. Hmmmm......

Anyway, for the image of me holding the fish I had to recreate my head. I pulled out a bunch of photos of me holding fish and found one that I thought would fit for the position I was in holding the fish.

Me with fish
photo I used for my head

I am facing the other way in this photo, but I remedied that by tracing my head and flipping the tracing paper over. I had to do some re-sizing of the traced head so it fit the body size, but that wasn't too difficult.

After filling in some details on the jacket, this is what I ended up with for the drawing of me holding the fish.

sketch of me with fish

My next post will show the making of the face, hair and hands out of fabric. Thanks for visiting my blog!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

"It's A Wonderful Life" and What it all Means!

"It's a Wonderful Life"

This quilt is a very personal piece for me, so before I post about the making of it, I thought I would show some of its details and give a little explanation of their meaning. This seems very self-indulgent, and I hope I don’t get carried away, but here we go:

1) That’s me there, holding a trophy steelhead fish – and yes I do fish. Fly fishing in particular. On a trip to BC one year I caught the trophy steelhead depicted here. It was 26 pounds and it took me a half hour to land it. It is the largest fish I've ever caught and it’s larger than most other steelhead caught. I’m not the best angler on the river, but sometimes if you just try something you have success beyond your wildest dreams. The image is a metaphor of sorts. Disclaimer – the steelhead I caught was released, and no steelhead were harmed in the making of this art quilt.

2) The two people wading the river behind me – that is a silhouette of me and my hubby. A friend took a photo of us crossing a river and it is a favorite of ours. I've done a painting of it and it hangs over my bed. So this part of the piece is symbolic of my happy marriage.


3) Paint brushes, needle with thread, and scissors – did you notice them? Well they are there. Where would I be artistically without them? These are my favorite tools. My hand is happy when they are in it.

scissors, needle and thread

paint brush

4) Periodic Table of the Elements – It’s really hard to see this, but some of the tree trunks and bushes are made from fabric of the Periodic Table of the Elements. I purchased it on Spoonflower.  That fabric was used because there is still a scientist/engineer inside me, gradually getting obliterated by fabric and paint.

5) The Heron – In another life I could be a full on bird watcher, binoculars, Bermuda shorts and all. I love birds and must have one in all art quilts somewhere. It’s a thing with me.

heron and signature

And I think that covers it.  Thanks for letting me blather on about myself. My next posts on this quilt will talk about how I went about making it.

Thanks for visiting my blog!