Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Art Quilt Reviews

Joanie San Chirico has posted a review of the Fiber Revolution show at the Georgian Court University in Lakewood, New Jersey. Instead of what we often get that passes as "reviews" of art quilt shows, Joanie has chosen to critique the work as art. She has written about what works and what doesn't work, and doesn't sugarcoat it.

Too often reviews are more like rah-rah sessions. It can be difficult to say anything critical because the reviewer may know the exhibitors personally. The problem is if we don't hear about what needs improvement, how can we improve it?

Anyhow, there is a lively discussion going on. Art Quilt Reviews and also on Lisa Call's blog.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Flinging paint

I've been working on a piece, as yet untitled. This is one of the problems of not naming things in series ie Whatever #1, Whatever #2, etc. I tried that once and after I got to #3 I couldn't keep them straight in my head anymore. Each piece is distinct and needs its own name, and so I will continue to struggle with names of pieces. But I digress.

This latest piece started with a background of blue and blue-green fabrics stitched together. I wanted to unify them even more and thought I would try something inspired by one of Robert Genn's Twice Weekly Essays entitled "Saving a Painting". All the tips related to painting, and I particularly like the one that says "Obscufate incompetence with a scumble." This just sounds funny to me since I don't know what 'scumble' is and am too lazy to look it up. Anyhow, I thought I would try "unify by glazing a mother color", more or less. I wanted to fling paint at the piece and first had to solve the problem of containing the paint that doesn't land on the fabric.

I finally hung an old shower curtain down in the basement and attached the background fabric on top of that so that there was something around the edges. Dipped my paintbrush in blue paint and just flung away, ala Jackson Pollock. Then did the same with green paint.

I like this very much, and the paint spatters that ended up on the floor and ceiling and overhead lights just add to the art studio ambience of my basement. I'm up to the quilting stage on this, and with the amount of intensive stitching that I'm doing, it's taking a fair amount of time. Audio books downloaded to my MP3 player help to occupy my brain.

Lately it seems that the bookkeeping part of art has occupied more of my time than the art part of art. I completed calls for two public art projects, and have two more awaiting my attention. It seems that everybody wants digital images these days, which is great, except that everybody want them in different sizes. There are also a couple of shows I want to enter but juggling what will be available is tough. I have three shows coming up, both with the possibility of sales (probably remote possibilities, but...) and I don't like entering something into a show when it just might get sold beforehand. I need to make more work.

Monday, October 09, 2006

The Fabric Annex

Several years ago, about four I think, I decided that I would use only fabrics that I had dyed, painted, or otherwise made marks on in my quilts. I would put aside my commercial fabrics. I boxed them up and stored them in a spare bedroom. I had about 15 file boxes worth of fabric. They came in useful as backs and for baby quilts and other non-art projects. After a few years of pulling fabric out they still took up too much room, so I went through each box and pulled out all the smaller sized scraps and gave them to Martha to give to her sister, who taught third grade. Except it seems that Martha culled some of them for herself first (but that's her story to tell)...

So now I'm down to about 10 boxes of fabric, not a very substantial reduction. And then we decided to turn that spare bedroom into a space for grandchildren to sleep over and the boxes had to go. Well, I couldn't just totally get rid of them, so I moved them up into the attic. However, our attic is 99% occupied by my husband's train layout. This is no ordinary train layout; it's the equivalent of a 40 room mansion compared with your basic 3 bedroom tract house. Anyhow, there wasn't much extra space up there - except there is this little cubby hole that's tucked in under the eaves and has enough space to store my boxes.

Getting to the space requires a flashlight and kneedpads because (a) there isn't a light and (b) I have to crawl under the desk and around the pipes.

Here's the view from the "door", which is less than 3 feet high. The reason I'm up here is that I need fabric for the back of my current quilt. The box with purple fabric is the easiest to access so I pull out some fat quarter sized pieces.

Jumbled up on the table, they need to be ironed and spread out.

I pin them up on the wall over top the quilt to make sure I have enough backing.

And then sew them together. Not particularly attractive, but it works for a back. I could use fabric that I've dyed, but it's a very dense broadcloth, and what with all the layers of fabric, it can get very heavy and a pain to sew through. Particularly if I want to do any hand stitching with big threads. It's hard enough with thick thread, big needles, and tightly woven fabric; don't need to make it more difficult by adding another layer of tough fabric.

Tomorrow I'm picking up the quilts from my show, Wednesday I'm giving a lecture to a guild in Bethesda, Thursday I'm flying to Chicago for the weekend. I think I'll take the pizza suitcase.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Oh well....

The notification emails for Quilt National went out last Sunday. I searched my Inbox, then I searched all my Junk and Spam mail folders, but I didn't get one. Sigh. So it's back to the regular old routine. Congratulations to all those who were accepted!

But the news isn't all bad: I have a second sale from my show, and the promise of a commission. This news cheers me up immensely and I'm pretty much over the QN disappointment. And since the piece I worked on practically up to the deadline doesn't need to be kept secret, here it is:

And a detail:

I've also uploaded it to my web page, along with the piece I did for Purdue University. Check it out here

I've been knitting also, but after doing blocks in both the colors, I think I should have dyed a 3rd skein in the blues and only 1 skein in the oranges. It's going to be an interesting sweater.