Monday, November 16, 2015

PLAYA Series and what I've been up to recently

(Above:  Five of the ten pieces in my PLAYA SERIES ... framed and on the wall at Mouse House.  Click on any image in this post to enlarge.)

Being at PLAYA, an art residency in remote Oregon, was quiet, emotionally happy, and quite productive.  I wish I was still there, but I've returned to Columbia, South Carolina and all the deadlines, custom picture framing, and busy-ness/business that is otherwise my normal life. Blogging, like several other things, has been pushed further and further back on my "to do" list.  Thus, this is going to be a long post because much of what I've been doing is art related!

(Above:  Playa I.  Four soil samples from PLAYA mixed with pond water, "painted" onto Wonder Under, ironed onto cotton rag paper, fused to fabric, free motion stitched and hand embroidered.  Unframed: 8" x 22 1/2". Framed: 15 1/4"x 29 1/4". $250 framed.)

During last week I finished a series started during the residency ... and totally about the experience of being there in nature, walking across the dried lake bed, and falling in love with the very soil of the place.

(Above:  Four soil samples from PLAYA.)

I started by collecting four different types of soil ... One of the samples came from the mowed grass paths.  One came from the salty crust of the playa.  One came from the grey sand that blows into eddy in the late autumn heat, and the final sample of cinnamon brown soil was dug up from just under the cracked, sere lake bed in areas that are able to sustain some plant growth.

(Above:  Soil samples painted on Wonder Under in my studio at PLAYA.)

I mixed each sample with pond water and "painted" each "color" onto the only piece of Wonder Under I had.  This was done using a wadded up piece of paper because I had no paint brush. Each color was allowed to dry before the next was added. This prevented the samples from becoming "mud" ... literally.  When totally dry, I brushed off most of the dirt ... allowing only a thin layer/color to remain.  This was then ironed onto 100% cotton rag paper.  I had enough to create eight, long pieces and two smaller ones.  I shipped them home with my sewing machine.

(Above:  The ten pieces on top of my dry mount press ... after being coated with matte medium.)

Last week I applied matte medium to each piece.  This was done to seal the soil and Wonder Under to the cotton paper. 

Once dry, I fused the paper to pieces of vintage damask.  Why vintage damask?  Well, that's what I have on hand.  My "stash" of fabric is almost entirely old, household linens!  I use a custom picture framing product called Fusion 4000.  It looks like ordinary plastic wrap but under heat and pressure, it fuses fabric to a substrata.  In this case, it fused the damask to the reverse of my artwork.  Later, I carefully cut away all the excess fabric. 

(Above:  Playa II.)

Next, I free motion stitched long, running lines on the lower third of almost every piece.  This was done to suggest a horizon line ... to give the impression of PLAYA.  It went quickly, but I was less than satisfied with the results.  Something was missing. The top and bottom wasn't balanced.  For two days I thought about the problem before coming up with a solution. 

(Above: Playa IV.)

The top needed "something" to balance out the free-motion stitching and to suggest the vast sky above the dried lake bed.  The solution became scattered cross-stitches ... almost like the twinkling stars that made each night at PLAYA so fantastic.  I used my favorite, subtly variegated King Tut cotton thread ... shades of brown.

(Above:  Playa V.)

Finally, I mounted each piece on a piece of mat board.  How?  Well, I stitched straight through the mat board and the piece ... at least four cross-stitches across the top!

(Above:  Playa VI.)

At first, I wasn't going to frame them.  In a sense, these are only the results of a successful experiment.  Most artists (even those who own custom picture framing businesses!) can't frame everything.  Yet, these pieces are special.  They really do reflect the landscape, the strong horizon line, and the very soil of a truly special place ... PLAYA.

(Above:  Playa VII.)

Steve selected the frame.  It's a nice, rustic styled white wood with enough depth to keep the glass from coming into contact with the artwork. 

(Above:  Playa VIII.)

I rearranged several walls at Mouse House in order to hang the work in close proximity to each other.  I really like looking at them.  They remind me of such a wonderful month and such a magical place. I have no other plans for showing these fine pieces.  It is a hard problem. So much of my work is now in storage, sitting on shelves, never seen by anyone or seen only by a few people who happen to come by Mouse House.

(Above:  Playa III.  This is the only one without the free-motion machine horizon line.  While at PLAYA I added a few stems of the high desert plant life.)

I've asked a couple professional artist how this situation affects them.  One honestly said that this reality is depressing and undermines his self esteem.  I quite agree.  Like him, it makes me doubt my talent ... doubt my creativity, craftsmanship, originality, and value ... until there's almost no confidence left.  We both admitted certain insecurities due to our prolific output.  We both have more art than we will ever show or sell.  We both work full-time jobs to make ends meet, and neither of us (no matter what) is going to stop the creative process.  It is an obsession.  The joy is in the making.  The sadness is in the issue of "storage".  We will deal with it ... one potential masterpiece at a time.

(Above:  Playa IX.  The two last pieces are smaller.  Unframed: 8" x 11"; Framed: 13 1/4" x 17 1/4". Each $175.)

The last two in the series are smaller.  They were from the end of the Wonder Under and reflect the creases and wrinkles in this surface ... which ended up looking like skeletal leaves!

(Above:  Playa X.)

Of course, working with this series wasn't the only thing I did last week.  I was able to attend the Ladies Luncheon at the Columbia Museum of Art where my piece, Ready for Burial, hangs in the show called Independent Spirits.  This show coordinates with the show Georgia O'Keeffe: Her Carolina Story.  In fact, the two shows flow easily one into the other ... basically as if one exhibit!  Imagine!  I'm hanging with Georgia O'Keeffe! 

(Above:  Ready for Burial, a grave rubbing art quilt now hanging in Independent Spirits at the Columbia Museum of Art.  69" x 42". Crayon on fabric grave rubbings, heat set; vintage dress and bed covering; hand and free motion embroidery.)

There are lots of activities and lectures associated with the exhibit including a "Salon Talk" at noon on December 11 when I'll share the podium with Kathleen Robbins and Mary Robinson.  There's a catalog and an audio tour too!  It is super cool to watch a complete stranger walk up to my work, push 211 (the number for the audio tour), and stand listening to Wim Roefs, owner of if Art Gallery, talk about my work ethic. (The audio clips are also on the museum's website ... HERE!)  There is also a great video made by Drew Baron, the museum's media staff person, that shows me making grave rubbings in Randolf Cemetery while talking about my process and concepts!  (The video is also on U Tube ... HERE!)

(Above:  Terry Jarrard-Dimond and her piece, Joy and Sorrow, in the Independent Spirits exhibit.)

The luncheon was a wonderful event.  Wil South, the Columbia Museum of Art's chief curator, gave a brief lecture on Georgia O'Keeffe's year at Columbia College and how influential that time in isolation was toward the development of her mature style.  There was time to walk through the show with professional women and with several of the other artists ... including Terry Jarrard-Dimond whose art quilts I've always admired.

(Above:  Five Points Pavement V.  Digital image transfer on fabric with both free-motion and hand embroidery.  Unframed:  9 1/4" x 12 1/2". Framed:  21" x 25". $300 Framed or $200 just matted.)

During the week I finished several of the "extra" images of Five Points pavement.  Five Points is a popular area of Columbia ... a place with independent restaurants and unique shops and plenty of bars frequented by college students.  The Five Points Association commissioned a piece of mine for an upcoming charity event (which will be held on December 3rd).  I created a diptych ... but I also had several smaller images transferred to fabric.  I've been stitching them up ever since.

(Above:  Five Points Pavement VI.  Image: 12" x 9. Matted and shrink-wrapped, 20" x 16" for $200.)

It's been fun bringing out the colors and textures of the pavement by both hand and machine embroidery.

(Above:  Five Points Pavement VII.  Image 9 1/4" x 12 1/2". Matted and shrink-wrapped, 16" x 20" for $200.)

Until this project, I never really paid attention to sidewalks, crosswalks, man-hole covers, and other surfaces underfoot!

(Above:  Five Point Pavement VIII.  Image: 8 1/2" x 11 3/8". Matted and shrink-wrapped, 16" x 20" for $200.)

I have one more, larger piece to finish.  I'm enjoying it in the evening while watching television.  I have one more artsy event to share.  It happened just over a week ago ... on a Saturday afternoon ... just outside my studio door.  In fact, I stayed in my studio!  I stood on my work table and watched from over the top of the wall separating my space from the atrium at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios. 

A large crowd gathered.  It was time for two Tibetan monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastery of Atlanta, Georgia to sweep away the sand mandela they'd created earlier in the week.  It was awesome to watch the complicated patterns swept into a swirl of sand ... a lesson on the impermanence of this world, even our art!  Powerful, spiritual, and hopefully something I can mentally add to my own sadness when putting more and more artwork into storage.  Maybe ... it just doesn't matter.  Maybe ... it is all about process and nothing about produce.

(Above:  The swirls of colored sand that once were a mandela.)

I made a video of the dispersal.  It is HERE on U Tube.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Promo/Trailer for my episode on The Quilt Show!

Super excited!  This is the promo/trailer for my episode on The Quilt Show with Ricky Tims and Alex Anderson, airing on November 23rd!

I am linking this promo to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a site for sharing fiber artwork. Later this coming week I'll be posting a link to the full episode ... limited time for free viewing!

Friday, November 06, 2015

Back from Paradise (PLAYA) and very, very busy!

(Above:  Five Points Pavement I and II, a diptych commissioned by the Five Points Association for the upcoming Starry Night Gala, December 3rd.)

Where to begin? Last Thursday seems like a decade ago. It is hard to believe I was at PLAYA, an art residency in the "Oregon Outback" packing up my belongings and sweeping the floor of the fabulous studio in which I worked for four weeks. By Friday I was blogging from the Portland Airport on my way back home. Since then, it's been GO, GO, GO!  So much work piled up in my absence but I was also facing some tight deadlines ... like mounting, framing, and turning in the diptych commissioned by the Five Points Association for their upcoming, December 3rd "Starry Night Gala". Ten artist were asked to produce work inspired by Five Points, a fun area of Columbia near the University of South Carolina campus and filled with many independent boutiques, bars, and restaurants. 

(Above:  Five Points Pavement I. Framed:  33 1/2" x 33".  Images of pavement from Five Points transferred to fabric and embellished with hand-stitched embroidery.  Click on any image in this blog post to enlarge.)

Late this summer I spent a morning photographing the textures and colors of Five Points' sidewalks, streets, and shop entryways. It was amazing! I never really thought about the pavement under my feet and yet that's exactly what I think of in Five Points!  Why?

(Above:  Five Points Pavement II. Framed:  33 1/2" x 33".  Images of pavement from Five Points transferred to fabric and embellished with hand-stitched embroidery.)

Well, I don't live near Five Points. So, when visiting, I'm driving.  I generally go southbound on Harden Street and always look over into the northbound lane. That's where there was once a white cross painted on the pavement.  It marked the location where Nancy Moore Thurmond (Senator Thurmond's daughter) was killed by a drunk driver in April of 1993.  The twenty-two year old college senior was jay-walking.  It was such a tragedy.  I can't help but to think of other students who "did something silly" and paid the ultimate price. Didn't I do a few crazy things in college?  Didn't my husband, my friends, my kids? 

 (Above:  Five Points Pavement II, detail.)

Most of us were lucky.  So, when I think of Five Points, I think of the pavement, the five streets coming together, the white painted cross ... in a really fun part of town ... that is constantly being upgraded and improved and made safer by organizations like the Five Points Association.

(Above:  Five Points Pavement I, detail.)

I'm really pleased to be part of this event ... especially since the Five Points Association COMMISSIONS art!  They don't beg for participation and promise a cut from silent auction prices that are significantly less than any artist would ordinarily charge.  They really value artists and the work they produce.  

(Above:  Additional images of Five Points pavement ... last month ... in my studio at PLAYA.)

When ordering my collage of images to be printed onto fabric from Spoonflower, I filled in the extra yardage with additional photos.  I've been stitching these by both hand and machine.  Some are finished and framed!

(Above:  Five Points Pavement III.)

There was a "skinny" section on the yardage and I filled it in with this detail from the Hootie and the Blowfish fountain in Five Points.

(Above:  Detail of Five Points Pavement III.)

It was fun to fill the space with free-motion embroidery.  I've promised a percentage of any sale of any of these "extra" images to the Five Points Association ... and this cool, skinny but framed, musically inspired work is just $195!

(Above:  Steve holding Five Points Pavement IV.  Framed: 26" x 22". $300.)

This one, Five Points Pavement IV, is both machine and hand stitched.  I'm having a blast with these "extra" bits of image transferred fabric photos! But ... that's not all I've been doing since my return from Oregon.  There was another, fast deadline!  Like the Five Points Pavement deadline ... this next one fell on Monday, November 2!

(Above:  Twelve fiber Christmas ornaments for the National Tree in Washington, DC.)

This one was a secret!  I wasn't allowed to announce the fact until an official press release was made available (which happened last week!)  Here's what happened:  Two days before leaving for PLAYA in Oregon, I was selected as the artist from South Carolina to make the twelve Christmas ornaments for the National Tree in Washington, DC.  There was a theme.  The ornaments were to reflect the National Parks and Monuments in each artist's state.  Here in South Carolina there is only one National Park but several National Historic Sites, Monuments, and even a National Trail.  I had just enough time to gather copyright free images reflecting these special locations, upload them to Spoonflower, and have the fabric sent directly to PLAYA.

(Above:  The reverse side of each ornament for the National Tree.)

Each ornament is two-sided. The "back" features the state of South Carolina in navy blue ... the color of our flag with also includes the palmetto tree and crescent moon.  All the trim and ribbon were given to me by Esther, a generous lady who was down-sizing her stash!  THANK YOU, Esther!

(Above:  The Christmas ornaments on my cabin's table at PLAYA.)

All the ornaments have to fit inside a two-part plastic globe. The National Park system mailed the dozen globes to my house in Columbia while I was in Oregon. He sent one to me at PLAYA.  The photo above shows the eighteen I made ... one inside the globe.

(Above:  The Christmas ornaments on my cabin's table at PLAYA.)

Here's another shot ... showing the reverse inside the globe.

(Above:  The first ornament made ... inside the globe.)

I made extras for a good reason. It took a few just to figure out how to best construct them and get them to hang successfully inside the globe.  This first ornament did NOT go to Washington, DC.  I learned that I hated the thicker, opaque ribbon even though it was the perfect blue for the state image.  I also learned that the pretty green and red trim wasn't flexible enough for the tight, 5" in diameter circle.  After a few, I had a process and materials that worked well ... and "seconds" for the South Carolina Arts Commission that awarded me the honor of making the ornaments.  The official tree lighting is on December 3rd.  Thus, I can't attend the Five Points Starry Night Gala.  I'll be in Washington, DC instead.  Too bad I can't be in two places at once!

(Above:  Work delivered to the Cultural Arts Council of Douglasville, GA for my solo show opening on Sunday, November 5th with a reception on Sunday, November 8th from 3 - 5 and running through November 20th.)

I will, however, be able to attend this Sunday's reception for my solo show at the Cultural Arts Council of Douglasville in Georgia.  This was my other, tight deadline after returning from Oregon. While at PLAYA, I created ten of the twenty pieces in this show.  The final phase of melting was done as soon as I returned home.  Then there was the mounting, framing, labels, and a drive to deliver the work!  Below are the images of the newest, ten pieces!

(Above: Lunette XVIII.  Framed:  23" x 29". $495 plus tax and shipping.)

(Above: Lunette XIX.  Framed:  23" x 29". $495 plus tax and shipping.)

(Above: Lunette XX.  Framed:  23" x 29". $495 plus tax and shipping.)

(Above: Lunette XXI.  Framed:  23" x 29". $495 plus tax and shipping.)

(Above: In Box CC.  Framed: 22" x 18". $350 plus tax and shipping.)

Had I known at the beginning how difficult Roman numerals could become, I would have never started using them!  At first I had In Box CXCVIII (which is 198) followed by CXCIX (which is 199) followed by CXCX (which would be verbally said as "one hundred ninety-ten") followed by "one hundred ninety-eleven" and "one hundred ninety-twelve".  Steve didn't catch the error.  The exhibition coordinator at the Cultural Arts Council didn't catch the error.  Not until the day before the delivery did I catch it!  Thankfully, labels hadn't been printed quite yet.  "One hundred ninety-ten" is actually TWO HUNDRED, or in Roman numerals CC.  Crazy!

(Above: In Box CCI.  Framed: 22" x 18". $350 plus tax and shipping.)

(Above: In Box CXCIX.  Framed: 22" x 18". $350 plus tax and shipping.)

(Above: In Box CXCIX.  Framed: 22" x 18". $350 plus tax and shipping.)

(Above: In Box CXCVII.  Framed: 22" x 18". $350 plus tax and shipping.)

(Above: In Box CXCVIII.  Framed: 22" x 18". $350 plus tax and shipping.)

The trip to Douglasville and back included a wonderful opportunity to meet SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) new dynamo volunteer, Mary Mottimoe. Mary is featured in an excellent article in this fall's SAQA Journal. We had a great time over lunch ... at a place Mary selected directly across the street from the historic Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta.  I arrived early enough to walk through the very well maintained grounds and snapped a few photos!  Thanks, Mary, for the great conversation and the wonderful opportunity to revisit a great, final resting place for ordinary people and for celebrities like Gone With the Wind's author Margaret Mitchell and golfer Bobby Jones among others.  Below are some of my photos. 

I am linking this post to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a site for sharing fiber artwork.