Friday, July 27, 2012

Dreaming of Fashion

I am really thrilled that my mixed media art quilt, “Dreaming of Fashion”, was included in the August/September issue of Quilting Arts Magazine. It is from their “What If?” challenge, where they asked readers to think of a moment that changed their life, or what they might have done differently, or how a chance meeting might have changed their life, and translate the idea into a 12” x 12” art quilt. At first I thought about making a piece about moving from the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains (where I grew up) to New York City when I was 21 and doing a piece illustrating a car with luggage piled high on top and a cityscape in the distance. Then I thought about that moment in time a little more, and felt kind of angry that I didn’t go after my art dream until I was 21. My parents constantly gave me the message about not going into art as a career, saying I’d never find a job, I’d starve and that I should go into a practical field, like teaching or nursing. And my guidance counselor, when I suggested a state college that had an art program, said “oh, you don’t want to go there! They have a big drug problem!” So, I compromised—majoring in elementary education and minoring in art at another state school. By the time I finished student teaching, I knew elementary education was not for me. A college housemate mentioned FIT to me, and I discovered that they had a special one-year program for people who already had college degrees. It was affordable, AND it had a 97% job placement rate at the time. So, I eventually followed my heart and found an art career in textile design. My "What If?" artists statement said: What if…my parents had encouraged me to be an artist, instead of saying, “No! What kind of job can you get with an art degree?” What if they had known that there were schools where you could study for a career in creative design fields they had never heard of? What if my guidance counselor had told me about schools like RISD, Parsons or Pratt? Would I have become a fashion designer? Architect? Interior designer? Toy designer? Doll designer? Would my life have been different? Dreaming of Fashion shows me as a kid standing in the ocean. I loved to swim and spent every summer day at the local pool—not the ocean, but the ocean image seemed more magical than a chlorinated pool. The oversized, peculiar hat is a reference to kids playing dress-up; My sister taught me how to use the sewing machine when I was 11, and I made my own clothes through high school and college, so the floating dress form and scissors show my dream of fashion design. The attachment of the hands with brads is a tribute to my love of making art-paperdolls. I stamped the OM symbol on the hat and in the water because I am often anxious and panicky, and try to calm myself with breathing and visualization. I started the piece in Photoshop, and printed it out on cotton, then over-painted it. Originally I used my face from a photo at 10 years old—back when my fashion love started—but it was too murky, so I printed my college graduation photo on cotton, cut it out, and hand-stitched it over the messy 10 year old face. For the dress, I used fabrics that I designed myself as part of Studio Art Quilters Association’s Visioning Project, led by Lisa Chipentine, which I printed at Spoonflower. The dress is a homage to late 1960s-early 1970s fashions that I might have made back when I learned to sew. The vintage images of a crazy hat and dress form were used with permission from The Graphics Fairy, a wonderful online resource for all kinds of unique images. I used 100% cotton, hand and machine quilting, along with acrylic paint, watersoluble oil pastels, chalk, felt, paper and decorative brads.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Feeling Blue

When Marie Johansen suggested that we revisit the typography theme for our next Arts in the Cards ReVisioned project, I had an idea of what I wanted to do--Character Study, in the style of Lisa Occhipinti. Lisa wrote an article for ClothPaperScissors back in May/June was one of those articles that I just couldn't forget, and I had been meaning to give her technique a try. The idea was to use text not to say something that the viewer would read, but just to appreciate a letter, or a part of a letter as a design element. The concept really appealed to me--I am a writer and magazine/newspaper layout designer and on a daily basis I work with, and love, fonts. I had a 'duh' moment when I realized what a good idea it was to use just letters, or just a swoop of a q or point of an M, as a design element. And it only took me two years to find the time to try out her technique! However, it was harder than I thought. For this challenge, we threw all rules out, so I was free to choose any size, any material, anything at all that had a theme of typography. I chose a favorite size, 12" x 12" and a favorite material, paper. I do love quilting and fabric, but paper behaves so much better--it doesn't wiggle, doesn't bleed when you paint it (unless you want it to) and is easier to cut.
I studied Lisa's guide, and began with choosing some letters and fonts, arranging them in Photoshop, printing them out, cutting them, and coloring them. I chose a horizontal design and a blue color theme, with water and waves in mind. I added painted strips of paper from my husbands newspaper to honor him (he has been a journalist and publisher for many years), a strip of fabric with the name and copyright in the selvedge from the company I used to work for (Leon Rosenblatt), some woven, rustic ribbon from Tinsel Trading, and painted some stripes with energy and om symbols silkscreened and stamped on. I couldn't resist adding my favorite Buddha quote, which I printed on Extravorganza. I used, along with the fabric and paper, a base of coquille watercolor paper, Derwent blocks, and Lumiere paint. It took a lot of puttering, painting and repainting, and many, many trials and errors before I had a piece that I was fairly happy with.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Sun and Moon Paper Dolls

During boring business meetings, I doodle. Sometimes flowers, sometimes abstract designs, sometimes faces. The other day I was doodling some moon and sun shapes, which I added some facial features to. I decided to turn my doodled faces into paper doll heads. The only problem was that I scanned them on a yellow, lined legal pad, so I had to putter with them in Photoshop to get out the color and lines. (My old scanner had a feature that took out the blue lines and scanned it as a black & white image...but the new scanner, sadly, doesn't.) I named the moon face Luna and the sun face Sunny. Not all that original, but it seemed right. My daughter suggested Soledad for Sunny, but it was too late--she was already Sunny. I printed the faces on white cardstock, then added chalk, markers and watercolor. For Sunny's body, I used a template that I got from my Roses on My Table paper doll exchange group. I printed the template on white cardstock, carefully cut it out, then randomly added an abstract, handcarved stamp stamp with orange ink. Next, added extra color with chalk. Luna's body is made from a piece of the New York Times that I stole from the recycling bin. Just a random page, with no intent for the text. I tried to glue the cardstock template on so the text would be interesting, but I accidentally glued it to the wrong side of the newspaper, so it came out very random, with chunks of black ink here and there. I stamped a carved heart on top of the newsprint. Luna's face is light blue which doesn't show up in the photo very well...maybe I was thinking of the song "Blue Moon", but probably not since I'm a rocker kind of person. The little shoes are a vintage image from The Graphics Fairy; I added color with markers and chalk, and the tutu is net that I gathered and handstitched on. The belt/bow is a piece of hot pink net and the beret is a little snippet of my own fabric, available on Spoonflower. [you need to create a user name and password for spoonflower if you want to see all my fabric, including the one on the hat.] The limbs are joined with mini-brads so that they can be posed, which works out much better than the old fashioned paper dolls that weren't moveable and had those annoying little tabs on the clothing.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

If I Joined the Circus ATCs

These atcs are for my Roses on My Table exchange group. When the theme was posted, I drew a total blank. Fortunately I remembered some adorable circus vintage graphics on The Graphics Fairy I photoshopped in my face at five years old (from my kindergarden school photo), added some swirly trim and a circus tent, a blue sky with puffy white clouds, then blinged it up with modgepodge, Pearlex powder and gold dimensional paint. Silly and fun! I think my favorite is the one with the little dogs.