Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Good Grief....Where has the time gone!

I knew I'd been busy and hadn't had a chance to post recently, but when I checked the date of my last post....June 9th, I knew I had really messed up!
So I got to thinking about this blog and what I am writing it for? Why do I take the time to post my words and pictures here to share? And most importantly, why do you take the time to read and respond?
Well, I don't have any definite reasons but part of it is to share my life as an artist.....we work mostly in isolation, people sometimes come to my studio for workshops or meetings and my assistant comes in one morning a week. But most of the days, I'm by myself and it can get a bit lonely...
So I write on the blog and share to hear from others, invite feedback and generally invite you into my studio. (I've been thinking of a virtual studio tour on Youtube, but honestly, its a bit of a mess right now)
A couple days ago, I posted this image on Facebook:


and got a couple comments about how I use my time and accomplish a lot in my day. And I began thinking that others might be interested as well. It's not complicated....I mess up with my planning....I'm not perfect, but I keep trying!

First, I set goals, not too many all at once-maybe 3-4, and I work on them every day! So the image is a show I want to enter and the due date for the image. I also put the amount of time I need to spend on it every day til its finished.
Also, I have a spreadsheet of the show I want to enter, which quilts and deadlines. I keep updating it as time goes by.

Second, I keep a planner beside me. I use it for almost everything in my life. I wish I could go digital but I like the feeling of paper and pencil. Right now, with five adults in the house and a 3 1/2 year old, we also have a calendar on the fridge with all our schedules on it - all five of us work at different times of the day (and night). As for the planner, I'm fussy about what I use, I've tried just about every kind, right now it's The Passionate Planner and its good, just a little bulky for the size I use.
Third, I've signed up for some online workshops and info sessions of time keeping and planning, not all the information is relevant to my life but I can "cherry pick" the good stuff and make it work for me.
Finally, I've learned to loosen up a bit, this summer is very special, with lots of family coming and going. I'm not sure how often it'll happen in the future so I'm taking full advantage of it, with lots of walk, picnics and planting seeds of every kind with a special little girl.
One more thing (though I'm a bit lax this summer) is to do a once-a-week "brain dump" into my planner and notebook. I put down all the things I want to work on, tasks and priorities....everything!
And get it out of my head and onto the paper. But I don't do this on a Monday, when we tend to be in planning mode for the week, mid-week works best for me.
So what are your ideas and how do you plan for and reach your goals?

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Series Update and Self Critique Ideas

Its been a whirlwind week or so and I thought you'd be interested in seeing what I've been working on in my Series....
First, I finished #4, all quilted and bound! I named it Appia (because it reminded me of old marble) andmanaged to enter it in the Sooke Fine Arts Show http://sookefinearts.com/  one of the best shows on Vancouver Island. In fact, I entered three pieces, the max allowed...keep your fingers crossed for me, please!

I'm part way through quilting #3, and I'm planning on entering it in another show here on the Island, and I'll be early for the deadline, big cheer!
The first two of the series will probably be cut up, but I've not decided yet.....I'll keep you posted.
I thought it might be useful to tell you about my self critique guidelines and perhaps you might like to use them for your work.

Guidelines for Self Critique:
  • always begin with the positive comments. We are too quick to point out flaws in our work!
  • make at least three positive comments about the piece. 
  • don't say "I like...." Begin with a phrase such as "what works well", this gives you a certain detachment and doesnt involve emotions.
  • refer to Elements of Design and use those in your critique (more info here: http://www.johnlovett.com/test.htm)
  • only after you have done the above, then discuss what doesnt work well, be objective.
  • write down your self critique, this is very important! Otherwise you could go on and on....one point of the exercise is to be short and concise.
  • you may find it easier to photograph your piece(s) and work from the photos. Plus it gives you the opportunity to crop and rotate.
  • make the changes in your work that your self critique suggests and then revisit it.
Here's a couple of sites that might help you further:
I hope this information is helpful, stay tuned for more....from my Studio!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

#4 in the Series and Self Critique

Here is the last one of my series (I think) and this time I started and finished the design in the horizontal layout. I used a more constrained palette than #3 and certainly far more limiting than #1 and #2. I find it more comfortable now than I did with #3.
Here it is as a cropped image:


Let me begin with the self critique as before:
What works well in this piece:
  • a more clearly defined  orientation
  • there is a strong horizontal feeling but with some good vertical interest
  • the diagonally designed fabric provides a visual break
Now, what doesn't work so well:
  •  the two segments on the top don't have much relationship to the rest of the work
  • solid grey chunks will need stitch, they appear rather flat
I tried it rotated and found it more appealing. The two segments seemed to ground the piece a bit more. But the vertical dark rectangle sort of stuck out!


I tried putting them as a vertical layout, just to see:


And wouldn't you know it, I really like the one on the right....darn!
So, here's what I'm going to do....
For all four pieces, I'm going to correct the errors that I've mentioned before. There will be a little unpicking and replacing... and quite a bit of trimming. The first two will lose an inch or two on all sides.
I'll quilt and bind them all. Then mount them onto artist canvas. I'll probably use this method that I found online: http://heatherdubreuil.blogspot.ca/2014/01/mounting-art-quilt-onto-stretched-canvas.html
This method seems a good compromise as the quilt is always fastened to the felt, not to the board itself.

So what have I learned?
  • I like the repetition of working in a series, its a chance to repeat the good and eliminate the *&^$#!
  • working with a tight palette can be quite refreshing
  • the 12" x 24" size is good for experimentation
  • go with the flow and let yourself be led, don't try to be the one in charge....
  • don't get too emotional about the work, 
  • your camera is your friend
  • looking at the piece on the monitor helps for analysis and critique
So thats it.......for now!






























Friday, May 22, 2015

Colour Blocking Workshop

I took a break from my series project to teach this morning and thought you might be interested in seeing some of what my students had created.
The workshop, which I call Colour Blocking, is working with thickened dyes through an open silk screen. This allows you to mix colours right onto the screen and create wonderfully rich combinations of values and open or closed areas. The fabric that is made is perfect for piecing, for applique or the addition of other surface design techniques.

 Here you can see the blue and green laid down onto the fabric and mixing as the scraper is pulled across the surface of the screen. By rotating the screen horizontal or vertical designs will appear.

 Sarah is so excited her hands are a blur! She likes the blue and magenta colour scheme.

 Joan has the complementary colours to her shirt and has almost finished her piece of fabric.

Its possible to mask off areas of the fabric with freezer paper cutouts or to put soy wax on the screen to act as a type of mask. Many possibilities....
Are you interested in learning more? My online class will begin June 25th and registration will begin June 11th. Further information can be found: www.susanpm.com/online-workshops

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

#3 in the Series and Self Critique

I've finished the top to #3 in the series and this one took me far, far longer than I had anticipated. I think there were two factors involved. First, I was working with a much more controlled palette of fabrics, a total of 6 or 7. Secondly, someone had suggested a few more vertical, thin lines. Don't get me wrong, I'm not easily swayed, but I did see the merit of trying out that idea. So, a bit more planning was involved!

So here it is, as a vertical piece (on the left) and rotated 180 degrees.

What works here:
  • the tighter palette was a lot more fun to use, because I had a limited choice.
  • the dark strips really stand out-strong contrast
  • I actually prefer the one on the right, perhaps because its not as bottom heavy.
Problems I see:
  • the dark strips are too evenly spaced, doesn't create any tension/focal point
  •  no place for the eye to rest, rather jumpy
So, as before, I turned the piece 90 degrees, so it has a horizontal orientation. What a difference!

 To me, all of a sudden its much more painterly.... and a much better composition? I prefer the one on the top. It seems to have hints of a landscape that I find quite appealing. Plus the vertical bits seem rather tree-like. I might go back and either trim a bit off the bottom, or add another darker strip in the lower right hand corner to pull the eye down a bit.
I want you to know that I really do appreciate your comments and have found them very helpful. So lets it from you about this one?

Friday, May 15, 2015

Here's #2...Self Critique

Here is the second in the series that I'm working on, still keeping with the 12" x 24" size. I havent worked for a focal point but did try for even movement across the piece. I've appreciated the comments that people have been sharing with me and look forward to hearing some more. Remember, I have a thick skin....


Here they are with the image rotated 180. I prefer the one on the left as the darker area is at the top.

This is what I think works well:
  • there is good variety of value across it
  • the strong lines are repeated in different sizes
  • the concept of a grid is more consistent
  • there is a more constrained colour palette
This is what doesn't work:
  •  it appears rather chunky/blocky
  • the right side of the piece is heavier
 I have found that as I'm working through the series, I'm in love with the one I'm working on and feeling less love for previous ones (If you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with!) So #3 is quite exciting for me!
But here is #2 as a horizontal piece and I find it far more engaging with more movement than the previous orientation. However the centre bottom needs a little more colour.

Here it is cropped a bit closer to the 12" x 24" that it will end up being.

Any more comments that you'd like to add? #3 will be posted sometime early next week, I'm off to go kayaking this weekend.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Recent Series and Self Critique

I've had some ideas slopping around in my brain since I finished "Piet Goes Green" and sent it off to a show (small bragging here). I wanted to continue working with some grey fabrics I had dyed and painted and some others that I thought it was time to use....
I had heard a suggestion of working with a 12" x 24" size as a good size to sample ideas and design. It seemed to suit me, so off I went....
Here is #1, as two images, one rotated 180 degrees.

What do I think is successful about the design?
  • there is good contrast in value
  • the partial circles are a good visual break from straight lines
  • variety of line widths are interesting
What isn't successful about the design?
  •  heavy, dark horizontal lines
  • design seems chunky
  • there doesn't seem to be any flow across the design
It's interesting to see these less successful parts once there are on the computer screen that I couldn't see on my design wall.
As for orientation, I prefer the one on the right. But once I make some changes, we'll see if that's still the case.

Here it is back again, with a couple small changes.

 It's better, but I'm not sure its right. I've cropped the sides in the next photo closer to what it would be as 12" x 24".
Ok, now the orange chunk in the lower left looks too clunky. I may take that section out and work on it.
Comments? I have a thick skin, so be honest!

Thanks for the comments, I really do appreciate everyones thoughts.
Here it is with the orange fixed up and another orientation that Rayna had suggested. I hadnt considered placing it on the horizontal, it may lead me in an entirely new direction with my design ideas!

 Now I really like that spot that had been replaced.....not sure about the large black and blue piece tho!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Where Have You Been?....

I've missed you...missed writing the blog....missed keeping in touch. But I'm back from my adventures and ready to share ideas, thoughts and designs with you. My adventures have taken me half way around the world and if you've been following me on Facebook, perhaps some of this will be a little repetitive.
Someone once said "never let children or animals have the last word" (or something similar!) so I'll start with my cute little animal pictures. Most of these were taken at the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary, animals in the wild don't pose quite so well, as they are usually moving fast or not moving at all!
If you ever get down to Australia, do take time to visit a sanctuary, most often they are rescued animals that are in a breeding programme to improve populations or overall health and often released back into the wild. Check out the Bonorong Sanctuary here: http://bonorong.com.au/
Here's the little Tasmanian Devil, an ugly creature in my opinion and rather snarly. But I guess someone loves them!

I love the little wallabies, they clasp onto your hand with their claws (not sharp) to eat. I had to buy a little toy one with a book for a special little boy at home.

I also saw a beautiful Kookaburra, and got a great picture. He is bigger than I had imagined and a rather strong beak. Do you remember the song about the Kookaburra, we used to sing it in Girl Guides: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysaskdFpPz8

Of course the Koala is synonymous with Australia, and although I couldn't hold one, I did get a good picture. They are as cute as I had imagined.....while out driving we did come across a group of people looking up into the trees at one of them, but try as we did, couldn't see it! Koalas have unusual eating habits, most of their time is spent sleeping because it requires a lot of energy to digest their toxic, fibrous, low-nutrition diet and sleeping is the best way to conserve energy. (there's a new diet tip for you!) You can learn more about them here: https://www.savethekoala.com/about-koalas/interesting-facts

I was able to get up close to an Emu and we had a little staring contest. I was surprised at the purple colour on his neck. It shows only slightly in this photo.

 My favourite little animal was quite shy but ever so cute, he is called an Echidna (maybe its a she) and has a lovely little waddle when walking, perhaps I feel a kinship there! Even though the quills look prickly apparently they are stiff rather than sharp. And the cutest long nose.....

So those are my holiday pics! Many thanks to Chris for taking me on the wildlife tour....I'll be posting some classroom/workshops pictures soon so you can see the wonderful fabrics that were created! Stay tuned!


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Printed Fabric Bee....Not So Late!

I'm catching up now to everyone else and getting ready to do my fabric for this month!
But now, I've got a series of photos to walk you through the latest one I've completed, for January! So the theme for January was turquoise and orange colours with Petroglyphs as the image theme. Well, since I live in the Pacific Northwest I decided to use art for this area and found a wonderful richness of images left behind by ancient people....check out this website: http://www.gabriolamuseum.org/petroglyphs.shtml
So here's how it happened....I found some fabric that was turquoise and purple and then forgot I had it...so overdyed some blue and got a nice mottled turquoise.


I remembered just the perfect stamp for a border image and when I found it, it had broken....so I carved another one....

Then I made four separate Thermofax images to use from the Petroglyphs. First there was the "Salmon", printed in a salmon-y red colour .....


Then came the "Killer Whale"...... chasing the Salmon!


And then "Dancing Man" and "Bear"


Now you can see the entire layout. I had fun, learned something about the culture of my local area and created some cool fabric!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Free Online Mini Workshops

Did you know that I have some online workshops, absolutely free? They are little tasters to give you some ideas and basic instructions in a couple of Surface Design techniques.
You've already seen how to make a print table here:

http://susanpm.blogspot.ca/2015/02/making-print-table.html

I also have another fabric dyeing demonstration using colour gradations here:



Did you ever think you could combine textile paints, foils and fusible web to create interesting patterns and textures? Well, here's another tidbit for you!



Interested in more? I have several exciting workshops scheduled this year, sign up for my newsletter and you'll be the first to know! If you are wondering about dates, check this out: http://susanpm.com/online-workshops/