Dyeing (with an E) Fabric

August 17th, 2014

A couple posts ago I shared Insalata, my work in progress with ginormous tomatoes.  It needed something for a background that wasn’t in my stash.  So I decided to MAKE some!

Here are some fabrics in the deep values:  greens with berry and a deep burgundy.

Here are some fabrics in the deep values: greens with berry and a deep burgundy.

 

And more:  the ochres and greens.

And more: the ochres and greens.

A friend suggested really out of the box and try a blue, so I did.  I like the color combination, but it looked too much like sky (for which the fabric was originally dyed).  Not working for me.

A friend suggested really out of the box and try a blue, so I did. I like the color combination, but it looked too much like sky (for which the fabric was originally dyed). Not working for me.

I finally chose the ochre that is down three from the top in the second photo.  Once I get home, I hope to do a little surface design (maybe), then quilt this baby.  It will be  a couple months until I can share, but stay tuned!

Dog Walkies

August 13th, 2014

Those who know me on FaceBook know that I post regularly photos from my dog walkies.  But since some of you aren’t ON Facebook, thought I’d share them here.  As you read this, Eli and I are in ENGLAND!  We’ll have wifi and will likely post to Facebook, but not sure I’ll be able to update the blog until we are home (hubby will be there tending the critters…he didn’t want to go to England…can you imagine?).  Anyway, we’ll be able to use Facetime to keep in touch!   So here is some local beauty:

Even weeds can be beautiful.  I tweaked this photo in Photoshop to create a thermofax screen, so hope to do some surface design this fall!

Even weeds can be beautiful. I tweaked this photo in Photoshop to create a thermofax screen, so hope to do some surface design this fall!

And another of the grasses:

What a great design this will be.  Wonder if I can make a "plaid" by printing the screen at right angles , or create a diamond...hmmmm

What a great design this will be. Wonder if I can make a “plaid” by printing the screen at right angles , or create a diamond…hmmmm

One day Eli had a summer pre-season cross-country team run in Rockport near the Children’s Chapel.  I walked in the garden and got these photos:

Glorious poppy seed head and flower

Glorious poppy seed head and flower

I'd never seen seed pods like on this tree, aren't these cool?

I’d never seen seed pods like on this tree, aren’t these cool?

And a close up

And a close up

Back at home, the milkweed pods are growing.  There is SO a milkweed quilt in my future.

Back at home, the milkweed pods are growing. There is SO a milkweed quilt in my future.

Evelyn Chagnon, this is for you:  baptisia with seed pods.  I'm hoping to bring some seeds to you at Quilt Festival as well as mail you a chunk of the plant in Fall.

Evelyn Chagnon, this is for you: baptisia with seed pods. I’m hoping to bring some seeds to you at Quilt Festival as well as mail you a chunk of the plant in Fall.

And I discovered it isn't just wild blackberries, we have delectably TINY wild raspberries.  YUM.  Yes, I ate this one.

And I discovered it isn’t just wild blackberries, we have delectably TINY wild raspberries. YUM. Yes, I ate this one.

And a summer's evening dog walkies to close things out.  The light is from the entry/kitchen door to our house.

And a summer’s evening dog walkies to close things out. The light is from the entry/kitchen door to our house.

Insalata, in progress, or where I’ve been

August 10th, 2014

So I’ve been seriously AWOL (Absent With Out Leave), busy with summer, son, spouse, other son, life, garden, art classes, and (drum roll) art quilting!   I want to have a quilt to enter in an upcoming SAQA exhibit and have had this idea of an oversized tomatoes quilt as the final one (I hope) in my tomatoes series.  (Who ME?  A series?)  The top is about 48 inches square, each tomato the size of a beachball.  As usual, I created the imagery then decide on what background will suit it best.  I had planned to include a big ball of mozzarella, but it looked so blah and blank that I omitted it.   Then I needed to audition backgrounds:

I had this gorgeous hand-dyed fabric from years ago, done by Judy Robertson (whose fabric inspired me to learn to dye fabric!).  THought it would look good:  lush and dark and inviting.  Hmm.  Not so much.  The ochre is good, but the rest of it, nyah.

I had this gorgeous hand-dyed fabric from years ago, done by Judy Robertson (whose fabric inspired me to learn to dye fabric!) in the middle–see the next photo for the entire piece. Thought it would look good: lush and dark and inviting. Hmm. Not so much. The ochre is good, but the rest of it, nyah.

And with Judy's fabric only.  Love the fabric, but not the blues with this piece.  The darks pop the tomatoes, but I want the overall feel of the piece to be lighter, more summery.  And by the way, it is tomatoes, avocadoes, shallots, and generic green on the bottom.

And with Judy’s fabric only. Love the fabric, but not the blues with this piece. The darks pop the tomatoes, but I want the overall feel of the piece to be lighter, more summery. And by the way, it is tomatoes, avocadoes, shallots, and generic green on the bottom.

So I pulled out my ochre batiks and hand-dyes.

In progress:  Ochre option 1.  Closer but not quite.

In progress: Ochre option 1. Closer but not quite. The color on the left is best, but don’t have enough to do the entire background.  The other two, nope.

Insalata, in progress.  Have enough of this one, but the sunflower repeat in this batik is too regular.  Nope.

Insalata, in progress. Have enough of this one, but the sunflower repeat in this batik is too regular. Nope.

One of my hand-dyes.  If it had EITHER the light spots or the dark spots, this could work, but not this piece.

One of my hand-dyes. If it had EITHER the light spots or the dark spots, this could work, but not this piece.

So what about other color options:

This green batik is nice and summery, but the blue-lilac portions aren't quite cutting it for me.

This green batik is nice and summery, but the blue-lilac portions aren’t quite cutting it for me.

So then I tried greens.  Maybe.

So then I tried greens. Maybe.

And finally one more of Judy's fabrics, rust and green.  Looks OK, but not enough contrast with the edges of the tomatoes and not summery enough.

And finally one more of Judy’s fabrics, rust and green. Looks OK, but not enough contrast with the edges of the tomatoes and not summery enough.

Stay tuned:  I decided to dye fabric!

Syncronicity and a new exhibit

July 25th, 2014

Today it is my turn on the Dinner@8 blog which is profiling the artists in this year’s juried invitational exhibit, Reflections.  Please do click on the link to read their interview with me!  Fittingly, it is also Eli’s first Cross Country practice (to his dismay at 7:30 am!) of the season.  Why?  Because my quilt this year is of Eli’s 2013 Cross Country season:

This year's Dinner@8 quilt:  Eli, Cross-Country 2013, (c) Sarah Ann Smith

This year’s Dinner@8 quilt: Eli, Cross-Country 2013, (c) Sarah Ann Smith

Four years ago, I created a portrait of Joshua for the Beneath the Surface exhibit also created by Jamie Fingal and Leslie Tucker Jenison, the artists behind Dinner@8.

Joshua when he was 16, from four years ago.  (c) Sarah Ann Smith

Joshua when he was 16, from four years ago. (c) Sarah Ann Smith

This year it was Eli’s turn to have a portrait done at the same age. The theme this year was Reflections, and for once I didn’t want to do something literal.  I’ve always loved looking at children and seeing features from their parents in them, as well as getting to know them and seeing bits of personality that come from their families.  With Eli, he has brains (from both of us but I’ll take credit), athletic prowess (totally from his dad!), determination (stubbornness?  we’re both guilty on that one), the broad shoulders of my dad and brothers.  So Eli is running headlong into his future, a Reflection of his past and a hint of his future.

At long last, I’m happy to share with you some in progress photos, too. First I had to take reference photos (since I can’t remember all the angles!).  There were decisions to make:  head on?  from behind (since he’s usually at the front of the pack)?  sideways?  On the Camden Hills course or not?  Scale and composition….

Many decisions:  Close up of Eli (top left)?  Heading out of the frame (top right)?  Burning it up hill (middle left)?

Many decisions: Close up of Eli (top left)? Heading out of the frame (top right)? Burning it up hill (middle left)? Powering around the corner (middle right)?  at Festival of Champions, in a fast-moving pack (bottom left)?  Running away in a small crowd (bottom right)?  Right click to view larger.

I knew I wanted to have him running on the home course, which is why I took these photos:

The avenue into the woods, behind the softball field, at Camden Hills.  I knew I wanted this overall composition, but when I realized how small Eli's figure would be on the 24 x 60 h. required size, I knew I would have to adjust.  It just wouldn't have the right impact if his figure was maybe 12 inches tall out of 60!

The avenue into the woods, behind the softball field, at Camden Hills. I knew I wanted this overall composition, but when I realized how small Eli’s figure would be on the 24 x 60 h. required size, I knew I would have to adjust. It just wouldn’t have the right impact if his figure was maybe 12 inches tall out of 60!  Right click to view larger.

I decided to use a photo of Eli running from Festival of Champions, coming around a corner at about the same angle they run into the forest in the photos above.   So I first worked on creating Eli, then I designed a background similar to the photos above.  The path and trees were easy, but getting a middle-ground in the right scale for the ferns and whatnot at the edge of the path proved tricky without an actual photograph (by this time it was mid-winter and covered with snow, so couldn’t go take another look).

Then it was time to dye the fabric to match the photo of him in his Camden Hills uniform.  Thank heavens I’ve taken those Carol Soderlund classes–I got the right color the first time:

Dyeing the fabric and the results.  These fabrics I knew I would use for both my Eli quilt and the Amaryllis entry for Living Colour Textiles.

Dyeing the fabric and the results. These fabrics I knew I would use for both my Eli quilt and the Amaryllis entry for Living Colour Textiles.

The remainder of the fabric got used in this quilt:

Amaryllis by Sarah Ann Smith (C) 2014.  See the Living Colour Exhibit at http://livingcolourtextiles.com/

Amaryllis by Sarah Ann Smith (C) 2014. See the Living Colour Exhibit at http://livingcolourtextiles.com/

So now it is time to go dye fabric for another quilt!  Do surf over to the Dinner@8 blog to read their interview with me and the other artists in this year’s Reflections exhibit.

 

tea and ink, creativity and watercolor

July 24th, 2014

Of late I have been busy with many things, one of which is Sketchbook Skool, an online cast of a gazillion students and, each term, six different teachers.   This past week’s lesson was with Brenda Swenson, and the use of single colors of watercolor on paper, letting them mix and play has been a revelation.  Since my last post, about the new Series 1400 of Quilting Arts TV, featuring little ol’ me in three episodes talking about making a quick bag as a gift, machine quilting, and correct needles/thread, was the last post, I thought I’d continue with the Series 1400 theme, creativity and inspiration.  (To see the information on the series and the ongoing bloghop, please click here to read about the series and visit all the creative, inspiring bloggers who just happen to be guests on this season!).

The completed sketch by me--contour drawing with fountain pen with non-waterproof ink and watercolor.

The completed sketch by me–contour drawing with fountain pen with non-waterproof ink and watercolor.

To begin at the beginning, we were to do a contour drawing, 3 minutes, of an item.  Then 6 minutes for two items, and 10 minutes for three.   Here’s what I did in my “everyday” sketchbook, which happens to be a Stillman & Birn Epsilon, 7 x 10 inch size.  This sketchbook has a hot press finish, about 100-lb paper; they are available at Binders Art Supply in Atlanta (google up the website) and Dick Blick (ditto), among other places.  I didn’t know where I put my Tombow marker (water soluble), so decided to use my Flex Nib (Noodler’s Creaper pen) fountain pen with R&K Alt Goldgrun ink (LOVE); both pen and ink came from the wonderful Goulet Pens.  (Note:  I’m not advertising, just anticipating questions!)

Timed contour sketches of fiestaware pitcher, tea-for-one teapot/but from my friend Marie many years ago, and a bottle of deAtramentis Roses scentted ink (heavenly color AND scent, also from Goulet Pens).  I used R&K Alt Goldgrun in my fountain pen.

Timed contour sketches of fiestaware pitcher, tea-for-one teapot/but from my friend Marie many years ago, and a bottle of deAtramentis Roses scentted ink (heavenly color AND scent, also from Goulet Pens). I used R&K Alt Goldgrun in my fountain pen.

Today, I rushed a bit and the pitcher is seriously tipsy, but I’m pleased, especially with the way the reds and black merged on the label on the bottle.   And the more I practice / make art, the more I am embracing  the idea that I do not need to be absolutely freakin’ perfect, that the wobbles and imperfections are what give something individuality, just as our handwriting varies from those cursive letters above  the blackboard back in second grade.

Here's the in progress, with the items behind the sketchbook on a dining table that I should have tidied before the photo but of course did not.  Truth in blogging.....

Here’s the in progress, with the items behind the sketchbook on a dining table that I should have tidied before the photo but of course did not. Truth in blogging…..

Notice the difference between this page and the one at the top–what a difference a little “framing” makes!  And I LOVE that green ink!

And for more inspiration, I just had to add this.  Last night thunderstorms rolled in, so of course we lost satellite signal and everything started to pixillate.  Immediately I tried taking a photo with my iPad (on which I was trolling FB or playing solitaire), but the camera just c ouldn’t capture the incredible colors.  So I dashed madly for the camera in the next room and got this photo at the last second before the picture returned to normal.  THIS is inspiration…aren’t these colors glorious?  I’m not much of one to enjoy abstract art, but this is enough to make you want to grab tubes of paint, several palette knives  and go to town.

Our pixillated TV screen.  Isn't this incredible?  The COLOR!

Our pixillated TV screen. Isn’t this incredible? The COLOR!

So that’s my life the past 48 hours (plus helping to hang the quilts for Maine Quilts, the annual quilt show here).  Art and inspiration!  And check out my previous post (link above) if you’d like to scope out the bloghop for the new Series 1400 of Quilting Arts TV, featuring yours truly in three episodes!

As for sketching and watercolors and contour drawings, I have a lot to learn, but it is so much fun, and it inspires me to make more art, including of the textile kind!