Archive for the ‘Classes I’ve taken’ Category

Welcome Albus, the 15000!

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014
An old/new project

An old/new project

Quite a number of years ago, before I taught at my first national-level show, I had a rare opportunity in about 2007.   Dianne Hire, author, teacher, quilter, artist, gardener, lives nearby me here in Maine.   Alas, she hurt her back–badly–just a wrong move picking up a light stick.   And she was scheduled to teach at her favorite retreat in just a few days.  She needed someone to drive her and help schlep all the teacher stuff.  Luckily for me, my name came up as one of two folks who might be able to help her.  The other person couldn’t do it, so I finally got to meet Dianne (we have a mutual friend but had never met) and in the one week of summer where I could take a break from Paul and the boys and go.  So I drove her to Paul Smith’s College (!!! Yep, can you believe it, a college with that name in upstate NY near Lake Placid) and got to sit in and take all her classes.   I began this project back then, but never finished it though I always liked it.

Another bit of astounding good luck:  I’ve been affiliated with Janome America in their artists and teachers program for a decade now.  Can you believe it?  I can’t, but they seem to be happy with me and willing to keep me on.   I had never really wanted or liked the high end machines that do fancy embroidery software etc.  Then at International Quilt Festival in Houston last year I taught a class in a room with Janome’s new top of the line machine, the 15000.   WOWIE ZOWIE is it a BEAST!  And much easier to use with all sorts of cool features.   Even more astounding, Janome is lending me one!   Here it is, newly set up in my studio:

Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, because the Janome 15000 is of course the great White Wizard, the most powerful wizard ever

Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, because the Janome 15000 is of course the great White Wizard, the most powerful wizard ever

I decided to finish the quilt above (I won’t show the whole thing because Dianne is working on a book with the pattern) as my first project on the machine so I could get to learn the machine and make friends with it.  THEN I’ll move on to the Embroidery function learning curve!  Here are some close ups of the fantastic satin stitching I’ve achieved on this beauty!  I was able to taper (adjust) the width of the stitch as I stitched to get smooth thicks and thins in the satin stitched line.  WOOT!

Satin stitched, quilted, then the applique was outlined to make it pop.

Satin stitched, quilted, then the applique was outlined to make it pop. The large motif in the center is stitched in the ditch, but the motifs in on the right aren’t yet outlined.  It really makes a difference!

And my border design

And my border design.  Here, the motifs on the right are outlined, the ones on the left are not.  The ones on the left kinda ripple.  By outlining, you really define and refine the shape.  Getting the tension just perfect was a bit fiddly.  I have found that the more complicated the machine, the more delicate they are in their settings.  Once you get them set, they are perfection, but you really need to understand your machine, be patient, and get to learn and know the way the machine works.  So often I hear students say “my machine won’t do that.”  Most of the time, I regret to say, it is operator error–not taking the time to learn and be patient.  So I am telling myself just that and hoping for LOTS of time in the near future to get to do that learning!

MASSIVE thanks to Janome America for their continuing generosity with me.   I hope to be able to give back to them and make some awesome, award-worthy quilts on this beauteous wizard of a machine!

Gouache, Birthday Boy, Snow, and Thread

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

Just a quickie catch-up post!   I’ll have some great news to share in a couple of weeks about what has been keeping me busier than my usual busy.   But I’ve also managed to squeeze in a few other things.  First in date order is two online classes with the delightful, talented, and superlative teacher Val Webb (website here).   This winter I had planned to relax and take two of her classes which overlap by about a month.  Despite the fact that you can really do a LOT of work (and LEARN a LOT), I decided to take both.  First one is Drawing Dogs and Cats, second one is Fairies (or as I prefer, Faeries) in Nature.

My Luna-Boy faerie in gouache, about 9 x 6 inches.

My Luna-Boy faerie in gouache, about 9 x 6 inches.

In Val’s classes, you learn not only about drawing, but also painting, as well as various media and techniques.  The lesson above is for small children as fairies, with wings, and gouache (which I have never used).  There are some technical issues; basically, I need practice with the medium!   But overall I am quite pleased with my Luna-boy.  In the next photo, we worked with graphite to sketch a dog.  His right eye is a bit off (thank you for the feedback, Val! I knew something was off but couldn’t spot it until you helped), but I’m fairly happy with this one, as well.  I attribute all good stuff with these two to the quality of Val’s teaching!

Sweet doggie, in graphite pencil.

Sweet doggie, in graphite pencil.

This week is also number 2 son’s 16th birthday.  How the child can be 16, weigh more than me (wooohooo! finally!), etc., defies comprehension.  Clearly the calendar lies.  Eli’s request for birthday dinner:  my waffles and Joshua’s parmesan fried chicken, an exact repeat of what Joshua had in early November.  As it was the beginning of the wrestling season, Eli couldn’t pig out.  This time he could and did <<grin>>!

We will NOT think about the calories involved in waffles and fried chicken.

We will NOT think about the calories involved in waffles and fried chicken.

Thanks to de facto DIL Ashley for taking pics as I brought in the birthday cake:

The calendar lies.  There is no way my youngest is 16.  I realize I am old enough to be his grandmother, but that is irrelevant LOL!   Eli, we love you to bits and are so thankful you came into our lives (even if we were and are old and tired!).

The calendar lies. There is no way my youngest is 16. I realize I am old enough to be his grandmother, but that is irrelevant LOL! Eli, we love you to bits and are so thankful you came into our lives (even if we were and are old and tired!).

She also got this great pic of Thumper the 26-toed cat.  As you can see, our cats pay us no mind.  Sigh.

Thumper.  Sigh.

Thumper. Sigh.

And guess what it is doing today.  Again.  Sigh again.

One more time.   At least it isn't sleeting a lot, as was predicted, and the temperature is now down to freezing or just below.

One more time. At least it isn’t sleeting a lot, as was predicted, and the temperature is now down to freezing or just below.

At least it is pretty–the flakes where HUGE!  We were predicted to get a lot of snow, school let out early, and we are all expecting it to be cancelled tomorrow.  Then the weather service predicted less snow, more ice and lots of sleet.  That is actually a lot worse.  But we haven’t had any sleet here in Hope, though beyond the ridge of hills on the coast is may be sleeting.  Here it has been snowing for about 7 hours.  We’ll see what the morning brings.  We will also fill buckets with water as it is likely to be heavy, wet snow and power could well go out.  Again.  Sigh.

And to end of a fun note, this fall I will be helping curate (i.e. be the behind the scenes worker bee) the new SAQA Food exhibit, open to SAQA members.  Alex Veronelli, mover and shaker at Aurifil Thread, will be the juror.  Just today I received the Quilts, Inc., eInsider newsletter, which had this profile of him.  It’s an interesting read.  Enjoy.

Now I need to go start on dinner.  Oh whee.

Drawing Birds with Val Webb, Lesson 2

Saturday, September 7th, 2013

WOW…to say that I am happy is close to an epic understatement!  I know I’ve got plenty left to learn (like white feathers), but if you’d told me a week ago that I could produce this, I would never have believed you.  As a friend also enrolled in the Drawing Birds with Colored Pencil class said, I attribute this utterly to the quality of the instruction!   Who knew that if you just take it step by step, following Val’s instructions, that every single one of us that has shared a photo has been able to do this, and this well?   WOW!   Once again, here’s the link to Val Webb’s website.

This week’s lesson was first about eyes, highlights, and the “caustic”, the place where the light the creates the highlight in the eye comes out on the other side of the eye…a sort of “shadow” highlight.  Then we moved on to drawing this ferruginous hawk from a photo.   Holy Schmoly, I did it!

Completed colored pencil drawing of Ferruginous Hawk.  Instruction was for the head, hasn't yet covered white feathers, but I wanted to try anyway!

Completed colored pencil drawing of Ferruginous Hawk. Instruction was for the head, hasn’t yet covered white feathers, but I wanted to try anyway!  (and sorry about the shadow from my hand–new camera and haven’t yet figured out how to activate fill-flash!)

Here is where I began:

Starting out with the eye and beak, doing an underpainting/sketch.

Starting out with the eye and beak, doing an underpainting/sketch.  That’s Val’s instructional sketch on my laptop. 

In progress:

With the outline done and initial layer of colors applied.

With the outline done and initial layer of colors applied.

And the final with the photo for comparison:

I'm happy!

I’m happy!

Each week for 8 weeks, Val posts a lesson on her website.  You download handouts, watch videos on the website.  Access is for four months–for her Lettering class she made a DVD with the online videos which you could buy if you wanted.  The cost of the 8-week class is only $50–a major bargain!  Even buying the CD for an additional $24 kept the class in the eminently reasonable price range.  I hope that over time she’ll be able to make additional DVDs available, as watching her draw in real time is SO helpful!   Anyway, gotta run!  Chores need doing!

 

 

 

Feathers!

Saturday, August 31st, 2013

I’m taking another fantabulous drawing class with Val Webb (website here and class offerings here) this time Drawing Birds in Colored Pencil.  Our first lesson was timed sketches–supposed to be 8 minutes or so but some of mine were longer–in 2B pencil just to get down shapes and proportions.  The second exercise was starting with the colored pencils, this time a Dark Umber, doing an “underpainting” in a feather.  Once again, I am amazed that I’ve been able to do as well as I did; Val’s ability to give a few simple tips that lead to stunning results is why I keep going back for more classes from her (this is my third class).

I think I'm done.....photo of feather from Val upper left, my sketch on right

I think I’m done…..photo of feather from Val upper left, my sketch on right

Here’s a photo from a bit earlier in the process

Just the first side sketched in, and a barest of outline on the upper side of the feather

Just the first side sketched in, and a barest of outline on the upper side of the feather

And a detail:

Detail of feather, partially done

Detail of feather, partially done

I’ll be back soon with a bit more info about the Web Seminar (see previous post, here) on or after Sept. 5, 2013.

A little more lettering

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

I blogged earlier about a wonderful lettering class I’m taking with Val Webb online; it was SO outstanding that I’ve also enrolled in an Herbs Drawing and Painting class.  I thought I’d share a few of my lessons, some good, some not so much.  All I need is a 37-hour day, with the extra hours for art!

P is for Pigwidgeon the Pug

P is for Pigwidgeon the Pug

One lesson was to create whimsical letters.  Val offered a pdf of a cat alphabet, but of course I had to attempt my dear (well, Eli’s dear dog) Pigwidgeon.  I didn’t spend a ton of time on the sketch so it isn’t quite spot on, but I love his little peeping face anyway!  This one is 3×3 inches.  And while not expert by a long shot, my control of the paint is improving!

Another lesson was Art Deco style.  Didn’t know what word, didn’t want something too long, and finally decided on Zelda, as in wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald (had to add that bit… Eli asked why Zelda, as the only one he knew was from the videogame Prisoners of Zelda!).  I was elated at how well this turned out.  The width of each section of letter is about 1/2 inch, they are about 3 1/2 or 4 inches tall:

Art Deco style lettering

Art Deco style lettering to simulate chrome–inked outline, watercolor,  used a teeny tiny size 1 brush for the shadows on the outer edges that are maybe 1/32″ wide!

Another WOOT was the “Decorated Versal” lesson.  Val had us try white ink with a crow quill dip pen.  Since I’m comfortable with nibs and dip pens, this wasn’t terrifying to me, unlike getting large smooth washes of watercolor (without blotches, which are HARD). Here are some practice bits using the white ink over a wash of blue watercolor:

White ink from a dip-pen on blue.

White ink from a dip-pen on blue.

A Versal is a fancy initial capital letter at the beginning of a verse (had to learn that one ).  I wanted to do something William Morris-ish, so I created the vines behind the letters. I wasn’t sure what I would do to decorate the letter until I was actually muddling around, and decided to have the green vines turn to white on the letter to break up the space:

A decorated versal "S".  I like this, but thinks it needs something more to "weight" the S on the bottom.  Awaiting feedback from Val!

A decorated versal “S”. I like this, but thinks it needs something more to “weight” the S on the bottom. Awaiting feedback from Val!

Another lesson was to do letters that recede into the background.  You begin with a wash of a lighter color over a large space, wait for it to dry, then go back in with a darker color to create the negative space.  Instead of working within the box or rectangle in the class sample, I wondered what it would look like to offset the text and have illustrations on the edges.  Not so great is the answer!  You kinda loose the idea of perspective–of the darks going back to a vanishing point.  But it was fun anyway:

A less than brilliant effort.

A less than brilliant effort.

But it is all about learning, and I am learning SO MUCH!  Now… I need those extra dozen hours a day to do more classwork, work on that quilt, exercise, sleep….. EEEK!  So with that I’m getting OFF the laptop and down to the studio!  Be back soon!