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Posts from the ‘Artwork’ Category

The Pen is Mightier than the Pencil

My class in composition ended last week and we were all challenged to a 30 day challenge committing ourselves to a certain number of drawings per week.

I don’t like to be so public about this kind of thing. But so far I’ve done a drawing a day.

Some are from some of my thousands of photographs, some are from real life.

I find going back to the pen much easier; landscapes tend to lend themselves to value studies much more easily than what are ‘portraits’ although the one I did today was a sunflower; and the one several days ago a spoonbill.

Still it has been a fun project–if nothing more exciting than looking through my photos, pruning them—why four photos of sunflowers at just a slightly different angle?

color in this drawing would have aided the definition of the bird; it is a light pink; and the water was an increible blue.

an again, an incredible blue sky, bright yellow petals and medium to dark green leaves.

What shall I draw tomorrow?

I’ve got lots of photos to peruse.

Trying a Value study with a pen and ink

My six week class has ended. I think I gave the pencil drawing a good try; But I have drawn with an ink pen for many years, and I thought I might try value studies with pen and ink.

I’ve tried makers-=–and that also requires a different technique and thought process—but seeing value changes in an outdoor landscape or even a photograph is not easy.

Here is my first try at pen and ink value study.

The drawing is 4 by 6—I traced around an index card to get some boundraires.

I am also not accustomed to working so small.

Buit it is a start.

And for those of you who might wonder—although I am a native of Wisconsin, I had never been to Door County. Last fall, we drove to my farm near the Mississippi and then over to Door County. It was fall and so not many tourists—few choices of restaurants but then not much traffic either.,

We toured the Cana Island lighthouse area, traveled across Lake Michigan in the SS Badger; and had a great time.

I’m not sure what image I’ll choose for tomorrow’s drawing–I’ve got a wealth of photos from Texas and Wisconsin. Nice to have a lot of options but sometimes too many options are more challenging than just a few.

Pencils and Pens

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been enrolled in an online class to learn about value and composition.

The course instructor uses pencils to shade in values as a pre-cursor to an oil painting. He does some plein air work but more in his studio using his photos as a reference. He takes a lot of photographs and then crops them and simplifies some parts before his drawing and final painting.

As a longtime photographer, I rarely crop my photos as I take care to compose before I click that button. Now, if it is candid family photos, I just click away–one of the grandsons is always in motion and I frequently get a lot of blurry photos—but being digital just means a lot of pressing that delete button–and then recharging the camera battery.\

I’ve diligently tried to use pencils for each of the assignments although the pencil smudges and I’ve had to apply a fixative. His subject matter is not to my liking either; however, I have learned a lot about values.

My far preferred drawing tool is a pen.

Any kind of pen–the cheap kind found at the teller’s desk at the credit union, or in the drawer at the hotel room. Sometimes I buy pricey pens with liquid ink that smoothly rolls out–these are easy on my hands but they tend to run if wet, and medical records need to be impervious to water…although there shouldn’t be water sprayed or sprinkled on them—and certainly not other body fluids, I do admit to sometimes having damp hands while making notes, but more and more notes are computer and not hand-written—so I could use my nice pens—but then I retired earlier this year—so no worries

Each week we have had assigned drawings and we were critiques on our smoothness of pencil strokes, and replication of values. It was tedious work and frustrating.

I am now at the end of the class; we will be on our own for the next 30 days drawing what we wish—and for me-…with a pen!

Here is my last drawing–I found translating color into value challenging–and perhaps until I am better at it, will convert a photo or two into gray scale. My plan is to have some mastery of composition and values before I attend the Plein Air Convention in Colorado in late May.


I’ve been making crumb blocks as my leader-enders to regular piecing. Although I like to work on what are designated as ‘art quilts’, I also enjoy regular piecing. And I am always up for a mystery or a challenge.

Those tiny bits of leftover odd sized scraps were from artwork, clothing, and more traditional quilts. Each time I look at one of those pieces I remember the original project.

I constructed this background several yeasr ago while at a workop. I made two ‘official’ pieces–a landscape and a still life. The blocks were sewn as the leader-enders for those pieces and at the end of the workshp, I put them together in this arrangement more to say I didn’t have left-over/unfinished/UFO to add to my towering stack at home.,

I’ve tried various methods of construction, For many yeasrs I applqiued the imagery on top of a pieced or plain background and then struggled to deal with the contrast of the intense stitching of the imagery versus the background–it required a lot of thread and a lot of time–and I wasn’t that pleased with the stiffness of the finished piece,

I have quilted this using just straight lines horizontally,

I raided the family photo album and came up with several photos including one I took of my mother’s sister, She made my wedding was velvet with covered buttons down the back,

After her death at age 95, her house was sold but I found a picture of it on a real estate site—I always stopped to visit anytime I was in Wisconsin,

The faces are blurred and blank–as our memories tend to fade over time. I tried to stay faithful to the types of fabrics my relatives would have worn at the time,

After adding all those details, I quilted the piece again–with vertical lines this time.

I am pleased with the final result–it hangs straight with no lumps or awkward ripples.

Four days of a thirty day project

There is a great deal of interest in the past few weeks about the one hundred day project.

It sounds daunting—but it does tend to develop a habit–a habit of working consistently on something and developing skill.

I wanted to improve–learn–water color painting and so I embarked on a thirty day project.

Here is my setup.

The flower is a zinnia from one of my front flower beds.

I lasted exactly four days..

I painted that zinnia from the side. I painted lying on the table. I painted it from the top.

I made it a different color..

And then we took a trip to Door County. I took my paints and supplies with me—but there never seemed to be time to sit for a few minutes and paint. Painting while riding in a car with watercolor requires more dexterity than I have—even drawing with a pen–is challenging,

When we returned home, I did not know where I had put all the pages I had prepped for this project.

I’m sure I will find them—maybe when I do a bit of cleaning and re-organizing.

I have discovered it is far easier for me to bind pages together after finished than to work in a completed book…except for those commercially made sketchbooks.

People are ramping up for the One Hundred Day Project…I mght try again.

Buzzing Around my Sewing Room

Many people like to call the space where they sew a ‘STUDIO’. Perhaps I should. That word imples things that emerge are top quality masterpieces.

I certainly cannot claim that–and so my workspace is just my room.

I have fabric, paper, paints in there. It has three walls of windows on which I can survey the doings of the neighborhood—and on occasion see that Toby has somehow breached the fence. She doesn’t do that much anymore–although if she had a mind to do so, she is a digging machine.

Several days ago, I showed my finished piece for a Mancuso quilt show featuring music–and my piece was ‘flight of the bumblebee’.

My original thought for this blog was to show my process along with tidbits of things I found interesting.

Here are some of my steps in creating that piece.

After deciding on the music—that didn’t take long–nor did finding the music and filling out the required form.

I have lots of photographs of bees, bee journals, and even bee coasters. The size of the completed piece was set and so I needed to scale up the bees to fit.

I use freezer paper as my sketching paper as I can then cut them apart to use as templates in creating the bees.

I had made the flowers in a English Paper piecing method and sewn them on the background.

The edges are completely finished, bound and just waiting for the bees to be sewn on before attaching the sleeve for hanging. I used a commercial set of templates to cut those hexagon flowers and they are machine stitched onto the background.

Then I placed the bees.

Notice the bees do not have antennae, the wings have no markings but some of the flowers have stamens.

Hand embroidery and adding buttons finished the top.

For smallish pieces and even some larger ones meant to hand on a rod, I add a small enclosed sleeve at the bottom with some washers sewn in, This gives weight to the bottom–similar to curtain chains.

And just because it was a few days ago i showed the finished piece, here it is again.

A Winter Wonderland

We don’t get snow in this part of Texas—and I am not pariticularly unhappy about that. I shoveled enough snow when I lived in Wisconsin. Still, it is pretty—but only for a few days and if you don’t have to go anywhere ,…like work or school. And it is always followed by the season of mud–mud everywhere, and flooding rivers due to the snow melt.

However, last year or maybe it was the year before, Alex Anderson had us owrk on a birdhouse quilt.

Of course, I made it my own by making it a winter window scene.

I included the birds I would have seen—cardinals, black capped chickadees–but then a bluebird for happiness. And because there are no blooming flowers outside, I included a pot of silk flowers. A squirrel–always on the hunt for birdseed is perched outside looking in.

Feeding birds in the winter is followed by setting out nectar for hummingbirds in the summer months. Bird-watching from a warm kitchen in winter months and from a lawn chair in the summer afternoons is a pleasant past time.

Flight of the Bumblebee

This year there was an interesting proposal for a piece of artwork.

Choose a piece of music and make a piece of art (quiltart) in response.

As a beekeeper, I had to choose the music Flight of the BumbleBee. Although I do not keep bumblebees, I keep honeybees—or more accurately I provide a space for them to occupy, and I collect their honey from time to time.

On display at one of Mancuso’s shows, there will be a QR code liking the music to the artwork. Viewers can play the music while viewing the piece.,

My master’s thesis was based on interpretation of various pieces of music. I coupled the music with a visual artist–and my interpertation of the music in the style of the visual artist.

But enough verbiage, you want to see the artwork.

Note the hexagon flowers, the same architecture of the honey comb.

And here are two details.

That blue pindot represents their huge eyes allowing them to find their way to flowers and to return with a tiny drop of nectar ready to be transformed into honey. Each bee flies many miles in its lifetime; their life span is quite short in the summer—-our grandparents would have said–worked their fingers to the bone—but in their case, wore their wings to tatters.

It was a fun piece to make. I hope the viewers at the show enjoy it—and maybe someone will buy it.

A Button Flower

Two of my friends confessed they did not have green thumbs.

One did not have garden space and so she painted flowers on her windows; bright red and yellow tulips.

One said she could never remember to water plants and so she bought a small sculpture made of wood–a painted yellow tulip in a green pot.

I’m more of the stick in the ground and say God Bless You–and if it grows and thrives—great and if not—well, it was an experiment.,

But during this past winter, we have had such cold weather I had to hole up in our upstairs bedroom and sewing room–the only rooms we could keep reasonably warm.

With time on my hands and itching to do something outdoorsy—but staying warm, I worked on this.

The background is a printed linen scarp from a wedding quilt I made for my youngest grand-daughter—trying to get ahead here–she’s jsut eight—but it isn’t quilted yet either; the button is one of my grandmother’s mother of pearl button from the Mississippi River near my home town in Wisconsin.

It is winging its way off to the Spotlight Auction offered at the Studio Art Quilt Association conference–this year in Toronto.

It is always fun to see the wide vareity of styles and motifs. The piece is 6 by 9 inches—so s ncie size to experiment with something new—and not a huge time commitment.

A Rabbit’s Year

The twelve year cycle of animals has always been a bit fascinating—although I can claim no Asian heritage or even a toutist’s view.

This is the year of the Rabbit in China—the Cat in Viet Nam.

I waas born in a year of the Rabbit—it seems to be a bit like a horoscope with postive and negative personaliuty traits. How much of that is really true is probably equivalent to all the facebook quizes regarding names or types of gemstones or inner childr or whatever is the latest fad.

However, I do like to participate in the quilt block drawings—I hope I don’t win—as I don’t need new projects. But I like to try a new block, new color combinations without committing to a full size project.

And so I did this Rabbit block.

And since February has Valentine’s Day, there was this fun block.

Although I like to think of myself as an artist, I do these blocks to play with color, and to maintain piecing skills. The more mastery I have of sewing, the easier it is to express my artistry.

Some art quilters do not think they need to sew very well–‘the art will speak for itself’. For me, though, the limitations some artists face because they lack craftsmanship skills, sets them back. They struggle with the mechanics of their vision, instead of flying free.

I have never paitned a large abstract–unless you consider my living room walls as a painting, I have never worked with porcelain clay, but when viewing art objects in a local gallery, the poor craftsmaship of a poorly constructed and braced stretcher bar painting or the uneven edge of a porcelain bowl draw my attention to those areas—not the idea intended by the artist.