Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Texture Tuesday : Hope in Winter



This lone tree stands in the park near my house.  The plain white/gray background needed some dressing up.  What better chance to use my new coffee textures?!?

I picked one with the salty stars because they kind of look like snow flakes falling--or blooming trees.   What can I say?  I love winter!

Photo Processing in PhotoShop Elements :
Layer 1 ) My Coffee Texture 4958 - Background image
Layer 2) Kim Klassen's Be Still Texture - Soft Light 100%
Layer 3) Kim Klassen's Hope Filled - Soft Light 100%
Layer 4) Copy Layer 1 - Normal 47%
Layer 5) Hue Saturation Adjustment - to dampen yellows and pinks
Layer 6) My Coffee Texture 4958 - shifted - Soft Light 43%
Layer 7) My Coffee Texture 4934 - Soft Light 51%
Layer 8) The Tree image - Color Burn - 100%
           (This treatment blurred out some of the houses and clutter in the horizon line)

With spring coming and the promise of gorgeous pink and white trees, I couldn't resist playing with some girly colors for a spring version :



For this version, I played with a few filters in Picassa (I know--heresy to the LightRoom crowd.)
     Graduated Tint (Pink from the top down)
     and Glow

There it is!

Sharing with Texture Artists Facebook Group and Kim Klassen's Texture Tuesday.


Kim Klassen dot com

Monday, March 23, 2015

Mama Let You Lick the Spoon : Quilt Finished : The 2015 Challenge with Idaho Beauty Part 1

 
 Detail.

 The full quilt.

Several years ago (2009?), I took an online class with Terri  Stegmiller called Faces on Fabric.  She taught us to paint the faces and add shading and highlights.  I'd done an entirely appliqued face with The Oliver quilt, but didn't want this sweet little girl to look like Frankenstein with all the stitching required with applique.  I am so pleased with this result!

Did I mention : I dyed the fabric for the gray background and her skin?  
Her hair is entirely commercial fabrics.
The antique bowl is a piece of a wide ribbon folded over on itself.
The spoon is completely free-motioned embroidered.

My friend Sheila over at Idaho Beauty and I have begun a tradition of challenging each other to go beyond our normal paces, to try something new, or to finish something ...  Last year, I tried a few new techniques on a Journal, and Sheila did the same with a padfolio.  This year, she's working on some thread sketches (a new technique that I think will work nicely with her sketch book sketches).   I can't wait to see what she comes up with!

For my part of the challenge, I'm committed to finishing the John Hiatt Quilt that I started many years ago.  I kind of lost steam when my Art Quilt Group fell apart, and I no longer had the influence and ideas of those creative ladies to keep  me moving on the project--to get me unstuck when problems came up.   Now Mr. Hiatt is on tour again, and coming to my neck of the woods with an acoustic show (my favorite), I can't think of better inspiration to kick start this project back into being!  I had originally wanted to do 6 or 7 blocks, but I think at this point, I'll be happy to finish the  3 I started (more may come later ... I have ideas ...).   John Hiatt's songs and lyrics are wonderfully VISUAL.  They easily lend themselves to visual interpretations again and again.

Here's where I left the Spoon Girl, aka Sienna, aka "Mama Let You Lick the Spoon."  Just didn't have the heart to continue--until now.  I've missed her--truthfully!  She's been around so long, she's like my own little girl who never grows up. (Actually, I think that's sorta the point of the song ... )

I hung her (along with the other two unfinished blocks) on my design wall early in the new year--just waiting for inspiration to strike.    In my disaster of a sewing studio, I was delighted to be able to find the John Hiatt Quilt folder easily and effortlessly amid the clutter.  Does this mean the time is right?  the stars are aligning?

Design Question 1)  Do I try to piece them together into a single wall quilt?  Or do I work them up as individual pieces?  The original idea was to do a compilation piece -- in the style of McKenna Ryan's picture quilts with  7 blocks.  Each one could easily stand on it's own, but they would also work well together as a tribute to Mr Hiatt's wonderful body of work.  I decided that I should quilt them individually, and not try to put them together in one single quilt.  If I work on the blocks as individuals, then I can tie them together--maybe that means "working in a series" rather than putting them together in a single quilt.   Each individual block is too big to put them all together.  Best to treat them as individual wall hangings.

 Auditioning borders.  The dark one in the middle is a flange.  In the end, I decided to go with a darker green than this gray.  It was the obvious choice since it made everything else "pop."

This where I left her on Saturday.  Still need to quilt the outer border and bind it.

You can really see the quilting on the gray background here.

Design Question 2) How to quilt the backgrounds?   My signature bumblebee meander works for  the gray background behind her.  What about the borders?  I wanted to include the lyric that inspired this portrait quilt : John Hiatt's Angel :

Y'all put that hammer down and drove through Love's angel food cake
Tastin' every spongy layer and lickin' frosting off the moon
Wild-eyed with excitement but childishly disappointed
Maybe even tasted better when mama let you lick the spoon



This one shows the quilted words a little better.  It's subtle.  I didn't want to hit anyone over the head with it.  Those who know John Hiatt may want to dig deeper, and smile with recognition.  I thread-sketched the words in cursive writing  : That will be a secret code that many young people today don't know how to read, nor write. He-He!

Around the words in the outer border, I used a leafy vine (aka vine heart).  I was doodling that pattern way back in high school.  Been with me a long time!

Design Question 3) Do I add beads and embellishments? Yes--where that treatment works.  It doesn't fit on Spoon Girl. 

We have tickets for the Hiatt concert in Green Bay, WI, later this month.  What do you think are the chances to actually meet John Hiatt, show him the quilt, and ask for an autograph?  Do you think he'll recognize which songs I'm trying to illustrate?  He probably gets quilters all across the country who show up at his concerts with the same idea!  ;-)   I left the lower right corner "open" for John Hiatt's autograph should we manage to meet him on Friday.  "Cross My Fingers!" (That's yet another John Hiatt song!)

50 Shades of Red and the Wolf

 50 Shades of Red and the Wolf


This is my belated visual response to 50 Shades of Gray.  I don't quite understand the appeal of this movie--a gray wolf takes advantage of an innocent young woman.  It's essentially a Little Red Riding Hood story--or Blue Beard.

I keep a Little Red & the Wolf Board over at Pinterest.  I've been interested in this story for years.  The beauty of these old stories in the public domain is that people can take them, reclaim them, re-tell them to fit their own times (ex : Ruby on ABC's Once Upon a Time).  I really enjoy the versions where Little Red is in charge, not a victim, and not rescued by the Woodsman, or anyone else.  That's what I wanted to say with this piece.  Violence against women is so ubiquitous in this world.  Even I, in my insulated circle of post-modern America, get so tired of it, I have to say something.

I used 2 of my very own textures, including an adire alabere (stitched resist) from Nigeria that I've always thought would make a great woods, or forest.   And then, the beautiful face of Audrey Hepburn as Little Red--innocent, but not a victim.  And of course, the wolf.  She's in charge, and in command of her wolf-y nature.  More of a partnership than a power play.

50 Shades could also be a Blue Beard Story (Who knows -- maybe I'll work up a 50 Shades of Blue Beard next?).  That story has terrified me for as long as I've known it.  Here, Clarissa Pinkola Estes shares her way of sharing it with young people.


Photo Processing in Photoshop Elements

Layer 1) Background Image - My Iron Gall Ink Wash

Layer 2) Adire Trees Texture - from a stitched resist tie dye) - Multiply 70%
Layer 3) Copy Layer 2 (trees again - turned and shifted) - Overlay 52%
Layer 4) Copy Layer 1 (Iron Gall Ink Wash) - Soft Light 100%
Layer 5) Copy Layer 4 - Overlay 100%
Layer 6) Audrey Hepburn Face - Darken 65%
Layer 7) Howling Wolf - Darken 64%
Layer 8) Copy Layer 7 (another howling wolf) - Darken 39%
Layer 9) Grunge Brush to soften the wolf layers - Screen 64%
Layer 10) Maroon Color Fill - Color 87% (changes the blue to maroon --It is Little Red, after all)

Sharing with Texture Artists FaceBook Group.

Liberate Your Art Postcard Exchange and Blog Hop 2015 April 16


For the past 3 years, I've participated in Kat Sloma's Liberate Your Art Post Card Exchange, where she encourages us to print our art to postcards, and then share them with other creatives around the world.  This year, I sent off my new batch of postcards in good faith with plenty of time to meet the due date.  And then the day before the swap, Kat kindly emailed me to say she received my empty envelope, but no postcards, and no stamps, no labels.  ???   Apparently lost in the mail on the way to Milwaukee.  Hmmmmh ...  Funny the post office delivered an empty envelope, and didn't return it to me.  I was pretty bummed, thinking I wouldn't be able to participate this year after all ...   

But this is such a wonderful community that Kat is fostering.   I am honored and humbled by it all :
Back in January, I posted a collage of the images I was considering printing to postcards for the 2015 exchange.   Through the FaceBook Group, several people liked my work so much that they offered to do an extra swap with me.  Some of them were new people, and some I'd met in previous years.  So even though I didn't get to participate in the official swap this year, I still got to be part of it all--liberated my art (again), and met some new people around the world.  Things worked out just fine!

Here are the cards I received this year all of them EXTRA Swaps since my P/Cs got lost on the way to Oregon :

Tulips in Paris from Janice Darby in California -- next to my leafy green teapot.

Welcome burst of color from Sara Calhoun in Atlanta, Georgia.  Our spring hasn't started yet!
From Snap Lane in Houston, TX. 

Still cold enough to have a fire burning here.  
Only Frost Fairies so far, but they do beautiful work, too!
These are my husband's big ol' feet sitting next to me.


From Amy Irwen in Minnesota.  A beautiful mixed media piece.

From Juana Almaguer in Langley, WA
Just wanted to show you, Juana, that your rocks and shells and corals landed someplace where they are appreciated.  I dug out my Olokun Head (aka Shell Head Lady), cleaned her up, packed her up in a backpack and trekked her down to the still frozen shores of Lake Winnebago as the sun was setting tonight. 

*****************************************************************
Here are my Postcards I sent out into the world (wherever they landed -- At some point, you just have to let go and send them out into the world, and trust they will play their part in making the world a more beautiful place, whether they end up where I sent them, or if they landed where they were needed most (at least, that is what' I'm choosing to believe).  All of these have previously appeared here on Sweet Leaf Notebook :

Grunge Horse  (Landed in Idaho)

Balance

A Dream is a Wish ... (Landed in California)

October Moon (Landed in Georgia)

Sandy - (Landed in Sweden)

Indigo Moon (Landed in Virginia and Minnesota)

Storm Coming (Landed in Texas)

Pick More Daisies (Landed in North Central Wisconsin)

Topaz Tulips (Landed in Virginia and Washington)


2015 VIDEO

BLOG HOP

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Old Worlde Aged Paper

 

I found this wonderfully simple tutorial for aging paper to come up with some easy and serendipitous surface designs.  Great textures!

I worked in the kitchen with a very strong cup of coffee, with 3+ heaping teaspoons of Folger's instant coffee.  [I'm not a coffee drinker, so yes, I bought the cheap stuff.]   I used a tray as my work area, painting on the coffee.  Then I laid the wet sheets of paper on a cookie sheet and baked them in a 200-degree oven until dry.  This worked great!  I kept going until I ran out  of the coffee.

I used 3 types of paper :
     Watercolor Paper
     Regular old copy / printer paper
     Hand-Laid Stationary (which I use in my hand-made journals)

The watercolor paper was so thick, it was hard to manipulate.  I think if I continue to work it (crumpling and crinkling it), it will become more like fabric.  Probably best to "work" the watercolor paper BEFORE applying the coffee.

Here are some of my favorite pieces from the session :

On watercolor paper.
Salt added to wet coffee painted paper.  It created the star patterning as it dried.



The full sheet with salt patterning at edges.


Some of them even came out looking like old leather.



What an enjoyable way to spend a Sunday afternoon in the kitchen!

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Texture Tuesday : Lessons from Baba Yaga's Cottage


I know--a very different sort of still life than what usually appears in Kim Klassen's Texture Tuesday, but a still-life none-the-less!   Stay with me ...

This antique letter opener and the desk blotter lives in the old family house of our friends, The Poyets, in La Canourgue, France.    As a huge fan of Baba Yaga (you know her as the witch in the old Russian folk tales with the house that dances around on chicken legs), I knew I had to take a photo of this wonderful item so I could work it up some day ...  Just waiting for the right moment!  And here it is!

This year, I've been exploring Light in all its facets.  I'm discovering (or perhaps being reminded) that you can't know the light without its opposite : darkness.   In some ways, the opposites help define it.  In some ways, they work together -- like Ralph-the-Wolf and the Sheep Dog clocking in on the old cartoons--each had an important part to play in the balance of things, and each respected the other--even though they constantly worked against each other.  They each had a job to do -- yin and yang, push and pull.

This past week has been a tough one for a number of reasons : a close friend lost her dear husband to cancer ; a family member unexpectedly died too far away to grieve with family; my mother underwent a serious surgery;  and I even had my own brush with death this week.  Any one of these would have been enough to contend with any given week of the year, but to have them pile up in the same 4 days was remarkable!

"Consider the uses of adversity" is something I always imagine Baba Yaga saying to anyone who seeks her counsel.  This is one of her great lessons.  If life were easy all the time, we wouldn't be pushed to do better, to solve problems we didn't think we could ever overcome, and to be more than we are at this moment.   My friends, Vicki and Lee, walked the cancer journey with courage, grace, dignity, and most of all : Love.  It wasn't easy--probably the hardest thing either of them had ever done.   Facing death, and the loss of a loved one and best friend is so difficult, but they figured out how to carry each other wherever they are.  If I know anything in this life, I know they will find each other again.  The memorial was a true celebration of Lee's life and loves, and the lessons he taught us.  I'm so humbled and honored to be part of their story.   Thank you Lee and Vicki.

As for the rest of the week, the lesson for me is this : You need the dark so you know how good you've got it in the light. If you know despair, it helps you value the joyful times all that much more. There was a time when I enjoyed the Dark--I'm not afraid of it.  But now, I choose the Light.  That may be easier for me to say--I don't suffer from depression. 

I'm not saying the Light is all good and the Dark is all bad.  Not at all.  Too much light can burn and too much dark can be just as bad.  Everything in balance ...  When they work together, we can see the stars shine in all their beauty!

Here's the processing on this image :


Layer 1) Background image (original)



Layer 2) My Own Texture (Kitchen SubFloor 6645) - Soft Light Blend Mode at 26%
Layer 3) Kim Klassen's Sonnet 2 Texture - Multiply 71%
Layer 4) Text - Gingerbread House Font - Mud Layer Style - Normal 71%
Layer 5) Copy Layer 4 = Normal 25%
Layer 6) Text - Gingerbread House Font - White Grid on Orange Layer Style
Layer 7)  Kim Klassen's Serious Magic Texture - Difference 38%
Layer 8) Copy Layer 7 - Difference 78%
Done!

And last but not least, a parting song for you.
Cat Stevens' version of "Morning has Broken."  We sang it at my friend's memorial service last week.  I always thought Cat Stevens wrote it, but it's a traditional praise hymn.  Thank you, Vicki, for setting me straight!   


Blessings on your day--even the hard parts!

Visit my Baba Yaga Pinterest Board.

Sharing with Texture Artists FaceBook Group and Kim Klassen's Texture Tuesday.

Kim Klassen dot com

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Dreams and Memories by Firelight : Texture Tuesday


Kind of a nostalgic picture for me.  That winter, my husband and kid built a Quinzhee (kind of like an igloo, but not).  The kid really enjoyed it and treated it like a fort.  He was allowed to bring matches and candles into the quinzhee ...   I took this picture and I almost deleted it as a failed picture--but now I kinda like it.  It came up naturally with certain effects we try to add by other means.

It's got that warm firelight texture and the dreamy blur of memory ...   It kind of looks like  he's riding a flying carpet with mountains behind him.   Added Kim Klassen's Appreciate Texture.
 

Sharing with Kim Klassen's Texture Tuesday and Texture Artists's FaceBook Group.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Iron Gall Ravens


I've been playing with the Iron Gall Inked pieces I made in an earlier post.  I'm really pleased with the way these came out!   Definitely makes me want to play some more with these inks (I have quite a stock of walnut ink, too)  and techniques.

Recipe for Iron Gall Raven (above)
Layer 1) Iron Gall Ink Wash as Background (My Own Texture!)
Layer 2) Copy Layer 1 - turned 180 degrees - Multiply Blend Mode - 62% opacity
Layer 3) Inked Raven - Darken - 100%



Recipe for Iron Gall Raven #2
Layer 1)  Iron Gall Ink Wash as Background (My Own Texture!)
Layer 2) Copy Layer 1 - turned 180 degrees - Multiply Blend Mode - 62% opacity
Layer 3) Inked Raven 2 - Darken - 100%
Layer 4) Copy Layer 3 - Multiply 39%
Layer 5) Raven Text - Papyrus Font - Overlay Blend Mode (brings in some nice blues)


 
Iron Gall Ink Wash Texture #1 (My own Texture!)
Made with home-made iron gall ink, spread as a wash on watercolor paper.
Water sprayed in the middle, and blotted off to make it lighter.

California Iron Gall Ink



Raven painted with my own Iron Gall Ink.

 
 Raven #2 - Iron Gall Ink


 Iron Gall Ink Wash Texture

I painted the new ink onto a sheet of watercolor paper, then sprayed water in the middle to dilute it and blotted it off to make the middle a little lighter.  I'm quite pleased with the result.  ;-)





Of course, you can also WRITE with this ink.  It's recommended that you use a glass pen, or a feather quill, as this ink will damage and corrode metal nibs.   Writing isn't my real purpose for making the ink, though ...   It takes too long!

I had intended to use this recipe from The Fountain Pen Network, with California Oak Galls from JBB Pens and Paper at Etsy.

Local galls from Hartman Creek, WI - Noticeably smaller than the California variety below :

California Galls from JBB on Etsy

I would like to try the famous Aleppo Galls at some point with Dr Stark's Recipe, but I don't imagine much is coming from Aleppo these days with the war and unrest in Syria.

If you don't have the patience to wait for the fermentation process (or it's just too darn cold to ferment anything where you live this time of year), try this recipe from Scribe Scribbling.  He even has pictures of the process in this post.  It sounds like he's an SCA scholar and scribe.

I made a batch this afternoon with success!  Yup--sometimes the delayed gratification-thing just won't do!  The spent California oak galls didn't smell bad as they were cooking --  it just smelled like dried herbs--probably because I didn't ferment them.

Spent Galls
After I strained out the tannin-rich juice, the spent galls looked a lot like spent walnut hulls from making walnut ink.   I saved them in the freezer with the idea of trying to get a second batch out of them.



The Oak Gall Tea looked a lot like regular (black) tea -- with a rich red color.  Which made me wonder if this whole process couldn't be done with tea instead of going through the trouble to get Oak Galls.  I think the answer to this is that it is indeed possible to make Iron Gall ink from tea--the secret is to get enough tannin to interact with the iron.  To that effect, I found a few other recipes that I want to try out with strong tea and steel wool ...


Shortly after I added the iron sulphate, the red-brown tea turn black.   Like magic!  Closer -- but not quite ink yet ...   I next added the powdered form of gum arabic, which immediately gelled into something that looked like globs of amber.  I guess it was going back to it's original gum form -- which is basically a tree sap.  It eventually dissolved, and is said to be a binder that helps make the ink flow nicely.

This is all very reminiscent of rust-dying, too.  Where you mix the tea with the rusty liquor to get the stormy gray colors. I also found a recipe to use iron sulphate brine to age wood to that wonderful dark gray weathered barnwood color.  I have a project in mind for that, too!

 
Ink stain on paper.  
It goes on gray or translucent.  On one of the ravens, I kept adding more ink to make it darker, not realizing I only had to wait a bit for the ink to oxidize.  After a few minutes, the ink stain looked like this with no extra ink added :




I have a bottle of PH testing strips on order.   It's said this particular kind of ink is quite acidic.  Some recipes suggest adding crushed egg shells to balance out the PH levels.  I'll be experimenting with that in coming weeks.

Here, I bottled a smaller, more manageable portion for writing and painting.  You can see just how black black black this ink is in the jar.    Here you can see one of the ravens in in the background with the ink still wet.