Monday, August 28, 2017

The Illusion of Transparency

It is, of course, impossible to create true transparency without using transparent materials.  But you can create the optical illusion of transparency using opaque materials such as paper and fabric.  At our August NTAQ meeting we tried to create the illusion of transparency in our paper collages.

It is logically very simple.  If a red square overlaps a blue square, the area of overlap will be a mix of both colors, purple.  If a yellow circle overlaps a blue square, the area of overlap will be green.  And so on.
If you are working in white, black and shades of gray, as we were, the overlap will be the middle value of the two pieces.  So if a light gray rectangle overlaps a black square, the resulting overlap will be medium gray.
The success of the illusion depends on finding a middle color that convinces us of its authenticity.  To do so, it should look like a mixture of its parents.

This was my paper collage:
So, if I clip out a bit of the picture, I hope you can see a light rectangle is laying across the darker strips, and a darker rectangle is overlapping the lighter rectangle in the lower right.
Instead of our usual monthly artist challenge we decided to each piece a quilt using one of our paper collages as inspiration.  It is due at our September meeting.

As logical as this concept may seem to me in theory, I found it difficult to execute.  It was rather confusing to piece.  I had to lay things out carefully, and still managed to sew things together incorrectly more than once.  Sheesh!
Gray study, 12"w x 30"h
But it was a fun exercise.  You really have to think.  I highly recommend it.

Here are the collage and the piece side by side:
I can't wait to see what everyone else has done!


I posted several weeks ago about a quilt I was making from this paper collage:
I liked several things about this piece -- first, that it had fairly bold (and piece-able) graphics, and secondly, it had a sort of a tuning fork in the upper left hand corner.  I never can resist a tuning fork, so I decided to give it a go.

I decided to replace the green in the collage with red and the white with yellow/gold, keeping the black black.  So I pulled a range of values of red and several yellows.  Why use one fabric when you can use 20?
After several days of work, I ended up with this.  Yuck!
I was stuck, so I posted a picture of the collage and the picture above on my blog.  And I asked blog readers for help.  This just wasn't going well.  It was disjointed and overly fussy.  It was really, really awful.

I know I'm not the only artist who feels this way about his or her work.  My friend Maria Shell, who has a fabulous blog called "Tales of a Stitcher", just wrote about a large quilt she's been working on that isn't going well.  It happens.  And I don't expect every piece I make to be a masterpiece.  Honestly, if I make one masterpiece during my life I'll be doing really well.  But art, like life, is a progression.  I learn something from every piece I make.  

Several blog readers e-mailed me with ideas to salvage the quilt.  And the consensus was something that I had already realized:  I used too many shades of red.  The collage is pulled together by the single color of green.  By adding all of the different values and some tones of red I had chopped up the piece and made it chaotic.  

I decided to spend one more day maximum putting this quilt together.  And I edited it a bit.  A little better, I think, but not my best work.  It's about 30" wide by 50" high.
Red Means Stop!, 30" x 50"
So, what did I learn from this quilt?
  1. A piece that has many different elements must be unified in some way.  In this piece, a good choice would have been a limited palette.  A single red would have made it more cohesive.
  2. I did enjoy matching up some of the lines in this quilt.  I haven't had to match a seam in a very long time.  Good to know I can still do it!
  3. Don't waste time on a project that is going south.  I spent hours and hours trying to tweak the piece, adding even more bits that made it even more fussy.  It was frustrating.  It would have been better to put it aside.  At least for a few days.  A fresh eye can help you find solutions.
  4. When in doubt, turn it upside down.  I did, and I think I like it better.   A little.
Upside down.  Marginally better.
I still don't love it, but I did learn from it.  So it was worth it!

I'm linking this post to Nina-Marie's Off the Wall Friday, Confessions of a Fiber Addict and Crazy Mom Quilts Finish it up Friday.  Go see all the wonderful work there!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Come See My Work at the First North Texas Quilt Festival!

The premier North Texas Quilt Festival opens today at the Arlington Convention Center in Arlington, Texas.  The judged show will feature more than 350 quilts made by the members of six local quilt groups.  It is sure to be fabulous!

I have two quilts in the show.  Both are in the Art Quilt category.
Backs Against the Wall, 2017, 27"w x 31"h
Magnetic Attraction, 2015, 40" x 40"
The show is at

Arlington Convention Center

1200 Ballpark Way | Arlington, TX 76011

August 24 and 25, 10 am to 6 pm
August 26, 10 am to 5 pm

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Eclipse!

I'm ready for viewing!
The shadows were really wonderful!
This one would make a great piece of fiber art!
B views the eclipse.  It wasn't total, it was about 75%, but still really cool!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

SAQA Saturday

 The North Texas SAQA group met at the Dallas Museum of Art on Saturday to see an exhibit of the avant garde clothing of Iris Van Herpen, a Dutch fashion designer.  She is known for using unconventional materials to create her haute couture looks.
 The garments were constructed of metal filings in resin, umbrella spokes,  magnets, ceramic, metal tapes and plastic.
Many of her pieces were constructed of pieces formed with 3-D printing.  They were stunning, but looked very uncomfortable.
I think my favorite piece was this one.  Formed of 3-D printed plastic and painted to look like wood, it looked amazingly like a medieval altarpiece.
In the studio I've  been working on a quilt based on this collage:
As of Friday evening, it looked like this:

I'm not sure about this at all.  The collage has so many disparate elements.  It's not coming together in fabric.  I was fussing with the right hand side -- not sure I improved it.  What do you think?

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

NTAQ in August

The August meeting of NTAQ was held in my dining room.  
The program for the month was to create the illusion of transparency using opaque materials.  We made paper collages in grayscale.  It was a fun exercise, and we made some fabulous small studies.
Instead of an artist's challenge for September, the group decided to make a small quilt based on one of our collages.  Either in color or grayscale, creating the illusion of transparency.

Our challenge piece for August was based on a painting by Fernand Leger.
Fernand Leger, Woman with Cat, 1921
As always, our pieces showed a large range of interpretations.  Wendy's gray and yellow piece with circles (far right in the picture) was a standout.  Wonderful!
Wendy also showed a new quilt.  A single log cabin block of mammoth proportions.  Wow!

I'm linking this post to Nina-Marie's Off the Wall Friday and Confessions of a Fiber Addict, Go see all the wonderful work there!

Art About Town

Viewing art is good for the soul.

The Kimbell Art Museum hosted a wonderful exhibit of paintings from the Phillips Collection this summer.  I love the Phillips Collection!  B and I spent a day there during our last trip to Washington, DC.  Any museum with a whole room full of Rothkos is ok in my book.  It was wonderful to see some very famous pieces of their collection on display here in Fort Worth.

Several days later, Rhonda and I went to the Plano Quilt Show.  Art?  Some were art, some were not.  But all were very visually stimulating.  A few that caught my eye:
I'm Counting on You by Shannon Page
Detail of Confetti by Peggy Abernathy
Never Again by Valerie Salter
Detail of The Color of Music by Jo Ann Cross
Detail of Water Wonders by Tami Marler

Thursday, August 10, 2017

A Small Tweak

In my last post, I showed the piece I made for the current NTAQ design challenge.  And I mentioned that the thin line in the left border really bothered me.  In fact the more I looked at the piece, the more it bothered me. 
BEFORE:  Do you see the thin line?  I apparently was trying to hide it......
So I changed it.  I think it's an improvement.
AFTER:  More balanced.  And certainly looks more intentional.
What do you think?

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

New Work!

This month, NTAQ was given a painting by Fernand Leger, "Woman with a Cat," 1921.   An interesting piece in the collection of the Met.  The copy I worked from doesn't do it justice.  You can see the original painting here. 
First, I made a paper collage abstracting the piece into something I might possibly be able to piece:
I decided that I liked the collage better if I cropped it a bit.  Here is the page from my sketchbook, with a slight crop of the collage on the bottom right.

(To be completely honest, I just didn't want to piece the whole thing.  Call me lazy.  And cropping made it a bit more dramatic.  At least that is what I told myself.....)
The final pieced top is below.  It is 23" x 29", unquilted.
I think I like it better in this orientation:
What do you think?

I also pieced in a very small yellow and black line near the bottom of the piece.  I'm not sure why I did that, and I think, looking at it now, that I need to either remove it or make it thicker.  Not sure which.

So, once again, I was faced with an empty design wall.  And some pressing projects to work on.  Things I really need to get done.  So did I get right to work on the things I need to do?  No, of course not.  I decided to create a piece from another of my paper collages.
Paper collage
And of course, I thoroughly enjoyed making this piece.  I finished piecing it yesterday.  
Rhythm and Blues, currently 49" x 65", unquilted
I feel like I've been playing hooky, making paper collages and then piecing quilts based on them.  I like this way of working.

I now have an largish pile of tops to be quilted.  Guess what I'm doing today?

Sign up for my studio newsletter