Thursday, November 24

In Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!
I'm thankful for a roof over my head, food on my table, and a family to share that with. I'm thankful for all the opportunities I've had to teach this past year. I'm thankful to be almost finished my Master's degree and to have received my certification this summer. I'm thankful to have inspiration and the work of my hands. Peace be with you. 
This print is a linoleum cut that my 12-year-old made in her art class at school. She chose to depict Gandhi. I love how she made a sort of halo of emphasis lines radiating behind him- he looks like a saint. He's certainly a good example of how to live in peace and gratitude.

Wednesday, November 23

Time to sign up!

The Fall session at Fleisher has just ended, but I'm already working on plans for the Winter session! Course offerings are available online and registration (after a brief technical hiccup this week) will open up on Monday, November 28th.
For kids I'll be teaching my usual Saturday afternoon silkscreen for 11-13 year olds. I'm planning on a T-shirt project and a reduction print among other things. Lottery forms are available online and must be turned in by December 2nd.
 I'm also scheduled to teach a Wednesday after school Softies class for 8-10 year olds from 3:30-5. We'll do a 2-sided critter, a self-portrait doll, and a mythical patchwork creature. This is perfect for students who live and go to school close to Fleisher or for home-schooled students who would like a fiber art experience with a certified art educator like me!
For adults I've got 3 options:
There's Monday night Intro to color theory from 7-9:30. We use acrylic paints for color exercises to build up a sketchbook for future reference. Topics include color characteristics, mixing, harmonies, contrast, symbolism, and illusions. If interested in this one, register ASAP on Monday morning- There are 25 slots, but free classes fill up very quickly.
Stitch and Surface will be on Thursday nights from 6:30-9:30. I'm thinking we'll do a mandala sampler, some block printing on fabric, and perhaps a scrap collage/fused surface, but I haven't totally decided yet. There's a maximum of 14 students for this class, and it usually fills.

My newest course offering for adults is Silkscreen on Fabric!! We'll do pigment and dye printing and learn how to put an image into repeat. We'll mostly use photo emulsion to burn images into screens to print. This is open to all levels like all my classes. There are only 8 slots open for silkscreen due to limited space, so sign up early!
Since this is a brand new course I'm doing more preparation than usual. This week 3 books I ordered arrived, and I'm in surface and pattern design heaven. I love having really good resource books available for students to browse through, and these are real winners. I'm especially happy with "A Field Guide to Fabric Design" by Kimberly Kight. She has a really simple explanation for putting motifs into seamless repeat, and beautiful illustrations of modern fabric designers' work.
It might be hard to think past the holiday season, but classes can make a great gift for a creative loved one, and just think how great it would be to have some artistic exploration to brighten up the winter season!

Tuesday, November 22

Stitch and Surface Fall 2011 wrap-up

Another semester has come and gone over at Fleisher. I really enjoyed working with my Stitch and Surface students, who were quite a creative group. They included 2 of my former students and a member of the Fleisher staff, as well as several women with a more formal artistic/design background. Here's a glimpse at our final night crit wall:
 The dress piece in the center by Glynnis may be the most ambitious (scale-wise) piece any of my students have ever attempted. She began with some thrift-store remnants including a rather interesting patchwork dress of various tribal prints. I helped her baste it onto a backing cloth, and she's been steadily stitching away for several weeks.
 I wasn't sure where Lisa's piece was going for a while as at first it just seemed a random collection of motifs on the rust-printed fabric. However it suddenly made sense as she added in the vignettes containing laser-cut rubber motifs of the plane, scooter, and dog and began the meandering path at left that started connecting all the elements. It became a narrative of travel, love,  and life with the base fabric's rust adding a sense of age and nostalgia.
 Sandee played around with found textiles to create this peacock fiber collage. She built off of the bleach-drawing fabric we made in class and combined it with a bird print and a piece of commercially chain-stitched and sequined floral applique. The best part is the variety of stitches she used to embellish the bird and the real feather that tops it off.
 Shelby has a small art quilt ready for binding (at right). She combined a rust dyed cotton print background with rusted canvas, lace, embroidery, and found objects (the iron that started the rusting!). It's subtle in color but rich in textures, and again has a an aged, nostalgic look. Her piece on the left is the foundation for a beaded piece. I love the rich complementary contrast of the orange wool and blue cotton. She began experimenting with surface by slicing the wool and weaving strips over into the blue. I like how it breaks the diptych-like boundary.
 Kara loved the circular hoop format! Her compositions grew organically and intuitively, combining found textiles and tons of beading. She has a playful style, and exclaimed during our crit how stitching has been such a stress reliever! We could all use a hoop of fabric as a playground for imagination.
 Brenda wowed me on the last night by bringing in a piece she'd been working on at home that used all the stitches she had learned all semester. It's a sampler piece entitled "creative embellishment" at the top. This central fabric is a piece of batik she created with my Fleisher colleague Nikki Virbitsky. She attached it to a foundation/border of Kente cloth inspired-print, and even used some reverse applique technique, cutting away the interior negative space of some of her batik motifs. I love how this piece combines work from 2 of our fiber courses and shows a lot of stitch exploration.
 I was so excited watching Sarina'a button mosaic grow. I like the slow shift of value and hint of color that flows over the buttons, especially how they pick up some of the teal of her background cloth. This was a great example of how shifting the scale of a thread or bead can have a dramatic impact (and make a piece go faster!).
I leave you with Leah's delicate rusted gauze piece. It has an unusual format- long and thin. The gauze has a subtle feather pattern through it, which she very slightly "emphasized" with some tracery in a neutral thread. Select areas were cut and reverse appliqued with lace. Some satin stitch organic shapes are scattered from the top left- they look a lot like the pebbles I've been making on my own long cloth. his piece sort of escapes description. It feels ephemeral and ghost-like because of her fabric choice.

It's been a very productive season, full of collaboration experimentation, and camaraderie in the studio. I truly enjoy helping my students discover their creative voice in stitch!
 I have about a month off before classes begin again. More on that another day.

Thursday, November 17

Kids exhibition

I'm really proud that the community arts center I work for makes time in their gallery schedule for children's art exhibitions! At Fleisher the galleries are an important part of the life of the school- we have contemporary artists exhibiting and the kids have a chance to speak with the artists about the work, and every year in the Fall the kids get to take over the space too. 
 My daughter has been attending classes at Fleisher for several years now. The vanitas drawings above and below are hers. I'm very impressed with how her drawing skills have advanced in the last few months. For the longest time she would just draw "fashion girls", but lately she's been doing more observational drawing. As an artist/mother it's sometimes hard to find balance between making sure she has experience in the arts without making her feel like she has to be an artist like me. Sometimes I've heard comments from her like, "It's not as good as yours". Actually I've heard that from lots of students too- kids and adults alike. Sometimes I wonder why people think they have to be good at drawing or painting right away- they wouldn't expect to be able to perform a violin concerto or score a 3-pointer on the basketball court the first time they tried.
 My students' work is in the show too. Somehow my silkscreen students pulled off their license plate project:
 And my fiber art students pillows look great:
It's a really great show of kid artwork. If you're in the area get over to Fleisher Art Memorial before Saturday when it all comes down. This is my last week of classes for the Fall. Saturday;s last classes will be a whirlwind of softie-making and t-shirt printing to finish up! Registration for Winter session opens up next Monday, and then I have a month off.

Sculptural silk

Crispy silk chiffon has a life of its own. I didn't really impose the pleats, but danced with the fabric as it flowed under my needle and thread. They're just little pin tucks with running stitch, but they create such interesting ripples in the fabric.
 I left the green pretty much untouched. It has one pleat, but someone said it looked like a piece of sky among the bark. It had to stay that way.
 I wish I could take credit for the beautifully subtle color and texture on this silk, but they were dyed and printed by Wendy Osterweil. This sculptural silk is for her installation at the Painted Bride in January/February. She has invited several artist friends to collaborate on a wall of fiber "skin/bark" to be very tactile and touchable. I feel very honored to be part of this collaboration. I love stitching this silk. I love working so big, so quickly.The surface is not as labored as my work usually is. It's just enough. It's even better  knowing there will be a lot of it.
This piece is about 4 times bigger than the first piece I made. I didn't add any extra embroidery or any of the teabag paper  that the other one had. The color in this one has more variation and contrast and didn't seem like it needed anything extra.

It was so nice to have this quick piece to work on. This week has been stressful- thesis deadlines draw ever closer. I have spent hours and hours writing, but I need to stitch too so I can get out of my head and relax.

Saturday, November 12

Button, Button, who's got the Button?

My aunt let me come over and relieve her of some of her stash. I got lots of buttons (and a nifty jar to put them in), plenty of quilt cotton as well as some pieced blocks, some lovely old linen, and some flannel. I think I'll be making some pyjama pants for my daughter (and maybe for me too), a new studio apron, possibly a duvet cover, and then lots and lots of art! There was a bunch of wool I'm passing over to my sister. There's quite a bit more quilt cotton and felt I'm bringing to school tomorrow, and some fabric I think I can use for my residency kids.

My other half wasn't too thrilled to hear that I was going stash-raiding- but I think I was VERY restrained. Ultimately only one big bag full is finding its way into my studio. As an artist, it's so hard to not save every little thing that could possibly become art....

Wednesday, November 9

art and about

I've spent quite a bit of time in my favorite local cafe,  Rocket Cat, quite a bit lately. Since parking up at Temple has been impossible lately (can there BE any more construction?!?) I've selected the cafe as my go-to thesis-writing space instead of the library. This week I've been very much enjoying being surrounded by a selection of paintings by Hamidah McCorkle.

 They have thin, washy color that allows the woodgrain to show through, and it seems like she "finds" the painting as it emerges from the surface of the wood, rather than imposing an image upon it. They are dreamy landscapes.
They give me a moment of calm when I come up for breath from all the words on my computer screen. I've basically got 2 weeks left to finish up my master's thesis. I'm so close I can taste freedom in the air.

Saturday, November 5

Fall at Fleisher

It's been a very exciting week! The program I teach in at Fleisher Art Memorial has just won the National Arts and Humanities award for youth programming! My boss and one of our students went down to DC to receive the award from Michelle Obama. Here in Philly we had a huge party with Mayor Nutter and all our after school kids. I'm so proud to be a part of Fleisher's youth faculty!

We're nearing the end of the Fall semester. Today we handed in work for our annual kids exhibition. Here are some completed projects from my fibers and silkscreen classes:

wonderful abstract shapes and stitch exploration
  My 11-13 year old fiber artists made embroidered felt collages of an image of their choice. Some kids went abstract and others did animal scenes.

This penguin has a bead lollipop!
 All of my young fiber artists got to use the sewing machine to turn their embroidered pictures into pillows. We used pinking shears for a nice zig-zag edge and stuffed the pillows with fiberfill before sewing them closed.

apparently nyan cat is a youtube sensation- ah preteens and pop culture!
 My silkscreeners worked on a "Vanity Plates" project. They printed flat backgrounds with simple stencils, then printed the license plate border (old school Pennsy plates!). Finally they collaged different vanity plate messages onto their 5 editions using either magazine papers or construction paper. They selected their best one to cut out and mount onto a 5x8 magnet for our exhibit.

Is it Philly or is it Fly? Double message ones are best!

Hello Yellow!!
 We've got 2 classes left for the semester- fibers will be trying a stuffed animal project and silkscreen will be trying to do t-shirts. Wish us luck! If you'd like to see all the projects from all our award-winning kids classes, come by Fleisher's galleries some time in the next 2 weeks! We have amazing young artists!