Thursday, February 21, 2013

When I Was fibre art piece

When I Was Twenty-One

This work was inspired by the theme of aging and the way our individual journeys through life are so influenced by the times in which we live.  It focuses on the major social and political events that influenced me personally.  I finished this one in January and submitted it for jurying but it wasn't accepted so here it is.   

This is the second piece I have done with a sixties theme (the other being 'Flower Power Revisited')
  I came of age in the sixties with all its turbulence, freedoms, protests, optimism, change, and hope for a better world.  The focal point of this piece is a couple of flower children with tambourine, guitar and protest sign (I used to hate how the 'girl' in the band always had the tambourine while the guys had the guitars and drums).  I arranged symbols to spiral around these central figures with embroidered messages about the people and events that influenced my own life - from  Martin Luther King Jr, Gandhi, and John Lennon to Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, and International Women's Year.  From civil unrest, environmentalism, 'big brother', to globalization and the world wide web.  Of all the external influences over my lifetime, I believe that coming of age in the sixties was the most profound.  I find it interesting that some of the themes just keep coming back (peace, civil unrest, environment).   

I end the circle with a red hat ("When I am Old I shall wear purple") and a drifting autumn leaf.

This piece is appliqued and quilted by hand and I used paint and fabric markers for their features and the dress and guitar.   His afro is made of french knots.

In researching this piece I found myself remembering details about events that I had long forgotten.  It really made me think about my values, which have evolved and matured over the decades,  while my core beliefs have only grown stronger over time.  I think what I did learn as I matured is that it's okay to live fully in the present and feel the joy even while we work for change.  That served me well when I was a social worker - to be able to rejoice in the small victories and the joys of life and not let the negatives get me down. 

Here are some close ups of the piece.  Note to me: next time I use a black background I will use black batting as well.  It didn't beard while stitching but the hairs began to work their way through the fabric itself.

Maybe this work will spark some memories for some of you.....

Monday, February 11, 2013

Close Ups

Wow! I realized that I haven't posted for over a week.  I am trying to finish things up and get pieces and write ups prepared for some shows etc etc.  Not much fun.   Then my furnace broke and I was without heat for a day - difficult to work when  your fingers are icy cold.  I'm trying to finish things up before some eye surgery because I have a gap of 6 weeks between the first surgery and the second and I'm not sure what I will be able to do right away (such as driving or stitching).

Since I don't really have anything actually finished that I can show you, I decided to concentrate on close ups.  Is this not a beautiful amaryllis?   The bulb was a christmas gift from my son and it started to bloom in late January.  I included two photos to show you how I captured different lighting by taking photos in a sunny window at different times of the day.  The second one shows more differences of light and shadow.  I see a quilt here...

Since we have had weather on our minds a lot recently, here is a close up of sparkly snow and shadows in my back yard....

I have almost finished my Trend Tex challenge for the Canada Quilting Association show and what a lot of work it was!  I have combined hand and machine work, a little paint here and there and lots of applique....stitching and more stitching.  I'm finishing up the binding now.  Here is a sneak peak of a very tiny section.  You can tell how close up it is because the material is not at all open weave and I can spot a tiny cat hair.....must remove that.

In the next piece which I started before Christmas, I am trying to capture the look of underwater rocks.   In the photo that I took at Fishing Cove in Cape Breton, the sun was turning the water into a prism and you could see tiny rainbows on the underwater rocks.   So I am using some of Elaine Quehl's lovely fabric as well as some others I had in my stash to create a fanciful interpretation of the rocks.  I've appliqued them to a black background.  Then I plan to free motion stitch over it to create movement.  I may use some paint and/or shiny organza but the fabrics themselves have lots of subtle colour changes.  Anyway, here is a tiny corner of this rocky piece.  Don't you just love the colours!

Here is a bit of the original photo (sorry I didn't have time to remove it from its frame so the effects are dulled a bit).  The sunshine on the water created a yellowish tinge to the rocks with the tiny rainbows and sparkles here and there. If you click on it for a closer look you might be able to see some of the rainbow colours.

In this last one, I had an idea!   I know that artists often underpaint in a certain colour (red, orange, blue etc) to achieve a special effect.   I wanted to start another piece with a stream running through a field (memories of my childhood hanging around creeks, forests and fields).   I wanted the fabric to act as an underpainting using stitching to create the added colours and texture.  In my mind I could see these fields, hills and stream with the late afternoon sun giving a yellow hue to everything (I really seem to be into yellow this winter!?).  So I chose a background fabric with yellow-orange and yellow.   I added a bit of watercolour crayon to guide me with the colour changes and started to stitch.  I've been at it over a week of evenings so far... I'm not sure what will happen (or if my fingers will hold out) but it's a good way for me to practice my hand stitching and experiment at the same time.   For awhile this winter most of my work was on machine and I found myself very restless in the evenings....I needed some hand stitching.

I started machine work in the past year because of intermittent pain in my fingers whenever I hand stitch but I do find so much peace in the hand stitching that I guess I'll just grin and bear it for now.   And maybe someday I'll be able to sit down at the machine without holding my breath the whole time and expecting the worst:)

Here's a final close up - of my son's dog who stayed with us a couple of weeks ago.  He had glaucoma years ago and had to have one eyeball replaced with an artificial one.  It looks pretty realistic but you can see his eyes are different (the light coloured one is the real one).  He was watching birds in my backyard and probably had his eye on the back door as well to see if we would invite him inside.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Finished Fibre Art - When I Was Twenty-One

A Small Detail of my latest completed piece - When I Was Twenty-One

I worked really hard in January to finish this piece.   I am entering it for jurying into a show so I can only show you bits of it for now but I wanted to talk about it.  I call it "When I Was Twenty-One" and it focuses on coming of age in the sixties and how events of that time and all that came after has influenced my life and growth.   We really thought we could change the world.  Certainly equality rights have progressed over the intervening decades. But the road to peace has been a rocky one and some days it seems like we are moving backwards.  It can feel overwhelming and cynicism takes over.   But in my heart I think I still carry that sense of hope for peace, justice and equality that was planted in me in that interesting decade.  I still firmly believe that all human beings deserve to live in safety with food, shelter and a decent quality of life. Interestingly enough, working on this piece and remembering the major events of the times has led me to reflect on my personal journey as well.

I have also spent the last week dog sitting my son's husky/shepherd.   He and my cat are not friends so I spent most of my time keeping them apart.   Otherwise, he is a good gentle dog and quite beautiful, don't you think?

This month it's on to finish my Trend Tex Challenge, another friendship garden, a landscape with fields and water and lots of hand stitching, and another of underwater rocks that is really taking shape.     I just found out that my eye surgery has been moved up to the end of February so I don't have as much time as I thought I had to work on these pieces.  Some pieces will need to wait!   I also have a few group exhibitions and shows in the next few months which I will add to my exhibitions page shortly.