Friday, December 21, 2012

Self-Portrait Challenge - Who Am I?

The quilt guild I belong to, the Prickly Piecers, which is a chapter of the Arizona Quilter's Guild, had a challenge this fall to do a self-portrait quilt.

Make a self portrait? Scrutinize myself in the mirror? Face all my flaws and re-create them in fabric? This is nuts!! Although this quilt is to describe who I am, it does NOT have to be a face or a person. My self portrait can be whimsical or unrealistic.

As children, our first drawings are usually of ourselves. That young child flourishes within us still. This challenge is supposed to help me find it and bring it out for all to see. Can I portray my inner self? What makes me who I am? Am I emotional? - I could make an abstract quilt with various colors and images that describe my emotions (happiness, joy, outgoing, introverted, anger, uncertainty, confidence, etc.).  Animal lover? - I could have images of all the animals I love on my quilt. Grandparent? - I could have images of my grand kids and things I do with the. Hmmmm..... Lots of things to thing about. But I need to keep a sense of humor while making this quilt and have fun with it!!!

The rules say the quilt must be at least 6" x 6" and no larger than 36" x 36". The quilt must be about me - who I am. I must use at least one new technique in creating this quilt. My label needs to explain how this quilt describes me and what new technique I used. Lastly, the quilt must be quilted, bound, and labeled by our holiday part on Dec 20.

After much thought and searching through photographs, I found a group of glamour portraits I had taken for my husband for our 15th wedding anniversary when I was in my mid-30s. I decided to create in fabric one of these.

Glamour Portrait for our 15th wedding anniversary

I decided to paint my portrait, using watercolor paints and watercolor pencils, on white muslin fabric. I had decided to draw "tangles" in my hair. Tangles are the individual patterns used in Zentangles, which I love to do. If I painted my hair black, then I would need to use white paint for the tangles to show up. This would make me look like I had "salt and pepper" hair. I'm not gray, yet, although my kids have sure put a few gray hairs on my head!! I decided to have fun and use several bright colors for my hair. This would allow the "tangles" to show.

Painted portrait with wild, bright-colored hair.

I used a 0.1 Micron Sakura pen to draw in the "tangles" for my hair. After dividing the hair into flowing sections, I chose several tangles. I used Celtic, Chainging, Echoism,  Featherfall, Finery, Knightsbridge, Linq, Mooka, Mumsy, Onamato, Opus, Organza, and Purk to name just a few.

Beginnings of "tangling".

I continued to add "tangles". I added quilting feathers, Btl Joos, Fescu, Gust, Mehndi designs, Nebel, Pebbles, Rain, and Rick's Paradox, plus a variety of others.

Tangling is finished. 

I quilted the top, outlining the details of the face with 100 wt. Invisafil poly-thread that matched the color of the facial features. I used black Bottom Line thread, a 70 wt. poly-thread, to quilt between each different "tangle" in the hair. I added "wind" to the blue background. Lastly, I added a dragon in the upper-left corner, as I love dragons. I collect dragon statuettes, as well as, read most any fantasy novel that includes dragons. So my self-portrait had to include a dragon.

Quilting is complete. 

The quilt looks finished. I added black, glass beads and a silver dragon pendant for a necklace.  Something is not quite right. The dragon doesn't stand out and the bodice area is drawing in a bit. Therefore, I painted the dragon with Derwent watercolor pencils. I used a green, with a bit of blue and indigo for shading. That helped him stand out! I found some transparent, lacy, light turquoise ribbon to add to the bodice to make it look like I'm wearing a jacket. I quilted the ribbon on with matching thread. Then I added more strands of loose hair at the shoulders to finish the top of the ribbon. Now it looks finished. I bound the quilt using a facing technique and added a label that I printed on fabric. It includes a copy of the photo I used for the self-portrait quilt.

" Me, Myself, and I"
completed self-portrait quilt

My completed quilt is 12" x 16".  I still see myself as being in my mid-30's, even though my body is definitely telling my I must be about 100 years old! The Zentangles on fabric are my new technique and represent the artist in me. The dragon, of course, is about my love of dragons, reading, and fantasy novels.

This was a fun challenge and not as overwhelming as it seemed at first, once I got started. The other members of the guild created wonderful self-portraits, too. A couple put their portraits in Photoshop, using the posterize filter to create 4-5 values. They use 4-5 fabrics in the values shown in Photoshop to create their portraits. They came out great! A couple people made whimsical portraits - one was a funny witch, another showed her eyes, nose and mouth in a triangular shape with floral appliques. How creative and fun! A few people used events in their lives to describe themselves. We had 3 winners for the most whimsical, for the one that described the person the best, and for a judge's choice (the chapter chair chose this one).