Thursday, June 26, 2014

Week 25 of 365 Days of Art Challenge

This week has been a challenge. Spent the beginning of the week at the hospital helping my daughter-in-law with our two grandsons. She called late Sunday night with news that my 2-year old grandson was in the emergency room, as he had managed to cut off the end of his finger My husband and I got dressed and went to the hospital, so I could watch the baby (6-weeks old)  in the waiting room, that way she could go back with our son and grandson in the room where he was being treated. A hand-surgeon was called in to perform surgery at 11pm that night to re-attach the end of the finger. He was moved to pediatric ICU. Unfortunately, the re-attachment didn't take. But doctors said it was iffy as there was only a couple tiny blood vessels to try to get blood flow to the whole tip. They had to do a second surgery Tuesday morning to remove it and then the doctors made a cap for his finger. He was able to go home later that day!

He was quite the trooper!! On Monday, he showed me the opposite hand with the pulse-ox monitor (that glowed red with a tiny light) and asked me to kiss it as it was his "owie". So cute!! But at least that meant his finger that was injured didn't hurt! He certainly made out with getting several larger cars, a car track that included a dinosaur, and a set of matchbox cars to play with in his crib and take home with him!

While he was sleeping, I sketched a picture of him. It isn't quite right, but it does capture his chubby cheeks, lips and nose.  His forehead needs some work. He looked so sweet and angelic sleeping! My daughter commented, "It looks like his arm is in a cast. I thought he just injured his finger.". His arm was completely bandaged up to his elbow! Can't expect a 2-year old to leave a bandaged finger alone! The doctors sent him home bandaged up to his elbow, with just his thumb sticking out. His thumb has a smiley face on it, so it's his happy thumb! He's adorable!!  He's running around at home with his usual, exuberant energy!

Pencil on mixed-media paper.  Two-year old grandson sleeping in the crib in pediatric ICU with
his hand and arm bandaged after loosing the end of his index finger accidentally. What an angel! 

Thank you for putting up with "Grandma" carrying on this week about her grandson's crisis!  I even managed to get a sketch done, too!!  

Have a great week!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Week 24 of 365 Days of Art Challenge

This week has just flown by. I'm late posting this week, as I've hardly been home for one reason or another. I did get some sketching done this week, for Deb Prewitt's 365 Days of Art Challenge weekly sketch. I continued with J. "Neon Dragon" Peffer's DragonArt Evolution exercises for drawing dragons (see last week's post for more information).

I'm starting the exercises for dragon limbs. This week I only got the basic limbs completed.

Basic Dragon Arm - graphite on mixed-media paper. 

Basic Dragon Leg - graphite on mixed-media paper.

Dragon with basic limbs - graphite on mixed-media paper. 

I didn't think I had done a very good job getting the basic shapes done, but was surprised how they turned out after photographing and uploading them to my computer. The underlying musculature shows up better than I thought it did. The dragon's stance is a different than any I've tried before. The proportions need some more work, but overall, I'm happy with it.  

I'm looking forward to finishing the rest of the limb exercises, because then Peffer concentrates on the different types of dragons for the rest of the exercises.  I may get out my colored pencils for those exercises. I may also try working in pen, after reading The Busy Mockingbird's blog this week on "Ballpoint Doodling".  She uses a ball-point pen (in various colors) for sketching. Her work is wonderful, if you haven't seen it before. I also love the sketching she does with her young daughter. 

Have a great week!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Indigo and Shibori Dyeing

A few friends, Rita, Mary and Roberta and myself, got together at Roberta's house for a day of playing. We made up a batch of indigo dye from a kit ordered from Dharma Trading. We dyed mostly cotton fabrics to use in quilting, but also dyed some silk and velvet ribbons, some lace and some eyelet fabric. Indigo will dye both animal and plant-based fibers, therefore, most natural fabrics can be indigo-dyed.

Indigo is easy to do, as it doesn't need to be boiled during the dyeing or heat-set to be permanent. The fabric is left in the vat only for a short time. If it dries too light, it is put back in the dye to darken. You do have to be careful not to introduce oxygen into the vat, so the indigo isn't oxidized. Once it is oxidized, the dye is exhausted and will no longer bind to the fibers.

We manipulated the fabric with different methods - knotting, folding, clamping, shibori using a plastic tube, marbles and rubber bands, and whatever other ways we could think of to manipulate the fabric. Many books are available with instructions for shibori dyeing and/or tie-dyeing. There are also many resources online.

Tools, like rubber bands, thread, needles, clamps, clothespins to manipulate the fabric, soy wax and tools (potato masher, wood chops, tjangs, paint brushes) for stamping the soy wax on the fabric, a book on Shibori methods, as well as, anything else we thought we might need or use today. 
Skimming off the bloom from the vat of indigo dye.
Ready for dyeing fabric.
Lynnita is stitching a circular pattern
to ready the fabric for dyeing.

Fabric is initially a neon green when first
pulled from the indigo dye.

As the fabric is exposed to air, the dye oxidizes
and turns the beautiful blue indigo.

                                            Rinsing the fabric under water. This fabric was dyed using a shibori
                                  technique (wrapping the fabric on the pole, then scrunching it together
                                 as much as possible. Fabric is held in place with rubber bands. 

Excess dye is rinsed away in cold water.

Fabric is wrapped around marbles and held in place
with rubber bands. This will create circular donuts
of the original color of the fabric. In this piece, the
marbles are placed randomly.

Roberta is pulling fabric from the dye vat and squeezing out excess dye. Mary
and Lynnita are unknotting, unclamping, unwrapping fabric to see the final results.
Fabric is set up on drying stand  until we are ready to wash with Synthrapol and dry.
Mary showing the her piece of shibori-dyed fabric.
Lynnita showing her piece of shibori-dyed
fabric. All 3 pieces were wrapped on the same
 tube and dyed together. Although similar, there
are definite differences in how they turned out. 
Mary showing off her knotted piece.
Beautiful circles resulted.
Lynnita's knotted piece. More beautiful circles. 

Marbles were placed in 2 rows, alternating with each other in this tone-
on-tone white fabric. The underlying pattern can be still be seen after dyeing.
The rubber bands  left a white donut where the marbles were placed.  

Rita took all the photos for our play date of indigo dyeing. We had a tremendous fun and created several pieces of indigo-dyed fabrics with various patterns. Many other pieces created are not shown. We also dyed silk ribbons in 4 mm and 7 mm widths, as well as 1/2" wide velvet ribbon, doilies, pearl cotton, and yards of lace, and eyelet fabric.  We had to quit, as we exhausted the indigo dye in our vat. When the dye is no longer a green color (is indigo-colored), there is no longer any dye available to bind with the fabric.

Next time, we plan to do more stitching to create patterns, as well as using soy wax to create patterns to resist the dye. We also want to dye wool and over-dye fabrics.

Thank you for joining us today. I hope this encourages you to try some indigo dyeing.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Week 23 of 365 Days of Art Challenge

Can you believe it's June already?!! The year is almost half over! I feel like I'm accomplishing some great creativity this year - this 365 Days of Art Challenge has been a significant part of it! It has really kept me inspired to sketch or quilt, dye fabric, make digital artwork, take photographs with an eye for art (not just family), or do some kind of creative project every week. It has also inspired me to blog at least once weekly, if not more often. The important thing is I'm being creative on a regular basis! Thank you, Deb, for the push!!
DragonArt Evolution: how to
Draw Everything Dragon by
J. "Neon Dragon" Peffer

This week I have gotten back to the book by J "Neon Dragon" Peffer, DragonArt Evolution: How to Draw Everything Dragon.  It's been several weeks since I've sketched the exercises in this book (see previous posts starting in Week 3, with the last one in Week 14).  So far, I've worked on eyes, the jaw, ears, horns, and wings. This week, the exercise worked on dragon scales.

Following are the seven dragon scales patterns introduced in the book. These sketches are not of any particular part of the dragon's body - just a shape in which to practice scales.

Scale Pattern 1: a series of half ovals for scales. Pencil on mix-media paper.
Scale Pattern 2: scales created with polygons to look bumpy. Pencil on mixed-media paper.
Scale Pattern 3: flat scales. Pencil on mixed-media paper.
Scale Pattern 4: v-shaped scales of varying colors. Pencil on mixed-media paper.
Scale Pattern 5: Rectangular, bumpy, glossy scales with a duller,
leathery hide beneath. Pencil on mixed-media paper.
Scale Pattern 6: glossy scales of the underbelly. Pencil on mixed-media paper.
Scale Pattern 7: v-shaped scale plating of the underbelly. These scales are larger
and overlap more then flatter interlocking scales. Pencil on mixed-media paper.

I have to post a couple photos of a dragon painting I did a several years ago. Everyone teased me because my dragon had rectangular scales, telling me that dragons do NOT have rectangular scales, but they DO have forked tongues and bloodshot eyes.   Then today, when I was sketching, I had to laugh, as Scale Pattern 5 is rectangular scales!!  My art teacher, Leonard Baer, a retired illustrator and artist, told me to go with what I felt was right. He was encouraging, had a wicked sense of humor, and inspired me to try different mediums - oil, colored pencil, dye inks, pastel, etc - and that I could do any subject - portraits, landscapes, animals, still lifes, fantasy, whatever I wanted to try. He will always be with an encouragement to me.

He of the Forked Tongue, 16" x 20", dye inks on photographic paper, private collection.
Dragon with rectangular scales. One of the first dragons I ever painted when
I first started taking art lessons with Leonard Baer, a retired illustrator and artist.
Closeup of dragon so the rectangular scales can be better seen. 
It was fun to get back to this type of sketching. I'd been doing Zentangle-inspired art for several weeks and digital artwork for the last couple of weeks. Those have been fun and creative, but actually sketching with a pencil (or graphite or charcoal) and shading to create dimension is a much different process. It's a more intense process for me and I love the challenge of creating a 3-dimensional image on a 2-dimensional paper. 

I hope you've had a creative week! 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Week 22 of 365 Days of Art Challenge

It's June!!! Where is the time going? I think it goes by faster every year! We need to be sure we are taking time to smell the roses along the way! This week has been a struggle for me. I've been sick most of the week, but have managed to get a bit of sewing done and played with more digital manipulation of photographs. 

Being sick, it was easier to lay in bed and play with my tablet, than to get out my sketchbook and draw. I went through several tutorials (again) for Photoshop Elements. With step-by-step instructions, one would think the images would end up like the tutorial.Not me - some I wasn't even close to the results the tutorial showed! Lol!! I did figure out enough to manipulate the following photos into something I thought was interesting. 

Rosebud overlaying century plant. It was difficult to control the fading of the rosebud to achieve
the affect I wanted. Too much of the rosebud disappeared when I tried make it more transparent.
I like the century plant leaves and debris in the center showing through the rosebud.

My original photos of the rosebud and century plant. 

Striped red/yellow rose on top of geranium leaves. I like the green geranium leaf showing through
the bottom of the faded rose. I can see using this photo as a place to start a mixed-media project. 

The original photos of the geranium leaves and the striped rose.

Vegetables rippled, warped and re-colored provides the base for the bunch of tiny purple flowers and a orange rose. This is my favorite photo. I definitely want to print this and use it for a mixed-media painting, or possibly on fabric for an art quilt. 

These are the original photos of the purple flowers, the orange rose, and a pot of vegetables that I used to create the above photo collage.

I learn more each time I use Photoshop Elements ( (or stumble my way through it). Maybe one of these days, it will actually start making sense! Lol! It's fun to play and manipulate photos to create new ideas, textures, and shapes.

Seminole Strips

Prickly Piecers, a chapter of the AZ Quilters Guild, runs on a fiscal year. We are at the end of the 2013/2014 year. A new board will take over in July. But before that happens, the members make blocks for a quilt top for the outgoing president as a thank you for their year of service. These blocks are presented to the outgoing president at the June meeting (the final month of service for the outgoing president). This year, our pres-elect chose Seminole strips, rather than a more traditional block. 

I ended up with 2 packages of strips, which allowed me to create 3 strip sets. The fabrics are a white tone-on-tone, a solid black, a mottled rust print with gold flecks, and a turquoise fabric with flecks of gold. (The middle photo shows the white tone-on-tone fabric as blue. It looked white before I re-sized it for uploading to the blog - not sure why this affected the color so much.)

These are the three Seminole strips I pieced. The top strip with the four-patch set on point was fairly easy once I realized I needed to make the white and rust strips narrower than they were originally cut. It's my favorite of the three. The chevrons used more fabric, so the strip ended up being much shorter than the other two. After creating these two strips, I had two strips leftover. I couldn't think of anything else to do with them, except a simple checkerboard!  Thanks, Terry, for coming up with something different for the President's Quilt!  Theresa should have a fun, interesting quilt when she puts everybody's strips together! Thank you, Theresa, for serving as president this year!