Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Sept ATC Challenge - On the Road

I was late getting me ATCs done this month. For some reason, I thought I had another week before the end of the month. So I hope they arrive in time for the challenge. If not, hopefully, they'll be there in time to send to the winner.

This month's theme was "On the Road".  I kept thinking of landscapes or places I've traveled to or wish to travel to or a road leading through a forest ..... on and on and on. Everything that I thought of just made me feel like it really didn't fit the theme of "On the Road"  - that is would fit better with "Vacation" or "Trees" or "Weather".

About that time, I received an email from Pinterest showing me various boards people have created about "On the Road".  How serendipitous is that?  These made me think about when I traveled with my family as a child and what my parents did to keep us from being bored on a road trip. We played different games: i.e. finding the alphabet in order on billboards and license plates, or how many different states were represented in license plate, or how many horses or cows we could count on "my" side of the road. These made me feel more like I was describing the theme "On the Road".

Therefore, I made up three different ATC cards. I started with watercolor paper and painted either the background. Then I found online images of license plates from the 50 states, a road trip scavenger hunt, and a road trip bingo game to add to my card.

50 State License Plates ATC card. Watercolor background on 140 lb watercolor 
paper. Image attached with matte medium. We used to see how many different 
states we could find on license plates when we traveled as children.
Road Trip Bingo ATC card. Watercolor background on watercolor paper. 
Image attached with matte medium. I added little beads for markers for the
game - one on the free spot and two ready to cover any signs spotted "on
the road". This is similar to another we played as children when we traveled. 
Road Trip Scavenger Hunt ATC card. Watercolor background with image 
attached with matte medium. I added images of the items 'found' on the 
scavenger hunt.  We played this game with our children when they were 
young while traveling on road trips. 

I'm not sure I was real creative with my ATC cards this month. It's good to get out my box and try to create something for themes that I wouldn't normally think about doing. Thankfully, they are just small works of art!

It'll be fun to see what everyone created this month. You can see them on Deb Prewitt's blog. Oct's theme is "Wild, Wild West". Should be fun!

Keep creating!

Sept Book Club - Thinkertoys by Michael Michalko

Thinkertoys by Michael Michalko
This month's book: Thinkertoys: a handbook of creative-thinking techniques, 2nd edition by Michael Michalko was chosen by Deb Prewitt of Blue Twig Studio for the monthly book club she hosts. She has posted comments on her blog, which you can read here.

Thinkertoys is a very interesting book, full of ideas to change one's perception of something. In the introduction, Michalko starts by showing an illustration and then stating "Look at it again." Then you can see the hidden word and the entire message. Therefore, by changing perspective, we expand our possibilities until we see something that we were unable to see before. This is what the book is about - seeing things in new and different ways to lead to new ideas and unique insights.

The book is divided into linear techniques, which allow information to be manipulated to generate new ideas, and intuitive techniques, which show how to find ideas by using intuition and imagination. I've always thought of these more as right-brain and left-brain ways of thinking.

The author says that creativity is a talent everyone is born with, even if we don't know it. And that there are definable, learn-able skills that anyone can use to develop their creativity. This book is full of thought experiments and exercises to help with this - what Michalko calls a Thinkertoy.  Each Thinkertoy is a specific technique for getting ideas to solve challenges, with each chapter giving a blueprint with precise instructions to use the technique and an explanation of why it works.

I like Hank Zeller's comment in the book:

     "When you realize that you just came up with an idea that betters anything that has been done,
      well, your hair stands on end, you feel an incredible sense of awe; it's almost as if you heard a
      whisper from God."

The book, however, is geared towards business, so I have to do some stretching to apply it to creativity for producing artwork. But it does have ideas to help my husband's business, too.

I did not get the book finished. It's not light reading! It makes me do a lot of thinking about the ideas and how to change my perception for a problem (or challenge).  Deb said in her blog that no one in the group that meets at her shop finished the book, either. So the groups is going to continue reading the book for October and everyone is going to try to complete one of the Thinkertoy techniques. I'll need to read more before I decide which one I want to try to do.

See you at the end of October with an update on what else I learned from the book and what Thinkertoy I decided to try to do.

Keep creating!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Week 38 of 365 Days of Art Challenge

I can hardly believe how fast this year is going! It's almost the end of Sept. It's fall!  I miss the changing seasons here in the Arizona desert. Fall is still HOT!!! However, we are supposed to be done with days over 100! Whoo-hoo!!  That means I can finally start walking the dogs again! They miss their walks. (I miss them the daily walks, too!)

I've continued this week with my dragon sketches. This week is another medieval dragon from J. "Neon Dragon" Peffer's Dragonart Evolution: How to Draw Everything Dragon, which I have referred to many times in past posts (see last week's).

Spiked Medieval Dragon in rocky landscape. Pencil on mixed-media paper - 7" x 10". 

This exercise was a full-size spiked medieval dragon. I really didn't like the huge spikes that came out of the shoulders, shoulder blade area, and spine on the back of Peffer's dragon or the way her wings started in the middle of the back, instead of at the shoulder. It looked odd to me, so I changed the dragon to suite my vision of a spiked medieval dragon.  I added spikes that ran the length of the spine to the start of the tail. I also made my face a bit more benevolent than Peffer's fierce and frightening face. I rushed the landscape, but I'm pleased with how it turned out.

Next week I start "lung" dragons - which are Eastern, Oriental-style dragons. I don't know where the name "lung" comes from for these dragons, as this is the first-time I've seen the term.

Keep creating!!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Week 37 of 365 Days of Art Challenge

I really didn't sketch something new this week. I finished coloring last week's sketch. I had sketched my first full-size dragon with a simple landscape from J. "Neon Dragon" Peffer's book: Dragonart Evolution: How to Draw Everything Dragon. I'm enjoying doing the exercises in this book to improve my dragon drawings.

This week I finished my first full-size medieval dragon exercise.
Full-size medieval dragon. 9" x 12" Pencil and Prismacolor colored pencils on mixed-media paper.
Last week, I had completed the sketch and had just started adding color with Prismacolor pencils. I continued layering color to get the depth and shading this week. This large of a drawing took quite a bit of time to get the darker colors laid in.

I had some trouble with the wings, getting the shading to look the way I wanted it to look. I'm satisfied, but it definitely could use some improvement. Hot-press illustration board would work better for colored pencil with this much layering, as it has more tooth than the mixed-media paper and can handle more layers and burnishing. But, this is a learning process. The mixed-media journal is easier to carry around for sketching and is less expensive! Also, these are exercises - not my own work - so the journal is best for now.

I had to do my first full-size dragon in color and with a landscape background, but I don't think I'll do all of the rest of them that way. I want to finish learning what I can from Peffer, especially the baby dragons, and start creating my own dragons.

So many ideas, so little time!!!

Keep creating!!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Week 36 of 365 Days of Art Challenge

This week has gone by so quickly. After finishing the two quilts (baby quilt and 100th birthday quilt), I had to get back to editing a quilt pattern. I was proofing it for errors, building the quilt in EQ7 (electric quilt program), and generating photos from EQ7 for various steps. It was a pretty complicated quilt, but it is beautiful. I can't post a photo of it, however, as it's not been published yet. The quilt is being used for AZ Quilters Hall of Fame for their annual raffle quilt.

I have started the next step in J. "Neon Dragon" Peffer's, Dragonart Evolution:How to Draw Everything Dragon.  (You can see several past posts with the exercises I have done so far.) The next step is drawing full-size medieval dragons. I got the dragon and background scenery sketched and started adding color with colored pencils. However, I didn't get it finished this week.

Medieval Full-size Dragon. 9" x 12" in pencil and Prismacolor pencils on mixed-media paper.
I started coloring the background first and still have more shading to add to the sky. I only got the lavender-tint in the water started on the ground. The rest of the landscape is hard to see as it's very light pencil. I'm planning to color the dragon last. Hopefully, I'll have it finished next week. You'll have to come back to see the final drawing.

Keep creating!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Quilt for Naomi for her 100th Birthday!

This past week has been crazy!! I was asked to make a quilt for a dear friend's 100th birthday. It all started by saying that I knew how to put photos on fabric!! That got me saying "Yes" I can make the quilt, too!!!

For Naomi, "No" just isn't in my vocabulary! She has been a dear friend (like a grandmother) to me for almost 15 years now. How could I possibly say No? The quilt would be from the Mesa Q-Bee's, the quilting group at our church, the Mesa Church of Christ of which I've been a member since it was started. Naomi has been a member for many years. With a backing fabric to start, I went through our church stash for fabric for the top - I had decided to do a scrappy Log Cabin quilt with the photos as the center of each block.

Top completed. Auditioning fabrics for borders and binding.
I got the photos about 10 days ago. After going to a friend's to scan the photos, I  worked on editing them, cleaning them up, and getting them ready for printing. Running to JoAnn's on Thursday (Aug 28) for more printer fabric (since I didn't have enough) I finished printing the photos on Saturday. I spent the weekend designing the quilt in EQ7 (Electric Quilt version 7) - a program for designing quilts.  This helped me decided on the photo placement, the block size, and the colors for the quilt top. Sunday I ironed and cut fabric (at least most of the fabric). Monday and Tuesday, I sewed most of the 12" Log Cabin blocks. I occasionally cut more fabric as I didn't have the color I needed or enough variety to keep the quilt very scrappy.  I finished the blocks on Wednesday, sewed them together, and added a flange and a border. Thursday (Sept 4 now - 2 more days to go!), TR helped me spray-baste the quilt and I started quilting it at church during our quilting group. Naomi didn't even notice what I was working on! LOL! Everyone else thought the quilt was beautiful! I finished quilting it that evening. I stitched a square feather wreath in each block around the photo. I also quilted a feather motif in the border. Friday, I sewed the binding completely by machine and created a label on the computer and attached it to the quilt! Whew!! It was finished with hours to spare!! I finished it on Naomi's 100th birthday! I couldn't have planned that!! I even was able to go to bed at 10:30 pm (most nights this past week, I didn't go to bed to 1 am or so!).

The Mesa Q-Bee's celebrating Naomi's 100th Birthday. Log Cabin quilt  42" x 54".
The back of the quilt showing a feather wreath around each block.
The border also has a feather motif.
Close up of label containing a photo of Naomi counting the number of quilts we were donating that day to New Leaf, a local charity that passes the quilts to the people in their battered women shelters, boy's home, and homeless shelters. The label says "The Mesa Q-Bee's in celebration of the 100th birthday of Naomi, September 5, 1914 -2014.  The past and present members of the Mesa Q-Bee's at Mesa Church of Christ with a list of 37 names. Designed, pieced, and quilted by Lynnita Knoch, Chandler AZ, September 5, 2014."   
Giving the quilt to Naomi at her 100th birthday party celebration! The current members of the Mesa Q-Bee's are standing around Naomi. She is very surprised and shocked. She got tears in her eyes when she realized that the center of the blocks were photos from various Q-Bee events.
Naomi is examining the label of the quilt. She laughed at it being a picture of her counting quilts. 
Naomi taking a closer look at the photos, recalling the various events. 

It was a special day for a very special lady!! I'm glad to have had the privilege to make this quilt for her. She deserves it! I wish I had known how to quilt while my grandmother was alive. I would've loved to make quilts with her, like I have with Naomi and I would've loved to have made a special quilt for my own grandmother, like I have for Naomi.

Enjoy the quilt, Naomi!! It was created with much love!!

Baby Quilt for Debbie

I was commissioned to make a baby quilt a month ago. After being ill for a couple of weeks, I finally was able to get it done. I was sent fabric for the quilt along with a photo of another quilt saying that was the required design - no measurements or anything - just a photo. Thankfully, it was a simple design that is not copyrighted, as it is just plain blocks with sashing and a border. They sent a list of what fabrics were to be used where.

Unfortunately, with no measurements given, I had to figure out what was the largest block I could create with the amount of fabric I was given. No matter what I did (unless I made a doll quilt - there just wasn't enough backing fabric without piecing it). Not to mention - several of the fabrics were one-way prints. . . really - I had to deal with one-way fabric, too!!! Argh!!! (If they didn't know what they were doing - let the quilter tell them how much fabric to buy!!)

I was frustrated with this quilt before I even started!!!  Eventually, I got everything figured out after having to make a couple changes, cutting a couple pieces the WRONG direction (due to them being ONE-WAY)!!  The quilt has 5 1/2" blocks, 1 1/2" sashing, a 2" border, a pieced back, and binding of a different fabric than they requested (I personally like the chevron fabric I used, rather than repeating the yellow striped fabric again.) It was the only way to make it work and be happy putting my name on it!

Besides the challenges of designing the quilt, I don't believe the fabric was 100% cotton. It sewed like it was sheet material! It was tough to get a needle through it - I had a hard time thread-basting. I also had to rip out the original quilting, as the quilt shifted terribly by the time I got to the fourth row. (I'm not sure why it shifted when I used my normal thread-basting and a walking foot). I did use a machine I don't normally use, as I wasn't at home when I started the quilting. I ripped out all the quilting, re-basted the quilt and then used my machine that I normally quilt on. It quilted just fine this time. I quilted it simply with diagonal lines across the quilt, creating an "x" in each block. I had about 3" of binding left-over when I finished the binding! Whoo-hoo! I was thrilled I had enough!!! (Wasn't sure what I was going to do if there hadn't been enough! Cry!! . . .cry some more. . . go to Plan B. Thankfully, I didn't have to figure out a Plan B!)

How do you put a price on a quilt when it ended up taking much longer than anticipated when I agreed to do the quilt, due to insufficient information and fabric? This was a real struggle for me. I wanted to be fair to the person who commissioned the quilt (she's not the one who bought the fabric), but yet I wanted enough for the difficulties of working with one-way fabric, insufficient fabric, and the type of fabric. What a dilemma!

Here is the finished quilt!
52" x 52" Yellow and Grey baby quilt. 
Back of quilt with section of blocks added to make it large enough.
Label designed on the computer. I drew an elephant similar to the ones on the back
of the quilt and chose greys for the background to go with the backing fabric. 

I hope the parents appreciate this quilt. I know Debbie does, as she has come to the quilting group at church and knows what goes into making a quilt. I would've liked to do things a bit differently, but I'm happy with how the quilt turned out and did put my name on the label.

Thank you for putting up with my rant!!

Week 34 and 35 of 365 Days of Art Challenge

I'm a week behind with my 365 Days of Art Challenge weekly sketch challenge. I have my sketches done for both weeks, but we've been having problems with our internet connection  and had to have technical help come out. It seems to be working most of the time, now, with a few intermittent outages. I also had 2 quilts that had to be done the past two weeks! Makes it hard to keep up!

The past two weeks I've done some Zentangle-inspired art, (ZIA) as I had a new book from the library:  The Art of Zentangle: 50 inspiring drawings, designs, and ideas for the meditative artist by Margaret Bremner, Norma J. Burnell, Penny Raile, and Lara Williams.

back cover of The Art of Zentangle:
50 inspiring drawings, designs, & ideas
for the meditative artist.
The Art of Zentangle:
50 inspiring drawings, designs, & ideas
for the meditative artist.
The book is divided into 5 sections. Chapter 1 introduces Zentangles. Each author then has a chapter highlighting 3-4 tangles, followed by 3-4 demonstrations using those tangles. It's a workbook with pages to recreate or put your own spin on what the authors are demonstrating. I worked in a journal, since writing or doodling in library books is frowned upon!  I only made it through one author before having to return the book (after waiting 3 months to get the book due to the number of holds  - popular book!!).  I may just have to buy this book and add it to my library of Zentangle books. I really wanted to complete Norma Burnell's chapter with her demo of a fairy ZIA. That will just have to wait for another day.

These are the ZIA that I've done the past two weeks. These were all from the chapter by Penny Raile. These are my own twist on her demonstrations.

Silly Peacock - pencil, 0.1, 0.5, 0.8 micron Prismacolor black pens on
 mixed-media paper, 4" x 6". This section was inspired by Penny Raile's 
section on silly creatures.  Peacocks are another favorite animal.
Aquarium - pencil, 0.1, 0.5, and 0.8 micron Prismacolor black pens on mixed-media paper,
6" x 6". Inspired by Penny's fish templates and aquarium demonstration. Since I was just
playing around using the demonstrations for inspiration, I decided to draw on both sides of
the paper! Oops!! I didn't realize until later that the Prismacolor pens show through the paper. 
Butterfly Garden - pencil, 0.1, 0.5, and 0.8 micron black Prismacolor pens on
mixed-media paper, 6" x 6". Inspired by Penny's fantasy garden demonstrations.
Thankfully, the drawing on the backside doesn't show through so much in this sketch. 

Dragon Silhouette - pencil, 0.1, 0.5, and 0.8 micron Prismacolor black pens
on mixed-media paper, 5" x 6".  Inspired by Penny's silhouettes. I had to do
a dragon, since I didn't do any dragons from Peffer's book for two weeks!

I really enjoyed these ZIA's and wish I had put a bit more time into them, instead of rushing through them to try to get as much done as possible before having to return the book. Another good reason to buy the book! (No, I'm not trying to talk myself into buying the book. I'm actually trying to come with good reasons to give my husband for spending money on yet another "art" book. Lol!)

Skipping a week and being late a week has made it hard to get in the mood to post! It was definitely easier when I made sure to post every Wed (Thurs at the latest!). I need to get back on schedule!!

Keep Creating!!