Here’s an update on the printed piece started during a quilting retreat in Healdsburg. I finished it today and titled it Rain Dance.
I was inspired to create a California themed linoleum block print on a background pieced from yellow and white scraps (more here). The colors and silhouetted dry seedpods represent our current too dry weather in California. I accented the printed background texture with metallic threads to represent rain.
Rain Dance 24″ x 20″
Rain Dance (Detail)
I just learned that my quilt, WWII Nurses, has been accepted as part of the WWII Home Front Quilt Challenge that will be shown at a special exhibit at the Voices in Cloth quit show. The quilts will also be displayed on an online exhibit and other Bay Area venues. The quilts in this exhibit honor civilian efforts on the home front during WWII and will help promote the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park, located in Richmond, California.
WWII Nurses, 24″ x 16″, Hand Quilted, 2014
For this little 24″ x 16″ quilt, I superimposed this photo of my mom (lower left) with her nurse friends over the image of a US flag, then printed it onto fabric and added a border and hand quilting.
A major component for completion of the Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Visual Arts at UC Berkeley Extension is to develop a portfolio of work suitable for application to a Masters of Fine Arts program. I’ve been developing this portfolio for over a year and studying at UCBX for over three years. Yesterday I presented my portfolio to a committee of professors from the art department at UC Berkeley Extension. The reviewers looked at my photographed portfolio packet, my artist statement, and all the pieces installed in one of the classrooms. Additionally they interviewed me about the work, my processes, my inspirations, and my future plans. The most surprising aspect was the feeling of excitement that I had talking about it. This has all been such a marvelous adventure – both getting to this point and exciting options for further study and work. I’m thrilled to say that I passed the review!
Here are some highlights from my portfolio. See all portfolio images at my website.
First Do No Harm, Detail
I am a fiber artist using the unique qualities of hand-printed imagery on fabric to represent both the fragility and preciousness of the natural world. The imagery used sometimes represents the human body, such as the heart or pelvis, and sometimes it is abstracted from cellular and other biological forms to convey the idea that humans and other living beings are all very similar and dependent on each other.
As I worked to find my voice as an artist, I learned that my most authentic work comes from my own life experiences, including those as a nurse and a person concerned with protecting the environment. I used the bioethical precept primum non nocere (first do no harm) as a starting point for my current series, Life Forms. The first piece, The World Needs More, shows printed images of the pelvis that are degraded and unclear, and the additional collage materials are ominous; the upside down heart and the Latin text show us that something is wrong. Usually nature gets it right, but not always. Damage can occur resulting in mutations. This piece suggested further pieces using imagery of the circle of life and interconnectedness, death and renewal.
The World Needs More
Just as nature uses replication to change things or to generate new life, printmaking is a way to replicate and alter images. I print the images onto whole cloth or pieces of fabric with silkscreen or linocut to create a unique fabric that can be further manipulated by cutting it up and combining it in a variety of ways. Printmaking also provides the opportunity to make multiples of the same images that can be used within a single piece or across work in a series.
Beyond the images, the meaning of my work is deeply intertwined with quiltmaking. I have a strong connection to quilt making going back to my childhood when I learned handcrafts such as sewing and knitting at my mother’s knee. Each piece in Life Forms either incorporates the layering and stitching seen in quilts, or references it in some way. As an active member of the local and international art quilt community, I have been exploring ways to help redefine the quilt as a relevant contemporary art form in the 21st century.
All photography by Sabila Savage.
When Katie’s Luminous Linocuts class started up again a couple weeks ago, I decided to create a large print on a background pieced from yellow and white scraps from a recent quilting retreat at Bishop’s Ranch in Healdsburg, CA. I wanted the background to create a landscape feeling with a darker silhouette of plants in the foreground. I considered appliquéing the silhouettes onto the background, but thought it might be fun to try printing it onto the fabric. I drew the design onto a large 24″ x 20 piece of lino, dividing it into sections so it would be easier to ink up with a 12 inch roller. Then I carved the lino for about a week.
I did some test prints on paper, then printed the design onto two different pieced tops. The first, shown below, was a test, just to make sure my idea would work before printing on the yellow and white fabric.
Once I was satisfied with the result, I printed it onto my yellow and white fabric. I like the interesting effects achieved by printing on fabric, especially areas where the seams or the fabric created resists in areas. (Click on the photos to see the detail.) Next step – add stitching.
One of the steps I’m taking as an artist is putting together a portfolio to represent my work. The most important element in the portfolio is excellent images. I’ve learned that how well your work is photographed can be the determining factor in whether or not your work is juried into a show.
Until recently, I’ve taken all photographs of my work myself. This has been fine for sharing snapshots and even for blogging about my work, but images for submission really need to be of the best quality possible. I’ve taken a few workshops on how to photograph quilts, but have limited space and poor lighting.
As a freelance technical editor, I’ve worked with the photographer at C&T Publishing producing “how-to” shots for quilting books. This experience has given me an appreciation for what it takes to get a good photo and also the realization that this is not something I can do myself. Therefore, it was time to call in the professionals. I asked around and was referred to Sibila Savage. Her studio is in Emeryville, CA, about 45 minutes from my home, and she specializes in photographing artwork. Perfect!
So far we’ve had three sessions to photograph my work. Some pieces were straightforward, and others posed technical challenges. Here’s an example of the difference between my best effort and how the pros do it. This is a large piece, approximately 70″ x 58″ installed. The “before” shot was taken by me without a tripod in the poorly lit hallway at the Origins show back in Aug 2013. The “after” shot was taken in a photography studio, with excellent lighting, and a tripod by an experienced photographer. Big difference. The color is correct and lighting even.
Here’s an example of a piece that was particularly challenging to photograph. I photographed this piece myself in one the windows at the UC Berkeley Art and Design Center in San Francisco and showed it in one of my recent blog posts. It looked great and served my purpose to share it with people following my progress. I love how the photo shows the piece in this particular spot.
But for the portfolio, I wanted to show how the piece could look installed floating in a gallery space. I think we spent about a hour and a half to get a good photograph, first against a white background where it didn’t show up well and then against a gray background, and spending a lot of time getting the lighting just right. The final result: ethereal, floating, fabulous!
Back in August 2013, I saw this reader’s challenge in Cloth Paper Scissors magazine and decided to give it a whirl. The challenge was to use our favorite techniques to create a six inch mixed media square with some kind of stitching.
I used one of my linocut prints on fabric as the starting point, then I accented the print with acrylic ink and oil pastel. I didn’t spend too much effort on it, and basically just considered it a little experiment where I give equal weight to the positive and negative space in a composition. I liked the result and decided to submit it to the magazine. The first step was to submit a .jpg of the piece. Later, I heard back from them and sent it in to be photographed, still not knowing if it would actually be included in the magazine. Today I was pleased to see that it was included in the January/February 2014 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors!!!
Linocut, acrylic ink, and oil pastel. Machine stitched. 6″x 6″
Cloth Paper Scissors Jan/Feb 2014
In Katie’s last monotype printing class for the year, I decided to continue experimenting with fabric to create texture and pattern in my monotype prints. I brought in some pieced and stitched or quilted fabric sitting around in my studio. My experiments started with inking up the plate with a few colors creating interesting shapes with the brayer, I placed the pieced fabric over the place, then put it through the press, so the texture of the fabric became imprinted into the ink on the plate. I printed the resulting plate onto paper. Here are a couple created using that technique:
I decided to see what would happen if I applied the ink directly to the fabtic, then printed it on paper. Here are a couple with that technique. In the second example I added a fern to the mix.
I continued playing with inked leaves and layers of stitched paper for the remainer of the evening. It just kept getting better and better. Can’t wait to continue with this in 2014!
In October I attended a two day workshop with Kerr Grabowski learning her deconstructed silk screen printing techniques. Her methods include creating designs and textures on fabric using thickened fiber reactive dyes, then printing the designs onto fabric. I created a good “stash” of fabric during the two days and some more when I got home, then spend some time considering how I could use the fabric in my current series, Life Forms. I created the following two pieces.
The first is an instillation piece with shards of the silkscreened fabric sewn onto three long sections of silk organza. I added additional stitching and text using oil pastel. This morning, I auditioned it in one the windows at the UC Berkeley Art and Design Center in San Francisco to see if I had achieved my desired effect. I was particularly pleased to see how striking it looked with a view of the Museum of the African Diaspora (MOAD) through the transparent pieces.
I am working on a second piece based on these fabrics. I plan to make three panels from whole cloth deconstructed prints. By whole cloth, I mean that the cloth is presented exactly as printed, without any piecing. I’ve completed two of the panels so far, and the third panel is still in progress. The circles on the fabric are echoed with machine stitching using contrasting thread.
I had a delightful evening at Katie Gilmartin’s Mesmerizing Monotypes class at Chrysalis Studio at SOMArts. Earlier this year I took her linocut classes, and had such a blast, I thought I’d give monotype a try. The other students in the class were experienced with the techniques, so everyone just dove right in. Katie gave a demo on some basic techniques and got me going. As a fiber artist, I naturally gravitated to playing with scraps of lace, burlap, and other fibers to create texture and images in printmaking. Here are some of my favorite experiments from the evening.
I couldn’t resist playing with numbers and letters – rearranging the letters of my last name – used the brayer to “paint” in areas of color and a piece of wadded avocado netting to create swirls.
One highlight at the Chrysalis Studio Open House and Group
Show at SOMArts yesterday evening were portraits by young
printmaker Owen Christoph. He has done a number of portraits
prior to this, but created these as part of a high school project
on history of gay rights. He chose two heros and two
antiheros from an important era to portray in his series. I
love the style, somewhat like a wanted poster, used
through the prints to give them a consistent quality. Each person
is portrayed with with the same attention to detail and human
dignity. At first glance, the are all “just” people.
This adds to the impact of the pieces. To understand history,
one must look at the heros and the villains. One question we
wondered about was, “would anyone want a portrait of Anita Bryant
or Dan White?” And the answer was, “Yes, to complete the
set”. Together, they make a powerful statement.