Thursday, February 27, 2014

Such tough critics on ourselves

This afternoon I met a few Urban Sketching friends for a sketch date at a local cafe.  We'd arranged to meet there in case it was raining or cold, and we ended up staying inside for the most part because it was windy and looking like it was going to rain any minute.  You could just tell that as soon as you got situated somewhere with supplies around you and a good sketch subject in view, it would start to rain and you'd have to run for cover.

I've not been sketching as regularly as I like, and I can really tell when I'm feeling rusty.  But I tackled sketching a person which felt like a good challenge for me.  (Luckily, she was engrossed in reading on her electronic device and sat pretty still.  Moving people are tricky!) She's not great, really, but I was proud of myself for not avoiding her and I was pleased with the result.

But what struck me was how hard all of us our on ourselves.  Of the four of us who where there, only one seems confident in his skill.  He's a graphic designer by profession, and has taken art classes and drawn and painted all of his adult life.  He's even taught drawing classes, he mentioned casually today.  Oh.  No wonder his people look so good.

All four of us had really different styles, and used different media (straight to pen, or using markers, or shading with water-soluble pens), and approached drawing in really different ways.  And -- at least for the three of us relative newbies -- we all liked each other's work better than our own.  Pip and I have decided that we are the perfect sketching companions, because we always like each other's work better than our own so we compliment each other lavishly (and mean it) and do wonders for each other's confidence.  

But how interesting it is that we see our own work so critically, and can take such delight in someone else's work.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

A New Feeling About Something Old

The creative urge is a funny thing.  Over the last few months, I've been feeling pretty uninspired creatively, especially as art quilts go.  It's not that I've NOT been doing creative things -- but I have a rather long list of things I want to do, and/or feel I should do, and I've just not had any urge to do any of them.  But, as always, these phases pass just as suddenly as they arrive.

So after trying my usual tricks to push myself forward, yesterday I sat down with a cup of coffee and clicked over to Design Matters TV, a wonderful online show by the always inspiring Linda and Laura Kemshall.  (A side note about DMTV:  It's a subscription service, but if you like art, or sketchbook keeping, or art quilting, or painting, you will find something there for you.  It's well worth the price, in my opinion.  You can check it out here.)

At any rate, I wasn't aiming for any particular subject -- I just wanted to watch Linda or Laura do something creative.  I clicked on the oldest video on the current menu, which involved Linda demonstrating how to use the striations in hand-dyed fabrics to create dimension in fussy-cut fusible applique shapes.  She was working with irises, which although pretty were of little interest for me.  I don't really have any interest at the moment in making a floral quilt.  (Actually, there's the problem.  I don't have any interest, period.)

But wait, maybe I do.  As I watched, I thought about a UFO I'd encountered while sorting through the UFO pile in my closet a few weeks ago.  It's probably the oldest thing in the pile, something I started back in 2001 when I was new to art quilting and just bumbling along.  I was working with a photo I'd taken years ago on Nantucket, where I was enthralled by the roses climbing over shingled houses and falling gracefully over picket fences all over town.

It was my first time experimenting with fusible applique.  I bought a bunch of Seam-a-Seam, having seen someone use it for something on good ol' Simply Quilts, and I set about constructing my fence and making leaves.

I was having a good old time sticking leaves on, and after I pressed it all, I was taken aback at how stiff the whole thing was.  I was undaunted and decided to sew some leaf details before I moved on to the roses.

But how to do the roses?  I had no idea. And when I say I had no idea, I mean I had ABSOLUTELY NO CLUE how to accomplish what I was picturing.  And so time passed, and eventually I folded it all up and put it away.  And since then, I've pulled it out every once in a while (say, every 5 years or so) thinking I should just throw it away, but I realize that I like the leaves and they look good on that background, and actually it's better than I remembered, so I fold it up and put it back on the pile.

But today, it occurred to me that Linda's technique might be just the thing for those roses.  Before I could think myself out of it, I pulled some pinks out of my stash of hand-dyed fabric, and set about cutting some roses and highlighting them with Inktense Pencils.*

So here is a little sample rose.  Not bad, and rather fun.  Still needs some additional highlighting, but I'll worry about that later. 

And here is just a test of a few roses pinned on to see how it looks.  Promising!  i figure I'll keep going until the thing is either finished, or I discover that it's too thick to sew through and I really do have to throw it away.

But so far, so good.  I plan to spend the evening cutting out and coloring roses.

*I shall say here once more how VERY happy I am that I bought that wonderful box set of Inktense Pencils when I was at the Derwent Pencil Factory in England, and how very worth it it was to pay for an extra box of stuff to be shipped home to me.  I LOVE those pencils. And it's amazing how often they come in handy.