Thursday, April 30, 2009

Happy May Day!

P.J.M. Rhododendron

Darwin Tulip

It's starting to feel like spring in my yard! Everything has sprouted now, and the tulips and rhododendrons and bleeding hearts are all blooming. It won't be long until the azaleas are blooming, too. I love watching all the color come to life, especially after a cold, dreary winter that lasted way too long this year!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Half A Century


Well, I don't know how this happened, but it definitely has happened. Officially I am now a half century old, and I qualify for AARP and senior citizen discounts. Nasty as this sounds, it is actually shaping up to be one of my better birthdays, and I am looking forward to the next 50 years!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Interdependence - The Tree Project

In February I posted a photograph of a fiber leaf that I made for the 2009 International Fiber Collaborative project, "Interdependence". The leaves were used to create a life-sized tree that was displayed at Big Springs International Park in Huntsville, Alabama during April 2009. From their website: "Much like a live tree is interdependent on its leaves and roots for survival, societies are interdependent on the greater whole, family units, communities, and countries." In total, more than 7000 leaves were collected, from 23 countries and 39 states in the US. Below is a photograph of the tree in all its glory...

Sunday, April 26, 2009

From Photograph to Thermofax

The majority of my thermofax screens are created from my own photographs, and I often get questions about how to do it. Here are the easy steps, with photos of each step. Normally I use Photoshop, but I know that more artists have Photoshop Elements, so that is what I am using here. The steps are almost virtually the same in both programs. I know there are probably better ways to do this, but this way requires very few steps and is easy to accomplish.

Here is my original photograph of a fire escape in downtown Lincoln, Nebraska. I haven't cropped it at all, because I like to work with the entire photograph initially. When you get to the final steps, you'll be better able to see if there are areas that lose their interest and should be cropped out.

Here is the second step. Choose Image, Mode, Grayscale. This removes the color from the image and starts to prepare it to become a completely black & white image, which is what is needed for a thermofax screen.

The next step can be done two different ways, and I usually try out both ways to see which one I like better. The image above was done by using Filter, Sketch, Stamp. This method usually retains more of the fine line details --- for example, the stair railings in my photograph.

The other method is to use Enhance, Adjust Brightness/Contrast, Brightness/Contrast. I slide the Contrast all the way to the right to +100. Then I slowly slide the Brightness to the right until I like the amount of detail in the photograph. I stopped at +50 on this photograph. This method tends to lose the details in fine lines, like the stair railings, but because you have some control over the amounts of detail remaining, you can frequently get more detail in areas that show up solid black in the first method --- for example, the edge of the building on the right-hand side of the photograph.

Now it is a matter of choosing which black & white print you like the best, printing it out, and running it through the thermofax to make your screen. Feel free to email me if you have any more questions.

Friday, April 24, 2009

National Arbor Day

Today is Arbor Day, a nationally celebrated holiday that encourages tree planting and conservation. National Arbor Day was founded by J. Sterling Morton in 1872 and is celebrated on the last Friday of April. Morton was a pioneer in preserving the native trees and advocating tree planting. Because his homestead, Arbor Lodge, is in Nebraska City, most Nebraskans feel a special kinship to this holiday. I personally cannot imagine my life or yard without trees. They provide shade and privacy for us, as well as shelter for the wildlife in our yard.

The photo above was taken as the sun was setting on the lake by our house. The land around the lake is protected, so there are many native trees and grasses and wildlife. It is one of the reasons that I love walking there. This winter I was inspired by the shapes and designs of the barren Winter trees, and most of my photos were taken by this lake.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Neutrals Revisited


Another collage working with neutrals and just a splash of one color. I like the way the black circles emphasize the red cityscape.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Is It Spring Yet?


Spring is arriving very slowly this year. The cold seems to be hanging on a little longer than usual, and the normal April showers are a no-show. There are sprouts in the gardens, but nothing is progressing as much as usual.

This collage was an experiment in using the white tissue paper from Chico's as an overlay. I wanted it to lighten the background green, without coming across as white tissue. I think I accomplished the look I wanted with glazing medium.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Troika 7

Autumn Brush
4"h x 6"w

This is a new piece of art that I am sending off to the Troika 7 exhibition in Norwich, UK. The entire exhibition is comprised of artwork that is 4"x6" or smaller, and the buying is done without knowledge of the artist's name. Should be interesting.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Winter with a Touch of Spring


Another collage with an image of a bare Winter tree, along with a touch of chartreuse for Spring growth. Spring is finally starting to happen around here, as new sprouts appear in the garden every day now. Yesterday one of the rhododendrons started to bloom. This is my favorite season!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Solvitur Ambulando!

A Latin phrase meaning "It is solved by walking", and a phrase that I believe in. Walking not only gives me peace and solitude to think and solve issues, it also calms me in times of turmoil and forces me to take time to notice the little gifts in life. I thought I would take time today to share some of my favorite places to walk.

#1 -- My number one place to walk is along the seashore. I love beachcombing for shells and stones, listening to the waves and the seagull calls, and smelling the salt air. Everything is right with the world when I am by the ocean. The photo above was taken in Monterey, California.

#2 -- Since I no longer live near an ocean, I make do with the lake by my house. It is also a very serene spot to walk, although the nature that I enjoy here is quite different from the seashore. Here I see deer, herons, egrets, mallard ducks ... and no seashells. This photo was taken at Wehrspann Lake in Nebraska.

#3 -- The number 3 spot on my list of favorite places to walk is in my gardens. Our property is becoming more and more secluded, thanks to all the planting we have done over the years, and I love to spend time out there. Every day I look to see the changes from the day before ... new buds that have opened, new sprouts breaking through the soil, new varieties of birds and butterflies stopping by for a visit. The photo above is a clematis blossom from last year, but this morning I noticed that the clematis are finally sprouting for this season.

This is another garden photo. Every year in the Spring rainy season, we seem to get new varieties of fungi in the gardens. These mushrooms grew last year in with the miniature hollyhocks.

And those are my favorite places to walk and think and dream. Where do you like to walk?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

In Search of the Perfect Edge

detail of edge

For some time I have struggled with how to finish the edges of my cloth pieces. The traditional quilt binding seems too clunky for my smaller art pieces; a facing seems too invisible; zig-zag stitching seems too messy. Quite the dilemma.

Yesterday I finished the stitching on a new piece, and once again the edge dilemma reared its ugly head. This time I was determined to figure out something new or atleast attempt something new. I found a variable-width yarn in my stash, and the colors were wonderful with the artwork. So I thought I would stitch around the edges of the piece, catching the yarn as I went. The only problem was that I was afraid that the white batting was going to show through the yarn in places. So I got a wild idea --- my wild ideas are usually brilliant or very stupid. This idea involved using a paint brush and acrylic paint to paint the batting that showed around the edges of the piece. Once the paint dried, I added two rounds of the yarn, and I must say that I think this edge treatment is perfect for this piece!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Collage Journey


What a journey these daily collages are turning out to be! It is freeing to try out new color combinations and techniques with little worry about failure. If it is really bad, no one will ever see that day's collage; if it is semi-bad, I try a new approach the next day; and sometimes they are just fun to make without any concern about whether or not they are good.

The dark purple in this collage is a gelatin print on watercolor paper, and the whitish rectangle on top of it is a purple and black monoprint on watercolor paper. The text was stamped with two different rubberstamps, and the bits of blue paper are torn off pieces from another collage. No heavy meaning to this collage, just fun to assemble the colors and textures.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Basking in the Sun

The weather is gorgeous today --- sunny and warm with a light breeze. Zeke is enjoying basking in the sun on the deck. He would much rather be outside on days like this. The photo above was taken today, and he weighs a whopping 9 pounds now.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Discharged Stump?

This morning I wandered around the lake on a mission to photograph more barren Winter trees for a series that I am currently working on. I already have a zillion photographs, but I wanted a particular shape of tree this morning. In amongst a grove of trees, I found this sawed-off pine trunk. Doesn't it look just like some type of shibori discharge? I love it!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

The morning has started off great with new sprouts in the indoor garden station. The California Poppies have popped up through the soil overnight. I also spied a few basil and lavender and sage barely breaking through the soil. The leaf lettuce continues to thrive, and yesterday I was given a starter pot of newly sprouted chives.

Outside, the Martha's Vineyard rose is starting to get new growth in the front rock garden. In the back gardens, chives, columbines, bleeding hearts, miniature hollyhocks and sedum are all coming along great. The forsythias are still blooming, and the lilacs are leafing out. Life is good!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Tribute to Alaska


The background layer of this collage is a photograph of an Alaskan glacier. The contrasts of the icy blue glaciers, the clear blue sky, and the lush green valleys inspired this collage. The colors were added by layering napkins as the final layer of the collage.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Gold & Black


The gold lettering on the black background that is on the left side of this collage was a section of a junk mail brochure that I received. I loved the color combination and searched for other gold, black, and white papers to include. This is the finished result, and I am quite pleased with it.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009


The last couple of weeks have been hectic around our house, for both my husband and me. So when the weather turned gorgeous yesterday, we took Zeke and sandwiches and headed to the lake for a picnic last night. Being around the water and the peace & quiet always calms me --- and Zeke loves to explore around the lake. The photograph above is one of about 50 photos that I took last night as we walked.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The Last One

I finally finished the cloth self portrait. The colors in this photo aren't correct, but I have tried photographing it several different ways and scanning it, and nothing seems to get the colors accurate. It ended up being a mixture of cloth and paper. A couple of the elements didn't translate well to cloth, so I left them as paper elements. Now that this is done and ready to ship out, I am ready to leave self portraits behind and move on to other projects.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

And another...


I have created about a half dozen self portrait collages in paper now, while struggling to create a single self portrait in cloth. The good news is that after all of these paper collages, I think I have finally hit upon a design that I like for the cloth version. It does combine a bit of paper in it, since there were some elements that I was unsuccessful at duplicating in cloth. The other good news is that I have been experimenting with two "new to me" products that I will share a different day --- after I have had a chance to explore them a bit further.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Another Self Portrait


I still haven't completed a cloth self portrait, but I am having a ton of fun creating paper collage versions. I have gone back to my graphic design roots and used bold graphics and minimal colors. This is one of my favorites.