About Me

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Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Life and the creative process are about the journey, not the destination. I love working with colour and texture and can get totally 'lost' in the creative process. Variety keeps my creative juices flowing. We are currently traveling full time in a 40' motorhome and bouncing between visits with a son in Albuquerque NM and a son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter in Calgary AB. In between we are busy exploring this great continent on which we live. It's a challenge working from my mobile studio but I am using our travel time to learn new skills and refine existing ones.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The McKenzie Baby Bump

Drawing Squiggles
I didn't get back to the project until late in the day yesterday as an invite to lunch could not be turned down!  The next step was to added the surface design.  I considered using white glue and decided it would take too long to dry.  I considered getting 'stringing compound' and decided it would be too expensive.  So in the end I chose to use my old standby, quick drying and paintable, DAP.  I had part of a tube on hand so did a sample and although I would have preferred a finer line, decided it would work and made a trip to CT to get some additional tubes.  I spent a couple of hours drawing squiggles and finished just in time to respond to a invitation to have dinner with my new granddaughter!  The result had to dry overnight anyway so it was great timing!
Painting with Gesso

The weather here is changeable and they are forecasting thunderstorms for later today, so I have plowed ahead with this 'work of art'.  Before leaving for my Monday morning art group, I painted the surface with black gesso.  I wanted a black surface for the background color.  I chose black gesso as it would seal the plaster so that it will not absorb paint and would allow the paint to retain it's gloss.  After painting I realized there were a couple of areas where the design was 'flat' - the result of trying to get that last bit of Dap out of the tube!  So a bit of repair work was done with the hope that it would be dry enough to paint by noon.
The Base Coat Completed

Before lunch I repainted the area where repairs were made and after lunch the fun began.

Adding the 'show through' colors
I blotch painted areas in burnt sienna, ochre and a grayed yellow.  The weather at the time was warm and sunny and the humidity low so it dried quickly.  I added a layer of spray fixative at this point.  The next layer was to blotch rub some gold and silver into the design.  Again a layer of fixative.

The Final Result
The final layer was an all over rub with bright copper. The result was close to the concept requested and I think they will be pleased.

Signature Time
I promised to show the mounting.  After the last post and before starting the surface design, with DH's assistance, a dowel was cut and two screwnails used to fasten it inside the body cast.  Two holes were drilled through the dowel and threaded with picture wire stretched so that it would not show above the top of the piece.  To finish off I will note where the cast touches the table and apply some dap so that the paint will not rub and mark the wall.  All done.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Baby Bump Sculpture

I've been told that the in-thing is to do a casting of the 'baby bump' and to decorate it as a piece of art.  My young'uns decided that the kit was too expensive so after a discussion with me they purchased the plaster embedded tape at the local M store and got out the jar of Vaseline and went to work.  Then they announced that it was over to me to decorate!
I spent all day yesterday shaping the edge with a Dremel and adding tape to build up and strengthen the edges so that it would hang flat on the wal and not collapse over time. Then left it to dry over night.
Here is my process:
The Original Casting and Proposed Shaping Lines

The Trimmed Cast
The creators and I had discussed final shaping and this is what we decided.  I might have trimmed closer to the belly but the rounded edges seem to work.  The trimming left raw edges so all had to be wrapped with tape and in some places had to be built up so that the finished piece would lie flat to the wall.  I used two rolls of tape for this process and in the resmoothing of the surface after the edges were finished.
Smoothing and Strengthening the Edges
The Surface Finish This Morning
Before applying a final finish I added a cross piece to the back so that we can attach a hanging mechanism.  I'll show this tomorrow.  I used Artplaster to provide a final surface and to remove all traces of tape texture that remained.  The casting needed time to dry so this is as far as I went yesterday.  I mixed a small amount in a bowl and had a bowl of water nearby.  I used my hand to spread a thin layer over the surface and the wet sponge/pad to smooth the surface.  It's not super smooth but good enough to work with.  When dry the casting seems quite strong.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Mommy and Baby Gifts

The Baby Quilts
Back in the winter I undertook to make a couple of crib quilts - one for a niece's baby and one for a new grandchild expected in July.  The baby quilts were finished earlier in the spring and one delivered in March when we were back in Ontario.  I was using a pattern 'Twisted Triangles' that I found on allpeoplequilt.com.  I just checked and I can't find the instructions but the link shows the original pattern which has more emphasis on the 'twisted triangles'.  I chose to emphasis the lights and darks.  The quilting is simple and minimal in this quilt as I was not able to use my left arm to any great extent.  I hope the quilts stand up to frequent washings!

After cutting all the pieces I discovered that the pattern would actually make a quilt almost single bed size - larger than I intended.  I had cut the pieces for two quilts so set one set of quilt pieces aside and then made two crib size tops from one set.  By adding a border I got a good size for cuddle quilts (flannel backing) or for in a crib.  I'm now told that you don't use stiff bedding for babies because they might pull it up and smother.  Is this true?   Hopefully they will be used as daytime floor blankets etc.

Mommy's Quilt
As my arm healed from the surgery in May I got restless and pulled out the second set of pieces.  I found that I could do piecing with one hand and a bit so by cutting the original triangles in half was able to come up with this pattern.  Because the nursery is decorated with a night time theme - dark blue walls and star and moon decals, I used 'my style' star blocks to arrive at the right number  of blocks to creat this quilt (approx. 45"x50".  I backed it also with flannel in a cupcake design and gave it to my daughter-in-law as her very own cuddle blanket.  My son had received a T-shirt quilt a few years ago and it has had good use!
My mobile studio
 I wanted to check that my Juki sewing machine and Hinterberg frame had survived shipping last fall so dug them out of storage and assembled them on the lawn under our awning one day to quilt this quilt.  I sure prefer quilting large pieces on the frame!  Because I did not ship the long frames (drat it all) I could only quilt the center panel of the quilt before I took the quilt from the frame (and I did leave some parts with the longer frames - to be retrieved next time we go east).  I then did the border in a chain of stars from a border stencil by free motion quilting (not quite - feed dogs up and straight stitch with frequent starts and stops worked best).  The Juki was cleaned and oiled before and after this project and is now back in storage until next time.

What did I learn from this project? 1) I love working with the color in quilts but I get bored easily and now I know why I have moved towards art quilting and fiberart; 2) This is a great way to do stash busting, using up fabrics that you no longer relate to;  3)  It was a great way to make use of my time when serious creativity was limited by the cast on my arm; and 4) I can't wait to get into some of the new books I've acquired and start experimenting!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

"What do you do to get yourself out of a creative slump or vacuum?"

I've been gradually getting back to doing some of my ' art shoulds' that have accumulated during my wrist healing experience and one of the items on my list is blogging here more often.  I've been able to get back to some of my quilting projects (more on this to come shortly) and have started to plan my re-entry into my 'art' work so hope to have lots to share in the next few entries.  Today I want to share my response to the question "What do you do to get yourself out of a creative slump or vacuum?" issued by a group to which I belong.

Here are my Slump Remedy(s):
1. Work on a UFO. It puts my head into the 'work' zone.

2. Browse some blogs on the internet.  I've included a link to out-of-the-box, one of the groups I belong to.   Then take one idea I find and do a quick study.....

3. Try a new technique, experiment with a new medium, or tool.

4. Go back through some past issues of magazines.  Take one idea and do a quick study ....

5. Work in another art medium, sketch, watercolor, photography.

6. Browse my photo collection.  Pick a theme and some supporting photos and post them where I will see them frequently.

7. Work in a series - use a past or new theme - just to get me going!  Sometimes it is a content theme, sometimes a technique.

8. Choose a competition or challenge (ideas from web sites) to do a small piece - whether I enter it or not!

9. Do something that calms my mind - music, read, walk...... I find that a 'busy' mind is the most frequent cause of my artist block or vacuum.

10. Get myself removed from 'reminders' of all the non-art 'shoulds' in my life. Surround myself with tools and materials! Go through some of my bins of supplies and tools.

11. Just play for a bit!

12. A tip from Laura Caterwoods: Make a 'to do' list at the end of a work session so that you are not facing 'a blank sheet' of paper when you re-enter your work space.

13. Keep a journal list of 'I want to do....' that captures ideas when the juices are flowing.  Use it to jump start the next session when they aren't.

Can you suggest other ideas?