Monday, December 4, 2017

After Elizabeth--The Window Watchers

Progress report: I have just about finished all three cats and am working on the background--the window and sunlight and shadows and table and deciding on a name--The Window Watchers. I dare say anyone who owns cats has seen theirs in a similar pose. When I check on what they are so intrigued with, there's usually nothing there (that I can see, anyway).
Putting in background behind cats
The edges of the cats have to be left loose to slip background behind them. Yes, it seems the background should go in first, but that would cover up the lines I have drawn on the foundation for the outline of the main subjects--the cats.
Adding shadows with black tulle
I used white organza over the light green fabric for the windows. Black tulle will make the shadows the cats are casting. Organza and tulle are squishy and elusive to cut and place! But they create the look I need.
Cutting tulle is like cutting Jello
Another thing that makes me happy is a perfectly cooked egg, and I found this clever little pan that I think is going to do the job. (I admit that some days it doesn't take much to make me happy.)
Mini-Chef tiny egg pan

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Things That Make Me Happy (a.k.a. Thanksgiving)

For many years we celebrated Thanksgiving at my brother's home in Austin, Texas. Roy and I would drive from Mississippi through East Texas and pick up my parents for the large family/friends gathering. This year Linda and I ate the buffet at Golden Corral. The food was acceptable but not memorable. A good thing and a sad thing--we didn't have all those delicious leftovers. But we were thankful for many things!
I had the neatest surprise recently. I love to make and mail fabric postcards. One I sent in 2007 turned up in an estate sale and was returned to me. What a delight to know that someone had placed this little card among her keepers. An additional surprise was to see that the postage stamp pictured the image of my Baltimore Album quilt. At the time I had these stamps printed, first class rate was 41 cents. Did you know you could get stamps printed with your choice of images (for a small fee)?
Click to enlarge any picture.

I have made progress on the three cats fabric collage, beginning on the left with Rahrah. Her coloring is a strange mixture of tan, gray, orange, with a hint of darker stripes irregularly placed.

Tarbaby is in the middle, with his solid black fur, highlighted by some sunlight from the window.

Elizabeth is done with shades of lavender and purple for a little whimsy.
How does Elizabeth know when I'm working on her image? She didn't pay any attention to the piece as I worked on the other two cats but had to be close enough to supervise her part!
Another thing that makes me happy--the dedication of my daughter Linda to fostering kittens. She was recognized in a monthly feature as "People Who Make a Difference" in our newspaper. She not only fosters kittens but will take kittens with ringworm and treat and bathe them to get them back to good health. Here is a link to the article and pictures in the Hattiesburg American.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

After Elizabeth, What's Next?

I enjoyed creating the fabric collage of Elizabeth (and have so much fabric already sorted by color!) that I think I will tackle another piece, this time of all three cats. They are intently looking out a window with bright sunshine on the table and on their backs, making interesting highlights. There is probably a squirrel or lizard out there.
Rahrah, Tarbaby, and Elizabeth

My starting point

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Susan Carlson Retreat Part 3--Elizabeth, My Almost Perfect Cat

Elizabeth, My Almost Perfect Cat, 34" x 25"
Well, Elizabeth's whiskers are done and facing on the back, even the sleeve.
I thought and experimented with several ways to depict her whiskers (and even those little eyebrow hairs) and decided on a Madiera Glamour thread in two sizes--two-ply and six-ply white/glittery thread with a touch of glue for stiffness. The whiskers are attached to the face but are loose except where they are sewn in. They are stitched to a tiny bit of batting over white lace, which added a slight fullness or puffiness to the two cheek pads.
Click any picture to enlarge.
Detail of whiskers

Elizabeth checking on the Madiera threads

Ear hair made with hairy ribbon overlaid with tulle
Okay, can I take a nap in your lap now?
Linked with Nina-Marie Sayre's Off the Wall Friday

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Portland, Maine, retreat with Susan Carlson, Part 2

It has been two weeks since I came home from Susan Carlson's fabric collage retreat in Portland. I've had such a good time working on Elizabeth! Here is how she looked on the last day in Maine, and then her progress:

Elizabeth on the background

Adding shadows

Adding more shadows
Trying to quilt with Elizabeth's help
She seems quite pleased--won't stay off of it!
All done but the whiskers and facing

Susan Carlson wrote a blog post about the retreat. You can read it here and see pictures of the  other students'  pieces in progress. She is an amazing teacher and I would love to take another class with her!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Portland, Maine, retreat with Susan Carlson, Part 1

I have admired Susan Carlson's work for several years, especially after seeing Dixie Dingo Dreaming in Houston in 2012. For any lover of fabric, Susan's technique opens up a world of enjoyment as we search for just the right bit of fabric that will create an eye, a bit of fur, a nose, a cheek, skin. Instead of dipping a brush into paint, this method uses scissors to cut pieces of fabric to place on our canvas.
Susan teaches all over the U.S., but my choice was near her home in Maine and October was the perfect time weather-wise. From Mississippi, the trip took three plane rides, but since I love to fly this was not a drawback. I've never flown into New York with such good visibility, and this scene was especially beautiful. To get to Portland I went from Gulfport to Detroit, to JFK, to Portland. Coming home was to LaGuardia, Atlanta, and Gulfport.

(Click to enlarge any photo)

I had one free day to see the downtown section (called Old Port) and the Art Museum and along brick sidewalks and streets. A ferry ride to Peaks Island and back was a treat, since the Hyatt was only two blocks from the Atlantic Ocean.

There were only 10 students in our class, which allowed Susan to circulate to each of us several times each day. She brought in different quilts each day, and seeing these (that we had seen in magazines) up close was a great learning experience. She lectured about an hour each morning, covering from selecting our subject matter to finishing and hanging. We had access to the classroom after hours, and several worked into the wee hours.
Getting ready for the class involved cutting pieces from as many of my fabrics as I had time to cut! I grouped these by color and by value into Ziploc bags that filled a suitcase.

Here is my starting point--my subject outline drawn onto a muslin foundation. I taped my reference photo to the styrofoam board. As I cut small bits of fabric, I pinned them to the foundation. My subject is Elizabeth, My Almost Perfect Cat.

Susan brought many examples of her work, from early in-progress pieces to large completed ones. She also had step-by-step photo books so we could see the progression from idea to finished product. 

My Elizabeth grew gradually as I decided to add in some colors instead of depicting her in totally realistic grays, tans, and black. I was very worried about her eyes, but it turned out that the eyes were a piece of cake compared to the nose! 

More details will be added, along with the table she is lying on. In the picture she is lying on a white/red cutting mat in my studio, but I haven't decided about her base yet. More on the next blog post.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Finishing My Artist's Altered Book Pages

Making artist's altered book pages has been a challenging, interesting, and satisfying activity. There are 10 of us in this group, living all over the U.S., from California to Florida to Massachusetts--talented artists who I only know from online contact. But we share a passion for creating art and sharing it with each other. Theoretically, it works like this: every month I create a 10" x 10" page and send it to someone on the list. Every month, one of the group sends me a page. We can make our pages any technique and style we choose, and several have used this as an opportunity to work in a series. We try to keep on schedule but don't get upset when other events cause us to be late. It is a wonderful surprise to get a large envelope no matter when it comes. I have my August, September, and October pages ready for tomorrow's mail--October 5, meaning I was late with two and on time with this last one. The last one is inspired by the large mushrooms growing out of the tree stump which I pictured in my blog a few days ago.

for Gabriele DiTota

for Carol Jones Frank
for Nanette S Zeller

Saturday, September 30, 2017

September Happenings

Interesting things happen in the yard when we're not looking. These huge mushrooms are growing around the edge of a cut tree stump. I thought it fascinating how a little twig was captured as the mushroom grew. Although I have lots of heavy ground cover where snakes might hide, I would just as soon not have them shed their skin in my flowerbed. This one was about 36" long.

The basil produced such a healthy crop this year that I began cutting twigs for flower vases. I made a good batch of pesto sauce to enjoy for some time.
I enjoyed a visit from my son and daughter-in-law this summer, and my friend Yijuan Yin gave them one of her Chinese ink paintings.
Later, granddaughter Brittney visited with her family. Tanner and Kylee Jo had a good time trying out the Sweet Sixteen machine, while Knox created a "fabric sandwich" from a scrap he put between two pieces of bread. Luckily, he just carried it around without trying to eat it.

I enjoyed helping create a Sensory Garden for special needs students at Thames Elementary School with several of my University Baptist Church friends. Karen Walker and Lida McDowell and I worked on decorating posts with tennis balls (cut in half and tied onto the posts) and adding streamers of ribbon and zippers and other materials the children could touch and feel. Thanks to Camille Soulier for donating the used tennis balls!
Every time I sit in the recliner a cat immediately comes to keep me company. It is a rare occurrence that they will share the space with each other, and it makes for quite a warm lap. Here Tarbaby is letting Rahrah bathe his head while Elizabeth sleeps soundly.