Friday, November 21, 2014

Art Institute Chicago Pajama Party

All dressed up with nowhere to go? Source
For those who don't know (and there is not reasont to know if you have not visited) the Art Institute entrance is flanked by two lions  which traditionally get "wreathed" for Christmas.

Having visited this museum countless times, I can attest to the fact that there are some creepy feeling areas. My daughter says that its because the art has its own intensity and I believe that. I wouldn't want to work there at night alone just the same!

Therefore,   when I noticed a Facebook post titled "RedEyes Swasko…spends the night at Art Institute " or something like that, I eagerly clicked. For non-Chicagoans, Red Eye is a free events newspaper found on many a street corner in Chicago and of course the Art Institute has a world reknowned permanent collection.
I am actually not sure of how old this is. Also, because flash photography is not allowed in most instances much of the imagery is too dark which gives some of the works a creepy quality.

At anyrate, the set of tweets can be found  here-with some short video and sound. Enjoy.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Malevich vs. Monet, Rich Man Poor Man?

I posted a painting by Kasimir Malevich the other day titled the Black Square. Malevich used very basic color and geometry as his subject matter. This video discusses his White on White painting and explains quite a bit about where he was coming from in contrast to the works of Monet in particular.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Some fabric printing

My first attempt at fabric painting
I used straight acrylics directly on a piece of white fabric and scraped it on with a peice of cardboard.  The idea actually came to me after finding a most amazing blog and artist-Terry Jarrard Diamond who embarked upon a textile construction project a few years ago-one piece a week for a year. The link takes you to her first project and you can follow it from there.

Having rediscovered abstract art myself, the whole idea appealed to me. After heat setting this I decided to quilt it using another fabric as a backing but no  batting for the first set of lines. I just wanted to explore the idea of how abstract art is often framed in non obtrusive ways-sometimes presented simply on an unframed canvas.

A couple of ideas came to me from this simple exercise and now I want to do my own experimental series!

Acrylic artitists paint (I used the type in tubes not the liquid craft paint) can be used as I did but it does stiffen the fabric. I read on the Liquitek site that washing softens it but my experiement on a scrap piece of fabric softened only slightly.  The color remained true after washing though.  I happened to like this stiffness on this piece.  If one were painting a cloth meant to be worn, this is probably not the method to use but if one wants to just play around with framed cloth or maybe a handmade  book of cloth or anything where stiffness enhances the peice then straight undiluted acrylics are  a good idea.

 When I first decided to produce crafts for the farmers markets I also said I'd like to do some art fairs. I initially was thinking of the same products but infact these are two very distinct demographics. Craft fairs were on the agenda initially but some of these and all art fairs are juried.

I have been exploring a couple of the shows and having attended them in person, I do not recall any form of quilters being present- not even art quilters. I wonder if this is lack of interest on the part of the quilters or a disdain for the medium on the part of the juries. I could be mistaken but I have looked at one of the shows online-no quilters. Lots of weavers and some knitters.

I think the idea I am exploring at this moment is way way out there-too dark  in actuality for this geographic  area where positivism is the keyword. But its far too soon to say where I am heading or if I will even get there. I only know that I am going to try and if its dark today maybe the sun will shine tomorrow;)
Question: Does the sun have to always shine? Can you be happy under a dark cloud?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Quilt Update- madness contended with, cosmic lessons of persistence

Unimpressed and disappointed with myself is how I would describe my current state of affairs regarding my totem quilt.
First off, even though it was okay by me, I pieced the center block backwards. I have noticed a tendency towards dyslexia of late! I don't actually mind and it didn't matter  to the design as I said but its good to note for future reference incase it does matter.

Oh! One other lesson. When working with such limited pallet of pattern, remember to take note of the overall picture when placing these patterns. I had some patterns side by side. Again, its not a big deal and this can have its own appeal if intentional. I put no thought into the overall picture, focusing almost entirely on the blocks only.
This was a learning quilt so I had anticipated mistakes. I am learning from these mistakes as expected. Having realized these things too late,  I moved on.

And by this, I mean that I  madly rushed into machine quilting-I did watch a video or two first. Since it was straight line quilting I felt confident that I could use a regular pressure foot instead of searching out a walking foot, ordering it online and waiting for a month for it to arrive which is what happened when I ordered an invisible zipper foot recently.

The problem encountered as the result of the impatience is that some of the material was bunching. I don't know what to do when that happens because I don't know why it happens.
 I think its because the pressure foot is too heavy and is stretching out my fabric.  Or is it because I had too much fabric to begin with (uneven seams perhaps)? Or is it when I sew across the grain rather than with it? Or because I started sewing from the center of the quilt which is how hand quilting is done but perhaps its not ideal for machine quilting? The way the quilt was basted (I thought I did a great job in that regard-perhapes too good a job-i.e. too tight)?
 This sometimes happens when I sew clothing as well but not to the degree that I encountered.  One issue with quilting with the machine is that the stitches are really short and tight-I was afraid to rip out for fear of leaving holes in the fabric.
I will just wait until  my teacher/friend has time to enlighten me. Or somebody else will. In the meantime, I have managed to camoflage it. Nobody will know except me (and you readers).

So the bottom line is that I am not that happy with this quilt thus far. I have alot more quilting to do before I decide for sure. I think that I'd like to try it again, with a walking foot in hand and also better batting. I used the fluffy stuff that somebody gave me awhile ago. See how fluffy this looks?
I know I can quilt the fluff down to a more acceptable loft over time.

While I am not thrilled, I am not completely unhappy either. I have this voice in my head-that of one of my painting teachers- Karen. She used to say by way of encouragement, "It has to get ugly before it takes shape. Thats just the way it is." And she really was right about that for  you see, if you give up when you are struggling then you won't reap rewards.
Cosmic baby. 

I don't think I will meet my two week deadline to finish both this quilt and the dress. I had forgotten that Thanksgiving was fast approaching and since both of the children will be here at the same time  for a change, I am also treating this holiday like a family reunion, a wedding, a birth! Its that exciting to me. I am off to make a cranberry relish today (canned) and will be making cookies for the kidlings to take home-neither will be here for more than two days.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Abstract Art-Do you "Get the Picture?" Hoffman, Johns, Malevich

I never understood or fully appreciated abstract painting until I went to design school where nearly all of our first year assignments were required to be non representational. I hated it at first but as I began to feel how it was making me think about things differently, I fell in love.

At anyrate, that was a long time ago! I don't pretend to  be able to present art history lectures on the topic.  I plan on doing some independent study into the works and the artists but in the meantime, I thought it might be fun to see if any readers out there might give their own interpretations on the paintings I post here in the "Get the Picture" category.

 Its not hard to see the influence some of this work might have had on modern quilting and in some cases, where quilts might have influenced the artist-as quaint or even outrageous a suggestion that  that may be.  Infact some of this work is reminiscent of the Gees Bend quilts (or vice versa) which are not necessarily informed by these artists so much as by the times and needs of the quilter/artists. Maybe it was something in the air…...

Hans Hoffman from this source
Hoffmans "Push/Pull" theory was alluded to in some of my art classes but only in simple terms-cool colors recedes, warm ones comes forward-but there is more to the work than that. Shape. Texture, Compostion. Or is there? What do you think?
Jasper Johns "CrossHatch"  Source
Jaspar Johns  is sometimes considered a Pop Artist and he did do some iconic images considered pop art (the Flag paintings for example).  I chose the image above because its different from the more well known flags, targets and numbers he is famous for. I had never seen this one. Its title says alot. Check out his materials-this is not a painting but  a silk screen.

And a final image for today:
Kasimir Malevich-Black Square (Source )
This artist was a part of the Russian Suprematist movement-based on geometric shapes and limited color pallet.
A quote:
Under Suprematism I understand the primacy of pure feeling in creative art. To the Suprematist, the visual phenomena of the objective world are, in themselves, meaningless; the significant thing is feeling, as such, quite apart from the environment in which it is called forth. wikipedia


What have you got to say for yourself? 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Peruvian Knit Chullo Hats-best gift ever!

Our bee inspector Craig retired this year but before he did, he visited Peru. Since he knew that I am a knitter and of my interest in shamanism, we ended up talking about the trip and the hats/chullos. He had brought a bunch home so I asked if I could buy one. He agreed to sell me one. I left it up to his discretion as to which one.
I completely forgot about the conversation until today when the mail lady brought me a package from Craig. I was thinking that it might be bee related so when I opened the package I was incredibly surprised and taken abake at the generosity. Five hats! All with different designs and one with a differant technique-the one on the right with the bobble stitch. They each have different tassels as well.

I am touched.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Home made tea house blends

A leafy rose and mint based beverage tea (with medicinal qualities but at beverage dosage) and a chai blend are the two types of teas we drink throughout the year-chai more often in the colder months.  I defintely up the dosage of both for medicinal purposes but when I just want a cup of warm tea or if I have guests I make a relatively weak tissane.

On the left in the photo is the leafy tea which includes chamomile, rose petals, mint, nettles, lavender and some green tea. I will add some anise hyssop to this and some sage at some point as well.

On the right is a chai that also has some dandlion root. I crush up the star anise, cardamon and cinnamon sticks before adding to the jar.

Tea can be a highly personal blend, taking medicinal needs into consideration as well as taste. For example, I need nervines hence the chamomile, rose and lavender mixed together. We both need mint as a digestive and the dandlion is for my husband while the warming spices are for both of us.

To make a beverage tea I use a rough tsp in a cup of boiled water, steeped for 10 minutes which is excellent for the leafy tea. For the seeds/roots chai-I follow the classic chai directions but either use coconut milk or just water and add maple syrup to taste when serving. You can find that information here. 
Infact today I brewed up a chaga mushroom tea and added the chai spices towards the end and then made a latte which was delicious! Another story.

One of the things I noticed as I became a young adult and my health was sometimes  becoming precarious is that I wasn't drinking the daily spearmint tea that I had grown up on. Its not that the tea itself was given in medicinal doses-its that it was given several times a day. I added it back and started to feel better over time. Lesson here is that sometimes just getting herbs into the diet is the best strategy.

Do you drink tea daily? Herbal? Can I entice you to add peppermint or spearmint to your black tea?