Posts tagged portrait
I’ve been hard at work in my studio since my last post, pouring the creative spirit out of me and into my work. And I’ve surprised myself.
If you remember, I had finished the first horse, so I began cutting out the second horse, its companion. This shows the light values of the face.
And then the darker brown values.
And finally the darkest brown values.
Here is the horse head without all of the leather straps, bridle, and silver.
Then I added all of the leather parts around the face.
And finally the leather collar.
Once I added the silver, I put it up on the design wall for a quick picture.
At this point, I put it up next to the other horse to see how it would look. Wow. I loved it on the black, but I always do.
I considered for a while making a pieced background, but I finally decided that the horses themselves are so intricate, a pieced background would only create a distraction. I found a great smudged black that works well.
This is both of the horses appliquéd onto the background. The grays in the background black look lighter than they actually are — my camera phone is limited in its range and chose to highlight all of the silver. The final photographs after quilting will be difficult, but this piece may warrant my first trip to a professional photographer.
For those interested in the process, I abandoned my usual appliqué technique, which is a tight zigzag around all of the rough edges. Even a free-motion straight stitch around the edges as an appliqué technique was difficult as the pieces tried to pull off as I worked on it. The horses were large and complex, and Wonder Under can only hold so well. The silver, especially, didn’t want to adhere. It was always the first appliquéd for each of the horses.
And the end result is more artistic. I’m letting go of the restrictions of the quilt world and embracing the art side. The free motion stitch is much more like drawing on the piece. I still haven’t decided if I’ll add some tulle for added protection to the raw edges.
They each have their own personalities, and I’m surprised at what has crawled out of my brain.
And now I begin thinking about the quilting process. I have a hard time just pinning this on the wall by myself because it’s so large. I tried to take a local long-arm class at the beginning of the month but it was full. The next one is not until the first of December, and I don’t know that I want to wait, but I’m also uncertain about tackling this bear of a piece on my local machine. I do happen to have a Hinterberg frame that I bought years ago — it sits in pieces in the corner. I abandoned it when I realized that my Viking didn’t have enough harp space for me to use it on the frame. But I did get another 4.5 inches, I believe, in harp space when I upgraded to the Janome. It might be worth trying it.
So after finishing Minerva and going through my Quilt National rejection, I needed a new direction in my work. So I was flipping through photographs that I’ve taken, and I found one of two horses in full military gear that I took during the Gold Rush Parade in Dahlonega last year. I knew instantly that it was going to be my next piece.
It’s the first piece in a while that I haven’t made for a show theme, and I gave zero consideration to marketing it. I am making this simply because I want to, which appears to be feeding my creative muse in a positive way.
And almost unconsciously, I have made this piece huge — which is funny, because two years ago, I would have made something that would fit the size of my table. I suppose I felt the need to make these life size. So the general size of the pattern that I’ve made is 48″ long by 69″ or so wide. And let me just say that making a piece in this scale is daunting. I have broken it up into sections to make it easier — I’m making each horse separately — and for each horse, I make the face, and then the rest of the head, and then the back, and then the neck, and then all the leather, and then all the silver hardware. It still causes unique difficulties. I’m not sure that I can appliqué it in the same way that I usually do — certainly not all at once — maybe not even one horse at a time. And there are so many pieces in even just the first horse, I’m considering doing what I did with the auction piece I did for IQA, Loyal, and using a straight stitch around the shapes instead of my usual zigzag — maybe even incorporating it into the quilting in the same way I did Loyal. I’m even considering covering the piece with tulle like Susan Carlson does, to provide another layer of protection for the raw edges.
But all of that discussion in my head is not while I’m in my studio. In my studio, I am in the zone.
For this piece, the first 2 values are very light — in fact, I probably could have dispensed with the lightest and just used the batik here. It’s hard to discern where the first value even is.
And this shows the 3rd and 4th values. The 3rd value is a batik I’ve always struggled with, but I think it works well here.
For the 5th & 6th values, I purposefully went into navy blues. Painters sometimes use blues for shadows, and I love the richness it gives the piece.
And then I had to construct an eye. In the photograph, there’s a piece of leather to the right of the eye that mostly obscures it. However, it’s important for the piece to have a successful eye. It’s a large part of what draws in the viewer’s eye. So I found a pencil and drew out what I thought would work.
And then I stepped back and really looked at it. I wanted to make sure that the fabrics were working before I continued — and they’re just not. There is a definite value change between two and three, but the step is too great. The horse looks more like a palomino with spots. So I went back to my fabrics and pulled out a honey yellow. Much better, and I can see the first value now.
I recut all the pieces and carefully peeled away the fabric that wasn’t working and re-fused it back together. And then I started on the neck. All the spaces are for leather bridle, harness, et cetera.
And then I went to work and stopped taking pictures. But as you can see, I worked one section at a time so I wouldn’t be overwhelmed. I had fused down all of the horse pieces before doing any of the leather or silver. Here is the horse completed with the leather.
And then here it is with the silver. The only thing I really questioned was the chain running from the top down to the mouth. There really wasn’t an easy way to do it. I may go look for some silver braided trim to use instead.
At this point, she’s finally off the flat table and pinned up on my design. She’ll be the far left horse — that’s why so much of her body is in deep shadow. The forward horse on the right will have a lot more of the brown detail.
I have a few drafting things to finish before I start cutting out the front horse. I also think that I’ll change the horse fabrics a little. I don’t think I’d have enough fabric to make the other one completely anyway. It’s amazing that I was able to get this far without making a trip to the fabric store — well, except for the silver.
And yes, this is silver spandex, just like the gold spandex that I used in The Last Supper. This time I was smarter and fused a non-woven interfacing to it before cutting it out to help control stretch, and then I added the fusible. Last time, I only used the fusible and it was harder to control.
This year, I was again asked to create a piece for IQA’s Celebrity Mini Quilt Silent Auction. It’s an honor to be invited, and I try to support IQA as much as I can. They have helped sell my work, and they have bought my work for their private collection. That’s a lot. So once a year, I stop what I’m doing and create something for them for their auction.
This year, I wanted to make a piece that was more like the rest of my work The last two years, the pieces have been tiny. So I wanted something that was a little bigger but still small that would give more of a sense of my personal style. I finally decided that the broadest appeal to the general public would be a dog or cat, and given that I don’t have a cat and people don’t typically take their cats out in public in the same way that dog owners do, I chose a pic from my catalogue of dog pics.
I found this pic of a black dog that I’m sure I took during a lacrosse game. I have no idea who he belonged to, but he was cute so I took his picture. I think he’s a schnauzer. I zoomed in on his face and loved his quirky expression.
In keeping with my new penchant to use unexpected fabrics (but then also working only from my current stash), I decided that the best way to do a black dog would be to use blue fabrics. Gray doesn’t have the same character as the blue grays. So, like with Minerva, I wanted to create a black dog using blue fabrics — but the end result should look like a black dog, not a blue one.
This shows the 1st two values on my pressing sheet.
When I realized it, I traced the shape onto freezer paper and ironed it to the front.
You can see the freezer paper template in this one — which also shows the 4th value. There’s a lot more character in him now.
And then the 5th value was the actual pure black. He has a lot more dimension now — but he needs a proper mouth and eye.
There’s a little bit of tongue tucked in there and then a row of teeth and two fangs on either side of his gum line.
And then his eyeball. As I have often done lately, I constructed it as it was in the drawing made from the values in the pic — but then ripped it off and redrew it as it needed to be in order to look as it needed to look. There are some things you can finesse if they’re not quite right — the eye isn’t one of them.
And then I ripped the appliqué off the pressing sheet and cut out the freezer template to give me the space I needed on the underside of the ear. You can see the ear more clearly now, especially ironed on to the background fabric. This yellow was a nice contrast.
At this point, it isn’t appliquéd. I decided to appliqué stitch and quilt at the same time, so I sandwiched this rough top up and straight free-motion stitched around all of the shapes.
After the appliqué was done, it still needed more quilting to be evenly quilted — and of course the background had to be quilted.
The only thing I might do differently in the future, in terms of construction of a small piece, would be to pillowcase it so I wouldn’t have to add a facing to finish the edges. That took a while. But I opted against doing it because I thought this piece was a little big for that and I didn’t want any issues with it not laying flat or creating a tuck on the back. I wanted it to be perfect.
I snapped a few shots before sending him off in the mail — he’s due Thursday — so I cut it close but he’ll make in under the wire.
Let’s hope he goes to a good home. He’ll debut at the Silent Auction in Houston in November.
If you want to see the finished piece, he’s here.
Many years ago, I entered Quilt National, and like many others, my piece was rejected. Since then, I haven’t entered again due to their virgin rules which said that the piece couldn’t have been displayed anywhere at all ever in any part online or on physical view in a public venue. I have always enjoyed showing my in progress work on my blog which disqualified anything I might want to enter.
But this year, in their infinite wisdom, the powers that be at Quilt National have changed their rules. They now allow social media marketing of your piece. They only require that the piece not have exhibited publicly in the US or been published.
And I have a piece that I’ve been working on most of the summer that I just finished, so I held my breath and entered it. We’ll see. Quilt National takes 3%, I believe, of their entries. In the past, they’ve been almost completely an abstract show, but in the last exhibit in ’15, there were a few illustrative pieces, so I’ve decided to try. You never know if you don’t try.
This has been a strange piece for me. I can do realism in fabric. That isn’t a stretch for me. But I’m to the point that I need more. I need my work to speak more. And so I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone. I drafted a picture of one of my dogs, but I couldn’t get excited about making her in realistic colors, so I chose wild ones. My base was purple. I even went down into pink for the latest shade.
It was my original intent to use Kaffe Fassett prints — but I still haven’t figured out how to makes those work. There are some fabulous artists that do, like Danny Amazons and Sophie Standing. I think my issue is one of scale. They work very large, and making the large Kaffe Fassett prints work in a very large piece is much easier than in a medium piece.
So as I went, I changed several fabrics.
This is how I began, a pink batik.
This shows the next two values, a batik that varies from a muddy pink to a blue purple and a print with red, purple, and yellow. This last one was my wild card. To me, it gives the impression of the spiky fur.
The fourth value is a deeper purple.
And the fifth value is the deepest purple.
And this is what she looks like after I went back and added the eyes. And I’m struck because I’ve used pink and purple, and yet she still comes across and orange and brown.
I made a black pieced background for her. At this point, I realized that she needed the deeper black in the pupil — the purple alone wasn’t giving quite enough depth.
And then I played with the background to make the piece come alive. My first thought was to add many narrow yellow strips on the black, but that became distracting. Someone suggested using some red too, and I played with placement until I came up with something that adds energy to the piece but doesn’t distract from the main subject.
It is about 36″ square which is what I would call a medium piece — but it’s large for the head of a dog. Its greatest impact is seen when you step back from the piece.
If you want to see it as completed, click on the thumbnail pic to the left or here.
My intention was for her to be somewhat abstracted, and in some way, my experiment yielded something strangely more realistic. I think using the deep purples pulls on the Impressionistic background I learned from my mother’s work. I may continue to explore that in my next piece.
I have completed Yvonne in the Garden. She was surprisingly easy to do. I’ve reached a point where portraits are not difficult constructions for me. Giving the piece deeper meaning is more difficult, however, than the technical skill required to create a portrait. For Yvonne, after her portrait was completed, I was tasked with putting her in a space that was hers. To anyone familiar with her work, I have hopefully succeeded by drawing on the inspiration of her work. For Yvonne, red was a neutral so it was an obvious choice. She loved hot colors. When I didn’t have enough of the right red, I just supplemented with purple — which I think was actually pretty close to what Yvonne would do. I then freehand drew out her name and flowers and a few stars to give the feeling of her inhabiting one of her own pieces. Since her passing, I think she would be happy existing in a realm of her own imagination.
I currently have two pieces hanging at the Abernathy Arts Center in Sandy Springs, GA through June 17th — both The Canary and The Last Supper. The reception was more fun than I’ve had in ages. I believe I was the only fiber artist in the show, but I had a very warm reception from the other artists and a lot of interest in my subjects. I’m finding that putting clues in my work is definitely a successful way of drawing interest in a piece. The gallery was packed that night, and I was surprised there weren’t more people that approached me regarding my self-portrait, but later in the evening, as the crowd thinned, I had more people recognize me from my work.
And now here we are at summer. I think I counted 10 or 12 pieces that I’ve done in the last year which is double what I usually do. At this point, I’m entering shows — 3 on Sunday and a couple more to come in the next month. I think I’m going to take a breath now and consider my next piece. DD2 came home last night with a very large raven painting that she did in school, and it calls to me. I’ve always loved the grace of ravens.
Pokey Bolton put out a call a few months ago for an exhibit honoring Yvonne Porcella. I was never personally acquainted with her, but she was the founder and first president of Studio Art Quilt Associates, an organization that has made great strides in advancing the art of the quilt in our culture, from which I have personally benefitted. So I have decided to pay homage to her exquisite life and learn more about her in the process.
She was part of a group of ladies for whom red was a neutral. Such brass. I struggle with hot colors, but I knew that this would be a fun challenge. I also hoped to merge my style with hers, and in the process, learn to further loosen up my creativity. My process of portraiture is largely controlled, but there is something to be said for freeing your mind to accept creative karma into your work. As you’ll see, it helped me immensely in the final design.
I chose a selfie of her from her Facebook photo album. I later realized that it was also the pic being used as the cover for the show, although that was not my original intent in choosing it. No matter. I was only using it for inspiration. My final piece would be markedly different.
I started with the lightest shades. The final piece will be relatively small — 18″ x 26″, so I could fit her face on my small pressing sheet (which at this point is torn and marked but it still works).
This is the 3rd value — you can begin to see the outline of her face take shape.
The 4th value give you shadows.
The 5th gives more.
The 6th value. The lines under her eyes are the shadows of her glasses on her face.
And yes, I’m pushing the envelope with a 7th value.
Her eyes in the picture were of no help. The shadow from her glasses was too great, so I had to redraw them as I thought they would be.
And here are her signature black and white checked glasses.
Then I added the teeth and the mouth.
And then she sat for a while, and I decided that her eyes weren’t commanding enough, so I changed the irises of her eyes to a deeper blue.
Yesterday, I finally had to time to work on her for a while. My original idea was not to have a hat or clothing — just have her face among blooms, but when the time came to cut into fabric, I wasn’t seeing it that way anymore. I changed my mind about the hat and the scarf and shirt, and I decided to have a green background with red, purple, pink, and orange squares covering it in a grid fashion.
And by the way, I didn’t photograph my first attempt at her hat. It was awful. When something is yellow, it is hardly every TRULY yellow. I threw it in my scrap bin and remade it in more orange and brown tones.
But you see, this is wrong also. It is not the spirit of her at all. So after I woke up this morning, I ripped her off that green. Red is her neutral, so I knew I needed to start with red.
I had the perfect piece, but it wasn’t large enough — which was actually perfect because it forced me to use purple — which is more like what she would have done. I also changed her shirt to a pattern that had warmer colors.
I studied several of her pieces, and decided that free-hand block letters of her name would be perfect in a bright red. Then I added the stars that she often used, and then finished with a few flowers.
I’m going to let it sit for the rest of the day before I decide if I want to add more. The print on the scarf is the right mix and black and white — but the square of the dominoes are making the scarf seem less flowing than a scarf should be. I may have to run to the fabric store for a replacement.
I find myself currently in the space in between. I accomplished so much work in January and February, and I now find that my creative self is requiring a break. I’ve been trying to cajole it into motion with small projects, leafing through pictures, reviewing calls for entry — it’s just not going anywhere right now. And that’s fine. Right now I have house company, and I’m enjoying doing for them. My studio went from looking like a train wreck a couple of weeks ago to a point now where it’s almost sterile. I put away all of the fabric from my last two projects as well as a bunch I got for Christmas. At least this gives me time to finish my taxes.
Leisa Rich & I decided to make one more piece for the Wash & Wax show exhibiting at Hammond Gallery at Jacksonville State University, thinking that the space was large enough to accommodate another piece. (By the way, we were wrong and ended up deleting a piece from the show for space limitations.) It’s a triptych in all grays — but with blue and green nail polish painted vinyl appliqués on the top. It’s much quieter from the other pieces but is striking on its own. I have a created a page for Dripped here.
While we were in Jacksonville, we had a one-day workshop for the art students. They do not currently have a textile program, but it was mind-blowing to me what these young adults could do with fabric in such a short period of time.
This is one of the students next to Bryce Lafferty, one of the professors who also curated our exhibit. The student is learning on to draw using one of Leisa’s sewing machines, and Bryce is working on a hand-sewn 3-dimensional piece.
Another one of the students, perfectly comfortable using the sewing machine as he would a pencil.
This is Brittany, who I predict is a future fabric stash-er in the making. I spent some time talking with Brittany. She’s incredibly talented. She’s graduating in May, and I hope that she finds the perfect place to grow in her artistic journey after graduation.
This particular piece is 2-d but organically shaped.
Hammond Gallery is newly renovated, and it’s a gorgeous gallery space. This is the entry with Entry Point above the guest book.
The large wall was reserved for Industrial Car Wash. It’s in a completely different composition than how it was presented at Abernathy. It has interchangeable pieces so it can fit different spaces. Given that the wall was a little smaller than the one we used at Abernathy, it is taller and reaches almost floor to ceiling.
Next to it is Skitter.
On the other adjoining wall are 6 of the photographs and 6 of the Micro Bubble Series. We actually had 8 of each but felt the wall was too crowded with 2 more rows.
Next to Skitter and covering the back entrance is Drive Thru Slowly made from actual car wash strips.
A far corner has Polish on the left, the 2 remaining photographs and 2 remaining Micro Bubbles, and then Leisa and I decided to bring individual pieces of our work for comparison to the collaborative work. Leisa brought Placid which we placed sculpturally on a pedestal (although it can also hang on the wall). I didn’t get a close-up picture of it, but you can find it on Leisa’s website here.
My piece is a self-portrait entitled The Canary. You can read more about it here.
This is an awesomely cool panoramic shot of the gallery that Leisa took.
And this is a side view of Dripped. It was at the far end and couldn’t be stretched into the panoramic. You can see the blue and green nail polish accents a little better in this shot.
This one was really tough to photograph, and I’m not sure how well I succeeded. I was considering purchasing an external flash, but now I’m leaning towards using a local photographer that I’ve been introduced to that I think would do a better job of photographing my work. He essentially creates a white box — but a whole room like that, and then shoots through a pinhole. He also knows exactly the angles to set up the lights so that you’ll still see the texture of the surface of the work. I’ve photographed my own work enough to appreciate that the man really knows what he’s talking about.
But now here I am. I went from insanely busy finishing work for the opening at the JSU and preparing for the workshop — to nothing. I am in between. I think I’ll just enjoy it for a while.
I have been working a blue streak in the studio lately. Not only did I finish The Canary, I also worked with Leisa to make 5 more small pieces for the Micro Bubbles Series (so we’d have 8 total for the JSU show) AND a large triptych for the Wash & Wax show opening at Hammond Gallery at Jacksonville State University on Thursday.
You can see The Canary on its new page here, and you can see the new Micro Bubbles Series II here — scroll down to the bottom to see Series II. I don’t have a pic of Dripped yet. It’s too large for my studio, but I’m planning to take pics of tomorrow once it’s hung at the gallery tomorrow.
The university has unfortunately changed the opening reception to invitation only. They will, however, have a public closing reception on April 7th, and the show will be open the entire month of March (after tomorrow when it’s hung). I have several friends in the area since I used to live near there that I hope will go see the show.
A friend of mine has asked me to explain how I do facings. I took pics and then decided maybe someone else would like to see how they’re done.
I started doing them during the Wash & Wax series. They give a much cleaner look than a binding, and they’re much easier on the fingers since you’re sewing through less layers. It was also the perfect finishing technique for pieces that had a lot of vinyl on them. I couldn’t iron a binding back from off the side of vinyl or it would melt the vinyl, but I had no problem ironing vinyl from the back of the piece while attaching facing.
I cut 2″ lengths for the four sides as well as 4 3-3/4 inch squares. The square is used in the corners, and the bias edge is a blessing.
Mark the top of the quilt with the finishing lines. I mark a rectangle with squared up corners (which with a large piece can be more easily said than done). Press each of the four squares in half. Then pin them into the corners that you’ve marked and sew them on with a 1/4″ stitch from the outside edges.
Take the 2″ strips and sew them together to make them long enough for each side (not all the way around). Fold back 1/4″ to the wrong side and press. Then I like to add 1/2″ fusible strips to hold down that 1/4″ that I’ve just folded back. Leave the paper on.
Then pin the facing strip to the sides — but don’t go all the way into the corner. I’m further over here to the left than I need to be. The folded bias square underneath is going to hide the edge anyway. It’s going to be on top after all of this is flipped to the back. After I made this one, I didn’t put the facing strip as far over on my next piece and had less bulk in the corner — which made turning the corner inside out easier.
Sew the 2″ strips to the front of the quilt, right sides together. The folded long side with the fusible will be on the opposite side.
Then press the strips open. Here, you see the top facing pressed open. The right side strip was pressed open and then was stay stitched about 1/8″ from the fold. That’s the next step. Stay stitch all the way around. It makes it easier for the facing to pull to the back. (Lock your stitches at each beginning and ending.)
Then take the paper off the fusible on one strip on one side. Using your iron and steam, pull the facing to the back and fuse down. Don’t worry about the corners until all of the sides are done.
Then take off the paper on the next strip and pull it down. Steam is your friend. The fusible will hold down the edge. If the facing isn’t straight, rip it off, reposition it, and re-steam it in place.
Notice that I used the same fabric for the backing, the facings, and the corners. I also used the same fabric for the sleeve. It gives it a clean look on the back.
I love using the fusible to hold everything in place until I can hand sew it down — which is the next step. I used to use the clear Elmer’s glue on bindings to hold everything in place before hand sewing, but I found that after a few years of travel, my bindings would begin to wrinkle. I think that even though the glue is water soluble, it wasn’t entirely washing out (even though I would soak my pieces in tubs of water for a while). Over time, it was drawing the fibers together — like a starch would. So it occurred to me to use fusible. It’s all over the front of my work — might as well use it on the back as well. And I know what to expect from it over time.
The first few times I did a facing, I topstitched all the way around from the front to the back. The thread color became an issue as I went around, so I didn’t care for that as much. The stay stitching accomplishes the same thing, and it’s invisible from the front.
So I haven’t written in a while. I’ve been working on a very personal piece, a self-portrait. I’m a very private person, and I need to remind a few of you of the boundaries here. I write my blog as a teaching tool. This is not intended as a preview into my personal life. If you enjoy reading it, that’s great, but if you know me personally, I don’t intend to answer questions about anything other than process to fellow artists and/or quilters. So please, don’t ask.
My original intention was to make two companion pieces. I intended to make a whole portrait of me (a picture I took of myself with a handy remote control for my camera) and then cut it in half. One piece would be the left half of the realistic me, & the right side would be an artistic interpretation of me inside. The other piece would be the same in reverse. Each piece would focus on two different views of who I am.
But this piece took on a life of its own. It didn’t want to be cut in half, and as I worked on her, she told me what to do.
This is the first flesh value.
This is the beginning of the hair.
And then rather than add a solid background, I started cutting out black and white fabrics. Not sure why. I had a lot of them in my stash, small pieces, and I cut them into strips and arranged them by value.
And then I sewed on the flesh section. It was really humbling to see myself bald. I had a friend years ago who shaved her head in solidarity with another woman who lost her hair due to cancer treatments. I had not really thought about it before, but women invest some of their identity in their hair. I don’t know that I could have done the same & shaved it. What would I look like bald? I guess now I have an idea. It’s not as bad as I expected.
And then I pinned this piece on the wall and asked my muse what it needed next.
I considered adding a raven on my shoulder. I like ravens, but I didn’t think it would work well with the background. So after thinking about it for a while, I settled on a little yellow canary. She adds a nice punch of color to my shoulder. Canaries are also the birds that miners used take into the mines with them to judge the air quality. As they went about their work in a dangerous place, the bird kept them safe through their life.
This was my first try. Yellow is hard to do. I decided she was too dark.
And at this point, it’s just not quite right. The left eye is too plain compared to the right eye. So I added darker fabric and some black embroidery around the left eye. It’s the light side of the face, but it has to balance the right.
Did I think of Frida Kahlo’s self-portrait with thorns when I did this? At some point, I did. But this is my interpretation. Me and my canary.
She’s basted now and ready for quilting. The deadline for the exhibit I’m entering her in is still over a month away, but I have a lot to get done between now and then. The first week of March, the Wash & Wax exhibit will be hung at Jacksonville State University, and Leisa Rich and I are making 5 more Microbubbles (small framed pieces) and one more large piece — a triptych.
Back in late July (I had to look this up — I can’t believe how long I’ve been working in this piece), I had an idea for a new piece. I had finished up most of the work for the Wash & Wax exhibit and wanted to get back to realism. A SAQA call for entry created a spark of imagination, and I was off and running on a large ambitious piece.
The central figure in this piece is a vulture. This is the vulture with the first value.
The second value.
The third value.
The fourth value. The bird really starts to come alive here.
The fifth value.
And the sixth value — all those really dark nooks and crannies.
But there’s a lot more to this piece than just the vulture. There’s also a stained glass window. I knew that if I had the right fabric, I could fussy cut sections to give me the stained glass effect. I scoured the local quilt shops, but they just didn’t have what I needed. I ended up finding some Paula Nadelstern prints online, however, that were perfect.
This is the beginning. The drawing is under the pressing sheet so you can see where I’m going with this.
I originally picked a print in teal, but at the last minute, I also bought it in another color way and ended up using them both. I used the teal for the swirls and the purple/green/red for the main windows.
I had a very small piece of fabric in my stash that was perfect for the outer border. I had less than a fat quarter, but I had just enough.
And then I added this black stained glass print for the leading (also a Paula Nadelstern print.)
I pinned it to my black design wall with the vulture to see how if they were working together.
And then I kept going. I had a picture I had taken years ago of the brass lectionary podium in a church. I considered drafting out values and using flat cotton fabrics, but really, there’s a lot more choices in that fabric store beyond cottons. I found this metallic gold spandex nylon that has a black shadow to it. It’s stretchy, but what the heck. I figured the Wonder Under would help stabilize it.
I was still able to cut out some fairly complex shapes without it falling apart. This is a part of a screen section.
And this is part of the larger structure. I didn’t take many pictures of the lectionary as I worked on it. Suffice it to say that I had luckily cut out all of the complex parts before I broke my wrist — my right wrist.
That was on Labor Day. I was in the middle of curating a show at The Art Place and preparing for the opening of Wash & Wax. Thankfully, the only work I had left for the opening was to hand sew the binding of a 9 foot long piece. With a cast on my right arm, I would insert the needle with the right hand, and then pull it through & out with the left.
This shows the lectionary completed with a wooden railing at the top, the stained glass window, and other elements.
And here is the vulture in his place. I did, by the way, appliqué each piece on to the background as I went. I couldn’t risk the spandex stretching out of control on me, and it didn’t stick as well as I would have liked with the Wonder Under — but working one piece at a time, I worked through it like a large puzzle.
This pic is blurry (the sheen off that metallic fabric was confusing the camera in my iPhone), but it shows the addition of the Arabic symbol for Nazarene spray painted on the back wall.
And then of course I had to add the spilled wine and broken bread at the bottom — symbolizing the broken blood and body of Christ — which also symbolizes the broken body and blood of Christians being murdered in the Middle East.
And even though I was in a lot of pain, I just kept going. Entries were due October 31, and I had spent too much time on this piece to miss the deadline.
I really worried about quilting this large piece. I still had my cast on, and I knew it would be heavy. I debated renting time on a long arm at the local quilt shop, but I finally realized that that was a new skill for me, and I really didn’t want this to be a practice piece for quilting.
So I moved all of my tables in my studio. In front of my machine, I have a board (which sits on my ironing board), and I put one table on the other side of that. Then I crammed another one just to the left of my chair. (I briefly envisioned creating a sewing table built like a doughnut.)
In the end, it worked. It supported the quilt perfectly, and I was able to quilt this in a week.
In this pic, you can see how the quilting outlines the vulture’s neck and defines his feathers better.
At about this time, I got my cast off, only to learn that I had lost 50% range of motion in my wrist. But I just kept going. I managed to add the facing and the sleeve to the back. And then I photographed it myself. I bought some more lights since the piece is so large (once again wishing I had a Speedlite flash), but after spending a couple of days on it (and wishing I had someone I could just take it to), I finally got some good, sharp pics for entry.
I entered it a week before the deadline. I was so proud of myself. I loved how the piece turned out, and I felt confident that it would be a great contender for inclusion in the show. You can see the full piece on its page The Last Supper.
I was wrong. My rejection email came this morning. However, I’m still very proud of this piece, and I was pushed to develop a complex story for my subject. I wouldn’t change a thing.
So I take the sting of rejection, and I move on. I will enter it somewhere else, and it will have a life. It didn’t fit in that show, but it will fit somewhere else. I just have to figure out where next is.