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Quilts=Art=Quilts

In 10 days I will be boarding a plane to attend the Quilts=Art=Quilts Artist Reception at the Schweinfurth Art Center in Auburn, New York where my quilt—Julia’s Tree—will make its debut on October 28, 2017.  This is a very exciting time for me—my first opportunity to show a quilt in an international show!

I am thrilled to be part of what I’m sure will be a very exciting show.  Such a terrific lineup of artists! Once the show kicks off, I will post a few details about how I created the art quilt.

“No Rhyme or Reason”

I loved putting this quilt together–and as its name suggests, I did not follow any plan as I worked.  There are lots of digitally designed pieces as well as simple prints from photos in my photo collection.

The quilt was quilted by Julia Jeans of threaddancing.com in Bend, Oregon.  Click for an enlarged view of the quilt.  This quilt will be on display at the upcoming Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show on July 8, 2017, in Sisters, Oregon.

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Read All About It (Redux)

Pretty excited once again to be included in the April/May 2017 Quilting Arts Magazine.  What fun–a “double-page spread” (well, sort of).  It’s a collaborative piece with Julia Jeans of Bend, Oregon–Julia is a wonderfully talented fiber artist in her own right as well as longarm quilter (threaddancing.com) from Bend, Oregon.  The quilted art piece was the result of lunch at Worthy’s in Bend where sunflowers are typically on display at the front entrance–in season, that it. While playing around with some photos one afternoon after a lunch at the Worthy Brewery, we came up with this interesting combination of photos.  Fun to create and thrilled the magazine selected for a finalist in its flower challenge.

Leveraging Your Own Artwork Key to Creative Digital Art

I like to use what I have, which is what led me in the first place to leveraging my own artwork and incorporating it into my art quilts. To paraphrase a popular expression, it’s not the size [of the collection] but how you use it.  As I have discovered in my artistic adventure during the last few years, variety of resources is the key.

For my work in digital design, variety translates into photos, backgrounds, and marks or writing. I do not believe that photos must be superlative. In fact, I find that the quality of the image isn’t important because it will be masked with either a filter or a layer. If you treat everything as either art or a potential source for your digital notebook, interesting and creative designs will result.

Original photographs. This includes photographs you have taken and digitized. Suggestions include photos of people, flora and fauna, and textures, such as bark, rock, weathered siding, or anything with texture. Photos will end up being modified, so again quality is not necessary. Simply look for color and line.  Some suggested ways of creating a “photo library” include organizing by subject, specific use in quilt, color similarity, or by theme.

I’ve read suggestions to take numerous photos of same subject matter.  That way different perspectives, views, colors, and lines can be obtained from one subject.  Thinking about color and line is important when snapping a photo. That way photos serve a dual purpose—photos that are both interesting and can be used for layers or backgrounds.

The following is a list of types of images one might consider using when creating a folder of images useful for creating digital fabrics.

Sketchbook Art. Sometimes it is difficult to get started with a digital image, and I have found that sketchbook art is a good source and/or starting point. The hard work has already been done and once digitized, then you can use all or part ojournalf the image. Here is an example of one of my art journal pages.  In Photoshop Elements, it can be used as is or modified with filters or other layers.

 

Marks. “Mark-making” is an effective surface design generator. You can make marksyour own marks with a permanent black marker such as a Sharpie or Pitt pen  and then scan the sheet of marks, creating an image for future use as a layer or filter.  Another effective way to use marks is to print your “mark” image on organza and use as a physical layer in your quilt.

Monoprints and/or Gel-prints. Create your own textured or colored backgrounds or artwork from gel-plate prints or monoprints. Digitize on a scanner or with a camera. Once digitized, all parts of the image gelprintscan be used for layering—which can change the coloring of your image or simply printed onto fabric. Or you can slice the images up with the crop tool (and even change the color of each segment) to add to a future collage. This photo is a collection of prints I made with a commercial gel-plate.  I can use these images as backgrounds when layering with other images or simply print them onto fabric and cut them up.

Scanned stamps or drawings. Hand-carved stamps can be useful in digital work.  Prints can be scanned straight from a sketchbook, which is what I did here to obtain individual images of some of my favorite stamps and print plates.  Black ink is the most effective and you can always change it once yostampsu have digitized. This can be accomplished in a couple of ways—scanned or by creating a brush.

 

 

Photos of your quilts. I think this is self-explanatory. In the past I have used segments of quilts I made and printed the segment to fabric.  Using sections of other quilts you’ve made is a quick and easy way to fill a large area

Photos of fabrics you’ve dyed or even enhanced. After I dye or print on fabric if I like the color or effect, I take a photo. I’ve found that they can be used as another source of background material, as simple lasoysyer, or just used again printed out onto fabric. All you need to do is put two layers together for some interesting effects. Here is a collection of some of the fabrics I have photographed and then used in a digital design.

Purchased textures. Purchased images—especially textures—are a gtexturesreat source of image material to use in creating depth and variety in fabric deign. Resolution is typically 300 dpi, which is more than enough for effective manipulation—and there is no worry about copyright issues. You can also find free backgrounds on the Internet that are downloadable and ready for use in the same way.

Surface design work. Using your own—already completed work—can make interesting layers. I make it a habit of photographing most everything I do—usually on my phone. You never know what is going to make an interesting layer. Photograph as you create dyed fabric, resists, stamped, print blocks themselves, writings/text, monoprints, papers used in design work, maps, architectural drawings, scribbles/doodles.

Collage or mixed media. The result of this work can easily be used whole or cut apart. In addition, you can create a paper collage and then print or mix with another photo.

In my next post, I’ll discuss creating my own original art using Photoshop Elements.  Below is an example of several of my “original” images I created through a variety of techniques.

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My Take on Digital Design

I do not want to create realistic works of art. My goal is to take realistic works and modify until they are something different—such as combining with other photos and/or images so they become something totally new.

In my world of editing, verbs provide the action in a sentence. And in creating interesting pieces of art, “layers” provide the real action and offer the greatest opportunity for variety and dimension for a design.

Just as thinking in terms of layers on fabrics using surface design techniques such as stamps, thermofax, screens, stencils, or marks, those techniques can be artfully replicated and perhaps even more interestingly achieved by way of the digital process.

Books can merely provide “samples” of what might happen when you apply a filter, but the best way to decide what works for you and your personal aesthetic is experimenting. Some books contain examples of “what happens if” you apply artistic filters, but I’ve found there is more variety using other techniques. Simply applying one filter is not enough for me. It is, however, useful if you want to merely create a different look, but not for digital surface design. Digital surface design involves much more—and the rewards—I believe—are much greater.

Why design on the computer?

In a word: “originality.” Using a computer for design means the opportunities for creativity and originality are endless. Creating your own stylized photos for your artwork or quilts can give your work a unique look and feel. Those photos can be printed on home printers in small 8” x 11” pieces of fabric or melded into larger pieces and printed for yardage at places such as Spoonflower. I do not have experience with Spoonflower because I like to keep the sheets small, and I’m not much for repeat patterns.

Fabric prints I have created have totally exceeded my expectations. I started out simply thinking about the things I already had digitized that I thought would be interesting on fabric. But the more I worked with them, the more ideas I got.

My first real experiment was taking a watercolor piece I painted and trying to digitize it in Adobe Illustrator, then color it, and print to fabric. Once I had done that, however, it seemed kind of “blah.” My initial idea was to print the digitized piece onto fabric and then quilt—I ended up printing in segments but wasn’t that thrilled with the results.

I then moved into experimenting with ideas that basically amounted to creating a simple image in Photoshop Elements, applying a few effects, and then printing. Again, I felt the results were just “so-so.” It wasn’t until I took a few watercolor journaling workshops that I got the idea to digitize and start combining with miscellaneous backgrounds—creating layered effects.

From there I have ramped up my “productivity” of surface design work—branching out into numerous areas—with anything and everything being fair game. From using simple photos to deconstructing and reassembling parts of photos to complex layering—nothing is off limits. I especially like creating original pieces from a variety of sources.

Photos I “rework” in Photoshop Elements I’m calling reimagined photos because I am applying to them my own view or vision for that photo. It could be something as simple as a filter or change in saturation or as complex as several layers melded together so I can no longer easily discern the original.

Here are a few examples of how just the smallest of changes I made to a simple photo changed the whole look of an image.   For an enlargement of the images, click on the individual photo.  Cut up or printed out as small, medium, or large prints, these images can be used in a variety of ways in your quilts.

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In my next post, I will discuss the types and variety of images that can be used.

Next:  Creating a Digital Notebook

 

The Versatility of Collage: Part I

I am fascinated with collages.  Over the last several years I have tried a variety of them—paper, fabric, and digitized images—and with each, I have felt an exhilarating sense of creativity and ability to create texture and movement with color and various images.

According to the dictionary, a collage is a piece of art made by sticking various different materials such as photographs and pieces of paper or fabric onto a backing.  

As an art form, collages are simply the most versatile art around, and I have developed several methods that work well for both my fabric as well as my digital art.

Fabric Collages

I love the process of creating fabric collages.  In my opinion, who wouldn’t love sitting at one’s work table and simply applying snippets of fabric and/or paper to a background?  Just like being back in grade school.  It’s a great way to use scraps, and most pieces seem to just “go together.”  They almost create themselves.  Quick and easy.  And I love quick and easy!

Here is an example of a wall hanging I created using my “simplified” method.  I used this piece as a sample for the class I was preparing to teach—Digital Surface Design—at The Stitchin’ Post in Sisters.

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I got started creating collages with fabric after taking a class last year from the talented Valerie Goodwin on how she created her innovative art quilt maps.  Although I loved the results of her method, I wanted to simplify it.  While Valerie uses crinoline for her backings, I tried several ideas but settled on muslin because it is cheap, flexible, and can easily be stitched together to create larger pieces.  I then simply stick bits and pieces of fabric on the muslin with a glue stick, after which I use my machine’s wide assortment of decorative stitches to sew the seams together.  Works great, and I love the end result, which can be colorful and full of visual texture.  The stitching of my class sample clearly shows the stitching used in the fabric wall hanging.  I then created the usual “quilt sandwich” and quilted with a grid–which as it turns out is a favorite.

Paper Collages

I got interested a couple of years ago in creating paper collages as part of a mixed media kick.  One technique has often lost out in favor of another as I have worked my way through experimenting with various surface design techniques.  I’ve used a variety of paper products such as scrapbook papers plus papers I created myself with acrylic paints or a gel plate to make up paper collages.  I love the versatility as well as the spontaneity of the process.  Obviously, the results can be endless as well as versatile.

How to Use

To me, the process of creating a collage is much like putting a quilt together—but much easier because it is very forgiving.  What might be viewed as mistakes can easily be corrected by simply covering it up, whereas with fabric, one must take out or cut out the stitching. But because I love textiles, almost everything I do or create is done so with fabric in mind.

Once I finished my first paper collage I photographed it with my phone and on a lark ended up printing it on fabric.  I liked the results of that so much that I decided that what I would do for a couple of upcoming classes would be to make my own fabric based on collage work. The elongated image is a photo of the collage I printed to fabric with my home printer.  I subsequently quilted it, thinking it might ultimately be framed or faced and used as a wall hanging.  The other two collages I printed onto fabric and used as original fabric for a couple of quilts I had planned for a class.  The pieces can be seen scattered through several of my quilts in my gallery.  The paper collages turned out to be excellent resources for a multitude of projects, and remain as such, for once created, the use in projects is surely endless.

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“Mashup” Digital Designs

If you asked me what I enjoy doing the most for relaxation, I would tell you that my favorite way to “chill” is creating designs with my favorite photo-editing software, which by the way is Photoshop Elements.

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The images above are just a couple examples of images I have created on the computer and have ultimately printed onto fabric and incorporated into quilts.  It’s a great way to add variety and interest to what I’m working on–and the best part is that it is a print on demand process.

I dubbed these images “mashup” because sometimes I bring together three, four, or five images that have no relationship whatsoever.  And I think that is actually what makes them interesting.  I choose these images almost randomly.  Sometimes it is for color and at other times for lines.

Below is an example of how I have used several different prints of my mashup digital art.  In some cases I cut it into strips while at other times I simply used larger, more colorful, sections.

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