Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Machine Quilting

A bit more progress - but I've forgotten how to machine quilt!  It's been so long since doing any.

I've no idea why by the top thread kept nesting underneath; sometimes it shredded itself ... not sure which happened first.  Consequently, the back is a mess.

I tried to be adventurous using the feed dogs down.  Only a small section to go now.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Machine Quilting

I'm trying to be more expressive with my machine quilting.  Spent most of today working on practice sandwiches - then embarked on my Henry Dixon Quilt (working title at this stage)

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Image Transfer Technique - Clear Packaging Tape

I spent about three hours today, playing in water with image transfer, then later a further four hours with my hands in water again, but kitchen cleaning at my mums.

This technique comes from the book Collage Discovery Workshop by Claudine Hellmuth.

Following yesterdays attempt, with the dark photo printed on a photocopier, I tried out a variety of image sources, cigarette cards, glossy magazines, and a 1987 map.  Actually I began with an altered book I'm doing and went in search of pictures.  I keep a box of pictures and images, stuff I can't resist knowing that one day, somewhere it will be incorporated into a piece of art of some kind.  I came across some 1920's sepia cigarette cards and decided to try lifting the image.

In this image you can see the back of a similar photo from a cigarette card - all the paper hasn't come away on either of these to create a transparent image.

Well they don't make paper / card like they used to - there were layers of glue to work through.  I was even able to separate the back text from the image on the front once wet, without destroying either.  You can see from the photo that I did a number of these - in different ways to see what would work best.  It depends on your definition of best really.  Timewise it's faster to stick to the tape, immerse in boiling water, then separate the back from the front, and reimmerse in water again, then work at rubbing off the paper.  But it didn't successfully remove the very last layer of paper to make the image sheer.  It will be in a hot water bath again tomorrow to see if this will help.

In the process of doing these, I discovered:

  • That not all papers are equal!  
  • Different types of cigarette cards gave different results.  The glossy photo like ones, still retained a degree of paper on the back (see picture above)
  • Printed matt pictures on cigarette cards were more transparent.
  • Its possible to get two images from cigarette cards - both the front and the back with the description.
  • Glossy magazine pictures are by far the easiest to do (so far).  
  • Getting the clear tape on without it creasing takes time and practice, and is best if you anchor the tape down to a surface off your piece first, then ease it on, rubbing flat with the side of your thumb.    I followed this with rubbing with a plastic spoon, to ease out any bubbles and make sure that the tape is stuck to every part of the image.  
  • Being able to look at the tape with light shining on it helps you to see what needs smoothing.
  • That you can put down tape to do an image bigger than the width of the tape - but you need to overlap the tape by about 1/4 of an inch.
  • That if you want random edges, you will need to tear it the way you want first, because the tape won't tear in the same way as paper.
  • When tearing the paper you need to think in reverse.  On the Stone cherub below, I wanted that look of a white edge when you tear the paper - but of course you aren't going to get it if you tear so that the the white edge is on the top ... because you are going to rub all that paper away.
  • For more interesting edges you therefore need to tear with the white edge on the reverse of the image.
  • That you don't have to rub the paper off with your finger tip - you can use a soft sponge - like an XLO cloth.
  • When wet, the tape with the transfered image doesn't seem all that sticky.  I put them on paper towels and when they dried, they had adhered to the paper, and needed another quick hot bath to remove it.  Currently they are drying on a towel rack.  Tomorrow I will try storing them between sheets of waxed paper.
New questions:
Will I be able to stick stuff on top of this tape to create a new layer above, or will this need to be the top layer. 

Here are the photo's of today's work.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Art on Good Friday

I played with a couple of techniques today, did some sketching, cut out some pieces to collage and got in a bit of stitching - but haven't alot I can photograph to show.  A couple of weeks back I went to see an art exhibition called Degas to Dali and got really memorised by the surrealist artists, and I've also been reading about collage.  Not having to draw or paint everything appeals to me as I'm just finding my wings with both.  So I spent yesterday sketching roughly and heading to the photocopier to make copies.  I've become intrigued with Sandro Bottecilli's Birth of Venus.  In 1934 a Scottish artist named Edward Baird also painted his version of the original - I guess using it as a theme.  I'm thinking of something along the same lines, but got a bit stuck after a few sketches.  I probably need to just bowl right on in and work intuitively, letting the ideas come and go and be applied.

I also played with a couple of new techniques - heat transferring and using clear tape to transfer images or text into an art work.  Later one works really well, and your image has the glossyness of clear tape.  All of these transfer techniques are size restricted.  I found transferring the words this way works well, and photographs less well, because the application of laser inks is denser and therefore the image isn't as see through if the colours of the photograph are darker.  In this case, when you put the image down, even on a white background it looks like a sheer glossy photo, without letting the background really pop through.  

While at the library to photocopy, I picked up a BBC TV series on DVD called Larkrise to Candleford.  If you like historical BBC, you'll probably like this - it was great to embroider to.  So here is the picture of some of my efforts today - I've been working on this piece for a little while to make a cushion, to go with my blue and white theme.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Degas to Dali - Auckland Art Gallery

The Degas to Dali exhibition on at the Auckland Art Gallery, brought lots of surprises.  It was my first visit since the opening of the new gallery.  It is an incredible facility of international standards, showing its uniquely New Zealand niche.  The architecture is stunning!  Nikau trees created in warm woods; a fabulous external sculpture of giant ikebana proportions; a wonderful modern art exhibition, the box of mirrors; a children’s creativity centre and Degas to Dali.

Check out the links to see the images of the works I talk about in this post.  All of the images on display were on loan from the Scottish National Gallery.

The exhibition was a series of discoveries for me, blowing apart pre-held perceptions of what I might see.  The works of Edgar Degas were greener in colour than the images of the dancers that I know; and I was surprised to see pastel works as well as oil paintings.

I was intrigued by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s graphic work on paper; Jane Averil.  This intrigued me because I found him comparing Jane to Eve through the symbology of a snake wrapping itself around her dress.  I like the ‘flat’ style of the female form – although we are used to this way of presentation, for its time it was new.

I enjoyed Salvador Dali’s, Raphaelesque Head painted in 1951.  It’s a play on Raphel’s Madonna.  The inner skull is the interior dome of Rome’s Pantheon.  I liked it a lot, loving the colours, the detail … I could have this in my home and not tire of it.  I didn’t expect to really like the surrealists, but I found I did, and probably more so than any other part of the exhibition, except for a couple of the modernists.

Other surrealists that I enjoyed include:  The Birth of Venus, Edward Baird, a Scottish painter again playing on the original painting of the same title by Sandro Botticelli.  The allegories are the same, both painted for weddings; venus emerging from the sea.  I know nothing about surrealism, but looking at this work, it seems that perhaps incorrect proportions are a feature of this style.

The collage work by Eileen Agar (1899 – 1991), called Fish Circus caught my eye and drew me close to study it.

With the Modernists, I discovered a work completed in 1938 by Alexander Calder called The Spider.  This is, I think, the first time I’ve ever seen Kinetic Art (art that moves).  The spider spins, and the art is created on the wall behind, as if the spider is crawling over the wall.  Really fantastic.

I hadn’t realized that a Joan Miro from 1925 would be included – black chalk on canvas, exploring symbols; making marks.  The last modernist I loved was the illusion of movement created in black and white lines in 1931 by Bridget Riley.  We think in our uneducated wisdom that these things are new in our world, but here, this work is already 80 years old!

Self Portrait: Collage

Here's what I got up to today, after updating sketch books with images I've collected.

My sketchbooks after the visit to Degas to Dali Exhibition last month.  There's a post coming about this.

I know ... stick with the day job ... ha ha

I was really surprised how hard this was to do ... perhaps I made it hard.  I enjoyed it but it was a long process - it probably took about four hours to do.  (A4 size).

And now for the photo I copied:

Thursday, April 05, 2012

I'ts Easter holiday weekend ...

I have four consecutive days off.  I'm staying home and adopting a mantra for the weekend:

Create, Discover, Immerse.

Let's see how I progress - I know it will involve some paint, perhaps some fabric, some new techniques, words, writing ... Let's see.  Check back tomorrow.  Maybe it will be a photographic story and some words.

Enjoy your holiday weekend.