Monday, July 31, 2017

Art Quilts Maine Challenge on Tour!

Art Quilts Maine Challenge quilts debuted at Maine Quilts  in Augusta last week. Both the Mixed Media Mash-Up challenge and the Portrait Challenge were hung, side by side, and they looked great. Both sets of quilts are now awaiting tags and hangers so they can travel around Maine!

First scheduled stop: Kimball St Studios, in Lewiston. They will be at that venue from mid-October through mid-November. Contact the gallery for their hours. There will be a reception during Lewiston's Art Walk L/A, Friday October 20.

There will be another opportunity to see the show when it travels to the Portland Public Library for the winter--dates still to be determined. The quilts may have looked good at Maine Quilts but they SHINE at the individual venues.

Make a date and plan to catch this show!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

MORE Trees

Tree Three Dusk
Rana O'Connor 2017
One of my students, Lisa, thought my trees would be a fine contribution to "A Taste of Tidewater - 10 x 10 Art Sale", benefiting the University of Maine Gardens at Tidewater Farm in Falmouth. The fundraiser is held annually in August. This year it is on Thursday, August 24 at the Parish House of the Episcopal Church of St Mary in Falmouth.

In addition to 75 original works of art by Maine artists, the event includes small plates and desserts created by some of Greater Portland's amazing chefs. Each piece of art is just 10" x 10" and is priced at $200. All art is displayed online prior to the event, starting August 1. I have nearly completed the two pieces I am submitting. Trees, of course, with different backgrounds, mounted on 10" x 10" wood panels provided by the organizers. Painted black, the panels create a perfect frame for the small trees.

I don't know the rules about revealing the artwork ahead of time, so the image here is a teaser--a tree I completed earlier for a friend.

Can't attend in person? Artwork not sold on August 24 will available for sale online for a week following the event, through September 4. Check it out!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Student Work

Lisa's Tree 2017
Lisa sent me a picture of her tree, begun in the "Tree Bits and Thread Paint" workshop recently! She added a bush to one side, and quilted the background with small circles, which was a great choice from my perspective, as my favorite part of her tree is the red fabric with colorful circles that appears in three or four locations.

Class trees ranged from the more realistic to fantasy, with curls and curves a la Dr Seuss. Placing tree bits took much of the day, but as the trees took shape class participants began to see the possibilities. It's fun and relaxing, playing with fabric in such a low-stress way. Watch for the class to be scheduled again later this year!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Road Trip!

Dana Thank You
Great road trip with a friend last week. Dana proposed driving to Amherst, Mass to see a quilt show. Obviously the right words to get me out of the studio! While Dana is not a quilter, the show featured two artists she knew well, a mother and daughter, both named Valerie. Valerie (the elder, at 92!) quilts while her daughter is a watercolor artist. Their show was hung in a space with lots of natural light and great seating. We spent hours talking about fabric, art and design techniques. The work was colorful and varied, with some lovely fabric landscapes. Valerie's story mirrors mine in another way--she grew up in Iran! Born in Russia, she emigrated to Tabriz then attended high school in Tehran, where she met and married an American serviceman, moving to the US in 1947! I moved to Iran in 1960, returning to the US in 1973. Small world. I wanted to make Dana a thank you card for suggesting the day's adventure and handling all the details. Knowing she spends lots of time at the beach, I pulled fabrics to create a beach scene, cut wavy lines for the ocean and sand dunes and layered them on batting. The sky was a real find--a piece of light blue with white flowers that were just abstract enough to suggest clouds and sun. A handful of shells and beads added a bit of focus. Hope she likes it! Below, two pieces from the show--love the similar color palette!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Tree Bits and Thread Paint

Teaching a new class in a couple of weeks! Titled "Tree Bits and Thread Paint" it will be at The Sewing Machine Exchange in Falmouth. I am encouraged by the interest in this class--we had to schedule a second session to accommodate participants! I know several people signed up with a friend, which is such a great way to go--the class is more fun when you have someone to share the experience.

The idea for this class grew out of a technique in my pattern, "Safe Harbor."
Safe Harbor © Pattern available at The Sewing Machine Exchange
When I taught the all-techniques class based on this pattern, several people wished we could have spent more time on the tree, so I designed this 5-hour session. I developed the tree bits and thread paint technique and have used it for several different applications including water and hair. We'll take a look at various applications during class.

Missed out on this round? Send Tyler a note and we will put you on the list to be emailed when we schedule the next one. Here's a sneak peak at the class project for "Tree Bits and Thread Paint".
Tree Two 2017 ©

Monday, February 13, 2017

Try Something New!

I downloaded a video by Esterita Austin called "Dynamic Fabric Art Portraits." I've linked to a short video preview. The technique was intriguing and I wanted to give it a try . . . sometime. Lucky for me, Art Quilts Maine members Jane and Pam issued a challenge in October to create a 12" x 14" portrait. Finished pieces were to be revealed in February. What a perfect opportunity to experiment with Esterita Austin's technique! Her portraits begin with a piece of hand dyed fabric.
Fabric used for Face
By means of judicious cutting, the entire face is constructed from that single piece of fabric. I was amazed at the way the features came together! Part two of her technique involves using tiny amounts of light and dark paint to add a few highlights and shadows. A thin line defines the eyes, a little white paint highlights the bridge of the nose, but there is minimal manipulation other than choosing how and where to cut the fabric. Speaking of which, my fabric looked rather ratty after I cut it all apart--you must be willing to sacrifice your piece of fabric to the portrait! Having created the face from one piece of fabric, I decided to use only one other piece to finish. I found this great, colorful elephant print in my stash and began cutting it apart into separate elements.

Fabric used for Frame
Jane gave us each a piece of red fabric to incorporate in our portraits, which I did though I defy you to find it! There are 6 or 8 pieces of the dark red fabric tucked in with the elephants and plants surrounding the face. This was really fun to do and I learned several tricks to use in future portraits, my current obsession! Here's my finished piece--still working on a name--any ideas?

Portrait 2017

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Loose Threads

Time to do a little catching up. I have been busy in the studio, finishing up a few projects and clearing the decks to begin something new, while debating whether to schedule a new class. 

I put the final touches on the mermaid batik print, "Enchanted Oro Bay". This was such a fun piece to work on--threadwork, beading, quilting, glitter! At the very end I made the decision to quilt her skin, and what a difference that made.  I am so happy with the result that I plan to do the same for the three Fates depicted on "Working the Thread of Life" when they return from their Maine tour. That quilt, along with others from  Art Quilts Maine is held over at Kimball St Studios through November! I'll be collecting them after Thanksgiving, as the challenge pieces move on to the Portland Public Library for December and January. I do hope you have an opportunity to see the show at Kimball St--it is more extensive than the Challenge Tour. 

The piece below was begun in Dianne Hire's workshop this summer. We spent a day making curved pieced blocks, with free-hand cutting and easy stitching. If you ever have the opportunity to take a class with her do so--Dianne puts on a really fun workshop. I put the finished blocks together while at Friendship and decided to depart from Diane's style of bold colors set off by black and white. I happened to have a large floral print on hand, which became a bold border for the muted blocks. Here is a shot of the top before quilting.


What's on my design wall now? In a further exploration of human figures, I decided to take on a portrait quilt. I am building "Layla" right on the enlarged photograph. Learning as I go, this piece is all about value and shape. I can't tell where it will end, or what decisions I may make along the way. For now, it is coming along an hour or two at a time. 

Time in the studio is great. Absorbing, challenging, sometimes surprising. Whatever your passion, I hope you find time to pursue it--whether an hour or two at a time or all day every day!