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06 January 2016

New Work: Tag, You're It!

Bless you, anyone who is still following my long-neglected blog! I’m sorry for the long time between posts.  It doesn't help that Windows Live Writer is having relationship issues with Blogger so I'm writing this post using the very user-unfriendly Blogger online tool, but that is no excuse.
 
To make up for my tardiness, I offer some light-hearted, colorful photos of my most recent work.  Up first is “Tag You’re It!” – my answer to the 3-Dimensional Challenge for Viewpoints 9.
 



It all started with this gorgeous hand-dyed fabric, which I’ve had in my studio for over a year.  It was made by Carol R. Eaton Designs, using some kind of magical dying technique involving snowballs, I think.  For some time I’ve wanted to use this fabric, but I really didn’t want to cut it up or cover it with objects or images.  So this month I decided to make the fabric an essential part of the composition.  The splashes of color remind me of airbrush or aerosol spray paint, which led me to thinking about graffiti and street art.

To answer the 3D challenge, I made a realistic-looking “spray can” (also the reflective element for my overall theme).  The shadow provides an illusion of perspective in a 3 dimensional space, as if the can is sitting on the ground near a spray-painted wall. The can was also stuffed and sewn so that it curves slightly out from the surface.


Technical details: Finished size 35”w x 40”h
Hand dyed and batik fabrics, hand-guided machine quilting, raw edge applique
Spray can was made with a remnant of a previous V9 quilt


Up next is a “sweet” Chocolate Lab, a commissioned pet portrait which was delivered over the holiday break.





Aw, look at that face! I love dogs….

Technical details: Finished size 15”w x 15”h
Hand dyed and batik fabrics, hand-guided machine quilting, raw edge applique
Attached to a 20”x 20” painted canvas, wired in the back for hanging

01 November 2015

New Work: Along the Lines of Jackson Pollock

For the latest Viewpoints 9 challenge, I was inspired by an American art movement, Abstract Expressionism, and one artist in particular: Jackson Pollock.

I took the information I gathered about Pollock (art history books, biographies, videos of the artist at work) and attempted to translate that sense of ACTION into fiber art.  While making the “Hummingbird” pieces in a previous challenge, I got a glimpse of that expressionist freedom and I felt compelled to push it further – and much MUCH larger.

I used yarns of different thicknesses that reminded me of the dripped-paint lines in Pollock’s work.  But once I started dripping the yarn onto the white canvas background, I stopped thinking about Pollock’s paintings or my own plans, or really much at all.  All I cared about was adding line after line after line, only occasionally wondering where the next scribble of color should go… until the field was nearly covered.

working Photo Oct 04, 1 17 12 PM Photo Oct 06, 9 31 39 AM Photo Oct 06, 9 37 08 AM

The results are.. whatever they are.  But what was more important to me was the creative process itself. My approach was a mix of intuition, freestyle gestures and controlled composition.

I LOVE the effect of layers of lines on top of each other, creating a web of scribbles that fill my field of vision. Strands pulled out of a piece of gold foil fabric are mixed in with the yarn, adding little bits of reflected light.  As I stand and look at the gestures and movement of the lines, I can retrace my steps and re-live the wonderful experience of making this piece. This type of work is so unlike me (or my usual style) and yet I feel very deeply, personally connected to it.

KThemel_Lines

Lines_detail

Technical details: Whole cloth white cotton background, various yarn, metallic and rayon threads, fusible web, acrylic tulle; hand-guided machine quilting
Finished size 40”H x 52”W

31 August 2015

New Work: Found

I was contemplating the latest Viewpoints 9 challenge (unusual materials) and searching for inspiration when it showed up in my mailbox.  My friend and creative collaborator Carol R Eaton had sent me a surprise gift – a piece of hand dyed fabric.  Carol had made it as an experiment and thought I would like the results (I do!)

Found_full

That began a vague idea about found objects: buttons, a zipper, safety pins – things found around the studio. I took the piece on vacation with me and added to it as I found the time. At first I chose the safety pins as a way to incorporate “reflection” into the piece. But I found that I really enjoyed the repetitive action of pinning them.

A picture began to emerge in my mind – a gentle rain falling on some kind of plant or flower.  That led me to think about the way plants grow. As long as they have a few key conditions (water, sunlight, air) they grow wherever they find the space. The buttons toward the bottom are bunched together, in layers and clumps, as if they are competing for space.

Found_detail 

Found_detail3

Technical details: Finished size 18x40
Materials: hand-dyed fabric, various buttons, cotton and metallic thread, safety pins, zipper

29 June 2015

New Work: Rock Star

I created “Rock Star” for the latest Viewpoints9 challenge – a finished piece measuring 42” in height using neon colors. For this, our third cycle of Viewpoints9, each artist had the added challenge to choose one idea or theme that will run through all of our compositions. My overall theme is Reflection.

"Neon" reminds me of nightclubs, bar signs and sometimes the your-name-in-lights idea of fame. Which made me think of music.  I ran upstairs and recruited one of my favorite "models" to pose for this portrait (my son, home from college on summer break). I used a desk light to create a single light source, to resemble a stage spotlight.  He was already playing guitar so he didn't really have to work too hard. LOL

To fulfill the challenge, I used neon-colored fabrics in green, yellow and red-orange, as well as some neon blue and pink threads.  For my overall theme of "reflection", the shiny metal surfaces of the button on the guitar strap and the tuners seem to fit the bill.  Reflection could also refer to the way Graeson turns to music when he wants to chill out alone.  He becomes absorbed in the music as he improvises melodies.  Not having any musical ability myself, I find it fascinating. It seems like a form of meditation or mental escape.

technical details:
finished size 28"W x 42"H
cotton fabric, hand cut and layered and secured using raw-edge applique, quilting with hand-guided free motion stitching, rayon and polyester threads

27 April 2015

New Work (Finally!): Two Hummingbirds

Our first Viewpoint 9 challenge of cycle 3: Use thread in a new way.

I decided to use embroidery floss and thread for shape and color as well as line. The only fabrics used in these two pieces are for the backgrounds.

Challenge1_darkChallenge1_light

Putting these together was incredibly fun.  I will say I experienced a childish JOY while pulling apart embroidery floss and letting it fall down onto the ‘canvas’. Some of the outlining threads were carefully placed, but most were just dropped into squiggly piles.

Challenge1_detail

Read more about this piece and all the challenge quilts on the Viewpoints 9 blog. Gallery opens today!

18 March 2015

Join Me for the Opening of Contemporary Fiber: Breaking Tradition

Photo Mar 12, 1 00 06 PM

Big news! I'm thrilled to be one of 10 artists invited to participate in "Contemporary Fiber: Breaking Tradition" at the Lore Degenstein Gallery. The show runs from April 11 – May 11, 2015.

I'm honored to have my artwork in the company of Beth Carney, Linda Colsh, Jane Dunnewold, Valerie Goodwin, Meredith Grimsley, Katie Pasquini-Masopust, Mary Pal, Susan Shie and Paula Swett.

Please join me at the opening reception:
Saturday, April 11 from 7 to 9PM

Lore Degenstein Gallery at Susquehanna University
Degenstein Campus Center, upper level
514 University Avenue
Selinsgrove, PA 17870
http://www.susqu.edu/arts/gallery.asp 

05 March 2015

New Work: Holi Joe

As part of the Viewpoints 9 "Play Time" challenge, I present my newest portrait "Holi Joe".  My inspiration for this challenge is the colorful Indian festival of Holi.

Holi is celebrated at the approach of vernal equinox, on the full moon. The festival date varies every year, per the Hindu calendar (this year it will be March 6). Holi signifies the victory of good over evil, the arrival of spring, a celebration of color and for many a festive day to meet others, play and laugh, forgive and repair relationships.

Photo Feb 26, 1 39 32 PM

I have been "working on" a portrait of my Dad for over a decade. I have many times started and stopped and put various sketches on the back burner.  My previous attempts at a portrait revolved around this one black and white photo that was used on my Dad's funeral mass book (ask your Catholic friends what that is).

As I considered the Holi festival, I thought about playing, laughing and repairing relationships. So in in that spirit, I decided to "repair the relationship" between my memories of my Dad during his life and the associations I had with this one black and white photo. I lifted the pressure off myself to create a serious portrait and just had fun with it. This one uses every color EXCEPT black and white.

Photo Feb 26, 1 39 39 PM

I loved the freedom I felt in creating this piece. Every time I added a new tie dyed piece of fabric to this portrait, the results were surprising and it made me smile. It still does. I look at my dad's face and it makes me happy. And it seems like a truer version of "Joe" as I remember him.