19 February 2011

New Work: “After the Wake”

Themel_afterthewakeSM My latest work is a portrait of my beautiful sister Megan.  The image is inspired by a photo my brother Patrick took of Meg back in 2000, shortly after the loss of our father.

If you’ve ever been to an Irish wake, you know that it’s a mixture of laughing, story telling and bouts of crying with a lot of food, drinks and random people in and out of the house.  It’s comforting but exhausting.  

With this composition I was trying to conjure the moments after the guests leave, when things are quiet and reality is starting to sink in, when you are too worn out and shell-shocked to laugh or cry, or even talk.  The people still around after are usually your closest family, so you can communicate by simple eye contact.

Themel_afterthewake_finishedDETAILsmIn the photo Meg is looking right into the lens, neither shying away nor playing to the camera.  It could be an act of courage or defiance... or maybe just a way to make a connection during a lonely moment. 

My sister has this kind of mysterious Mona Lisa face that’s often impossible to read – her delicate features can harden into an impenetrable poker face; she is confident and strong but still gives the impression of holding something back to protect herself.  I imagine there are a million things churning behind those eyes.

14 February 2011

New Work: “Golden”

GoldenSpiralSM You may recognize this, or parts of it, from my previous post.  Yes, I liked the irregular grid pattern and bright colors in “Cabin Fever” but something was missing.  That something was RED.  And maybe a bit of pizzazz. 

I keep an illustration of the golden spiral (a.k.a the golden ratio, golden section) in my studio.  It’s actually quite useful especially for drawing portraits - ears, hands and fingers generally have these proportions.

The golden ratio is the mathematical expression of repetition found in nature.  You see this kind of ratio the segments of nautilus shells, leaves, etc and it is one of the building blocks of fractals.  Pretty cool.  Anyway, this illustration has been in the background for a long time, and I’ve looked at it often.  Why not try it out in a quilt? 

I admit I’m not an expert in machine piecing, or math, or seam allowances.  But I used a PHI calculator to figure out the shapes and it came pretty close to working!  Just at the very end (the smallest part in the center) something didn’t quite calculate.  I don’t think that was supposed to be two squares. 

Luckily I’m creating art and not a spaceship.  So I just added a little swirly-do thing in that last square.  DONE!  :-)

Word to the wise: it would have been much easier to start with the smallest square and build around it, rather than making the largest one first and working smaller, hoping it will fit at the end.  I may do another one in the future, so I’ll take that little lesson with me to the next one.

02 February 2011

Play Time – Using Scrap Fabric as “Seasonal I’m Sick of It” Therapy

I don’t know about you but I need a break from SNOW and ICE!

Themel246_SMTentative Title: “Cabin Fever”

I started this project 1. for a fun way to switch gears after the last couple months getting work done for the solo show, 2. to use some of the scrap fabric I’ve been accumulating and 3. to remind myself that the world is not black and white despite the view outside.

I needed a blast of color!  So I dumped out a big bin of scrap fabrics and picked out the ones that made me think of Spring and Summer – warm greens, watery blues…  ahhhh!

Next I cut them into 2.5” strips – then cut some at 6.5” for rectangles and others at 2.5” squares and put them all in a stack.  My first thought was to create a traditional quilt pattern but that was boring so I just started randomly adding things together.

There isn’t much science to it – which was my intention.  I just sewed them together in lines and groups.  I’ve also added a couple big squares and long rectangles to break up the grid area.  I didn’t care about the end result, only that I was having fun making it (a huge departure from the way I usually work).

At this point it’s about 30x30, give or take.  I’m not sure what I’ll do next.  Maybe it’s time to call it a day, add the batting & back and add some quilting.  It could work as a lap quilt or graphic-design-inspired wall hanging – or maybe even a cute tote bag.  Anyway I’ve sorta worked through my geometric fugue. 

I never was much on piecing – as you can probably tell from some miss-matched corners.  So I don’t think I have the passion to build this into a big bed quilt or anything.  In any case, it’s something to bring to “Show & Tell” on Feb. 12th for the SAQA Regional Meeting in Windsor, CT.

It was a fun distraction and I’m feeling much happier, hanging out looking at all the colors - just what I needed this week!

01 February 2011

“LIFE… So Far” is on Display Now at the Funky Monkey


Yesterday I hung my quilted artwork at the Funky Monkey Cafe & Gallery.   All the new Croatia pieces are there, as well as “Onions”, my self portrait and some of framed 15x20 quilts.  Overall I think they look pretty good. 

I hope you’ll join me for the Opening Reception on Friday, February 11, 2011 from 7 – 9 PM 

The Funky Monkey Cafe & Gallery 

130 Elm Street/ Watch Factory Shoppes

Cheshire, CT 06410