Category Archives: Uncategorized

Outdoor Art Time

On June 30 a couple of art friends and I got together in my back yard to do some art work and visit a little. I think it was a good way to assemble in a safe way and enjoy ourselves, in these times as they are. Here’s what we did.

I met these two friends in the mixed media class I taught last year. We have stayed in touch and wanted to get together. But how? I volunteered my back yard. We picked a day, and luckily it turned out great weather-wise, sunny, but not too hot, and no threat of rain.

Here’s what we did:

First hint: have shade available, or a shelter from the sun. I figured I could set up my tent (that I use in art shows) but it was not necessary. Our yard is very shady.

Second hint: Make sure there is a comfortable amount of room to spread out. We decided to wear our masks as we set things up, then, as long as we remained at our table, or ten or twelve feet apart, we took them off. Then we put them back on to clean things up. Having plenty of room made things comfortable.

Third hint: Bathroom. I had one available nearby, involving walking in my back door into my studio and going only a short distance inside the house. I did a **SPARKLE** clean on that tiny room and had towels ready for hand-washing so each person could have her own.

Fourth hint: Tables and chairs available. Or some kind of area to set up so that each person can have a good space to work. Alternatively each person could have brought her own chair and table, or whatever she needed to work comfortably, but this needs to be settled up front.

Fifth hint: Cleaning items. I set up a table with hand sanitizer, spray cleaner, and towels if anyone wanted to clean anything, and I also put out some bug spray, just in case…

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Well, we had a great time. Here are some pictures. Here is where I sat:

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and here is our general set-up. We were facing each other so that we could talk or show each other our work.

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Mary Ann made a lot of painted papers and she set them on the grass to dry.

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I put out the red buckets of water for washing brushes and so on. The hose was just around the corner of the house if we had needed more water.

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Here are Mary Ann and Andy cleaning their things up and packing after the session.

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Things went smoothly with this set-up. We were comfortable and felt safe. All of us are living very cautiously right now, and this allowed us to get together and experience a bit of an activity we really value – doing art with others. I am so happy we were able to pull this off, it meant a lot to me.

Shout out to Andy and Mary Ann, for a real spirit lifter!

 

 

Irregular in Shape Plate

I’ve made quite a few plates in my time. I use a handbuilding technique where I take an existing plate and use it as a form for my own plate.

What you do is grab some newspaper, tear it into strips, and lay it on the plate form (eating side is up, as it would be in use). Spray it to wet the paper. Then lay your slab of clay on to the plate and trim it a bit. Smooth the edges.

You can decorate the clay when it is wet, you can wait until it is greenware dry, or you can bisque fire the new plate and then decorate it. In this case I used stenciling with underglazes and scratching into the clay while the clay was still wet.

Why do you need the strips of paper? So that when the clay dries, and shrinks as it does so, it will not pull itself apart and crack trying to release itself from where it has stuck on to the plate form.

You peel the paper strips off if you like, from the bottom of the new plate, before it is fired, but you don’t have to – they will just burn off in the kiln.

After the new plate was bisque fired, I then dipped it into clear glaze and fired it again. Now, anything that a person might use for food needs to have a glaze. In the case of this plate, I would say a person could utilize it for bread or unpeeled fruit or the like. And don’t put it in the dishwasher or microwave.

But it won’t hold up to heavy use – it is earthenware, or low-fire, clay that I have used here. If you want to eat off a plate as a regular dish, you need to use stoneware clay and fire to a higher temperature to get a good vitrified surface.

Anyway, here is the plate. You may see that when I trimmed the plate as described above, my hand did its usual thing and went wild of the mark. Therefore this place is out of round. Oh well. We all have our quirks.

Clay plate 11-19 stencil view 13

November 2019. Low-fire clay, Velvet underglazes, clear glaze, fired at cone 06.

And some closer views of the decor.

 

Looking Back: House Portraits

A post in an occasional series – looking back at artworks or mediums I worked in from earlier in my artist years.

Here I show you two house portraits and tell you a little bit about these houses, why I made these wall hangings, and about house portraits in fabric and me.

All right, here is the story. In the beginning of my art career, the first thing I made was a portrait of our house in fabric. I got the idea from a book and I was inspired to try it out. It was an awful mess but I enjoyed doing it. So I kept on.

At first I did them in hand applique and later went on to machine work. I developed my own methods and refined them, and my sewing abilities improved. I began to sell them on a commission basis, with customers found either through art shows or through a local shop which displayed samples of my work.

In most cases I took photos of the building and worked from them, drawing up a picture on graph paper and using it to create pattern pieces for the building. This method was the forerunner of the technique I recently described for collage work.

I made houses, mostly – but I also did commercial buildings, a nursing home, and a florist’s greenhouse, as I remember. Here are some photos. Please excuse the poor quality – all of these works were done in the 1990’s or so and I was still using a film camera, not very well. I made the gallery small because there are so many of them – click if you want more detail.

You may notice there are two versions of one building – it’s the Valley Green Inn, a popular spot in Philadelphia, on Forbidden Drive in Fairmount Park. The original piece I made at the suggestion of the owner of the shop I referred to earlier – she sold it in the store. The other one was made as a commission, requested by someone who had seen the original and wanted me to make this version, a fall scene, as a gift for her sister who was having her wedding reception there.

Well, there is a story with each one of these pieces.

Let me get back to the original images I showed you. In 2001, I was asked by the editor of a series of quilting books by Rodale Press to participate in one of their volumes. Its theme was drafting and designing various types of quilts. My assignment was to explain how to make a house portrait in fabric, start to finish.

I was given a template for how to write up my process as well as for a glossary, tips, and suggestions. (I still have the files from this project, so I know! What a trip down memory lane). I had to come up with 2 house subjects, one a front view and one an angled view. My husband and I drove around our area looking for the perfect subjects and found them in two different neighborhoods within 15 minutes of home.

I created the drawings, did all the writing, and made the pieces, submitting them for editing and review. I remember I asked a friend to read over the directions to see if she could follow them before I sent them to the editor.

Then came time for photography of the process, the drawings, and the pieces themselves. With the editor’s help I broke the process up at points that would made good photo points. This meant I had to make several drawings, for instance, showing different stages of design. Luckily, since the book was not about construction, I did not have to show myself putting the piece together, and make several different versions at different stages.

We met at the editor’s house to accomplish this  photography task: me, the editor, a hand model,(!) and a photographer. At this session I mostly observed and handed over the right items at the right time. And enjoyed the inside view of how a book photo project was made.

The book is still available: check here on Amazon.

This project was a highlight of my fabric art career. I was, and still am, very proud to have been chosen and for the work that I did on the project, and through this phase of my art career.

I also did a self-published book on the subject in the 1990’s. Don’t know if there is still a copy in existence (though Amazon says there is). I still have the interior of the book in my files, though, I think.

All of the house portraits I made were sold or given away long ago, and I don’t have photos of some of the earliest ones I did (which is maybe a good thing). I also did a few house portraits in collage, but not many – by then I was wanting to spend more time on my own work and did not accept many commissions. In any case, house portraits are what got me firmly involved in art-making and I will always remember this phase of my work in detail and very fondly, I think.

 

Looking Back: Along the Beach Road

A post in an occasional new series – looking back at artworks or mediums I worked in from earlier in my artist years.

Here I show you a fabric wall hanging from 1999.

It’s called “Along the Beach Road” and I made it from my memories of various views of the New Jersey shore in the southern part of the state. As I remember, around this time, we did a show on the boardwalk in Cape May and took the opportunity to drive around and snap some photos. This wall hanging is purely from my imagination, though. It’s maybe 24″ x  28″ ,more or less? Or maybe a little bigger? Back then I did not keep records on these statistics as I do now.

Along the Beach Road small

This piece received a lot of attention, as I remember. For one thing, it won Best of Show at the Lansdale (PA) Festival of the Arts in August 1999.

Best in Show Lansdale 1999 Along the Beach Road small

In April, 2000, I entered three wall hangings in a juried show at the William Penn Charter School, a private school in Philadelphia that at the time had an art event to benefit the school. My work was accepted and I remember receiving very nice compliments from the judge, which really encouraged me. Here I am with my three pieces on display.

Claudia - Penn Charter Exhibit 4-00 small

 

 



To create my fabric work, I laid out a base level of canvas fabric and pinned the cut fabric pieces to it. I then machine-sewed them to the base, using either free motion stitching, (such as you see for the vegetation), or closely spaced zigzag stitching (for areas I wanted outlined, such as the roofs of the buildings). In neither case did I turn under fabric edges – they are all left raw. In this way you can see that I worked as I later did in paper collage.

Like pretty much all of my fabric work this piece was sold long ago. But I do have many good memories of it, as you can see, and it was art that I was proud of making.

 

Tile Project

If any of you follow my personal blog (Sometimes You Get So Confused) you know that I have a practice of doing art drop-offs, where I leave art (usually clay) in parks or other places for people to enjoy and if they like, to pick up and take home.

I am working on a small project of tiles to leave out in the world.

I was prompted to do this project by the news that this year’s Tile Festival at the Moravian Tile Works in Doylestown, PA, is cancelled. Every May for the past 10 years or so I have done this show and I will miss participating this year. I felt sad.

I wanted to try something to cheer up people around me even if just a little. And me, too. I always feel better when working on art.

Yesterday, I took some commercially-made 4″ x 4″ terracotta tiles that I had on hand. All I needed to do was come up with their decor, since they are already bisque-fired. I decided to make two series – one with a bird and one with a person’s head. In this way the tiles could be similar but different, in case I set more than one at a location.

I used stencils for the images, flipping them to have the figures face different ways, and then I added individual details.

I colored them with Velvet underglazes. I’m showing them to you with the color on, dry, and ready for the next stage. In the past I have left the tiles unglazed, enjoying the matte surface and the look of the colors. I’ve decided to glaze them just to be doing something different.

Things went fine, except for when I knocked over a bottle of underglaze. Thankfully it was a small one. The amount on the table was about 25% of what went on me or on the floor. Good-bye, Light Red. I will get some more when I have the chance…

Clay tiles in process for giveaways 3-20 (1)001

When these are done, I will find locations for them, depending on circumstances. I do not have to rush to set them all out at once, I remind myself. Let everything go as it goes.

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OK, here are the tiles in their current state.

ATC Advice With a Red Background

ATC Advice is my own category for this kind of ATC card. Simple to make. Make an ATC. Put a phrase cut from print on it. Pick the phrase at random; do not try to match it to the card.

Read the words, look at the picture, and see what you get from the juxtaposition.

You may be surprised. The ATC Advice method quite often offers something astute or insightful or maybe just head-scratching.

Here are a couple of cards from January 2019.

Random Faces

I drew these little faces on the paint color squares of a paint brochure in February 2020. I then cut the brochure apart. Now I have a little collection of faces. I am sure they will show up somewhere in some new context in the future…

Looking Back: Garden in the City

A post in an occasional new series – looking back at artworks or mediums I worked in earlier in my artist years.

Here I show you a fabric wall hanging from 2000.

I worked in this medium when I first started making art. I constructed appliqued fabric wall hangings, at first using hand stitching and later switching to free-motion machine stitching. My fabric work spanned the time frame from about 1995 to 2001.

This piece, Garden in the City, was made for an exhibit as part of Art in City Hall, Philadelphia, PA. I submitted an application to participate, was chosen, and was assigned a community garden in the city to portray. My location was Glenwood Green Acres in North Philadelphia.

I went out to the garden in June 2000 to take photos. The location was in a neighborhood that had been in decline for some time. It was a typical Philadelphia scene – factory building towering over streets of small rowhomes originally built for the workers. At this time, the factory in the photos was abandoned and the garden was on the site of another factory that had been demolished. The Amtrak rail line goes right behind the garden.

I created the wall hanging over the fall of 2000 and it was exhibited in early 2001, January, I think. Philadelphia’s City Hall is an enormous building in the middle of Center City and is a landmark location for us here. Now most of its functions are handled in more modern surrounding buildings, but City Council still meets there.

The exhibit area had large cases on two different floors. My artwork was about 30″ x 40″. I was also just starting to work in paper collage, and I included two collages with the fabric piece. I can”t find photos of them or I would show them, too. I do remember that one of the collages featured the lovely cabbages you see in a photo above.

Here is the piece:

Garden in the City small 2000001

Philadelphia has many community gardens and Glenwood Green Acres still exists. The surrounding area is changing as redevelopment amends the area but this garden looks pretty much the same 20 years later, from the pictures I can find.

Stencil Tiles #1

This month I will show you an array of tiles I made, at my studio clay class or at home, using the stencil method of applying images. For a full explanation of this method and some tiles I made in the fall of 2019, look here.

Short update on stenciling process, any medium – all you do is cut out a pattern, set it on your background, and paint, glaze, spray paint, crayon, whatever you want, over or around or inside it. Then lift it from the background, and you have a clear area the stencil covered and a colored area surrounding it.

You can use a stencil in a couple of ways. One – cut out the figure (let’s say it is a circle), set it down on white paper, color around it, lift it, and you have a colored area surrounding a white circle.

Two, you can cut a circle, remove it, and use the open space as your stencil – set it on the white paper, color it, and you have a white background with a colored circle.

Stencil lesson over! Here are some tiles I made in my studio clay class back in fall 2019 – the first group I will be showing you. I colored the figures using underglazes. The tiles were bisque fired and I then covered some areas with wax to form a resist, dipped the tiles in clear glaze. The resist areas stayed matte, the glazed ones shined up.

They were fired to Cone 6 – at the studio we use stoneware clay, which fires higher than I use at home – with Standard clay #112. Approximately 7″ x 7″.

Flash Fiction February 2020 – “The Wedding Feast”

I continue with my illustrations for Flash Fiction February 2020, twenty-nine days of flash fiction stories at Fictive Dream,  an online fiction magazine featuring short stories.

For the event I created a small abstract painting for each selection – in fact, I did more than one painting per story. I am showing you all the images, day by day, throughout February. I’m also including a short write-up as to how I went about turning the authors’ words into pictorial representations.

I hope you’ll take a look at my art, then go to Fictive Dream, see which image editor Laura Black chose for the magazine, and read the story!

Thank you to Laura for her faith in my work and to the authors for such wonderful material to work with.

Today’s story is:

The Wedding Feast by Barbara Robinson. Read it here at Fictive Dream.

Here are the artworks on their own:

and here they are with the banner.

 

Comments:

A take on a familiar Bible story, the piece starts off in a humorous way but the ending brings the reader up short with the foreshadowing of darker times coming. The contrast of the happy times at present with the dark future is what caught my attention, along with the Christian symbolism. I tried to show the happier times (the author mentions “the happiness all around”) with inclusion of bright colors and patterns juxtaposed with darker areas or patterns for vision of the future to come (which one of the characters hopes is just a “bad trip”).

Image 1 –I worked off the image in the story of Jesus and John clinking party cups, making cylindrical shapes in dark colors, to symbolize the future darkness they face, surrounded by thorns, in the midst of a happy colorful party.

Image 2 – I depicted the colorful party that surrounds a separate reality section of black/white, representing the two characters and their futures filled with suffering, represented by the thorny shapes.

Image 3 – I created a “landscape” reminiscent of the desert from which John came (with its connotations of coming in from another reality, just as Jesus did in his way) with symbolic thorny shapes in the background, representing the sere future in store for the two characters. This image does not mention the present but shows the past and future.

Read the story at Fictive Dream.