Stitching Stories

 

 

TELLING STORIES WITH STITCH

If you've ever had the impulse to tell a story through your art work, don't underestimate the power of stitch. While we textile artists often lose ourselves in the colors and shapes that make the bold statements in our work, the elements of stitch are no less important. I use machine and hand stitch both as textural lines on my work, but also as expressions of rhythm and energy and movement.

THE FINAL CHAPTER

Stitching is the final layer of story that I try to tell. Think about it: do you strive for even regularity? For an all over even steven precision of stitch -- nothing wrong with that! Or do you let the speed of machine, the size of a by-hand seed stitch take on some of the emotional content and context for your art. I know that the second approach is mine. I gave up perfection long ago, and while I admire the skill that that kind of quilting requires, I don't even pretend to aspire to it -- I prefer my own rather higgledy pigglety kind of approach to stitching and it suits the kind of work I do.

FIND OUT MORE IN THE E-MAG

If you'd like to know more about my approach to stitching, there's an article in the new issue of the electronic magazine In Stitches. Included is a short video interview and demo, as well as the step-by-step how-to of my process for making an art quilt. I can't share the link to the article, since that's the point of selling an e-zine, but I can share the links to the store for various platforms! If you do make the purchase (or subscribe -- I have found the e-mag full of great content) you'll find a variety of videos, step-outs, reviews and helpful and interesting stories. In this issue: articles by Janet Lasher, Carol Anne Grotrian, Jill Jensen, Norma Schlager, Cloth Paper Scissors editor and author Barbara Delaney, Carol Sloan, Kathyanne White, Eileen Lauterborn, and editor Jane Davila.

 

Store Links:

For iPad

For MAC

For PC

Three More Workshops, and That's It for 2013

Artist's Journey, iPad for Artists and Fearless Sketching

Wouldn't one of these upcoming El Cielo Workshop/Retreats make a wonderful gift? If no one you know has asked what you really want, perhaps your inner artist needs a restoration, recreation and renewal gift just from you! 

If you have meant to make it out here to the Hill Country studio before, now's the time to make the commitment --I've decided to take a sabbatical from the El Cielo workshops from May 2013 through April 2014 in order to spend more time in the studio, and to consider other ways to teach and share my approaches to creativity. I will be teaching online, teaching private workshops, and I also anticipate teaching at the International Quilt Festival in Houston in 2013, but for this year I won't be an instructor at the Southwest School of Art or holding any other workshops here at El Cielo after these next three.

Early spring (and that often starts here in mid-February!) is a wonderful time out here on the ridge, so check your calendar and shoot me an email if you are interested.
Limited spaces, as usual, are available, as each of these special events is designed for a maximum of seven participants. The fee is $180, but I am offereing a discount for all who send a deposit before the year is out.
Out of town participants are welcome to book an extra day or two of private work and consultation for an additional fee. As usual, first come, first choice on accommodations -- there are three private bedrooms ($30 for both nights) and a couple of comfy couches (free) as well as the sleeping porch (also free) and a cot-sized bed and private bath in the studio. The meals are great, the company inspiring and the views spectacular... and the hot tub is ready to go!
 

Artist's Journey/Artist's Journal

How do you make your time and space as an artist work for you? Where are you on your creative path? What do you want more of and what do you need less of? This retreat offers a beginning-of-the-year chance to look at and share your creative accomplishments, make plans for the future and put in place some new tools for reflection, renewal and re-creation of your artist self. The workshop is a combination of journaling with fun mixed media materials, using your own photos for art inspiration, and planning ahead for 2013. All supplies except for a sketchbook or journal are included and you'll take home a large calendar filled with artist dates and your own plans for the year.

Ipad for Artists

If you've recently acquired an iPad, this workshop will help you take it into your world of creativity and art.I've explored dozens of sketching tools, art journaling, collage and photo apps and this workshop will take you through some hands-on work -- then into the studio to print, make thermofaxes and use what you've done on the tablet for fabric printing to use in your art quilts, mixed media or other work. If you don't have a tablet yet (and are trying to decide what or if to buy), you may still want to attend, I'll have a try-out table that one or two participants can share (yes, we are a two iPad family!). This El Cielo workshop retreat will take place March 1-3 (optional Friday night potluck) ending about 3 pm on Sunday. The workshop fee, including most supplies, is $180.

Fearless Sketching

April 12-14 at El Cielo Studio we'll be attacking that sneaky little fear that so many of us carry into our work from early days in school -- when someone else drew the best faces or people or horses. Whether you consider yourself a talented textile artist, colorist or quilter, you may have a secret lurker within who disparages your drawing skills. I know I do! A couple of years ago, I made a conscious effort to address my fears and to start a fearless sketching practice. I'm still not a master draughtsman, or even "skilled" at drawing, but I am no longer afraid to draw, no longer hypercritical of my abilities and that makes me open to improving my skills. 

You can get there, too. And this workshop can be your first step-- we test piloted this workhshop in September and all the participants really improved both skills and attitudes about drawing! My friend Sarah Jones will be co-teaching this workshop. She is amazing and fun and so will be the retreat!

You can find the entire newsletter here at this link.

 

Look and See (and Listen)

 

Today is all about fun and games. Here are a few fun links for those of the visual and textural persuasion (that's you, right?)

Art Images from the Exploratorium: http://www.exploratorium.edu/imagery/art_images/index.html

Beautiful sounds from TED TALKS. Here, "Rokia Traore sings the moving "M'Bifo," accompanied on the n'goni, a lute-like Malian stringed instrument with a soulful timbre." from this TED site.

 

For making your own "BEAT BOX" videos: MAD PAD app for iPad and iPhone at http://www.smule.com/madpad

 

And, thanks to Valerie's recommendation, this is a great newsletter about creativity -- all phases and stages. Your can subscribe from the website here.

I found this about the site its originator from the ABOUT page:

"Because creativity, after all, is a combinatorial force. It’s our ability to tap into the mental pool of resources — ideas, insights, knowledge, inspiration — that we’ve accumulated over the years just by being present and alive and awake to the world, and to combine them in extraordinary new ways. In order for us to truly create and contribute to the world, we have to be able to connect countless dots, to cross-pollinate ideas from a wealth of disciplines, to combine and recombine these ideas and build new ideas — like LEGOs. The more of these building blocks we have, and the more diverse their shapes and colors, the more interesting our creations will become."

Here's a fun example of a book review from the site:

"In there mere three weeks since we firstfeatured the delightful 344 Questions: The Creative Person’s Do-It-Yourself Guide to Insight, Survival, and Artistic Fulfillment by ever-inventive designerStefan G. Bucher (of You Deserve a Medal and Daily Monster fame), it has quickly become the most popular book in Brain Pickings’ entire five-year history. The lovely pocket-sized gem, illustrated in Bucher’s unmistakable style, helps you flowchart your way to personal and professional happiness and figure out life’s big answers.

 

Let’s be clear: I want this book to be useful to you. There are many great how-to books and biographies out there, and even more gorgeous collections of current and classic work to awe and inspire. But looking at catalogs of artistic success won’t make you a better artist any more than looking at photos of healthy people will cure your cold. You’ve got to take action!” ~ Stefan G. Bucher"

In the Trenches, Teaching via Video, en español.

The catch-up: The past two weeks we've been working on the global stage, as part of a teaching team at Palo Alto College, one of the Alamo Colleges in San Antonio. One of my hats this year is as a creative learning specialist for international programs here. I've been working with this program for about 10 years in various capacities -- some of which relate to my fabric/textile life, but most to my creative process and arts education interests.

Teachers from Central American and the Dominican Republic come here for scholarship residency education programs, funded by USAID to us through grants from Georgetown University SEED/SEMILLA project. I also work with teen youth ambassadors from the same region, and these two weeks, through distance learning via computer, with 6 univerisities in the border areas of Mexico. Whew....

This most recent project also involved our teacher/students as demonstrators of activities on our little makeshift television studio in the portable buildings at PAC that we are lucky to have use of for the program -- this is only the second year we have had permanent space at the university and it's been wonderful as we can use the design of the space, changing the space and making exhibits of work that mirror the kinds of classrooms our teachers go home to -- a portable here is a space that in most cases would be a luxury classroom in their rural hometowns.

Our new website is in progress, but you can see more here -- take note of the student blogs! And here.

 

Here's one of the videos informing this work. It's quite controversial, as you will understand when you see. it

More Fun on Mixel

OK admission. I am addicted to Mixel now. It's totally taken up all my FB time (thank you). And the chitchat is minimal. Mostly you just make stuff sort of together. Now the warning. Anything you upload becomes public property. I am mostly just adding a few detail images and nonart snapshots to the process. But I love the cropping and layering soooomuch. And I am printing some of these on fabric, too.

I have figured out how to use the software to  make collages (fun-- crop with your finger or a sylus from any of your own photos or web images or images other Mixel users have contributed) without making images public or getting involved in the public arena of this software. You do have to have an account (no longer only possible with a FB account) but you do not have to post to "the world." After making a Mixel, just go to the upper left corner and take a photo -- saves to your ipad. Then DELETE the image. 

 

 

Designing with Type Shapes

As part of my online Joggles course (get the full story here) I'll be doing an occassional post here that my online students can use for further ideas; maybe those of you reading along can pick up a tip or two as well.

I've been pondering collage design with type and "found letters," those cut from magazines and newspaper or even spit out in differing sizes from your computer font library. Putting them together quickly, then arranging, rearranging and copying out bits and pieces in differing sizes is how I like to work on these random text collages -- I am not necessarily going for a literal message, more just the feel of type as shape and form and texture. But there is also an interesting challenge in using the letters of a meaningful or intriguing word that you might want to have as a kind of hidden message in a piece.

For example, this piece, while primarily a strong and bold composition, with text that pops out -- mas (Spanish for more) and LIFE from the classic magazine title -- also includes the "hidden message" "music." Each horizontal pieced  band of fabric is a repetition of each letter M, U, S, I, C in order. 

Here are some tips that may help you make some interesting collages with your type collections:

1. Work with CONTRAST:

SIZE -- Use as wide a variety of sizes as you can. Collage the letters with varied sizes as neighbors to those of other size.

VALUE -- Use strong contrast in value for the best copies -- black on white, red on white, dark hues on light pastels (AND vice versa) Avoid type -- or limit it -- that is too close in value to the background. Yellow reads as white and pale blues disappear on almost all copy machines

DIRECTION -- GLue the letters down in different directions, try to make a "patchwork" of letters facing different ways, upside down, left to right, right to left.

2. PATTERNS

Try these different ideas as ways to glue down a text collection -- think of different rhythms and different patterns to develop collages that have different feelings and messages in their composition:

swirling letters

marching across the page letters

letters lined up and making another shape

a tornado, a wave, a spiral, a crawl, a race, a path, windows in a house, people in a crowd, letters arranged to make animal shapes or objects. (Like concrete poetry, but letters only) See the alphabet video here for examples:

Letters on stage performing for other letters

3. Follow the rule of 3s

Use similar elements or copies of the same letter forms in odd-number arrangements: 3s, 5s, 7s. For some reason odd numbers of related shapes (etc.) always seem to work better in compositions.

4. GROUPS not POLKA DOTS

Arrange letters and elements close enough together that your eye "reads" the design with continuity -- just enough space between the elements (shapes, lines, dots, stripes, letters, etc) that your eye can easily leap to the next element, especially if it is a repeated element. Also, try to vary elements spacially, paying attention that you don't set up too regular a pattern (like polka dots) unless that is the rhythm you are trying for.

 

 

 

 

Art on the iPad

These are a few of the art experiments I've made on the iPad this week, part of the iPad Art Studio online course that I am taking -- it's great and the tutorials that Jessica has included as the materials are so good -- she is really good at explaining technological steps and issues, and I'm learning a lot in that respect, too!

Meanwhile, these were made using iPastel and Doodle Buddy. I really love the stencil features in DoodleBuddy, worth exploring those for fiber application alone...

Susie Goes Live on Joggles

 

 

 It's here! This week I launch my first online (for real) course on Joggles, Text on Textiles.

I'll be teaching this on on the Joggles forum, and have been working on ways to provide meaningful help and feedback. I am considering adding some experimental videos (on the side, with links on the course materials) so this will be have a learning challenge and curve for me as well. The video's won't be part of lesson one, since it's less a technique than a getting-started design lesson, but I'll work on the videos for others of the 5 lessons. 

The workshop is only $45, so if you are interested, click over to the site and sign up now. The first of the lessons will be posted on Wednesday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That link again: http://www.joggles.com/store/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=75_1235&products_id=23449

 

 

Save the date...

Coming to an internet near you:

Text on Textiles online 4 classes (5ths optional and free) at JOGGLES. 

And more specifically here. http://www.joggles.com/store/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=75_1235&products_id=23449

Start Date: Thursday March 15, 2012
Class: Text On Textiles
Instructor: Susie Monday
Cost: $45/4 lessons

This class is scheduled to begin on March 15, 2012.

NOTE: This class requires use of an all-in-one printer/copier or desktop copier with the ability to enlarge and reduce printed images. The techniques used make use of copies and prints from such a copier/printer. Optional techniques included also involve use of a computer and digital camera.

Have you ever wanted to incorporate a favorite word, poem or quote into an art quilt, garment, art doll or other textile project -- going beyond simply writing or embroidering the text? Or do letter forms and shapes appeal to your sense of design? This surface design/mixed media class will give you a set of process tools for making text and words an integral part of artfully designed fabrics that you can use in a wide variety of projects.

Starting with design exercises that encourage a unique expression of your creativity and interests, you’ll learn three specific techniques for transfers of text, words and writing to fabric using ink-jet printing, polymer medium and textile paints. 

Loving the Internet, another reason

Ok, it's a pill. And a time-suck. You can hear it just take the energy out of your day. But on the other hand, I just spent a little time in a discussion, bilingual, with a former student in Guatemala about the change of government now occurring. Example one of the connectivity. That was on Facebook with instant messaging.

But even more to the point (as far as time spent), as a traveler who loves adventure, I have found a new tool for finding the perfect place to stay: Airbnb. As in Air Bed and Breakfast -- though the listings range (in theory) from treehouses to shared flats to luxury apartments. We are planning a trip in Spain this summer and I just booked a week long stay sharing an apartment in Barcelona and a private apartment loft in Madrid for three days. In between, we will be walking the last stage of El Camino de Santiago, St. James Way, a pilgrimage walk that has a long history, and was recently spotlighted in the Martin Sheen film THE WAY.

After a day of exploration, yes, a day, I found just the right spots. These are places you can't find anywhere else on the web. I reccommend the process, and the reviews -- and recommendations from friends -- seem to suggest that this tool is right on target. I'll let you know when its all in the box!