So My Wild Life series is still ongoing, but has slowed. I love doing animal portraits, but then, I love doing portraits of people too. One of my issues with working in a series is that I get bored. Does that mean that I have chosen the wrong subject matter? I don’t think so, but in order to keep it fresh and exciting, I am working on a second series. This one titled “Scenes from an Ordinary Life” explores portraiture, but done in a snapshot sort of way, capturing a moment in time.
These are stories that happen in mere moments and ones with which most can identify.
Choosing the threads to use is always fun. Tomorrow, I will begin the thread painting and will have much progress (I hope) to post next Friday. This is my initial palette of threads; I reserve the right to change, add, or subtract any of them. 🙂
My hope is to post here every Friday the progress I am making on each wildlife portrait. This little raccoon is beginning to take shape pretty good.
This week, I worked on the collage-piecing and spent all of today working on just the water. This is extremely important as there is a reflection in the water of the nose and muzzle. Without the reflection, this piece would not be as strong. Thread painting will start soon, then it will get really exciting around here!
This has been a difficult week in getting this project underway. I had major problems getting my line drawing enlarged to the size I need (16 x 20). I wondered why the grizzly bear came out slightly smaller than it should have, and figured it out this time around. I use PSE 14 for photo
editing. I could easily scan the drawing into PSE and change the size, but when it printed out tiled, it came up a couple inches short! Took me many frustrating hours to finally figure a way around this issue. What I ended up doing was creating a PDF of my line drawing the size of the finished quilt. I could print this out of Adobe Reader at the correct size. Geez!! Why would a photo editing software program NOT print out at the correct size?
Now for the good stuff! The raccoon is just in the beginning stage of the underpainting. It will take me a few more days to finish this part and transfer to a quilt sandwich so that I can do the thread painting.
None of the fabrics pieces you see on this board are attached by any means other than they cling to the muslin underneath (which has a transfer of the line drawing on it). So, you know what that means!! Absolutely no sneezing is allowed in this room!! 🙂
I need to have at least two new pieces ready soon. 399.1 is number one, this will be number two. No time to waste so sticking with my chosen subject matter of wildlife, Mr. Raccoon is next in line. Dave Allen at Allen Wildlife gave me permission to use his photo of a raccoon lapping up some water in Naples, Florida. He has some fantastic photos on his website, please go take a look!! And! stay tuned to follow along on another little fiber art journey!
I don’t have much to post about the quilt except that she is finished. I have trimmed her to 16×20, added a facing and sleeve, signed it, and now just need to cut, clean, and sand a slat to hang her by. I am very pleased with the final look now that she is trimmed up and I think I will name this one 399.1 because I definitely will be making another rendition. Thank you for following along on this little journey!
This whole week was dedicated to getting her eyes done, finishing the ears, and adding a few details. I am pretty happy with this quilt because it does look like a grizzly bear, but it is NOT 399! I will need to do this again in order to get a likeness. I can see right away where I went wrong in the likeness, but as far as it looking like a grizzly portrait (which will work in my series), I am happy with it. Here are some details of the work this week:
First, I removed the eye place holders. These were placed in the beginning so that I wouldn’t lose my perspective of where the eyes, nose, ears, etc fit with each other in the face. It is very easy to get features lopsided when you are working up close. I had to step away many times to get a look from afar. When I started mapping out the eyes, I was surprised at how small a grizzly bear’s eyes are compared to the head and other features.
Nervously, I began stitching the left eye socket shadows, then the eye, then some blending so that the eye would merge into the fur around the eye. Here is the completed left eye. The first eye is always the easiest! The second eye has to line up with the first one and match in color, etc.
The right eye was slightly different in shape since the head was turned to the right a little bit. Once that was lightly penned in, I began stitching. Even though I fretted and worried and even shed a tear or two, I managed to get the whole head finished. I do think I need to go back in to blend a few places…
Moving along on this lovely piece. I have mixed emotions on the way this is progressing:
The face is really looking pretty good. If you were following this post about constructing this quilt, you know that this is a very famous Grizzly Bear. I did not know this when I chose this picture. Richard Spratley generously gave me permission to turn his gorgeous photograph of this mama grizzly into an art quilt. After I started the quilt, he told me that she is probably the most famous Grizzly on the planet! She is known as 399. Well!! That means that this quilt cannot just look like the specimen of a grizzly bear, but should look like 399. She is an old matriarch, 20+ years, producing many generations. I truly hope that I can do her justice. If not… well, I will make this quilt again! This week, I will get her eyes painted in with thread.
This is a pic I took just before writing this post:
Her story is complicated as well as heart-wrenching. Here are some links to articles about her:
After listening to the SAQA webinar “Working in a Series”, I have made the decision to do just that! The talk was very inspiring but more importantly made me think about the direction my art is moving… which was basically nowhere! I am hopeful that working on this series will help me grow as an artist as well as elevating my artwork to a new level. I plan to blog at the end of each week on my progress, my successes, my failures, and my Ah-Ha moments. Since this past week was my decision to begin the series, I am going to share with you what has transpired since:
“Wild Life” is the name I have temporarily chosen. It describes the subject matter but breaking it into two words gives the title a hint of mystery. Here’s the parameters I am giving myself: 1) The series will be portraits of animals found in the wild, 2) 16×20 portrait orientation, 3) Commercial fabric, 4) Freehand threadwork, 5) No photo transfers, 6) Ink staining and paint allowed.
This first animal portrait is taken from a photo by Richard Spratley, a wildlife and nature photographer (Mountain Meadow Photography). Richard graciously gave me permission to use this photo of a Grizzly Bear taken in Yellowstone for this first quilt.
Since I am working on a portrait series, I cropped the photo:
This quilt was started by a simple line drawing over a 1-inch grid and it is developing from there. I don’t think it will be finished for a few more weeks, but so far, here is my progress:
Well, I never thought that anyone would steal one of MY quilts! I have shipped quilts all over the place and entered many shows/events and never really worried about this happening. When I ran my longarm business in Nebraska, I had insurance coverage against such an unspeakable act. Then, I closed my business and moved to Texas seeking warmer temperatures. I joined a local fiber arts organization and was excited to enter a piece in their annual exhibit. I had to create a new piece because the rules were that it had to have been completed within the last two years. I had nothing worthy of showing for the past two years, I am ashamed to say and I had no idea of what to create. So I did what many of us do nowadays for inspiration… I googled lots of topics and came across a lovely blog called The Self Sufficient HomeAcre. Lisa Lynn is the blogger and she has some great photos of things one needs to be self sufficient on an acre of property. One of those things being a hen house and a rooster! When I saw this picture, I knew that I had to make a pictorial quilt of a rooster and his hens.
First things first… line drawing:
After I got started, I decided to take out the floating chicken head on the right and make it all about the rooster and his favorite girl-chicky. Here is the result:
I got lots of great feedback on this quilt and people seemed to love it (which delighted me!). At the end of the exhibit (January 2016 at the Plaza Club in San Antonio, TX) when I went to pick it up, I was given the news that it had been removed from the wall by an unknown person. Whaaaat?? I did not know how to react or what to say. The theft was reported to the police and a report done, I even have a case number, but no sightings of Del and DaisyMae have been reported. I am just hoping that the person who took them has given them a nice home and that they look at them everyday and smile. Maybe one day they will realize that they are indeed a dirty rotten chicken thief!