Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Sad Time

I will probably be absent here for little while. My angel baby grand daughter Madeline died in a tragic, stupid accident on Sunday, so I don't feel much like stitching or blogging right now. These are canvases she drew and painted for me last year - the post was on May 8, 2007, and labeled "Needlepoint Canvas Preparation" if you want to see. When I feel better some day, I will stitch these - as the plan was for her to do them with Granny's tutelage. She was 13, and I will miss her terribly. She was part of my soul. Love and blessings to my internet and "blogging" friends who have been more supportive in many cases than my own family.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

A Peacock from Gail

As I began stitching on this gorgeous, thing, it really brought home the importance (and enjoyment) of working on a well prepared needlepoint canvas. This, from Gail Hendrix (see her blog here) http://squiggeedesigns.blogspot.com is stitch painted, and almost perfectly symmetric - which makes it incredibly easy and relaxing. I dumped out my stash to choose theads - the colors are amazing on it - and have found almost everything I need. A pattern this "busy" can't take textured stitches, but is most effective done in just plain basketweave. It is the selection of threads that has been the challenge. I wanted to have a variety of textures, but even that must be kept simple and to a minimum. I am using the Petite Very Velvet (Rainbow Gallery) for the body and the outer background - so also used Kreinik metallic gold 002V, as it is very nice against the matte of the velvet. Surprisingly, I found almost every color I need in the "eyes" of the feathers in YLI ribbon floss. It has a great sheen, a little shinier than silk, and except for one, no sparkle on this one. I have seen too many times people choosing threads simply because the color is right, but in the end, the piece is overwhelmed with too much fuzz, sparkle, hairy stuff, etc., and ruined. The eye can't settle anywhere - and the effect of the design is lost. The exception I've made here is the use of "bump" stitches, which I wouldn't have done if the design hadn't been painted almost perfectly symmetric. Everywhere I see a little area of four square stitches, I put a smyrna cross - and because of the symmetry, it is balanced, and the eye isn't distracted, but rather encounters some interest and variation. On the breast of the bird, I'm using Splendor silk with a strand of blending filament, as I wanted a bit of sparkle here along with the matte sheen of the silk. I will use beads on it, but in a minimum amount - just as Gail has the dots painted. A few on the breast, and some on the white area at the bottom. Using too many beads on this, as I had originally planned, would make entirely too much distraction from the pattern itself. It would look jumbled, I think. Anyway, I can't remember when I have enjoyed working on a piece of needlepoint this much. First - I didn't have to paint it myself, so I'm not sick of looking at it. Second, the colors are delicious, and it is so well painted on canvas, I don't have to think at all about where to put the next stitch. It's good to be aware of this when you are shopping for a new canvas - look carefully to see if it is well painted, and no lines in the space between the canvas threads instead of on them - it really makes a difference! There are a number of bird ornaments in Gail's line of designs - and Pat, of Needleartnut is now showing the stitching in progress of a wonderful blue-jay ornament - do tune in and watch that process. I intend to, as I might learn something new!! I forgot to mention that this is a "rollie," and will be finished as a cylindrical ornament for the Christmas tree, or to just sit on a shelf or table. Lovely thing, it is!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

James' Art

James' Artwork - more later. We are very tired - first visit after three years of Navy and being overseas. His mama is certainly glad to see him. A bit of explanation - besides being in the anti-terrorist force, my James is an artist/musician/tree climber and all kinds of other wonderful things, and father of our beautiful little Sierra - was full of mischief as a little kid. We just split our sides laughing at dinner, as he and the brother who was also here enlighted me about some of the pranks I never caught them doing - and remembering the ones I did see. (I have four boys - all grown now) Anyway - these are his "universe suspended" - he casts these things in resin to appear as planets, etc. The piece on the stand is the earth and moon. The small flat one is Jupiter - you can see rings around it if you look closely - and the moons. Fascinating.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Morning Glories and Crazy Quilts

Looking for something else this morning in my picture files (as usual) I found this I had forgotten about - as I remember, my friend Nina in N.C. sent it last year. She knows I love morning glories. Anyway, my beautiful 7mm silk ribbon from River Silks arrived several days ago - beautiful texture and color it has! I decided, along with Allie's new pictures of the current crazy quilt project, to go ahead and do morning glories first. This is how it begins: (with her permission and encouragement, of course). I printed out images from her blog and have studied them closely for color and embellishment - the colors are so right for the May TIF Challenge! Also, I look at the fabrics used, as part of the enjoyment for me is "replicating" the look of the fabrics in needlepoint - quite a challenge in itself. The next step was to dump out the fibers - and silk ribbon. I know better now than to pre-think what to use on each patch, as I always change my mind - it really works better in this genre to just kind of build it as I go with a basic color scheme in mind, of course. I forgot to show also the little vial of beads I pulled out - they look like pearls. (Sundance, as always). Somehow they just seemed right for these colors and threads. I drew on canvas two sizes of heart shapes on 18 mesh, and now will fool around with patches and shapes on tracing paper to see what happens. I have been determined to continue with the "heart shaped thing" with the crazy quilts in needlepoint, but I keep going back to one section of the quilt, and just don't think I can pull it off as a heart - we'll see! Anyway, it will be a most enjoyable and creative activity for me - and the motivation for finishing the morning glories will be wanting to start on the "Evening Primrose" version. I will have to play around with the 7mm ribbon, as the morning glory shape isn't going to be easy to do in silk ribbon - and I'm not quite sure of the scale yet. But it wouldn't be fun if it were totally easy and without challenge!! I won't put morning glories on this block, but aren't the colors and embroidered embellishments wonderful?!! I already know what I will do with that little pink and purple patch in the upper right corner.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

TIF May: The Colors and Inspiration

Once again, I am calling myself "a grateful artist" - to Allison Aller for being my mentor in this crazy quilt thing - I have been motivated and inspired by her work for way over a year - and have done some of my best needlepoint design in the attempt to "replicate" her art crazies. I've been involved in other designwork in the last few months, but have really missed playing around with the CQ - so this one started with the colors for May, which remind me of morning glories and other spring flowers - and then I saw her little picture of what we call in Texas the "Evening Primrose" - an indigenous wildflower, which a few weeks ago looked like a pink blanket all over every yard and field around Austin. I took the picture this afternoon in my daughter's back yard - but the flowers are fading, besides having been hit last night with quite an unusual storm - even hail! Anyway - to start such a project, I was able to make an excursion to the local needlpoint shop to pick out threads (which I never mind doing) - but also had a few in my stash. I have ordered some 7mm silk ribbon in both the morning glory color and the primrose pink - but meanwhile, this is what I have for starters - both new and from my formidable stash. Incidentally, if you haven't seen this gorgeous ribbon - look at the Riversilks site! To start, I drew the heart on canvas, but haven't yet marked off the "patches," as I have to play around with drawings on paper first to get the best arrangement of the elements. I'm thinking, at this point, that it will have to be larger than the heart I drew, as I want to include many of the charming elements of this crazy quilt patch - with it's leaves included! - so stay tuned! Hopefully this will be a good one. I'm sure I will thoroughly enjoy the stitching of it, and am grateful once again to the "crazy quilt" community for the eye candy I see each morning as I cruise the blogs to get my brain primed for design in needlepoint. BTW - I did, of course, buy some new beads, but didn't include them in the picture. They are little "pearl" seed beads, which just seemed right for this. I really really like the orange leaves, and will most likely include them, as I believe they are necessary for the color scheme - but am not sure at this point how that will be handled - or what thread or stitch will be used.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Beads and "Jeweled" Trims

This is another binge which began with my playing around with the laces and trims again, and trying out new effects with threads, metallics, and beads. These pieces are worked with a minimum of elements - just the Kreinik metallic, YLI ribbon floss, and Sundance beads - only the crystal clear #250 hexagonal. As the individual "bracelets" and chains are counted, I put them onto canvas first with a Pilot drawing pen - makes it much easier! I wanted a strong vertical element to offset the horizontals, so worked the ribbon floss up and over three threads. (Another happy accident: after the vertical lines were drawn, I realized the count was even (6), which made it possible to do this stitch.) It's absolutely amazing how different the ribbon floss looks. It is exactly the same thread from the same spool - on each the red and the white ornaments. Basketweave darkens and dulls the look, and the longer, flat stitches reflect the light in a way that lightens and brightens the area. I wanted the beads to be a subtle accent to add a bit of sparkle to the ornaments, so used them on the backgrounds as well as every other stitch on the vertical lines. The clear beads were applied on the red piece with red cotton floss. I am not pleased with the green "jewels" on the red ornament, as I think they add too much texture - but I'm short on patience for ripping out! I probably should have used the Renaissance Shimmer, as I did on the white one to make "turquoises." The effect of these threads, etc., is stunning - and brings to mind so many different things that could be done with them - rearranging, etc. on other shapes. I have now drawn a heart and an egg, as well as starting a set of napkin rings and a few more bracelets. The round one will probably go the "kissing ball" way. I have no idea what a kissing ball is, but the diaper pattern ornament was finished this way - over a styrofoam ball with shirring (moire) around it. The red one will, of course, have a beautiful tassel hanging from the bottom. On the diaper pattern ball, the red flowers are beaded, and you can see, again, the effect of the light on the YLI ribbon floss. Amazing! This little project will probably go on for a while before I get totally tired of it - as I can see also small things like scissors fobs and keyrings! Now - on to creating more patterns with "laces and trims."

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

A Day at the Beach

While I'm busy painting things I don't care for (business is business) and dreaming of Florida and the assorted islands in the Gulf, my friend Cindy - actually of Sanibel Island (seashell heaven) is painting this sort of thing. She has a new blog, - so do check on her (here) from time to time. Her canvases are simple and colorful and delightful to behold - happy designs! Now I need a beach house for total escape and decompression with "Claude" and his lady friend - probably to be named "Dolly" - residing on a wicker sofa on a screened porch. Day dreaming is good for the soul. I would love to find time to stitch these - and due to the nice, broad and colorful areas, beads would do for wonderful enhancement and sparkle.

Friday, May 02, 2008

The "Acoma Pot" finished!

A few days late - but it's finished! What do I call myself? The generator of big messes - out of chaos comes art ??? Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed this, despite the days I spent wallowing in self pity because my back hurt and I couldn't work. Or play on the computer.
For this canvas, I didn't want the shape of the pot, but rather the pattern elements and the glorious colors of the mid 19th century piece - so the challenge was to try to arrange them in an attractive way without losing the "feeling" of the pottery. I will put it away and look at it again tomorrow or the next day, as I always find whatever needs fixing after not looking at it for a while. My main purpose, besides using the beautiful color palette for April, was to create a needlepoint canvas for use of beads - to illustrate that they needn't be just sparkly Christmas things. This design is far too busy to accomodate decorative, textured stitches, which would ruin it by being very distracting to the eye. However, it needs something to add a bit of interest, and the beads (without sparkle) are the perfect thing, I think. I have no idea when I will have time for this, but maybe it will motivate me to hurry and finish what I am committed to now (and show some good sense about overextending my energies and hurting my back again.) At the present time, I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of the books I ordered on Pueblo pottery - good study to begin!!!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

TIF May: Artists and Morning Glories

One of my favorite "sayings" states that the artist sees the world through different eyes. We don't just look at the world - we SEE it, and the images imprint in our minds to surface later for use in a visual creation of some sort. I have found that all of Sharon B.'s color schemes for the Challenge have immediately evoked a response in me. In this case, it is the Morning Glories I have loved since early childhood. My grandfather used to awaken me on summer mornings by laying one on my pillow - (the "Heavenly Blue" variety, which is still my favorite.) Coincidentally, I have just re-drawn a morning glory pillow in needlepoint, which includes shades of the colors for this month - which to me are morning glory colors. (also colors for other lovely spring flowers, as I see hyacinths, periwinkles, and hydrangeas here.) The picture is of the gorgeous Gerbera Daisy, which I photographed when we were noticing "details." Anyway - what do I call myself? I am an artist/designer. I have several friends with whom I have discussed these things lately, and we have found that we share many common traits - as we can "see" images in our heads in full color. (I thought until recently that everyone could do this.) We seem to be born with this ability, and it comes with a sort of compulsion/obsession/driven thing in wanting to create art in our respective chosen medium, and to learn all we can about others. (My children's word for this, when applied to me, except for two of them who share the gene, is "crazy." I rather prefer "eccentric.") The word "craft," at least in this country, has come to mean "making things" it seems - but usually things created by others (designers) and put out for sale through craft stores and shops for others to make and enjoy. (Many exceptions, of course - as the making of fine furniture is a craft - but done by artisans who are, after all, artists) Crafting is very therapeutic, and needn't be limited just to those who are able to design and create the projects - which is what I have so enjoyed about my needlepoint design, as I can share the "craft" of stitching with others. It isn't generally understood that painted canvas needlepoint design is "ART" - as it takes more skill putting a well drawn, shaded flower onto canvas in a way to make it look gorgeous and realistic, but at the same time, divided into areas that make it easy for the stitcher to know exactly where to put the stitches. It goes way beyond just painting a pretty picture. The needlepoint designer must know, for example, how many values of certain thread colors are available. The decision has to be made whether to put it on small, medium, or large mesh canvas to be the most effective - and on and on. One could paint an animal's face onto needlepoint canvas to look quite lifelike, but if it isn't done properly, the stitcher will have great difficulty in making it look right. Some of this may not be making a lot of sense, as I haven't quite figured it out either - but what I'm trying to say is that sometimes people look at me strangely when they ask if I'm an artist - then when I say I do needlepoint design, they shrug as if it really doesn't qualify. (Just let them try it!!) So - I am an artist - and I design things for others to hopefully enjoy crafting in making wonderful accessories for their own homes, and enjoy the benefits of the activity while doing so. Now I'm off to paint the canvas with the April colors that I swore I would do yesterday. My back was hurting - so I loafed. (artists make good excuses, also. It's called "creative avoidance.")