Category Archives: Studio Chat

Relfections on my process of making art.

Oops! Handling failure….

There is a difference between a mistake and a failure

failure-copy


 

I ruined a quilt I spent thirty hours on!

H2Oh! in progress

H2Oh! in progress

I had worked very hard on a potential entry in the SAQA exhibit H2oh! The last step in my process is covering the surface with a matt varnish with UV protection. My rational has been to seal the surface to help protect it from handling the quilt, fading and to ensure any lose threads cannot be pulled.

 

I have always used the same water based product. It came in a money saving gallon tub. The tub would last a year.  In this one case the entire surface of the quilt looked cloudly after it dried.  Panic set in.  I went to my local art supply store to consult with the manager. He said the cause could have been the product getting too hot, being over mixed, too thick, inconsistent drying during the heat spell, etc…  In the future he suggested I use a very thin spray varnish to avoid any potentional clouding.

There was no turning back. H2oh! went into the garbage as a total failure.


“A failure by my definition is a mistake that cannot be undone.”


One of my options after closing the lid of the trash can would have been to reorder my origonal design from my “Spoonflower” account. Having completed the project once and keeping a photographic record of my progress; I could easily duplicate this project. It would be the quick path. Instead, I thought of the failure as a message from my art angels to step back and reflect. Maybe my failure was ment to be. 

When I finished my JAM portfolio in the early spring, I submitted a portfolio of 7 art quilts. I believed I was creating two distinct series of portraits. One was portraits of spirtual practices like mediation and the other group were portraits investigating my family.

My mentor suggested that I needed to stop seeing my work in seperate catagores. The work I was making should be an extention in large body of work. With each new quilt I creating for myself new challenges and addressing problems with previous work.  Don’t repeat, expand!

A portrait of meditation.

A portrait of meditation.

A portrait of my Grandfather

A portrait of my Grandfather

 

 

_

 

 

 


Was the failed work an  authentic extention of my previous work?

I responded to the “H2oh!”  theme by making a portrait of a process of meditating to the sound of water. When I meditate, I often just put on the sound of water a let my mind quiet. This would be another portrait of of a spiritual practice but was I creating new challenge?  Was I moving forward creativily or resting on established formula?

On balance, I did spend a great of time on this project  improving technically but very little time on anything else. Recently, I have made an effort to use thread as a stonger design element. I have started collecting a large number of threads that allow me to use thread much like I would use colored pencils.  From that limited perspective, I was challenging myself.  Thread

 Looking at any project technically is not enough. An artist needs to express something deeper. So I chose to move to another project. This time it is self portrait. The self portrait has so much potential both technically and thematically as an exploration of who I am in the context of where I came from.

(I have not abandoned working on entry for H2oh! I have an abstract portrait for sound of water and photo of my father in law as an ocean life guard.) 

Portrait in progress. From a photograph of me in 1976

Portrait in progress. From a photograph of me in 1976

 

Until the Next Time
Margaret

You can find my work at:
Textile Museum at George Washington University
"Diaspora: Stories of Migration"
through September 4th

New Legacies
Lincoln Center 
Ft. Collins, CO
July 5th - September 3rd

SAQA Benefit Auction
http://www.saqa.com/memberArt.php?ID=1186
Bidding starts September 16th

Turmoil
International Quilt Festival – Houston, TX: October 2016    
International Quilt Festival – Chicago, Illinois: April 2017 

SAQA - Portfolio 21 
Type: SAQA Portfolio 
Price: $29.95

Mesquite Local News
Article "A splash of Color"
Featured Art Quilt "Namaste"

 

 

Planning for the “Call for Entry”

It’s Southern Nevada in the Summer

It’s Hot!
100, 106, 115, 118, ……


monte Carlo I have just returned from a trip around the Mediterranean where the weather, the people and scenery couldn’t have been more relaxing. It was the perfect trip.

Now I have to get back to reality. 


The business of being a studio art quilter requires me to submit work to calls for entry. These calls are my vehicle to share my work with a larger community. There are two types of calls: open and directed (or theme driven). When I returned home from this trip, I picked two open calls and two themed calls to work on during the hot summer. (It’s kind of like quilting when it’s zero outside and snowing!)


I have process.

20160618_092123 Step one: Print out 2-4 proposals. I select calls to consider from regularly checking sites like SAQA’s call for entry page, the SAQA  regional blog for my area, blogs and social media groups. I also keep a list of shows that I have entered in the past on my google drive with a link to a web page.

20160618_090529 Step Two: I update my white board calendar with current dates.  Next I list the calls I want to enter with deadlines. When I have an appointment I add this to the board.  It is important for me to look realistically at what I can accomplish that will allow me a big enough window to really create something that will add to my portfolio whether or not the work get’s accepted to a particular call.

Step Three: I comb through my  selection of images.  Often have some of these images are already printed on fabric.  If I don’t have anything printed on hand, I look through my digital files, print them on my home printer and make an image selection from there.

My collection of  images have a rich subtext. This allows me to connect with a themed exhibit or create something outstanding for an open call. Next I begin the process of matching potential projects with a call for entry.

Potential entry for H2Oh!

Potential entry for H2Oh!

Reading and rereading the prospectus is  important. So is spending time looking at the jurors websites, reading any information about the venue and finding google images of previous shows. The goal to find a “good” (not perfect) fit with my personal aesthetic.

After I have done my research I put images on my design wall or spread then on my work table. Inevitably an image just seems to standout. Occasionally I select subject matter just happens to match the title of the show (see example below). More often, in reading a theme or looking at a juror’s statement I make a conceptual connection.  When I am on the right track I can easily write an artist statement in my head about the piece before I have begun to work on it.

H2Oh! in progress

H2Oh! in progress


In case you are interested here are the calls for entry I am looking at:

Quilt=Art=Quilt:  Open call. Schweinfurth Art Center in Auburn NY
Quilt National: Open call. Dairy Barn Arts Center, Athen OH
Layered Voices: Themed show. (SAQA) International Quilt Study Center, Lincoln NB
H2Oh!: Themed show (SAQA)  National Quilt Museum, Paducah KY
Sacred Threads:  Themed show, held outside Washington DC.


Do I think I will get into all or even any of these shows?
No idea.
It does not matter.
What matters is adding to my body of work. 
Challenging myself technically and intellectually.
I really can’t lose. 


Until next time……

Margaret

You can find my work at:
Textile Museum at George Washington University
"Diaspora: Stories of Migration"
through September 4th

New Legacies
Lincoln Center 
Ft. Collins, CO
July 5th - September 3rd
Join me at the Opening Friday July 8th 5-7

SAQA Benefit Auction
http://www.saqa.com/memberArt.php?ID=1186
Bidding starts September 16th

Turmoil
International Quilt Festival – Houston, TX: October 2016    
International Quilt Festival – Chicago, Illinois: April 2017 

SAQA - Portfolio 21 
Type: SAQA Portfolio 
Price: $29.95

Quilting Arts Magazine
http://www.interweavestore.com/quilting-arts-june-july-2016
$7.99


Art Tip: Authenticity

adjective

A question I ask myself often when I am creating:
“Is it authentic?”


The biggest creative leap I made over the last year
was moving from a process of creating work based on idea that I found engaging,
to making art that is deeply personal.

                                           Idea Door

In the past I generated ideas by starting with an interesting title. In a post called “Generating Ideas” I described my process. I would write down a title on an idea board. Most of the time I got these titles from reading, other studies (often spiritual) or meditation. When I began to create my imagery was a illustration of the title. I described my work as “personal icons“.

                                     Body of Work

Looking back, the description is pretentious. More importantly the ideas came from somewhere other than myself. When I sent some images for potential consideration as a Juried Artist Member of SAQA , the SAQA mentor told me she did not see a cohesive body work. She was right. The key element I discovered was missing was authenticity.


My process now begins with selecting imagery which has a direct connection to me.  As I pick up a photograph or search through my collection of digital images, I wait to hear an inner voice begin a story. This is true for a picture of person sitting on a meditation pillow or photograph of an Uncle. I am seeking to begin with a subject matter that rings true for me.

                         Zazen_full Tom


Here is an example of my selection process.

I recently had my first grandchild. (This is a shameless way for me to mention this perfect little baby who is the apple of my eye!) The hospital provides a professional photographer who offers takes a set of designed baby portraits. One with the baby in Dad’s hands, one with the baby resting between Mom and Dad, one with Mom looking down as the baby sleeps in her arms, etc….. You get the picture.

from: fox & feather photography

from:
fox & feather photography

Nothing is wrong with the professional portrait. (Of course I bought the entire package of pictures of the new grand baby!)  But the professional portrait like this baby picture, is a commercial object. In my opinion there is too much distance between this kind of photograph (even if it’s of my own grandchild) and me as an artist.

 

The kind of portrait that is good starting point is not the professional portrait or something pulled from a copyright free image search. An image that has engaging imagery and is well composed; like this shot taken by my son in law is ideal.

"Baby Bear"

“Baby Bear”

 

The portrait works well in grayscale. As you look at the composition there are strong visual pathways from the cap along the curved lines above the eyes and around the the blanket that frames the face. Rich grey values create a center of interest at the mouth. In the background there is some nice negative space in the upper third of the composition.


This picture was taken just an hour after “Baby Bear”  was born. He is wrapped in a blanket made by my mother for my daughter.  As I artist I see a rich visual image with deep personal connection.

An ideal combination!


Until next time….
Margaret

You can find my work at:
Textile Museum at George Washington University
"Diaspora: Stories of Migration"
through September 4th

New Legacies
Lincoln Center 
Ft. Collins, CO
July 5th - September 3rd

SAQA Benefit Auction
http://www.saqa.com/memberArt.php?ID=1186
Bidding starts September 16th

Turmoil
International Quilt Festival – Houston, TX: October 2016    
International Quilt Festival – Chicago, Illinois: April 2017 

SAQA - Portfolio 21 
Type: SAQA Portfolio 
Price: $29.95

Quilting Arts Magazine
http://www.interweavestore.com/quilting-arts-june-july-2016
$7.99

 

Design your own fabric

A few months before I retired I created a “bucket list”.

Fabric-Sample

When I created that list I thought I would learn how to hand dye fabric from master teacher Jane Dunnewold. Instead  I took a class from Jane at Art Quilt Tahoe where she guided me through an amazing design process using digital printing.


Spoonflower is a service I use to create large whole cloth digital images. I thought I knew what I was doing until I took Jane’s class. Jane began with teaching students to upload and correctly size a digital image for printing by a third party (Spoonflower).

Spoonflower

Uploading an image is pretty simple. It’s a skill that requires you to select a file on your hard drive, memory stick or wherever you store your images. It’s like sending an attachment. Be sure the file meets the fabric printing services image requirements . The more complicated task is to prepare your image size for your desired outcome.

For Spoonflower the acceptable file formats are TIF, JPG, PNG, and GIF. The file must be less than 40MB.

Select your Fabric
 First you need to consider the width of the fabric. Most fabric is 44″ to 45″ inches. Fabrics at Spoonflower can run up to 56″. Other vendors like Fabric on Demand have larger widths.

Size your Design
Next you need to consider the size of your design. If your design is a 6 inch square your design will be dense. If your repeat is double that size (12 inches) the repeat will be less dense. I found it easiest to resize my design in “Photoshop Elements” , however there are many programs  and free application that can do this task for you.

Simple Arithmetic
Divide the width by the desired number of repeats. Example 44/= 11
Multiply that number (11) by 150. Example 11 x 150 = 1650.
Now you know the size your image will need to be on the LONGEST side. These are the number of pixels used in a resizing program.

Spoonflower makes it easy to resize with a link to PicMonkey  found on the same page you use to upload images. So you can upload a larger image and resize it right on the Spoonflower site.

Link

Hint: If want to print an image that will fill a yard of fabric you will need 6300 on the longest side. 

 Now for the fun part
Design!   Play!    Experiment!

I loved visual  improvisation using a few keystrokes. Once you are familiar with the process, you can  the change color scheme, alter the scale, add textures and manipulate values in minutes  Here’s an example:

Background image is of the fabric created.

Background image is of the fabric created.

1:Take a photo and crop it in any photo manipulation program.

2:Upload the photo into Spoonflower, choose mirror image and reduce image to increase the number of repeats.
3:Change colors using Spoonflowers tool located on the sidebar. Total time: less than 30 minutes!

Yes it is that easy. Here’s the rub. You can get really lost in this process. Take some time to upload everything from drawings, clip art, photo’s. Play for a day with changing the size, the repeats and the colors. Then start making notes. Some images below are from my first days of learning this process.

Basic repeat from photograph

Basic repeat from photograph

Half Brick photo taken with my phone using Adobe Shape App

Half Brick photo taken with my phone using Adobe Shape App

Mirror Image using a cropped drawing from my sketchbook

Mirror Image using a cropped drawing from my sketchbook

In my next post I will share some amazing creative tools found in Picmonkey

Company-logo-picmonkey_stacked

Until next time…..
Margaret

 

 

 

Setting a Price for Your Artwork

time-is-money-concept-alarm-clock-and-lots-of-euro-coins_fk5XwiRd

I have been involved in putting together a wonderful art show called “Above and Beyond”.  My first task after the jurors selected artwork was to put together a list of values for insurance purposes. As I looked over the wide range of  what artists thought their entry was worth, I realized how tough it is for artists to figure out value.


Value can be assessed by sales.

Compare artwork in a similar style, size, media and quality selling in your area.  If you are an artist that sells on a regular basis then your customers are helping you determine the correct value. Ask too much and your art sits in inventory. Ask too little and it fly’s off the shelf. Demand is the key factor, so you price accordingly. Shopper

Value can be assessed by a third party  appraiser.

An appraisal determines the potential market value  not what the work of art will sell for today.  An appraiser is an expert in the field and they will charge a fee for their service. The appraised value does not take account any aesthetic considerations. It doesn’t matter how beautiful the image is or how well the composition works. I would use for this service is for insurance purposes. (Imagine my studio going up in flames)


 

My preferred method for pricing is a simple formula:
materials + labor=price.

*If I am selling at a gallery or had to pay for an entry fee, I add 
those costs into the sales price.

Don’t sweat figuring out the cost of materials.You are an artist, not a CPA. I use ball park figures compiled twice a year. Have a list of supplies on hand for art that will be sold and a few credit card receipts. Keep it simple.  Artist Expense Report

Since I work with fabric,  I use a ballpark estimate of the number of yards I will use for each art quilt. I add in the cost of a spool of thread (no I don’t use a whole spool for each art quilt, but I but at least one new color when I start a project! ). A single charge for brushes, paints and other mediums covers the expense of keeping those items on hand.

Example 1: I keep 5 packs of markers, 20 paint brushes, 2 sets of water colors and 12 bottles of paint which I will use up over a 2 year period. I will complete a project a month. Add the approximate cost of these supplies together and divide by 24.  

Another method is look at what you spend on an average for supplies and how often. So if you are working on a major project once a month and adding to your supplies every 4 months; divide your average cost of supplies by 4.

(Good news: This will help keep you away from those impulse purchases!)

The price for materials  remains constant for large work.  
For smaller work I divide the cost by half or less.


logo

Until I found a program called TOGGL keeping track on the time spent in my studio was a pain. Now it’s easy by  TOGGL ‘s time tracking software. The program is free for single users. Learning how to use the program takes very little time. Before I start working on a new idea I create a project in toggle to log my time. At first I numbered my projects, but I found using a working title helps. I also use different color code to identify the type of project I am working on.

Screen Shot

Screen Shot

When I enter my studio I log into TOGGL, click on the project and start a task. I found it helpful to set up specific tasks related to my process. My first task is making small studies to develop an idea. (DESIGN) The second task is using computer software to create fabric. (IMAGE) When the fabric arrives I paint (PAINT) then I quilt. (QUILT)  When I am done I finish the edges and mount the work to canvas with a hanging sleeve.  (FINISH) The last step is to photograph.


 

From beginning to end I know just how many hours I invested.  Flas-back.-New-Toggl-Reports-UI

When I am done with the project TOGGL provides me with documentation of all the hours spent on this project. I now have a system to price my artwork that fully explains to my buyer why I assigned this value. As I get more customers and I improve the quality of my work I can give myself a raise.

There have been some big “A Ha’s” when I started using this process.

  • After I have developed an image to work with, I can make small versions quickly. This means I price them at a rate that will attract more buyers.
  • Larger work takes more time in the design stage than I thought, but completion once the idea is fully formed is actually pretty quick. Working a series shortens the design time.
  • I waste time when I my equipment and materials are not organized, clean, serviced and ready to go. Be fully prepared to work makes a big difference.

Try logging studio time and see if this helps you figure out a reasonable price for your art.

Until next time……….

Margaret

ps. I used TOGGL to log the time it took me to write this post, do a little edit, find and upload images. 3 hours.