Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Unlocking the Block—Part 3

Still struggling? Nothing coming to you? Can’t face your studio? Sometimes it helps to dive in, move some things around or root around in things that are familiar.

Floris Flam shares this:

I have two different strategies for dealing with creative blocks.

Sometimes I don't have any idea what my next quilt might be. At those times, I may have been working on a series of quilts, but making another quilt in the series feels as if I'm treading on the same path with nothing new to say. I might focus for a while on other things I make, like card cases or collaged greeting cards. Spending time on these reduces the pressure to come up with a new idea for a major work and sometimes new ideas emerge when I'm not trying so hard.

Another strategy I sometimes use to get back into the creative groove is to use a cut-and-repiece technique I learned several years ago from Cynthia Corbin. I find a fabric I like in my collection of hand-dyes, either one I dyed or one I purchased from another dyer. A half yard or even a fat quarter will work for this. I cut this piece up into pieces of various sizes, keeping the most visually interesting areas intact and slicing the rest into narrow strips or smaller rectangles. I then rearrange the pieces on my design wall to make an interesting composition, add more fabrics as needed, then stitch the pieces together and quilt them. I find that this process can create interesting work even if I don't have any plan when I start.  The two examples below of this technique use hand-dyed fabrics  by Heide Stoll-Weber.

“Blue City”



Both Cindy Grisdela and Merle Thompson share a few techniques that they rely upon.

Cindy writes:

When I have a creative block, I look at old sketches, pull out my most cheerful fabrics and just start cutting and sewing. Sometimes it helps to set a timer for 20 minutes and just sew something. Often when the timer rings, an idea has emerged and I’m off again. I don’t try to make something that’s art, or that I think will sell, or anything else like that. I just go back to the joy of choosing colors and sewing fabrics together.

Merle shares:

When I  hit a design block for my simple purses or jackets, I haul out my thick files of pictures that I’ve ripped out of magazines. I’ll pick out a color scheme here, or a pleat there, and outline here, an abstract sign there. And soon, I have a new idea.

Floris, Cindy and Merle  all relied on finding inspiration within their studios or home. Things that they already had near. You can never underestimate the power of what’s present and at your fingertips. It doesn’t cost anything extra and you don’t have to get in your car and go anywhere. Just look around.

Monday, February 27, 2012

February Gallery Show: Songs in One’s Head—part 3

The theme for the February 2012 show is “Songs in One’s Head. Artists were asked to create work based on the titles and phrases from songs that they love.

Roz Houseknecht’s “Singing in the Rain”, a nuno felted shawl, was selected for recognition. The Jurors stated that the shawl danced with color. And what an appropriate description since the song was made famous by Gene Kelly’s famous dance with an umbrella on a rainy day.

Roz’s chosen technique, nuno or laminated felt,  happens when wool fibers dive through the cloth which is then moistened with warm soapy water and gently rolled in bubble plastic. When the fibers begin to hold the patchwork pieces together, the puckering starts and the cloth and fibers felt together.


Roz provided some insight about her techniques through a picture story board. She selects a fabric and lays many fibers over the fabric. This fabric had umbrellas in the pattern so, she replicated those shapes with the fibers.


Fiber Layers--1

      Fiber Layers--umbrellas-2


In the picture below, you can see the completed layout of side one of the shawl with a piece of plastic covering the wet fibers. The fibers are  agitated so that they bond and blend well.

FIber Layers--plastic layers--3

Here is a close up of the fibers after felting and shrinking which causes the puckering texture.

Fiber Layers--felting and shrinking--4

The completed shawl is reversible and the two sides are distinctly different. One side shows the umbrella pattern and the other shows a more abstract pattern. To truly appreciate the technique and finish of the shawl, go to the gallery and see it.

Shawl-other side

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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Unlocking the Block–Part 2

When you just can’t get going and nothing new comes to mind  or when you hit a road block in a project, sometimes you just need to step back in order to step forward. Or like my mother used to say when I was little, “for heaven’s sake, keep still”. Now, my mother was usually telling me this while I was wiggling around in church but, this phrase is pretty powerful when considered during unproductive times. Stillness can lead to breakthroughs.

Eileen Doughty shares the following:

“When I have a block, I let it go for a few days to percolate somewhere deep in my head. Eventually, I reach a moment where I am in a quiet place and pose the problem as a question to myself. My mind is open enough to hear the answer at this point. It seems maturing as an artist is being able to hear the answer, whatever it may be. The quiet place can be while falling asleep, taking a walk, but most often seems  to be while taking a shower (Sort of a sensory deprivation chamber?) If it is a really big problem, it helps to go out to a museum or look at art books; it jars something loose and helps me get going again.”

photo (6)

A quiet place. Does the mind need a quiet place in order to help move past an issue? Perhaps so. With so much coming at you via the internet and social media, sometimes the mind needs a break from all of the overload.  How often have you  been sitting, just sitting there, not doing much and an idea has popped into your mind? Perhaps while stuck in traffic, you’ve been struck by a new color to try or motif that might work.

Go to your favorite park and sit. Take yourself on a date and watch the boats sail along the river. Make a pot of tea, play some quiet music and stare out of a window. You don’t have to go very far to find a space to just be. And, keep a notepad and pen handy for those moments of quiet. An idea is certainly on its way. Just wait and listen.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Gallery Show: Songs in One’s Head—part 2

The theme for the February 2012 show is “Songs in One’s Head”. Artists were asked to create work based on the titles and phrases from songs that they love.

Another artist that was selected to receive recognition for her work in this show was Lynn Hoffman.


Lynn received recognition for a body of work that includes “On the Street Where You Live” (above), “Industrial District 2” and “Yellow Submarine”. Her fiber technique is fabric collage which involves

Hoffman_-_Indus_Dist_2 Hoffman_-_Yellow_Sub

the use of hundreds of small bits of fabric meticulously formed into images and then stitched. This creative style involves hours of carefully placing each piece in order to achieve the color balance, structure and hard edges that form the shapes of her work.

In addition to fabric collage, Lynn also enjoys beadwork, crochet, dyeing, felting and quilting.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

February Gallery Show: Songs in One’s Head

The theme for the February 2012 show is, “Songs in One’s Head”. Artists were asked to create work based on the titles and phrases from songs that they love.
One of the three artists who received recognition for her work in this show was Anna Yakubovskaya.
Anna’s piece, “Firebird”, is a painted silk scarf of intricate detail. The jury team commented that this piece brought to mind the passion and reverie from Stravinsky’s “Firebird Suite”.
When asked about her inspiration for the creation, Anna replied that the firebird is a common character in Russian fairy tales. In her silk painting, she often finds inspiration in Russian folk art. Its naïve simplicity and bright colors always bring pleasure to the eyes and joy to the heart.
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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Unlocking The Block- Part 1

The creativity is flowing. You’re cutting, you’re dyeing and embellishing. Photos have been transferred and yarn selected. The to-do list is long but, you’re scratching things off as you reach your goals. There aren’t enough hours in the day to finish all that you want to do. What a great feeling.

But, what happens when nothing happens? You hit the wall and there are no ideas. Nothing seems to work. Your huge  pile of fabric has lost its inspiration. The new paints you just received seem dull.  No sketches hit your journal and your studio seems hollow. You’re blocked!!  It’s happened to many artists. For some, these spells last for a few hours but for others, weeks and weeks drag on and …still nothing. What do you do? How can you get past this? fabric stack--2

Sometimes the remedy is something that can be handled right away.

Tired? Get more sleep. The quickest way to slow the flow of ideas is by trying to work while sleep deprived.

Out of Shape? Move around more. Many artists find that time spent on a brisk walk in a nearby park or breathing through a yoga pose clears and unclutters the thought processes.

Think you’re alone? You’re not. Call an artist friend and share your anguish. After all, misery loves company and a piece of chocolate.

Try a few techniques that Joanne Bast has used when she needs to refresh the artist within:

1. Take photos during your travels. Thinking of places you’ve been, especially if it’s another culture with different art emphasis, often sparks ideas. Joanne was actually sending her ideas from Ho Chi Minh City.

2. Search out calls for exhibits. Sometimes the titles of the exhibits will give you an idea even if you’re too late to enter that show.

3. Current events also yield ideas that can be expressed in art pieces.

4. Think of old movies, particularly old musicals, and/or browse catalogues of clothing or dancewear for figure positions and color combinations.

5. Root through your stash of materials, beads and yarns and group things that look good together.

6. Collage papers, patterns, etc. until something catches your eye.

Try one or all of these and see where they take you. There are more ideas coming from others. Stay tuned.

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