Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Interpret This! (2010)

The Interpret This! Challenge was a yearlong challenge during 2010 between 9 quilters.  The goal was to interpret a photo each month with fabric and thread.  The interpretation was solely the decision of the quilter and the monthly progress was kept a secret until the end of the month when each piece was revealed.

The monthly photos were:

February:  Shanghai Food submitted by Rian Ammerman
March: French Dolls submitted by Kay Scheidt
April: Geologic Layers on Snake River submitted by Nellie Durand
May:  Heather Farms Park submitted by Libby Fife
June:  Butterfly Garden submitted by Karen
August:  Annecy France Castle submitted by Beverly Hart
September:  Indonesian Gate submitted by Debra Spincic
October:  Saratoga Springs Fountain submitted by Jdemillo
November:  Sissinghurst Castle Garden submitted by Kim Campbell
December:  Along the River submitted by Barbara Lardon

You can see the photos as a continuous post by clicking on the label/tag in the sidebar of Challenge Photo

The artists were:
(the link will be to that person's pieces each month as a continuous stream)
You may also view our group Photo Album on Flickr.  The photo album includes many detail photos of individual pieces. 

If you would like to get to know the individual artists through their blogs, the blog names are listed in the sidebar under Artists Personal Blogs.  Click the link for the artist.

Artist Pages and Techniques are also listed in the Sidebar.

Thank you for stopping by!  I hope you enjoyed your Visit!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Spring Returns--Debra--Grand Finale

Spring Returns
32 x 36 inches
Monoprinted fabrics, vintage fabrics, commercial decorator fabrics, lace, fabric transfer printing and embroquilting

While participating in this challenge, I had the freedom to explore some techniques I had wanted to try with the embroidery machine.  The monthly deadlines forced me to stop my normal studiowork and play a little with some ideas.  I think it is valuable to have some experimental time and I'll miss this opportunity.  I plan to continue on my own. 

During the course of the challenge, I wanted to see how abstractly I could make the embroidery machine work.  By it's nature, it's a very structured machine using preformatted designs.  Learning how to take those designs apart and apply them to these pieces has been valuable for me to learn.  One of the concepts I worked with was "embroquilting", a term coined by Rian to describe using the embroidery machine to quilt through 3 layers like a quilting machine would do.  This piece has very successful embroquilting that helps reinforce the piece's spring theme--water droplets or puddles.

My other design idea for these pieces was to maintain a connection to my traditional quilting values but see how I could abstract it to some degree.  Again, this piece worked well for me.  I had the traditional grid of a quilt but was able to embellish it with the liveliness of scraps that spelled spring.  It shows an abandon I don't normally allow in my more controlled pieces (and that on a good day I wish I would explore more).  I remember feeling quite a rush when this piece was done; thinking of the "new direction" I could go with my quiltwork.

Overall, I enjoyed the challenge very much.  It had its moments of frustration and confusion, its challenges with pictures and with people but it was a year of self-discovery that I am happy I took.  Thanks for making and continuing the commitment with me.  Best wishes for more discoveries along the quilting pathway.

Take Me to the Mardi Gras - Rian

Take Me to the Mardi Gras

I chose this piece to highlight my year with Interpret This! because I felt it was my most creative effort vis-à-vis the inspiration photo, and I had the most fun with it. I was in the middle of selling my house when I made it, and it evokes that memory for me when I look at it. As far as I can remember, it was the first time I worked with a light subject on a dark background. I found I enjoyed working with darks. The colors seem so much more spirited against the dark background. It gave me the idea to do a jazz series, which will be my focus in 2011 once I get all this travel out of the way.

And while on the subject of travel, I must apologize for not commenting this month because I will be away.

Tetes au Dessous- Beverly

15 1/4 by 10 1/4
Cotton sateen, oil paintstiks, machine quilted, hand embroidered
I had a very difficult time choosing one piece.  I had to spend a lot of time trying to remember what my original goals were!  I know I wanted to get better at abstracting, and using surface design to create cloth.
This piece stands out for me for a couple of reasons.  First, the figures in the picture freaked me out- I don't do people, even dolls!  Once I got over that hump, though, it was a real learning experience.  I learned to take parts of the photo, and don't worry about the whole.  In this case, there were a lot of distractions.  Second, I had to come up with a way to represent one aspect of the chosen element- in  this case, hair.  I originally had the idea to use cheesecloth, and when that didn't work, had the epiphany of the embroidery.  I think my success with this piece encouraged me to use hand stitching in others, and it is something I want to continue to incorporate into my work. I think I succeeded in evoking a mood.  I found the picture rather disturbing and eerie, and think my piece conveys that also.  

And, it took my out of my comfort zone of strip piecing.  I still love it, it can be relaxing and meditative- but I don't want it to be my 'signature.'

It's not perfect.  I learned that using quilting to represent less distinct elements in a photo sometimes works, sometimes not.  If I were to redo this, I would use quilting that is just background- maybe simple vertical lines, like the lines of the curtain.  I originally put a binding on this, but when a friend commented that I'd made a place mat, I took it off and replaced it with facing.

Most people in this group have a very recognizable style.  Me, I still feel like I am all over the map, trying to figure that out. Here's a photo album with all my work- I've looked at it multiple times, trying to find a common thread that unites them all!  If you want to know about my thought process while creating, it's on Beverly's Page, along with photos of each finished piece also.

I think part of the issue is working with a photo that I otherwise wouldn't have chosen.  It was sometimes difficult to get inspired with those, and I know others felt the same way some months.  I'm not even sure I'll continue to work with photos as a starting point.  Some of my best work in the past has just originated inside my head!  I do know I want to continue to use my fabric in my work- I just love the idea of starting with white fabric that I alter in some way.  On the other hand, I know I learned a lot from having to work from someone else's photo.  I totally agree with Kay- half of creativity is just showing up to do the work, regularly and consistently. 

This has been a wonderful year that challenged me on multiple levels.  Completing a piece monthly was definitely a huge accomplishment for me- like Kay, I'm proud that I did each and every month.  I enjoyed getting to know the other members, and valued their input about my work.  I'm working to be more objective about my art, learning to be better about self-critique.  This past year has definitely helped with that.  I've made cyber-friends that I will continue to follow through their blogs.

It was a year well spent.  I will miss those reveals, it was such fun to see what everyone came up with! 

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Bridge - Barbara

"The Bridge" 
30" X 23"
Designed, Raw edged fused applique, Shiva paint sticks
& machine quilted .

I chose "The Bridge" as the one piece I learned the most from creating and  because it was my first attempt at doing a architectural scene.  I found it daunting to start with but at the same time loved it.  Once I got the first few structures up it just started flowing and became easier and easier.   

I love using the Shiva Paint Sticks to make the reflection on the water and thought it worked perfectly in this piece.  I plan on doing more of this type of theme in the future and incorporating more structures in some of my work.

I enjoyed this year and enjoyed being pushed out of my comfort zone right from the very first photo of all the doll heads.  I did something right with that one as I have already sold it and I would never have thought to use that image on my own.

Unlike Kay, I love doing pictorial quilts as most of you know.   I don't always take the whole photograph and duplicate it but often do.   I enjoy the world around me and love to try to duplicate the beauty and texture found in nature in fabric.  Although I have attempted new techniques and materials in the past, I find myself returning to fabric and textiles.  I may add beads but I would rather search for the perfect fabric or combination of fabrics to achieve the effect I am attempting than paint or other new discovered embellishments.  I do use fabric markers and paint sticks for shadowing and reflection regularly, however  I began doing art quilts because I loved the fabric and I still feel the same way after this year of interpretation.   So in someways I have confirmed my "style" and the direction I am meant to travel.

See all my work in my 

It was a joy being a part of Interpret This and I loved the group of talented artists that were a part of it.  I wish all of you continued success in the years to come and will definitely keep up with your work on your blogs. 

What a challenge--jdemilo

When I started this challenge I was a piece-maker with commercial fabric.  All my quilts were pieced either using a pattern or paper piecing, or crazy piecing.  My goal in participating was to enlarge my skill set in surface design.  Since that time I have low-water immersion dyed, snow dyed, parfait dyed, shibori dyed, wax batiked, soy wax batiked, stamped, stenciled, shiva paint sticked, Smooched, painted, printed, silk screened, thermofaxed, beaded, couched, discharged, shrunk, photoshopped, CitraSolv, and probably several other techniques that don't come readily to mind.  In other words, I have experimented more in the last year than ever before.  Here is where you can see the monthly efforts.

I was also hoping in this challenge to develop my unique voice in surface design style and I think that I did that.  The style is best portrayed in Garden of Eden. The style includes using my own fabric and handwork. There is nothing more exciting than to look at a quilt and knowing that it was just plain white fabric before you started! Here is Garden of Eden as it was shown at the Reveal.

After I showed the Garden of Eden for the Reveal, I continued to work with on it till I felt satisfied.  Here it is finished in what I consider to be my signature style.

Behind the Gate - Kay

Behind the Gate  22" x 22"
Machine pieced and applique, machine quilting

This piece exemplifies what I tried to do throughout the year, although I only gradually became aware of these aims.  What I hoped to do in each piece was not reproduce the photo, or create something suggested by the photo, but find one element of it that I thought most interesting and build a composition around that element.

This piece is one of the most successful, very largely because it fit so easily into my way of working.  A central design element of lines was there, there is an obvious technique (strip piecing) that could create those lines, and the theme or idea of wild foliage barely in control was also clear and easy to do technically.

The only new technique in this piece was the way I created the two-sided leaves so that they could be partly attached to the whole after quilting.  This isn't totally new, but the use of Liquid Thread in this way is new to me, and one I worked out myself.  I can see using it again where appropriate.

Several people commented  that this piece uses traditional quilting techniques in a way that is not traditional. I hope that I can do more work along that line.  I do know that what appeals to me in quilting is line, shape, and color, not realistic pictorial images.  This preference became more and more clear to me as the year went on, and that insight into my own taste and style was one of the benefits of the challenge.

This year's challenge has been an eye opener in other ways too.  I learned the difficulty of having to meet a creative deadline, sometimes with very little in the way of "inspiration."  Creativity is not only about inspiration, but about practice and regular work, about gritting your teeth and just doing it.  The challenge proved that, and I'm proud that I finished every piece, every month.

Last, but not at all least, I loved the spirit of this group.  Every month, after struggling with the "Interpretation" I looked forward to the reveals and the comments.  Thank you, Debra and Libby, for the work you did to organize this challenge, and thanks to everyone else for your creativity, your talent, and your support.  I'm going to miss that.

All my pieces for this challenge can be found here.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

I did it my way -- Kim

Every time I thought about sitting down to write this post, I found myself humming Frank Sinatra's My Way:

Regrets, I've had a few
But then again, too few to mention
I did what I had to do and saw it through without exemption
I planned each charted course, each careful step along the byway
And more, much more than this, I did it my way 

I struggled to choose the one piece that best exemplified my work this last year. My favorite piece is not necessarily the piece that challenged me but rather one that I have an emotional attachment with. I enjoyed the challenge of creating another piece that demanded more technical competence but I wasn’t as happy with the end result. Yet another piece resulted in a quilt that I will most likely hang in my house – pretty wall art, but doesn’t pass the omg-look-what-I-created test. Which made me wonder, was I trying to create pieces that would pass that test?  

As clich√© as it is, it wasn’t about what got done but more about the doing for me. I’m addicted to the process of exercising my creativity - fed by my inner motivation to create for my own personal enjoyment, satisfaction and challenge. Hmm, that makes it sound like it’s all about me. Well, duh, of course it is.

So, the piece to pick would have to be that very first self-portrait quilt, in large part because of my commitment to the sketchbook I used throughout the yearlong challenge. I had had a vision of what I thought I wanted to do with this quilt that changed as I worked with ideas in the sketchbook.

I learned, and am learning that I like to research and document my progress. To have a place to record and annotate my ideas, and later, to go back and trace where my inspiration came from. I believe that this habit of keeping a sketchbook will strengthen my skills in thinking both inside and out of the box, help me to develop new perspectives, and find challenging ways to express myself.  

I don’t remember which month it was but there was one moment when I looked at the photograph and just didn’t feel anything. As soon as I sat down with my sketchbook and started the process of connecting with the photograph things would start to change.  I think the activity of putting something on an empty page helped me to manufacture my own “breakthrough” and begin work.

I really enjoyed the challenge each and every month.  I’m going continue using a sketchbook with my projects. In addition, this year, I'm going to focus on developing my technical skills: keeping notes/plans in the sketchbook and building a portfolio of samples using a range of mediums and techniques.

It was good year. Cheers!

Final Thoughts - Nellie

The piece that best exemplifies all of my creations for this year long challenge to interpret a chosen photograph is this one of a scene in Annecy, France submitted by Beverly.

"Under the Bridge" 13" x 17"
Fabric, tulle, mono filament thread,
oil stick pastels, ink-jet printing
The physical elements that comprise this interpreted picture are a combination of my signature "ortwork" technique with an ink-jet printed portion of the actual photo. The piece is readily recognizable as my style as well as the particular place presented by the photo.  It represents my perceived intent of these challenges for the group.  The line of thinking for my approach to these challenges is akin to how musicians interpret, or translate, a musical score ... a successful interpretation being one that's recognizable as the composition written by the composer.

I very much enjoyed the monthly adventures in exploring possible view points and techniques to meet the challenge.  One direction that was new to me, and that I took often, was using the computer as a design tool.  Previously, it had only been used to check out the values of a composition by converting a photo to black and white.
Otherwise,  it was used to edit and store photos of my work.  I learned to utilize the Photoshop Elements program.  In particular, experimenting with the image in all the various "filters" to get a different view ... to gain a mental distance from the actual image.  And, too, printing those results or portions of the photo onto fabric is another aspect of the computer I had never done before.  In the piece pictured at the top of this post two copies of the building's reflection in the water were printed on fabric.  They were cut apart into serpentine shapes and recombined to fill in the width of the piece.  The butterfly in this piece is cut out from an image I found online and had printed onto fabric ...

Using the computer is now added to my "tool box" of skills and will be readily considered in making future work.

You may have noted that all my pieces are the same size, 13" x 17".  The first one, my self-portrait, just happened to end up those dimensions.  That size fit the place mat setting for the plate of Chinese food of the first photo challenge, so I used it again. After that, I designed each piece to fit this format either in a vertical or horizontal orientation.   A consideration for an exhibition of all these pieces was part of my thinking, too.

The piece that I had the most fun with is this one.

Before taking part in this challenge I had never considered working from a photograph.  Now I realize that it's possible to incorporate my view and techniques to make a unique piece that still relates to its source.  This success, plus enjoyment of the challenge, makes me consider the prospect of doing commission work ... something to which I had previously said, "NEVER".

I will miss being a part of the monthly reveals.  Finally letting everyone see what had to be kept under wraps for the month was as exciting as getting to see my fellow participant's results.  I loved that!

Photos and brief descriptions for all of the interpretations can be found on "Nellie's Page" (clickable).  At the end of each month's description is a link to the full post for that particular piece.

Photos of each month's challenge are also posted in my Flickr Album.

Challenge Wrap Up-Libby

Over The Fence
11" x 14" Painted fabric affixed to 3/4" profile canvas
Of the pieces that I made for this challenge, I think this one best exemplifies all aspects of what I learned during this time period. I treated the piece as I would have an actual painting and utilized all of the current skills that I had at that point with regard to painting techniques. For me, this piece is successful because I was able to put in to practice my method (for lack of a better word) of taking a photograph to which I have no connection and combining it with figurative work to produce a completely different story; my own version of what the photo could say. I learned how to do this during this challenge and it helped me to work with photos that were not my own and as I have said, to which I have no emotional connection. Also, the piece is important to me because it was the first one I did where I painted the figures directly on to the painting-not appliqued and "tried out" on something else first so as to not ruin the painting.

With regard to techniques, this piece is also the first one where I heavily employed chalk pastels to fill in gaps in the acrylic paint. I found out that although they are two different mediums, they can work successfully together (regardless of their different textures) on the fabric.

I also learned some valuable things about working with the photos of others. Everyone really has their own concept of what is inspirational to them. I am going to write more about this at some point on my blog in order to work through my thoughts on this. I learned something too about developing a concept and when to go with the first idea you come up with; how to not reach too far afield and make something more complicated than it has to be. Editing is crucial to not killing yourself. I also learned some things about working in a group.

In any case, I am pleased to have discovered a love of illustration of all types and also that I have a real liking of working with acrylics and pastels. There is just something about painting (whether on fabric or paper or whatever) that allows me to express an idea in a way that is more fluid and flexible than fabric.

Lastly, thank you to everyone for your participation. It is my firm belief that a group can only be as good as its members allow it to be. Involvement and commitment are key components to success. Twelve months is a long time so thank you again for sticking with the challenge.