Just so you don't think I have forgotten about the next color challenge, I want you to know that purple and yellow are on my radar. I spotted these lovely flowers on our walk this morning. I snapped a shot with one of my iPhone photo aps. I have no idea what they are, but I love the coloration in them.
It was my honour to represent the Twelve by Twelve project at the official opening of our foyer exhibition at Gosford Regional Gallerythis evening. The quilts looked very sharp and attracted a great deal of interest from young and old. The exhibition continues until Wednesday, 23 June The gallery is open daily from 10am - 4pm and I will be giving a floor talk at 2pm on Saturday, 5 June. Tell your friends!
Today was installation day at Gosford Regional Gallery. In addition to the hanging of the Twelve by Twelve quilts in the foyer; the works in The Reconciliation 2010 Aboriginal Artist's Art Competition were being hung and judged and the finalist works of the 2009 Ranomok Prize for Contemporary Glass were being carefully unwrapped and placed on their plinths.
This is how the foyer looked at 1pm. I should have taken a photo at 4.30pm but let me just say that, despite much huffing and puffing, it didn't look much different.
At this point, we abandoned plans A and B and proceeded with Plan C which involved hanging the quilts on rods rather than pinning them flat on the wall. An emergency dash to the hardware store for some more dowel and eye hooks; some fancy work with power tools and this is how the foyer looked at 6pm.
There's still some tweaking to be done with positioning the quilts on the rods and the placement of the mosaic sets plus signage but everything is in good shape for those fortunate people who attend the Australia's Biggest Morning Tea event at the gallery tomorrow morning to raise funds to help the fight against cancer and will get a sneak preview of the exhibition before its official opening on Friday 28 May.
Many thanks to director Tim and volunteers Katrina, Bard Haerland and art quilter Kay Haerland who assisted with the installation. I could not have done it without them.
If you are near a computer tomorrow afternoon, you might like to tune in online to my local public radio station 92.5 ABC Central Coast to hear me chat with Scott Levi on the Smart Arts program about the Twelve by Twelve exihibition that opens at Gosford Regional Gallery on Friday, 28 May.
It runs from 2.30-3pm on Friday afternoon, 21 May (Australian Eastern Standard time) which is the equivalent of:
4.30-5pm, Friday New Zealand time;
9.30-10pm, Thursday US Pacific Daylight Savings time;
Brenda will be giving a slideshow presentation to the Quilters Guild of NSW Inc this Saturday 22 May at Burwood RSL. She will also share a selection of small quilts. The Guild meeting starts at 2pm. Visitors welcome! Indeed, you are invited to bring along your own 12x12in quilt to share in a mini-exhibition for the meeting. The more the merrier!
With an ever-growing website with numerous cross-links, it is not surprising that I miss things from time to time. Thank you to readers who e-mail me let me know about broken links and other small glitches.
For one of my City & Guilds exercises some time ago, I had to collect images showing complementary colors together. It wasn't ever anything I had consciously noticed, but as soon as I started looking, I saw wonderful pairings all around me.
I'm thinking that now that we're all going to start thinking about purple and yellow, we'll find examples all around us.
Continuing with the idea that this is a challange, I decided to pick a colorwave of opposites, or complementary colors. If I had really wanted a challenge, I would have picked blue - orange, which I have never liked working with, but I kind of like purple - yellow, so here it is, a challange with two colors I like! I am purposely not showing any pictures of anything else, because I don't want you to focus on an image, which a lot of us, including myself, did for Kristin's challange. I find starting a piece with just the color choices really difficult, but that is what I want you to do here.
I forgot to add that you can use any accent colors you want to this.
This was a very challenging color palette for me, and I have to say that I really enjoyed it. It reminded me of why these are called "challenges!" Like most of you, I looked at a lot of pictures of volcanoes and of Hawaii in general, seeking inspiration. But I didn't come across anything that lit the spark, if you know what I mean.
Eventually, I found myself thinking of volcanoes (how could I not, with what has been going on in the news over the past month) and thinking about what is going on underground before a volcano pushes up out of the earth and erupts. Well, I didn't go do research, or anything --but I found myself remembering how I'd been interested in the cut-away views of things when I was in school, and that formed the seed for this.
My challenge to myself in these Colorplay challenges is to head toward the abstract. Playing with batiks and the underground layers idea led to this. In some ways, I'm somewhat embarrassed about presenting it here: it's so simple. In fact, I tried adding hand stitching, which I ripped out because I didn't like it and it just didn't suit. I considered other embellishments -- but really, what I like about this is how it emphasizes the patterns of the fabrics. So, simple as it is, this is my response to the challenge.
And, once again, I'm photographing black and bright colors so the stitching detail doesn't show much. Here's a detail shot to show the quilting:
Thanks, Kristin, for this challenging challenge!
***Now that I've posted this, I've gone and looked at the other challenge pieces -- and I'm amazed at how many of us went for linear designs. I think this may be our most similar bunch of pieces yet, and that is quite unexpected to me.
Harakeke (commonly known as flax) is a species of lily unique to New Zealand and grows throughout the country. My inspiration came from photos taken by my sister Chantel on one of her many excursions to Tongariro National Park in the centre of the North Island in New Zealand - home to three volcanoes, including the distinctive cone of Mt Ngaruahoe, and skifields.
For a fleeting moment, I considered merging the two images to make kind of a kiwi companion piece to Terry's Mt Hood in Winter but I wasn't sure how I would deal with the designated palette which, after all, is central to the challenge.
Instead, I decided to focus on the flax flowers which incorporated most of the palette. I stripped out the blue background in Photoshop and manipulated the image to create two sprays and then tried a variety of commercial products and printing methods to create a viable photo transfer. I lost count of the duds I made along the way. Eventually, I decided to try the Citrasolv method and refreshed my hazy understanding of the technique by reading the tutorial on Lisa's blog - Something About Nothing. Magic - it worked! I printed out the colour photos on my laser printer onto white fabric and then painted on a sulphur-coloured chartreuse background before quilting:
Relieved that at least I had something to put forward on reveal day, I still felt an urge to create a second piece. This time, I used another tool in Photoshop to create a black image which I printed on to some hand-dyed fabric. I then auditioned the photo transfer piece against some fiery shibori and you see the results above.
I also made a shibori magma piece but have not had a chance to complete the hand-stitching (I don't what I've been doing lately!) and it is not especially photogenic.
This is my Kilauea quilt.
I first dyed some fabrics in the colours Kristin gave us for her scheme. I then printed them with black paint. On the red and the orange, I did some monotypes that made me think of lava flow. A sort of mountain shape also appeared by itself on the orange fabric. On the chartreuse fabric, I used a thermal screen made from a picture of water reflections. (I had already used that same screen on other fabrics before.)
The piece is mainly machine quilted. Almost no hand work this time. I've posted more pictures on my blog.
This color scheme was somewhat of a struggle for me, for some reason. I took just about the full two months to contemplate this palette. Because Kristin associated the color palette with a volcano, I landed on an idea.
My quilt is a scene from my imagination. It's my own little fantasy world. The flowers are Lava Flowers, Rufus ignis. The red petals mimic oozing lava as it slowly rolls down the hill. The orange stamen mimic spewing hot stuff coming from the top of the volcano. I outline stitched the flowers and flower parts with black thread.
The ground that the flowers grow from is cooled lava. Imagine a flower growing right out of lava.....perhaps it really happens...I don't know as I don't live near a volcano. The ground is made from two shades of gray fabrics. The background in the upper portion is the chartreuse color from Kristin's color palette. I used many different fabrics and created this section in a mosaic collage technique.
This was a tricky palette for me - not a preferred colour scheme at all! But, as usual, with the passage of a little time and the constant mulling that happens inside the head of a Twelve, a plan presented itself.
Although I didn't plan to follow the source of this colour palette so closely, as a New Zealander (and a North Islander at that) I have a sense of connection to volcanoes and I was immediately able to relate the darkest colour to the volcanic scoria rock that is seen in so many New Zealand gardens. The little fern in Kristin's photos wasn't so familiar but there are plenty of other ferns in NZ...
My thoughts were very much about direction - the powerful vertical thrust of the eruptions and the gentle horizontal growth of the ferns.So the quilt has two distinct parts - the Volcano side which is expressed vertically, and the Fern part which sits more quietly to the side and has short horizontals. I pulled a great pile of fabrics from my collection and was ironing them and choosing colours when I realised that the gradated Nancy Crow print was all I needed for the Volcano background. I subscribe to the principle of twenty greens being better than one green, so this is a small departure for me from my usual fabric selection process. It's also as close as I will ever come to bargello. At first I planned lots of small handstitched sparks of bright orange but they would have been superfluous. Instead there are a few couched lines of hand-dyed perle cotton and, on the fern side, a few lines of couched polymide knitting yarn in that fabulous mucus green.
Now that this quilt is done, you know, I actually like it!
I survived the challenge, and a challenge it turned out to be! I jumped out of my comfort zone and enjoyed experimenting. I'm not totally happy with any of my quilts, but I had fun with the process. I couldn't get the imagery of a "volcano" out of my mind, so most of my designs focus on lava flowing through the lush forests of Hawaii. The sharp contrast of the hot lava and the vegetation is amazing. The beautiful islands were formed by what seems so destructive on the personal scale. The heat and fire bring forth new land and life. What a metaphor for so much of our existence.
Here are a few more of my experiments as I tried to capture the contrast of life, destruction and the hope of rebirth:
All the while I was working on the perfect 12x12 quilt design, I really wanted to be working on this piece, a 3D volcano. The theme was just begging to jump off the flat surface. She really needs a lot of embellishment. I am seeing beads and wire and perhaps an explosion of fiber from the top. I will keep you posted on my progress.
When a new 12x12 theme is announced, I usually ponder the new color palette for quite some time. I just take note of what draws my attention -- if it's a particular composition, technique or material. I try to notice the colors from the palette in my every day life. So when there was a huge bin of mangoes at my grocery store, I was stunned to find all of Kristin's colors in the fruit.
I decided to make my quilt all about the mango and the colors.I actually painted this mango. I was inspired by the class I recently took from Judy Perez. She gave me a bit more confidence with paint and painting techniques. I think it turned out pretty well. I tried to keep it simple this time around. Just fabric, a bit of surface design, simple embellishments.I didn't use anything that wasn't in the color scheme. (Well, that chunky glass bead is more emerald, than chartreuse. Forgive me.)
This is an unusual group of colors, but I really like it. Working on this project reminded me that if a color scheme appears in nature -- on the skin of a mango or on an island in Hawaii -- it has built-in beauty.
The first thing that comes to most peoples' minds when thinking about Hawai'i and color would probably be sunsets, blue ocean and white sand, or the floral colors of the ubiquitous lei.
I wanted to push things a little farther for my theme. Hopefully my choice of a volcano for theme has been challenging -- in a good way!
Conceptually, I had decided early on that I would stay abstract and probably work with simple patchwork shapes like squares and half-square triangles. This meant that the fabrics would have to tell a good part of the story. Finding just teh right fabric became the biggest challenge for me this time around.
First, I pulled all my grey, chartreuse, and molten lava colored fabrics out. Perhaps 144 one inch half square triangles would be dynamic -- with one half hot lava colored, the other half cool lava greys and black, with a scattering of ferny green triangles.
Then I taught a fabric marbling class and was pleasantly surprised at how lava-like traditional marbling patterns are! What followed was an odyssey into creating the most lava-like marbled fabric I could (see the whole story on my blog here).
My Kilauea is a simple patchwork of squares that hopefully lets the fabric tell the story of the sparse black landscape of the lava field. Molten lava bubbles below the surface and sometimes oozes forth. The little green checked and velvet triangles edged in french knots represent the leaves of the uhule fern found in and near the steam vents at Kilauea's caldera (crater). A few squares of hawaiian "Aloha" print fabric hint at the volcano's location and echo the movement of the wind above and lava below.
I loved the color palette for this challenge. I decided to use hand-dyed silk for this because I had the reddish orange fabric that was perfect. I had the chartreuse shibori in my stash, also. The other fabrics were dyed or painted. I could never quite get the gray and taupe, from the color palette that Kristin gave us, with dye. I ended up painting the fabric and had much more control. My inspiration was the way lava flows down the volcano in undulating fashion.
While I was making this, the volcano in Iceland was spouting off. I saw many photos of red hot lava leaping into the air with sparks flying. I decided to make a second piece which I call Red Hot Lava. I used red and orange beads to represent the sparks.
Now, I need help deciding which piece will go into the Twelve X Twelve collection.
The volcano theme was an opportunity to stretch myself and try some things that have been in the back of my mind. First of all, I had already decided that the next piece, regardless of what the theme was, would be non-representational. I was also wanting to try some work using strong, solid colors, as opposed to my favored prints and to create a very flat, strong design.The colors threw me a bit at first. It is always a little odd to see a palette of colors presented in a block, with each color of equal size. What I always used to teach in my color classes was that the proportion of each color used in a piece is what creates the interest. I had to remind myself of that.
Early in my process, before any real planning was done, I went to Cleveland to tape a TV show and visited the wonderful Cleveland Art Museum, where I saw an exhibit of Native American art and craft. One of the pieces was this Seminole pieced shirt and it immediately struck me as very similar to Kristin's volcanic color scheme. Its strong geometrics and stripes became an inspiration. As I began playing with sketches I began to see concepts that reminded me of geological earth layers and I thought of how molten lava and magma moves beneath the earth and eventually finds its way to the surface as volcanic activity. I also remembered seeing lava formations called "ropey lava" where the molten material had hardened into sinuous strands. This became inspiration for my quilting design.
I had such a good time with this challenge! It pushed me into a direction I have been thinking about for a long while and taught me things about interpreting concrete images into abstract impressions of those images. I also thought it ironic that my last piece, for the blue/white/black challenge was an actual image of one of our local dormant volcanoes, Mt. Hood.
For the first time ever I did two quilts for this challenge. I think this is the one I will choose as my official Twelve quilt. It does not look anything like the one I set out to make in my head.
As you all know I set myself a challenge to add social themes to my works in this challenge.This time, just as I started to work on it, I learned that the 24 year old son of a dear friend of mine had committed suicide having struggled with depression and anxiety. I decided this quilt would be my tribute to him. I had clever-clever ideas involving wire mesh and 3D shapes that could be scrunched up and black enveloping the colour.... but this quilt did not want to be like that. Nothing worked. It was a sad mess.
So I just decided to throw together a quilt with the right colours thinking about lava flow and have done. I made this one first. I used abaca tissue for the verticle red and orange strips - my first time with that product.
And then, liking the design but feeling it did not reflecct my mood I reversed the colours.
Just as the unexpected erruption of Eyjafjallajökull came from deep under the surface, so an explosive desperation can lie hidden beneath what seems like a normally lived life. One in four adults will suffer some kind of mental illness at some time in their lives. By comparison, the risk of a woman getting breast cancer is one in eight and yet there is far more publicicty and fund raising for that illness. Just because depression and anxiety are not visible does not mean they are not a real and significant disease. In the UK, suicide is the most common cause of death in men under 35. If you or any one you know is suffering, help and advice can be found here.
The young man in question was a fine, popular man with so much potential. I know his family were extremely proud of him and he certainly deserved that pride. I have not yet asked his family for permission to name him in this context, so he shall remain anonymous at present. Nontheless, this quilt is in his memory.
Our new self-published book is now available on Amazon
About Twelve by Twelve
We are twelve quilt artists who embarked on an art challenge together. We're from different places throughout the world and our artistic styles vary, but we share a love of art quilting and a desire to play, experiment, learn, and grow.
For four years (2007-2011), we each made a 12x12 inch quilted art piece on a designated theme or palette. See our Theme Series and our Colorplay series.
For the 2012 Series, we changed things a bit and made rectangular pieces, 20x12 inches with roughly 10 weeks between each challenge. As before, we had a designated theme for each challenge.
We shared our process, progress, and results on this blog. It remains a key record of our rich collaboration.