Category Archives: drawing

Art Quiltlet: 30/52

Mountains art quiltlet at amyhoodarts.com

I finished the year’s thirtieth art quiltlet on Saturday night, so it had to wait until today to post. It’s hard to do justice with a photograph, but here we are. I bought myself some new art supplies this week, long-coveted Neocolor II water-soluble wax oil pastels (except I bought them at my local art supply store, and how I love having one!!). To create this, I used a watercolor painting I made a while ago (I didn’t date it, shame on me), which was inspired by a photo in the National Geographic Instagram feed, which I can no longer easily find because if there’s a way to sort favorites on IG, I don’t know it.

watercolor at amyhoodarts.com

To create the art quiltlet, I laid dry color down with the pastels, then blended with a wet paint brush. When it was dry, I made my quilt sandwich using flannel rather than batting, and added the stitching. At that point I decided to add a little more color in some spots with the pastels. More drying, then I was able to crop and finish.

I love the pastels. I’ve been wanting them to use with fabric for a while, but they are a little pricey. However, a week of triple-digit heat indices and driving round and round Annapolis dropping people off and picking them up, and I decided I was worth $30 pastels.

Since this is quiltlet number thirty, it’s time for another group-of-ten photograph. Quiltlets 21-30:

Art quiltlets 21-30 at amyhoodarts.com

I’ve been asked more than once what I plan to do with them all when I’m done. I don’t have a plan. Right now they’re in an overflowing box (I need a second box). The point of this exercise was never about the end product. It’s about the process of committing to making a small piece of textile art every single week and seeing where that leads.

Art Quiltlet: 22/52

locust art quilt at amyhoodarts.com

I’m feeling a little uninspired this week. I spent all last week taking care of a sick child, day and night, which reminded me why I had my babies early (goodness, I’m too old for sleep deprivation and full-time on-call duties). This culminated in a visit to the ER Friday night (a previous visit to the pediatrician being, ultimately, unhelpful) followed by an early morning car maintenance appointment on Saturday that had already been rescheduled once, so I got up and went. For part of the three-and-a-half hours that I was waiting, I sketched the leaves of the tree I was sitting under (thankfully I could wait outside, as it’s finally stopped raining every day). I’m pretty sure it was some sort of locust, although not having the entire tree in front of me anymore, I’m not sure what kind. So when I decided to practice my free-motion script along with free-motion sketch, I just wrote locust.

Sometimes when you are very tired and worn out, simple is best. So this week’s quiltlet, reflecting the energy drain that was last week, is simple.

My daughter is better now, and that exhausting month of May is over. June holds the end of school, a graduation, a dance recital, and two weeks of getting the eldest to his summer bridge program. But in between I hope to find some days to do absolutely nothing.

Art Quiltlet: 14/52

art quiltlet at amyhoodarts.com

“In the Flower Garden”

Ohhhh, this was fun. I was thinking about doing this larger, so decided to play with the idea on a small scale first. Even with the bobbin tension issues I had after switching to green thread, it was fun. (The bobbin thread snagged, so I cleaned under the presser plate and rethread, but it was still wonky, so I adjusted the needle tension, then the bobbin tension, then realized I’d overtightened, and had to go hunting for a better screwdriver to loosen….gah!) But once I was done with the green, I had some lunch and then started painting. These are acrylics, mostly liquid craft acrylics except for the green, which is heavy-body in the tube because I’m out of green liquid.

I posted this in-process detail shot to Instagram.

detail in progress, amyhoodarts.com

It was almost done at that point. I added some more color, and the butterfly, then cropped and stitched the edges. As I work with my sewing machine, I’ve noticed I’m much more free with line and shape than I am when I’m drawing. Put a pencil in my hand, and I feel pressure to be exact. It’s very hard for me to let shapes and line act as suggestions. But, perhaps because my ability to render exact and true-to-life is limited with my sewing machine, I’m more comfortable with looseness. I’m enjoying it.

Here’s a view of the back, wonky tension and all.

In the Flower Garden art quiltlet, back, amyhoodarts.com

I’ve been sewing so much! But not garments, and I have a list of clothes I’d like to sew for me and G, plus a rather generous fabric order (I don’t know what happened; I was feeling fluish and BAM!) on the way. So I need to be even more intentional with my sewing time I think to get it all in.

Art Quiltlet: 4/52

We survived the not-a-blizzard just fine. We never had blizzard conditions here and we only got about 18″ of snow, and yes, “only,” because I lived in New England last winter so it really didn’t seem like that much. Luckily we didn’t lose power. Just in case, we picked up some terra cotta planters to try this. We didn’t need them but we still want to see if it works. Unlike in New England, a huge amount of snow has already melted. Also unlike in New England, my kids have been out of school all week. The learned helplessness in the face of snow down here is incredibly frustrating.

But! On to this week’s quiltlet, whipped up fairly quickly Thursday night. I’ve been head-down in learning new things while sewing a dress for my daughter (post upcoming, as soon as I work up courage for the buttonholes) but meanwhile in the back of my head I was thinking about what to do this week. The Rolling Stones song “She’s Like a Rainbow” was running through my head because it was on in the car, so that was my inspiration.

She's Like a Rainbow art quiltlet, amyhoodarts.com

I layered white on the top and bottom with flannel in between (my very lightweight “batting”), then sewed strips of colors down. I traced my own drawing onto organza, layered it on top, and stitched. This stitching isn’t loose like with the flower a couple weeks ago. I used a walking foot, which is why the curves aren’t always graceful. But I wanted a more controlled line, too, and my free-motion quilting needs practice. Plus, organza! Slippery stuff. Then I cropped and trimmed and finished the edges.

I like the back view too.

She's Like a Rainbow, back view, amyhoodarts.com

I’m jotting the date and a bit about the week on each of these. I’m confused because an entire region of the country just shuts down for a week!

Art Quiltlet: 3/52

Art quiltlet at amyhoodarts.com

Finished art quiltlet 3/52. Reverse applique

This week I decided to try reverse appliqué and free motion quilting. My free motion quilting needs lots of work, but this is part of this whole challenge–getting better at various techniques. It would help if I’d remember to switch to the darning foot. It’s a process, people! This little quiltlet had a few steps.

First I gathered some brown material and cut and sewed strips, making two 8×10″ rectangles, one with horizontal strips and one with vertical. Then I cut and sewed a few times to make a block with various directional stripes. I layered my fabrics with the blue on top, then the pieced brown, then the batting (I’m using neutral flannel for these so far), then the back. With me so far? Because I didn’t take photos of the steps.

Next, I drew a tree onto the top blue layer, stitched outside the line, then cut on the line, revealing the brown pieced layer underneath.

Close up of reverse applique, amyhoodarts.com

Colors are off here because it was under artificial light on the sewing table.

I neatened up the cut lines a little more after this was taken. Next step was to quilt, with my wonky free-motion quilting that needs so so much practice, and finally to crop. This is what it looked like before cropping (again with the off colors on the sewing table).

before cropping, amyhoodarts.com

While I think about what I’m going to do beforehand, a bit, I like doing these all in one go, and this one was sewn start to finish Monday morning. I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve done reverse appliqué and the purpose of this is to get comfortable doing new things. Stretching! It’s good for the creative muscles.

Art Quiltlet: 2/52

flowers @ amyhoodarts.com

One day last week my neighbor called to say her son had been placed on the school bus by accident; could I possibly get him until she was home in a half hour? Of course! It’s not the first time I’ve had him over during a gap, and this time she came over with flowers, telling me how grateful she was that she knew she could call me and it would be okay. Flowers were totally unnecessary, but so cheery and welcome on my table. I also used them for this week’s challenge quilt, in which I practiced drawing with thread.

flowers and finished quiltlet at amyhoodarts.com

Finished quiltlet and inspiration.

I used natural muslin and black thread, because I wanted to emphasize the line. But when I was done, I decided to add a little color with colored pencils–I looked for crayons, but for all the many art supplies I have, I couldn’t find new, sharp crayons. This piece took far less time than last week’s, but I will probably return to this technique many times this year, as I’d like to get more confident with it.

Here’s a close-up:

finished quiltlet 2/52 at amyhoodarts.com

I definitely need more practice!

Working with Klee’s Intention

Materials: Watercolor paper, watercolors and brushes, oil pastels, copy of Paul Klee’s Intention as well as other works (as available) to discuss.

Last week I had the opportunity to facilitate some art-making with a group of fifth graders. My daughter’s elementary school has a program called “Guest Artist,” in which parent volunteers come into the class for forty minutes to present an artist and lead a project. Sadly, by the time I gained access to her classroom’s online signup, all the slots were taken, but I let the coordinator know I could fill in if other classes had empty slots. I really kind of love talking with kids about art.

Forty minutes for set-up, discussion, art-making, and clean-up is quite short, so that influenced this project. I also wanted to engage this age level, which is why I settled upon presenting Paul Klee’s painting Intention.

amyhoodarts.com

Page spread from Paul Klee for Children by Silke Vry

We began by looking at some of Klee’s artwork in general and I invited the kids to comment on what they noticed. There are no right or wrong answers here, of course. They observed that his lines were simple, he bordered on the abstract, and he didn’t seem too concerned with mistakes or perfection. He’s not one of those artists painting so realistically that it looks like a photograph (how freeing!). Then I talked to them about Intention (seen above), using Sike Vry’s book as a guide. We talked about how the shapes and symbols stood for things; what did we see? The figure separating the color blocks is a person. Everything behind the person is in the past, a memory or something left behind. Everything in front represents future plans, or intentions. I hung up a sheet with some definitions of the word from the dictionary:

Intention, n. 1. A determination to act in a certain way: RESOLVE
2. IMPORT, SIGNIFICANCE
3. What one intends to do or bring about
(Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition)

I then explained the art-making.

Process: Each student received a 12″ x 18″ piece of watercolor paper and a black oil pastel. I showed my sample and explained they’d be making their own piece in the style of Klee’s Intention, with a figure representing themselves and symbols of both memories/past experiences and future plans.

sample of Klee activity at amyhoodarts.com

My sample artwork.

I encouraged them to make marks with intention as well, to think about their symbols and make them confidently. Pencils weren’t allowed, both because it wouldn’t erase once the pastel went down, and because pencils encourage hesitant work (because of the option to erase and start over). Once the black pastel symbols were down, other pastel colors could be added for emphasis. Finally, the background colors could be painted in with watercolors, which would be resisted by the oil pastel, leaving those lines pure and vibrant while easily filling in the background.

students at work - amyhoodarts.com

students at work

It was a great class to work with and I had loads of fun. The kids took to the process, thinking carefully about what to include and sharing with me the things they’d left behind. Getting to work with a group of kids in this way is a joy!

Juggling

I can only keep so many balls going at once, and lately the one I’ve been letting sit is posting here. See, there are so many things I like to do. That’s why when I decided to participate in The 100 Day Project on Instagram, I didn’t choose to make 100 of one thing alone. I decided to make time for drawing, painting, or carving every day. Because if I’m making a drawing a day, when would I have time to carve any of them? If I’m painting every day, will I still have time to run? How about sewing and knitting? (And of course any of those things have to be fit around mama duties.) Any time I’ve tried to do one thing every single day for any length of time, other things I like get squeezed out. I could look at it as a lack of focus, but I prefer to view it as the product of an interesting and interested mind instead.

At any rate, if you’re interested, I’m posting photos like these on Instagram.

linocut test print at amyhoodarts.com

Testing a tree linocut to see what still needs to be cleaned up.

Besides drawing and carving and sewing and knitting, I’ve been making sure we get outside. Oh, we are so happy for spring. We recently visited the local pond after dinner to watch the sun go down and listen to the spring peepers.

sunset at the pond at amyhoodarts.com

Photo by my husband.

We were hoping we’d see the beavers come out for a crepuscular swim, and we finally did! And then–then we realized the creatures wheeling and dipping over the pond as the sun fully set were most likely bats. How exciting! They moved too fast to get a good look at with binoculars. Their wings fairly vibrated. I’ve never seen bats outside of a zoo before.

We also have horses in our neighborhood, which is convenient, since my 10yo mentioned he wished he were better at drawing horses. Excellent–let’s go right to the source.

Drawing horses at amyhoodarts.com

After that, we crossed the street to walk the path through the meadow (not very meadowish yet) and the woods, on some open land property owned by the town. My youngest is delighted that it’s spring.

happy spring at amyhoodarts.com

She’s wearing a mama-made dress, natch.

My favorite bird, the towhee, has been singing his heart out. I heard a barred owl again last night. I feel so grateful for where I live during the spring and summer, for this patch of land we share with so many critters–birds and insects, reptiles and amphibians, mammals too. For close access to farms, ponds, seashores, meadows, and woods.

Which is why it’s so ironic we still haven’t sold this house. I’ve been cleaning again lately too. It’s been six months since I deep cleaned and decluttered, and several areas need another pass, and yes I’m a little resentful I’m still cleaning this house. Also stressed out. So many houses are for sale. My advice is never to try to sell a house in an economically depressed state that is losing population. We’re going down to Maryland in a couple of weeks to look for a rental, and most likely my husband will be down there while I’m up here with the kids as the school year finishes. This is exactly what I didn’t want, but what can I do? That’s where we are. So I will open the windows when temperatures allow and listen to the birds I love and enjoy my deck while it’s still mine–while crossing my fingers every day that the house sells soon.

Homeschooling Update

We still are. Here’s the thing: I usually just feel we’re not doing much of anything spectacular. It’s been (and still is) a long cold winter. We are not involved in any homeschool groups or classes, and while probably we should be taking field trips and such, it’s really hard to get my homeschooled kid out of the house. We spend every Wednesday in the city for two appointments, and that one long day usually feels like enough for the week. He takes rock climbing classes and karate and assisted with the after-school art program I facilitated; he’s beginning swim lessons this week along with his brother and sister. In other words, he’s socialized. But he’s also at home a lot. He’s not the type of kid who likes to leave the house just to say we did.

As for subjects, he’s continuing with math, with much bluster (he’s better at math than he thinks he is). We finished Story of the World Volume 3. My thought was to focus on American history for a while, but N isn’t as interested in US History. He requested Chinese history, so I’m waiting for a bunch of books from the library, and I’ll probably order Story of the World Volume 4, since he’s old enough for it now. We continue with his science text, but I don’t force things. We skipped over the anatomy section because it wasn’t grabbing his interest at all. He’s doing far more science than he’d be doing in school, and I don’t see the point in forcing something he’s not interested in. And of course he reads, voraciously, as we all do here.

And he draws.

drawing at amyhoodarts.com

Daily. Sometimes for hours, and always on that futon, no matter how many times I suggest the table. So far he hasn’t done anything with the drawings but create them. He doesn’t write down backstories for the characters he draws, or draw sequential scenes, or even store his drawings neatly. (“Can I get you a folder?” I ask. “A storage box? Something, so they don’t get ruined?” He prefers to leave them on the floor, and I tidy them into a pile on the bookshelf with the colored pencils so they don’t get stepped on.)

I remind myself to bite my tongue. I remind myself that he absolutely doesn’t need some adult’s idea of what he should be doing so I can say, See? He’s doing a drawing project. What else is homeschooling for if not to provide a child with time and space to do what makes him happiest? I have vivid memories of sitting in school at his age, bored, wishing I could be at home working on my latest drawing/writing/crochet project. There doesn’t seem to be much I can do to support this interest right now beyond supplying time, endless amounts of paper, and colored pencils (his preferred medium). When he shows interest in a drawing book, I buy it. He’s exposed to a variety of art, including graphic novels. There is a tendency for adults to want a THING to show as proof that the child was working towards something all along, but no, we need to back away from that impulse. He’ll get to the thing when he’s ready, or he won’t. Maybe he’s just working on 10,000 hours of drawing. He’s happy drawing. He draws daily. I know lots of adults who aspire to do that, including, at times, myself, and we don’t manage it. What he is doing is more than enough, and of his own choice, and I’m not going to do a darn thing to mess it up.

Watercolor Sketches + Shop Update

The final two watercolor sketches from last week. I only missed one day, Thursday, so I ended up with six total for the week.

watercolor sketch at amyhoodarts.com

watercolor sketch at amyhoodarts.com

I thought it would be fun to show the process, so I took photos along the way while making the strawberry sketch. I did this one Saturday evening, so the lighting isn’t the best. Before I share all those photos, though, I wanted to let you know that hand-stamped blank cards and lino prints and watercolors are now available in the shop. It took a bit of self-talk (and some encouraging talk by other people) to list the prints and watercolors. It feels different from the other products. They serve no purpose other than to hang on the wall; it’s a public declaration of my belief that my artwork is worthy of offering for sale. That’s not easy to do. (Which I only share because I think it’s better for all of us creative types if we admit when we feel a bit wobbly. Everybody does, you know.)

On to the strawberries.

still life set up at amyhoodarts.com

The still life set up.

initial pencil sketch at amyhoodarts.com

Initial pencil sketch.

traced over with ink at amyhoodarts.com

Traced over with ink (copic multiliner).

first wash of watercolor at amyhoodarts.com

First wash of watercolor.

more color added at amyhoodarts.com

More color added.

almost done at amyhoodarts.com

Almost done.

 

just needs to dry at amyhoodarts.com

Just needs to dry.

It takes a while to complete one because of the waiting time in between layers of color. If you add wet watercolors next to (or on top of) wet watercolor, it’ll bleed together. Sometimes that’s exactly what you want. Other times, it’s not, so it needs to dry first. You can see I have the paper taped down to a board (it’s a clipboard). I leave it that way until it dries. It helps keep it from curling too much.

In some ways this makes it a perfect type of painting for me to do. I’m always getting interrupted anyway. However, I’ve also gotten very good at telling the interrupter that I’m drawing/painting and I’ll get to them in a few minutes. All of my kids are old enough for me to be able to do this, generally. And they all respect the process, for the most part.