Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Work in Progress on My Year-Round Garden

A couple of people have expressed interest in seeing a few work in progress photos of the quilt in my previous post (here).  So I thought I'd share a few photos and some of my thoughts about this quilt.  As I mentioned in my previous post, I designed this in Ellen Lindner's Design Your Own Nature Quilt class.  Our first step was to select a photo for our quilt.  Her motto is "be inspired by your photo, not owned by it."  This is my inspiration photo:

Butchart Gardens

As you can see, I worked pretty loosely - I was certainly not owned by my photo!   I took the photo at Butchart Gardens in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, in 2004.

Once I had a working sketch, I started to select fabrics for the background.  I knew that I wanted the foreground to look like greenery and the background to be dark but indistinct.  I wanted two of the spiky plants that you see in the background of the photo, but they needed to be lighter in color so they would show up on my dark background.  I wanted a larger variety of flower colors than in my photo, but I didn't really want any white flowers.  So here is my background with the spiky plants in place and some flowers off to the side.

WIP 1

Once I was satisfied with my background, I started placing flowers.  Basically, I kept moving them around and rearranging them to get them to look both balanced and random.  I would upload a photo to our classroom (a yahoo group) and Ellen would make suggestions.  Sometimes the suggestion would just be to move one flower slightly up or down so that it wasn't in line with another one; other times it was about how to shape a flower so that it looked right.  Ellen's suggestions were invaluable, and so was looking at the photos.  I could often see things on the computer screen that I couldn't see in the quilt, so that's a tip I'm going to have to remember for future design efforts.

Once I was satisfied with my placement, it was time to stitch everything down.  I used a combination of glues, fusible web, pins, and my fingers to hold things in place.  All of the stitching was done with the batting and backing in place, so it was stitched and quilted in one step.  Here it is after quilting and before squaring up and binding:

WIP2 - Quilted

My Year-Round Garden

My Year-Round Garden
My Year-Round Garden
Originally uploaded by Cheryl Gebhart

I designed this quilt in Ellen Lindner's Design Your Own Nature Quilt class. I really enjoyed the class and learned a lot. Ellen has a very good teaching style - making lots of comments and suggestions but ultimately leaving decisions up to the student. I recommend this class and will take other classes from her.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Artful Journaling Explorations - Butterfly


Artful Journaling Explorations - Butterfly
Originally uploaded by Cheryl Gebhart


I used tissue paper to create the texture in the background of this painting, put on while the paint was wet. I painted this from this photo I took several years ago while visiting good friends in Tennessee - the lilac bush is in their back yard:

Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly

Friday, August 27, 2010

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See

Sisters Pearl and May Chin are beautiful girls in 1937 Shanghai, living it up and having the time of their lives, until their father loses all their wealth and can't pay his gambling debts.  He sells the girls to brothers who have come to China from Los Angeles in search of wives.  When Japan invades China and war breaks out, the girls set out on a journey to America.  It is a pretty good story, but I was disappointed in the way it was written.  The entire novel was written in first person present tense (Pearl is the narrator), and it seemed to be just a listing of events (almost "this happened, and then this happened, etc.").  And the author spent more time telling us what happened than showing us.  I didn't used to understand the difference until I read this blog post by Vivian Swift.  I rate this book 3 out of 5.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Project Journal Infiltration by Roz Stendahl

Roz Stendahl wants people to sketch her in their journals.  I wish I lived in Minneapolis so I could - of course, since my son and daughter-in-law live there, I may have the chance sometime. See details at this link.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Artful Journaling Explorations - Misting


Artful Journaling Explorations - Misting
Originally uploaded by Cheryl Gebhart

For lesson 9, we learned how to soften and blend the paints by misting on water - I LOVED the technique!

Artful Journaling Explorations - Elephant


Artful Journaling Explorations - Elephant
Originally uploaded by Cheryl Gebhart

I did the elephant with a gel pen and waterbrush for lesson 8 (we've been exploring different techniques and tools in this session).

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Artful Journaling Explorations - Applesauce


Artful Journaling Explorations - Applesauce
Originally uploaded by Cheryl Gebhart

For lesson 7, we were exploring the use of non-traditional tools to make art. I started by cutting some apple shapes out of foam to use as stamps. I painted them with watercolors and stamped them on the page (after trying on a scrap paper first). I did this a few times, but wasn't very happy with the impressions, so I added some more paint to the page with my waterbrush. It was just a blob of red, yellow, and green, so I took a bamboo skewer dipped in brown paint and added the lines and dots to define individual apples. Then I stamped the one apple by itself. I added our cook pot behind the apples and used my signature color (Cobalt Teal Blue by Daniel Smith) to paint a counter top (artistic license, since our counters are not this color). I included the statement about smell as another sense since I usually forget. The outlines on my apples are much heavier than I would normally like, but it was fun exploring the use of other tools on the page, so I'm satisfied with it.

Lucky for me, DH is doing all the work of cutting up the apples, since they are in pretty bad shape! I help once that part is done. I didn't take a photo of the apples - they're in buckets, so more artistic license was used with the arrangement.

Artful Journaling Explorations - Creativity Map


Artful Journaling Explorations - Creativity Map
Originally uploaded by Cheryl Gebhart

In an effort to become more creative, I have created this chart for lesson 6. I will color in a square each day that I do something creative - it can be sewing, painting, drawing, etc.
I made the page on August 8th. I couldn't remember whether I'd done anything creative on the first 3 days of the month, so I left them blank. As of August 22, I've managed to color in every square after the 8th.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Paco's Story by Larry Heinemann

Paco was the only survivor of a massacre at Fire Base Harriette, a location that was supposed to be safe.  He is left for dead for 2 days before he is found by a medic from another company.  Once Paco returns to the US, he takes a bus as far as his money will take him, ending up in a small town in Texas.  He gets a job as a dishwasher, working for a WWII veteran.  He is haunted by his memories of Vietnam and the ghosts of his dead comrades.  We don't learn anything about what Paco was like before the war or whether he had any family or friends to return to.  It is a very disturbing story about how badly returning soldiers were treated and how little support there was for them.  This was my 5th book for the Vietnam War Reading Challenge, and my 14th book for the New Author Challenge 2010.  I rated this book 3 out of 5.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Gesso Resist


Gesso Resist
Originally uploaded by Cheryl Gebhart

For lesson 3 in Artful Journaling Explorations, I used white gesso to paint a pattern on watercolor paper (which I took from a piece of patterned paper). After the gesso was completely dry, I used watercolors to paint over it and the gesso resisted the watercolors. Then I cut a hole in the page where the daisy is (which I painted in my first lesson). So this page serves as an overlay.

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks

This is a historical novel set in a tiny village in England in 1666, which was a year of the Plague.  As the plague begins to spread, the rector convinces the villagers to quarantine themselves to keep it from spreading to other villages.  The rector's maid Anna is the narrator, and she becomes a healer of sorts, working alongside the rector's wife.  As the plague continues to spread throughout the village, no one is unaffected.  It is a time of superstition and witch hunts.  It is a very compelling story and very well written.  I rate it 5 out of 5.