Archive for the ‘creativity’ Category

Art Every Day Month- November 21

While I haven’t kept up with the zentangles each day, I have managed to do something with art every day this month – mostly sewing, as I am taking an existing pattern from Judy Neimeyer and adding my own twist. It has made for a great bunch of days – I am so enjoying creating after work, and I hope it will continue.

That said, I picked up a book last weekend at the quilt shop called Piecing with Pixels. I am very intrigued with doing more with my own fabric in digital imaging. One of the chapters is on taking your own images – in my case fabric – and using Photoshop to create a texture library. Which is what I did tonight – lots of fun, and all I did was take one piece of quilted marbled fabric and try a bunch of filters.

The photo above is of the original piece which I did about 6 years ago – I did some color changes through Photoshop at that time. What I discovered tonight was a totally different approach – in the past I have been trying to turn a piece of fabric into a design that will stand on its own. Now I realize what I want is lots of textures that could go together. Playing was definitely fun:

Dry Brush filter

Halftones filter



Find edges filter








Neon glow


Ink Outlines



Polar coordinates

Plastic Wrap

Palette knife

Rough pastels

Rough pastels











My task tomorrow is to try and actually design a couple of quilt blocks just to see what happens. I welcome your comments – which ones do you really like?

A New Zentangle

I have had a great couple of days, even if I couldn’t get to all the art I wanted. Yesterday, after grading papers and getting organized, I worked on a new Zentangle. I am so hooked on these – so very relaxing. This time it was just circles, and you can see from above how it worked out. Needless to say, I had to try some effects in Photoshop, and you can see below the layer styles and gradients. Reminds me of those feathery puppets on strings that jangle all about.

Pics from Monday’s art group and our paper marbling. You can see us dropping paint and manipulating patterns, and finally a finished product. Paper is so different from fabric – I am enjoying the paper, but I need to spend a lot more time working on designs in order for the papers to look really good! But we had a great time!

"Art Every Day" Month – Artists’ Meeting

A great evening! We had to postpone from last Monday, but this evening we gathered at our place to marble paper. We pot-lucked (a new verb??) with yummy food (ahhh, Trader Joe’s Tiramisu Torte!) and great conversation. Comments about the Open studio weekend and what we might look to do come March. Comments about last weekend’s show up at one of the ritzy malls. Sharing coupons to Michael’s and Hancock’s.

Marbling paper was fun – pics to follow. We’re not nearly as good at this as with our fabric – and certainly nowhere like the Turkish masters. Just go to youtube and look for videos on “ebru.” You will see truly amazing work, nothing like our feeble attempts. But it’s fun nevertheless, and we get a chance to share art.

This weekend is the Tucson Museum of Art annual fall show, so we’re going to check it out as a possible venue, as well as looking to get things in their gift shop again. Also, the Winter Street Fair should be coming up in another couple of weeks, so another chance to see what’s new (if anything) in the vendors.

A lot of talk about revitalizing our downtown – a really sad state of affairs for Tucson, and if something long-range isn’t done son, we could lose a major money-maker in the gem show. We all agree that it would be nice for our downtown to be a destination for art of all kinds. But…and this is a big “but,” we are surrounded by “Southwest” cowboy paintings, and most galleries in town (as well as visitors) expect to buy art of the “rough and tumble” southwest of the movies. Makes for a tough market when you do something rather eclectic.

We’re taking December off, as it gets very crazy. Plus, I want to do some serious sewing and creating, since I am on a roll.

Later, gator – no school work tonight!

Art Every Day Month – Art Walking

This weekend has been Open Studios weekend in Tucson, sponsored by the Tucson Pima Arts Council.I was busy with a quilt class yesterday, learning foundation piecing with Judy Niemeyer patterns, so we saved today to travel around town. We have an appointment next weekend to show our work for potential gallery placement, so the first stop today was very positive. Decent location, relatively new, but looks to have dedicated owners. The problem is the $100 minimum per month for your space…..

We discovered an area downtown that is old factories converted to studios. Never knew they were there. Lots of artists, mostly paintings, but really funky studios. Met Stu Jenks, whose work very much reminds me of Andy Goldsworthy. If you have not seen Rivers and Tides, then get it – absolutely fabulous! I want to own some of his books of photography of his nature sculptures. Anyway, this is one of Stu’s images:

He has a new book coming out with fascinating nature photography. You need to peruse his website – great eye candy.

I have been sewing up a storm – with relatively little pulling out of stitches, which is good, since I’m working with paper. Class yesterday was kind of frustrating, as I wasn’t making huge progress, but I am definitely pleased with how I decided to change around my color placement. And I discovered how I could use some fat quarters rather than half-yards to increase the fabric choices I can use.

Reading some good books – got a new book at the quilt shop on digital imaging in quilts, and I am already ahead of the game with some of the things I am doing. Lots of new ideas to work with – just need the time!

Got the lesson plans done early, two sets of papers scored, but still more papers to do. And…I have to go through my emails – loads of answers needed to friends!

Art Every Day Month – Almost……

Even though I haven’t written, art has been a major focus over the last few days, despite the illnesses. On Sunday hubby and I went up to La Encantada, an upscale shopping area north of us, in the Foothills. There was an art show we wanted to see. Not nearly the vendors as last year (and last year wasn’t juried, this year was….). Lots of empty spaces. The rationale given was to have a closer look at vendors through the jurying process, and assure that good art was represented.

Well, they didn’t come close, as far as I was concerned. Since we had looked into it, the price was high, the restrictions were many. And almost every other booth was jewelry. That said, we found a couple of interesting artists. This first is Daniels Images – they are a family of photographers. This photo to the left is of a lone tree at Windy Point Lookout on Mt. Lemon, almost in our backyard. I’ve never noticed that tree, but it makes for a great composition. There’s lots of great eye candy on their site.

Dark Horse Arts and Gifts stopped us because of an incredible glaze on one of the ceramic pieces. The dolphins had “waves” and “bubbles” as part of the glaze. Turns out it is a common technique, but not one I had seen before. Their website doesn’t do justice to some of their work.

There was some interesting paper work being done by Curly Studio, but they have no website or blog, so nothing but a business card to show you.

Really confirmed the need for an online presence.

Monday was a veg on the sofa kind of evening; we canceled our art meeting, as I was sick, and several others couldn’t make it. I was bummed, because I look forward to that each month. Tuesday was, as usual, NCIS (I wanna be Ziva….or Abby….). Last night i got back in the sewing groove and worked on blocks for the quilt class I am taking. I think I am really going to enjoy the foundation piecing, but my big problem is going to be color combinations – working them out ahead of time for the overall look I want. I reworked some of my strips and sewed four blocks – all of which are more subtle than what i did last weekend, and one of them I REALLY like. This is an interesting experiment in using only the fabrics in my stash.

I found I really miss my doodles – I like the relaxation of the drawing. Tonight – maybe drawing, but school work is calling, and I really want to sew. Quilt class on Saturday, and Open Studios in Tucson on Sunday, so we’ll be driving around to check out some new artists.

Art Every Day – Quilting!!

My most favorite quilt store in the country is the one right down the road from me:
Quilter’s Market. The folks are great, very friendly, and love anything to do with quilts. They also are masters at marketing. They are going on four years of Stripper’s Club, with a different quilt each month (except Decembers) using 2 and a half strips. I’m working on the one from September, and I just started a new class with them today – Stepping Stones from a Judy Niemeyer pattern. When you walk into the store, you are surrounded by color and incredible quilts. I walked in to see this new one today, and I immediately signed up for the class. I have wanted to do quilts like this for a long time but never had the nerve to start it completely on my own, even though most of my skills (including marbling) are self-taught.

Even though I design my own quilts with our marbled fabrics, I still like taking classes. I go with my friend Michelle, and today I met another teacher friend I hadn’t seen in 9 years or so. I do enjoy the energy and company, plus I like learning new techniques. I can see eventually designing a pattern to use some of the “sea” marbled fabrics I have.

Batiks galore – even though one of the “chains” said batiks are seasonal. I could spend a small fortune on adding batiks to my stash. And everywhere you go in the store are samples – a very generous class schedule, with literally something for everyone!

I am working on a class called Stepping Stones, a pattern by Judy Niemeyer. I browsed her website a little bit ago, as I want to buy some additional foundation papers for this quilt; I want to make a full queen for our bed, and I know if I leave it to myself to quilt, it ain’t gettin’ done…I’m planning to send it out for quilting.

We spent today’s session sorting and determining color combinations. Since I have a bunch of unfinished quilts at this point, I really didn’t want to spend more money on three sets of Bali Pops, so I decided to make the “stones” exclusively out of my stash. I discovered my color eye was kind of failing me, and I was regrouping fabrics to make them better work together. At this point I don’t know if the quilt will be a subtle as I am wanting. Only sewing will tell….

I’m not sure I can get 36 blocks done for next Saturday……

"Art Every Day" Month – Day 5

I was so busy with school work last night, and it made me realize how much I was missing being in the art groove. Now that I really am committing to the practice, it is becoming tough to not do art when I get home from school, especially since I am really enjoying these zentangles. So here is day 5, but I have a whole 3 days planned with art – quilt class tomorrow, Sunday at an art fair, and Monday with our mixed media artists’ group. So I should have plenty to make up for missing last night!

Here’s tonight’s zentangle. I really like it. I actually erased two little sections from it when I scanned it in, as it seemed too jarring to the overall effect. I had to force myself to stop, as I was liking it as it “was,” and I was afraid I would go overboard and ruin the effect.

Of course, I had to see what I could do in Photoshop – I am learning a few new techniques and shortcuts. When I did the inversion, I REALLY liked the white on black.

I decided to work with the inverted version and started adding colors and using both the embossing and gradient styles.

Here’s what is finished so far. I will probably leave it at that, although I think I may do a little more playing around – until the new zentangle, that it!

"Art Every Day" Month – Day 4

I have loads of papers to score tonight, and an observation to prepare for tomorrow. But all day all I have really wanted to do was play around with another zentangle. So I did – and am….I tried for “less dense,” this time, focusing in on straight lines only. I am pleased with how it came out, as I realize I LOVE working in black and white pen and paper. But…I still couldn’t resist playing with the design some more in Photoshop….

With this one I started out trying some bright colors, but I didn’t want it flat, like yesterday’s…so I played around with some layer styles. This first is just some embossing.

I’m adding more colors here, and several have an “inner glow” effect. Combined with the first effect, I started seeing rods of clear colored glass, almost like a mosaic. So I continued until I had everything filled…

Overall I am very pleased with the result, but as I mentioned two days ago, I am truly enjoying making the original zentangles. Definitely meditative and calming, especially after a hectic day at school.

"Art Every Day" Month – Day 3

Because of the pressures of daily teaching and correcting papers, I made the decision on November 1 to THINK ART every day, so on those days/nights when I was busy with school work, I would still treat myself to viewing some art. Now, that said, most of the art I tend to look at has an interesting math connection. Herewith, some interesting things I’ve found on line.

Chris Jordan does some very interesting photography work. You really need to take the time and look through all his exhibits. I am particularly fond of his “Running the Numbers” series. Here’s what he says about his second series, Running the Numbers 2:

“This new series looks at mass phenomena that occur on a global scale. Similarly to the first Running the Numbers series, each image portrays a specific quantity of something: the number of tuna fished from the world’s oceans every fifteen minutes, for example. But this time the statistics are global in scale, rather than specifically American.”

2,300,000 number of adults incarcerated in US prisons.

A Seurat masterpiece (Sunday in the Park)done entirely in soda cans.

Depicts 2.4 million pieces of plastic, equal to the estimated number of pounds of plastic pollution that enter the world’s oceans every hour. All of the plastic in this image was collected from the Pacific Ocean. You have to check out the website to see the close-ups of this.

Fractals are a relatively recent development in mathematics and art, thanks to computer programs. Fractal eXtreme is available for purchase, but just check out their gallery to get an idea of how gorgeous these are! And now…I just discovered a web ring of infinite fractal loop – I know what I’ll be doing when I’m not grading graphs tonight….

This is from the Number Theory Room of Linas Art Gallery. I don’t even presume to understand the math involved….

Just enjoy!

"Art Every Day" Month – Day 2

I have always been taken with black and white. When I was a teen, I did a lot of pen and ink (the kind of pen where you had to load the ink). Talk about an unforgiving medium! I am using some Pigma pens for these zentangles, and it feels like it did some many years ago. Granted, it’s just another form of doodling, but I do like the formality of it, the deliberateness…..and I like being able to play with my finished square in Photoshop. This top one is my new attempt today – I obviously like very dense designs, with not a lot of white space. It will be interesting to see if I “lighten up.”

Somehow with this new one, I didn’t want to try gradients – I decided to drop color. Whoa! A whole new way of working!! I could never have done this with pens….and now I am hooked again. What follows above is where I started….

…and where I ended up. I can see all sorts of possibilities with dimension in these, but I must say I love the black and white drawings just as they are.

"Art Every Day" Month

I joined Art Every Day Month, the art answer to NANOWRIMO (National Novel Writing Month), and I had been thinking of doing something like this for a while. I decided today would be a good day to start my Zentangle. This is an interesting site – very zen-like meditative doodling, and I have to agree – it is very meditative. I spent an hour with my new pens, and what you see to the left is where I stopped to take a pic before continuing.

The idea behind Zentangle is “one stroke at a time.” I waited till I bought some new pigma pens, using a 3-year-old gift certificate from one of my students. I bought several widths, and I’ll continue to experiment with them all. This first one is pretty dense, and I want to do some that are not nearly as detailed. But this is definitely fun!

Once I stopped to take the scan of this one in progress, I decided to try some filters and such in Photoshop. This could be an amazing way to look at new digital art. Here is the above partly-finished one with a marbled pattern behind it – looks pretty good for a start.

Now here’s the finished Zentangle, along with a couple of adjustments – a marbled pattern behind one, an inversion to black, and a gradient to totally change the colors. I think I’m hooked!

Thoughts for a Thursday

I’m looking at a really beautiful sky – dark cobalt at the top, three-quarter moon up high, a great orangey-purple at the horizon, moving up in stages to the cobalt. Didn’t last long, but really gorgeous.

I’ve had a great week at school. I so do love my teaching now. My students went from fighting me on showing steps for simple equations to accomplishing the distributive property three-step equations today, with one student actually saying, it’s a good thing you made us show our steps. Two and a half weeks on basic equations, and they are flying. It’s the best feeling!

Distributive Property Day is Saturday – if you missed the post, you can click here. This whole idea of “sharing is caring” is working really well in having the students remember exactly how to do this type of equation. I’ve got candy corn for us during quizzes tomorrow, so we can celebrate a day early. I plan to dress as a “dryer.” Lint, dryer sheets, and mismatched socks for my costume. The kids already know I’m a nerd…..

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve found some great eye candy on line. Here’s a sample so you can go exploring yourself.

Kevin Van Aelst is an interesting digital artist. I’m particularly fond of his math images – food and math – very clever! Here’s two samples of the many pics on his site.

The periodic table in gummy bears – gotta love it!

Country Channel TV has a series called Talking Threads, out of England. I’ve watched three episodes: interviews with an artist, and then a demo. Watched Jill Kennedy silk artist tonight, and now I gotta tell ya I HAVE to do some silk painting! She makes it look so easy (but I truly understand that to be great at something doesn’t mean it’s easy).

Zentangles are something new to me, but very cool. I am in the process of trying to do one. Suzan and I are going to trade at Thanksgiving. I’ll post pics as I finish – right now I am looking for a couple of new pens.You really need to visit the web site and look at the samples to get a really good idea. I’m thinking there are a lot of quiltart images to be created with the zentangles. Here’s a quick blurb from the site:

“Zentangle is an easy to learn method of creating beautiful images from repetitive patterns. It is a fascinating new art form that is fun and relaxing. It increases focus and creativity. Zentangle provides artistic satisfaction and an increased sense of personal well being. Zentangle is enjoyed by a wide range of skills and ages and is used in many fields of interest. We believe that life is an art form and that Zentangle is an elegant metaphor for deliberate artistry in life.”

The Mannahatta Project is a look at Manhattan island as it once was, back in 1609. There are lots of images and renderings to get an idea of the changes this island has undergone. You could spend HOURS looking through this site. Great idea if you’re teaching science or history. Here’s a quick sketch of putting Mannahatta back together again:

A Little Imagination and a Pile of Junk is another blog I discovered – this is a tutorial on painting a paper towel. I found this interesting because I was cleaning up after myself when I was dyeing fabric and really loved the colors on the paper towel. Turns out I don’t have to throw the towels away! The key is ironing – you can check out the full tutorial – it’s amazing what one can find on the web!

All in all a good day, with lots of new art on the horizon, people I enjoy reading every day, a hubby I adore, and a day closer to the weekend! May you love what you do!

Sunday Sampler

It’s back into the high 90s again – I think we won’t be seeing many 80s any time soon. Weather patterns sure have changed in the Southwest – by this time of the year it should be in mid-seventies and gorgeous. I was very productive these last two days – started “repurposing” some bookcases (I’ve obviously watched too much HGTV….) and moved one into the studio to hold all the art books plus miscellaneous supplies. Rearranged the dining room wall with just the baker’s rack minus one bookcase and looks much more spacious. Loads of bags of books for the local used bookstore. I do read some weird stuff….

But the room looks better, and the bookcases near the computer are cleaned off, ready to be sold for a newer, sleeker bookcase and a new desk to replace the two oldies we are using. Just have to wait until we can afford the new furniture.

In the meantime, the photo to the left is of a piece of pima cotton, a half-yard with a Halloween appeal – the oranges are not as subtle in the pic as they actually are. This is available on Ebay this week. There are also two other half-yard pieces available. One is a pima cotton in purples, and the other is a 16 mm habotai silk – the picture just doesn’t do it justice!

Stripper’s Club at the quilt shop yesterday was loads of fun. Quilter’s Market is just the nicest group of people, and they know how to market! The strip quilt was called Sonoma, so everything had a wine theme, including purple feet and a real live bunch of grapes! Not going to make the quilt this month, since I’m already trying to finish last month’s, but I did sign up for a class in November, just to improve my piecing skills. Maybe this one will become our queen-size bed quilt……

I did try some Photoshop work today, and what follows is the completion of my lesson – using sketches to create realistic painting effects. I learned a lot – customizing brushes, blending – obviously loads to learn in this lesson, and I will be repeating it. The book is *Creative Photoshop CS4* by Derek Lea – I don’t have CS4, but what I didn’t realize was I could do the lessons with CS, since most of the lesson is about design. This isn’t great, but there are possibilities with some of my own drawings.

Welcome new followers! The Virtual Quilt Festival this past week was wonderful eye candy, and I hope to spotlight a couple of new quilters I found. I’ve only been through about 100 entries – over 500 to go!

National Blogger’s Day – Climate Change

Since today bloggers are talking about climate change, I thought it appropriate to use my sunrise piece. I don’t often get up early enough (voluntarily) to see a sunrise, but this time of year I’m headed to school as the sun is coming up. We’ve had more dust in the air than usual, including a recent air inversion, as well as added pollution. It used to be the desert sky and air was the bluest, truest blue, but we are losing that to unchecked growth.

Our summers are changing – getting hotter and hotter (the third warmest on record this year), and our water patterns are changing. It used to be when monsoon season hit, the clouds would gather from the heat in early afternoon and then dump a ferocious thunder and lightning rainstorm around 4 PM, flood the washes and roads, and then dry out. You could count on our “monsoon season” for half the yearly rain. That just isn’t happening any more. We are having summers where the cactus are so dry and parched that you can almost see through them.

As I read about climate change (Friedman’s book “Hot, Flat and Crowded” is an amazing piece of research), I become very aware of my own individual impact on our environment. I try to take the bus at least twice a week, try to recycle as much as I can because we are rapidly outgrowing our landfills, and try to be very conscious of the water I am using. But I know it isn’t enough.

Are we reaching the point of no return on the planet? Will we change things so significantly that we can no longer return to a balanced planet? I don’t know – I DO know that we have to be conscious of our impact, each and every one of us – on our little piece of the planet.

On a happier note, here are some of our bigger pieces from our marbling session this past Saturday – all are available on Ebay this week.

This first is a fat quarter of silk organza – gorgeous stuff to work with, now that we are having luck again with our tray. This piece is pastel, and it has a nice hand to it – soft, heat-set, and ready to go. The pattern is one we call “small feathers,” and for it to be successful, it needs a lot of colors to the mix.

This is a fat quarter in blues and yellows, much nicer than the picture. It’s pima cotton, pre-srhunk and heat-set. This is a marbled wave, giving great illusion of movement.

This last is a half yard of pima cotton, marbled with blues, blacks, and hints of purples. The pattern is a modified bouquet – looks somewhat like a waterfall, depending on its orientation. Again, heat-set and ready to go for whatever you can dream!

Saturday Special – Finally!!!!!!!!!

One side of the studio….before we set up for marbling. We marbled today in our big tray (5 feet by 3 feet) for the first time in 3 years – we did large pieces of fabric! If you’ve been following this blog, you know that we had massive marbling problems three years ago, and once we got back on track, we have just used our very small trays. But after getting a new routine down (new paints, new process), we decided it was time to go large again. It was fabulous – but a lot more work.

Because we are using our paints differently, and we rent, there is an interesting spatter problem, especially on the tile floors. Everything in the studio/second bedroom has to be covered. So all that you see in the pic at the left gets covered.

It’s not pretty, but we need to keep everything clean! A great use for all those old sheets, if they’re not already rags. Even the design wall gets covered, especially with a new work in progress (Into the Woods, from last month’s Stripper’s Club).

Setting up really takes a long time, before we even pull out paints and combs. Very hi-tech combs – toothpicks, and assorted other pointy things.

You can see the beginning of a pattern in our large tray – and the reflection from the sheets pinned to the wall! We block off part of the tray when we work, so that we can keep the paint concentrated in one area, like here where we are in the process of creating a marbled pattern for a silk scarf.

After cleanup, which sometimes takes forever – bailing the large tray, cleaning brushes, storing paints, washing out fabric not used, and on and on…then we have the haul for the day!

Hint: some of this will be headed for Ebay tomorrow…..stay tuned!

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