Thursday, September 25, 2014

Start With Ugly

Owning an entire row of jacket patterns does not mean I have a yearning to sew jackets - cause I tried that and it didn't work, I don't wear jackets - but - even so - I have to wonder if having four cupboards of dyeing and painting supplies hides an inner yearning. Up until last fall, I also had a stack of canvasses. I gave most of those to my friend Francine who does actually paint... but I kept one... and you never know... however...

... right now, I'm working on painting on fabric and gathering some kind of skill that will allow me to add individualized details to my work. In cupboard one, the top shelf is tole paints, the second shelf is Tulip brand paints to the left and painting tools to the right, and the third shelf is Setacolor fabric paints to the left and Lumiere fabric paints to the right. Basically, the quality improves as you move downward and that's the path I'm following - using up the less desirable paints first while I'm building up my skills and betting that if I can work with the tough stuff, it'll be easier working with the good stuff.

Cupboard two is dyes on the top shelf, fabric pens, dye powders, paint sticks and transfer paints on the second shelf and professional grade acrylic paints on the third shelf. This is basically a cupboard that never gets opened. That's something to think about too - how could these supplies be worked in to what I'm already doing. Those four purple containers on the bottom left were bought to paint a couch and then I didn't. I could find a piece of furniture that I actually paint - LOL - even just for the fun of it and to use those paints.

AND... this cupboard is mess preventing supplies and tools. These do get used frequently. Below - not shown - is another cupboard of tubs and quart sized plastic containers for dyeing fabric gradations.

To make sure I paint on a regular basis - like hopefully daily - I set up a table between the work island and my computer desk. The trays from the paint cupboard are easily portable. Yesterday, after painting, I cleaned all the supplies and refilled the water glass and rinse tub ready for the today. In her book The Creative Woman's Getting It All Together At Home Handbook, author Jean Ray Laury mentions that her then mother-in-law advised her to never leave the loom unstrung. I don't weave, but that's good and transferable advice. If you're set up to do the work, you're more likely to do the work.

Start with ugly is an assignment from my Self Expressions workshop on creating pattern free textile art in your style. The basic concept of the assignment is that we're not afraid of ruining something we already think is ugly so we're more willing to risk and risking can take you places you never thought you'd go. This starting piece is from the workshop with Diane. It's the first one I made and a mish-mash of trials and ideas. In the end, I crumpled it up with some green paint which explains that blotching.

To start, I took a fat felt pen and meandered it over the surface. I don't usually work to music but on my trip I discovered Praise 106.5 and I was listening on-line which mean my pen bobbed along to the music.

Then I filled in spaces with the Setacolor paints which work best when mixed with substantial water. These paints are REALLY old - ten to fifteen years at least if not more - and a lot of them have turned lumpy and dried up. I'll use up what I can but I won't replace them since there are better products for what I want to do. With the sample, I tried putting the paint on thick and then watering it down with a wet brush and pulling it around as well as putting it on already watered down. From there...

... I just kept adding more layers and forgot to take a picture at each stage. The finished piece is significantly different than the starting point although I haven't decided if I like it. Not that it matters. I learned a lot AND... I painted another piece and this is good.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - a paint place, a painted piece

The answer is very simple. Pray for the person you resent. 
- Julia Cameron


  1. "... I haven't decided if I like it. Not that it matters."

    that's right. It can come live with me, so you have no worries whatsoever.

    as someone i know mite say, VBG!!! i love it, the dense detail and wonderful color balance, just so yummy and varying textures....i'm imagining having it made into a little clutch, sitting in a ritzy restaurant with kind of boring people and happily gazing at my little Myrna drawing whilst checking out of the conversation....

    Altho the big idea in this post is one i wholeheartedly agree with - just make stuff. Make it easy to make stuff, and keep on going so you don't have that much time to think yourself into the ground. Having a dedicated space is great, but not having that space is not reason not to make make make - my machine is currently on the fritz. My very generous neighbor is lending me her little one in the meantime, which is so sweet of her! But i've been leaning more and more towards handwork the last year especially, so i have my sewing bag easily to hand at all times. Five minutes here and fifteen minutes there add up and fend off shivering nakedness.

    "Never leave the loom unstrung." Words for us to live by! steph

    1. "...sitting in a ritzy restaurant with kind of boring people and happily gazing at my little Myrna drawing..." Tinyjunco, you gave me my first laugh of the day, and then a shot of gratitude that we sewists, artists, et al can entertain ourselves with appreciation for the work of another sewist, artist, et al.

    2. LOL - it doesn't know how to walk yet. I thought of it as a clutch too. LOVE that it would entertain you when your mind meandered beyond the conversation.

      YES - just make stuff.

  2. The process you used is interesting, and I like the concept of starting with ugly (or less-than desirable) and ending up with something new. I can even see your end result above showing up as a tiny bit of trim in one of your little-girl coats. I need to try your process with paint sticks, because to date I've only gone from blank canvas to ugly and even uglier. ;)

    1. Thanks. It's basically start and keep going and see what happens. When you get to uglier than ugly, there is always the option of painting over the entire thing with one color and then scratching the surface to allow the other colors to show and then start from that new base.

  3. Now of course while everyone else sees coat trim, panels in a nice little cap sleeve top or even a clutch in a ritzy restaurant full of fancy, but boring, people......I see quilt binding. That's how I roll these days. In any case, I like it, I really like it and that is not my typical style. Keep up the good work, starting with ugly seems to work well.

    1. BINDING is a fabulous idea. That's the suggestion that Diane and Marcy make when you're learning how to paint because it makes your less than fabuous-es into wonderfully unique.

  4. Thanx Myrna, for showing a new creative avenue


Thanks for commenting. I appreciate the feedback and the creative conversation.