Monday, September 22, 2014

What I Painted On My September Vacation

It took an hour and a half to cross the border and once across, it poured for the next hour and a half - the kind of pouring where the windshield wipers are on full and yet you still wonder if there might be a higher setting since they don't seem to be doing anything. I arrived home just before nine in the evening and opted to continue sleeping in and moving slow for the rest of the weekend and to get back in routine today - except - when the alarm went, I turned it off and the next thing I knew it was an hour later and there went the schedule. LOL - maybe tomorrow

Today's post is about what I painted on my September vacation. Travelling without my sewing machines and focusing on painting via the surface design class was a great decision. I made progress. We started the class with a selection of fabrics and access to Diane's paints and painting supplies. She gave us a variety of assignments for learning how to make marks on fabric such as use one stencil and one color and create six different variations. There was enough of a guideline to get you going and nothing so constraining that you couldn't create your own unique marks. Nicely stretching.

IMHO - my most successful piece was on organza. I like the variations of color and the energy of the piece although, in retrospect, I'm not sure about that yellow dot. It was placed there to give the piece a focal point and yet all the lines pointing inward were creating one in the open space that was left. That's the great thing about pictures. You can analyze the results and think about what you'd do differently next time. LOVED painting on organza and seeing how it reacted to different colors underneath. The purple of this file folder was especially effective.

"One" of the fabrics I took with me was cut up pieces of knit t-shirts - one white and two black. They were 100% cotton and a thick, quality knit. If they hadn't been un-flatteringly tight, I'd wear them however, the plan is to cut up the pieces and combine them into one far more flattering t-shirt and wear them that way. Above, the assignment was to use the stencil and vary the spacing to vary the resulting look.

There were three of us in the class which made for wonderful interaction between the students and Diane. Claire was vacationing in Ashland and didn't realize this class was on until she came to the drop-in on Wednesday where we promptly talked her into coming and I'm so glad she did. Talk about a natural affinity for painting and SUCH enthusiasm.

Marta is lucky to live in Ashland. She retired from a career in the sciences and I enjoyed hearing the scientific information behind different things. It reminded me of spending time with my friend Barb who is also a retired scientist. Marta used natural dyes on the tank top she's wearing under her apron and was working on another tank top in class. VBG - she's more advanced than me and was both encouraging and inspiring.

On the second day of class, Diane's son Miles gave a painting demo. His way of working is more free form and spontaneous. Watching him makes it look SO EASY... and then... you try it... and you realize that spontaneous takes practice. As always. Years ago, I had an instructor who point blank refused to sit down at the machine and demonstrate how she satin stitched around the pieces of her work which was her right but I wish she had been willing because there's something very valuable in observing how different artists work - how they hold their brush, their needle, feed fabric through the machine, and interact with the developing piece. We learn from their sharing.

This piece was a result of pouring paint and folding the fabric over it and then pushing and pulling the excess paint with different tools. It and the one below are both Miles' pieces. I particularly...

... loved this one which started with squirting green paint from a bottle and then manipulating it. The piece is paper sized. That's valuable. It's a great practice size.

After watching Miles work, I decided to try approaching my pieces in a more free form responding way. These are the canvas remnants from cutting out my coat that I brought along just to see what could happen. The shapes are irregular but not completely useless should one prove more amazing than the others. Right now, they are practice pieces. Sometimes, I started with a mark and other times I started with a stencil and began building up the layers. Some are a little beyond the stopping point but as Diane asked, what happened to you. This approach is less thinking and more responsive and I think that's a better way of working for me.

SO... I've been to Starbucks to journal, went grocery shopping with my youngest son, finished up the laundry, and published this post. I have two goals for the rest of today. The first is to clean up the painting and dyeing supplies in the laundry room and sort through what I have in which cupboard and determine what I no longer need and what I need more of. The second is to set up a system of painting in my studio so that I can add a daily exercise of painting on small pieces of fabric.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - growing confidence with paint

What we are today comes from our thoughts of yesterday, and our present thoughts build our life of tomorrow. 
- The Buddha


  1. what a fantastic move forward in options for you! Finding a way to make it part of your daily practice in small amounts will continue the momentum! As someone who is not terribly spontaneous in my artwork I am very impressed with your painted pieces. I am glad you and my friend Claire had a chance to meet.

    "Years ago, I had an instructor who point blank refused to sit down at the machine and demonstrate how she satin stitched around the pieces of her work which was her right but I wish she had been willing..." A blacksmith friend once told me that "information withheld is the worst form of avarice". Perhaps strong words, but I have definitely taken that one to heart, and do my best to willingly and freely share information and techniques. I find that even when I teach a project to people, they do not do it in the same way that I do, and that students often do things I would never think of, much to my delight. I understand that some may feel like if they share their skills or their sources of materials that then someone else might push them out of their niche, but I have chosen not to see things that way...

    1. I think the daily practice will be the key otherwise the skills - and the enthusiasm - will get rusty and I won't keep going. It's been hard work learning to be random and spontaneous. I'm not there yet but I am making progress especially as I'm starting to find it easier. Go figure.

      Once I was on my trip, I realized that I must have been driving near to your place and we could have found a connection point that would have worked. My brain wasn't working fully. I'm sorry for being too tired to figure it out but if you contact me privately, and let me know exactly where you are, I can look at that in relation to my travel routes and - hopefully - get together next time. I'm going down in May again. Right now, Howard is hoping to drive down with me and fly back so it all depends on his health and what happens..

    2. Not to worry on my behalf, I certainly didn't take it at all personally... 'tis a very long way you travel back and forth. I will message you my location as well as some ideas of possible connection points. I do hope that your husband's health and all improve and look forward to perhaps someday meeting in person, possibly in May!

  2. Thank you so much for sharing a bit of the workshop and your samples. I love the play aspect in this style.

    1. Playing is the critical component. Letting go of expectations and just making marks and seeing what happens and then making more and more marks so you gain experience. I'm working on playing - VBG.

  3. Love the last few bits! You're on to something here!!


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