Sunday, November 27, 2016

Art show entries are designed by sadists!!!

I've just spent ages resizing and relabeling and reresizing and rerelabelling images for entry to an art show and I'm convinced that the people that organize these things are sadists!!
And I still havn't got the first image successfully and correctly up on the entry website.

Why do they   torture us so???  D'you think they enjoy it??? I'm beginning  to wonder.......

This particular show wants the images labeled - not only with the name of the piece, but also with its width and height...furthermore,  there have to be little underscores (not just a hyphen which much easier to do!!) between all the pieces of information.   I've encountered this before of course...and I remember in the old days one was trying to cram all that information on the edges of a little slide.
"Please label the slide with the name of  the piece, alternating between capitals and lower case, then underscore then give the height, width and depth in that order in both inches and centimetres then underscore then your name and the name of your grandmother underscore and your shoe size!!"
I suppose at least they said "please"!!

Have you noticed - their entry system never reads the size of the piece in the same way that your computer's photo manipulation program does?   I think those entry websites just randomly decide when they will reject your image in terms of size.
And they do it in a different way each time!  You can have two images your computer describes as 5 megabytes, whereas their website will consider one to be 3.7 mb and  the other is 6.1!!!

More sizing problems
The show I'm trying to enter is an all media 6mb image was rejected...."you can only have 5 mb for your piece"...but if I was entering a video I could have 250 mb!!!!
Hmm maybe I could just walk around my quilt and take a little video of it - aha! then my sizing problems would be over!!!

Number of entries
The show request three entries...with a full and detail image of both.
BUT the entry website only permits 3 images!!! 
Of course if I entered by video, I could walk around my piece and the suddenly zoom in to get the detail shot....!!!!

There was a Help link.
So I clicked on that and gave them ALL my info, yes...including the fact that my grandmother liked a particular brand of tea...only to be lead to a page that said:
Select the answer to your problem from the following possibilities!!!!

D'you think the fates are telling me  that I shouldn't enter this show???
and! I get to pay $45 for this privilege...hmm maybe the problem is my masochism not their sadism!!

I think a nice cuppa tea is called for, don't you?
If you have been, thanks for reading!!  Elizabeth
PS This was not a SAQA show which by contrast was beautifully straight forward.
PPS.  I decided in the end that the Fates were right!

 Quilts related to the one at the top...

Remembered Lines approx 7ft wide - Quilt National a few years back

Black and White, No Grey   38"w, 53"h

Friday, November 18, 2016

Atlantic Center for the Arts, New Smyrna Beach, Fl

I've often heard about the Atlantic Center for the Arts and so I was very happy to be invited there by the Florida branch of SAQA to give a workshop this last week.
It's a super place!!!  If ever you have a chance to take a workshop!
The center is a collection of arts and music and dance buildings  nestled in the native palmetto forest of Florida - it's so good to see there is a bit of the real Florida left!
There are boardwalks between the buildings, so you feel like you are floating along!
it was a great class - on design.  I threw the participants in at the deep end and they all swam like fish to the finish line!  Here are some of their designs and their blocked out quilts:

 above the sketches, below the quilt.....

on the left, the design... happy campanologist!!

on the right, the moth design in fabric....and below and potential design (in 3 different value ways) of a detail of the moth...

the moth design above has a real Japanese feel to it....I love abstract work like this.

 Above  a design derived from  a photo of dock pilings and their reflections and below the quilt...
great colors....and so unusual!

 Above are several designs based on a painting...and below the quilt in progress... beautiful movement...and looks a bit like Miro!! though that was not the original inspiration at all.....

One student had the most beautifully printed fabrics - images of spires... it was very difficult to arrange them all in the same orientation, the same light direction and in an interesting way...however the final result was quite stunning!!!  

 This one came out beautifully ...but it was taken down before I could get it photographed!!!  so you'll just have to trust was a photo of the shadows of trees on other tree trunks and was really amazing...
and the sketches look like little Clyfford Stills....

now I wonder if his inspiration was a similar phenomenon?

 a very elegant rendition in 3 values of the photograph....there are so many possibilities for this idea....I love it just as it is though.

And look at all the designs this student got from one photograph!!! and there were even more...
here are a couple of them worked out in fabric:

the one on the left isn't complete of course, the one on the right looks like a Klimt!!

 On the right the original photograph and then the's important to simplify...bring shapes together and repeat both shapes and lines...and NOT worry about details!!

Ellen organized this whole workshop and it was beautifully smooth...and yet very low key...but very efficient..we were all so comfortable and accomplished an enormous amount in just 3 days....

somehow I didn't get a picture of Ellen's quilt...
but I'm sure she'll be putting one up on her blog site

it was a gorgeous mix of red-orange and of the most beautiful complementary pairs.
a big thank you to Ellen for setting up this workshop!

I really liked the series that this lady proposed...of people having problems with the the windy city!!  The city will be the back drop for all the various windy is the first character!!

 Above another design...people losing their umbrellas...this is going to be a wonderful series....and she amazed me by carefully cutting out all those swirls of wind, one by one!!
 sometimes the simplest designs are the most elegant...above on the right is the design...and on the bottom left, it's beginning to be transformed into fabric....
 all from one photo!!!  don't they look wonderful?   

  I really like the ense of something going on in those left hand windows...adding a little mystery is very important to good design...and, nice perspective!!!

Another beautiful simple design...this lady has a whole series like this...and they're going to be really amazing hanging in a long line...
you really do not need a lot of fussy detail to make a great quilt.

What a lovely calm little scene...two inspiration images added together to make something new and fresh.....

 this piece is inspired by the boardwalks and forest of the ACA...I love the play of light and shade...and the boardwalk heading off into the mysterious unknown...

and there were several more!! but some people had  them whipped off the wall before I could get to them...!!!  What was really nice was the range of work, and the personal references within all those dreary it is when you see a row of people all holding up identical quilts that they've made!!!  Every one of these quilts tells a story for the particular person who made it.....
thank you ladies!! you were great!    

and now, phew, I need a nice cuppa tea....I hope you've enjoyed the quilt show!
If you have been, thanks for reading!   Elizabeth

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Adding mystery

WE all love a mystery!  mystery will keep us looking at something...trying to puzzle it out.  Just consider the popularity of mystery stories, tv shows, movies etc....the very word "secret" has such fascinating possibilities!!My favorite book as a child was The Secret Garden .   It's a wonderful story about a hidden neglected garden that three very different children bring back to life....I always hoped I'd find such a garden!!
One of the ways of telling if your art quilt is successful is to see if people want to look at it, and having started to they stay and ponder over it? How can you keep them there?  Well you could have a sign that says Everyone who stands at looks at this quilt for 10 minutes will be entered into a million $ drawing!! but that might be beyond most of our capabilities!!  Interesting idea though - to offer an inducement for looking!!
But another way is to add some mystery to the work.
 I've come up with a few ways you might do it....see if you can think of any more.  Next time you go to a quilt show, or an art show for that matter, make a note of which pieces hold your attention and why.  Let's all steal those artists' secrets!!

Lost edges/dissolving A technique much beloved of painters, where the edges of a form within the paint dissolve into the background.  Paula Nadelstern uses this method to disguise the real edges of her wonderful snow crystals. I used it in several of my shibori/discharge pieces.
In Botallack Mine the edges of the houses disappear into the outline of the headland.   
You can see that effect clearly in this detail (right) from The Arrogance of Calm where i’ve basically only indicated the roof.  It’s an effect that’s a little harder to do without surface design but could be managed by matching values: i.e. if the edge of the object is dark and the background is similarly dark, the one will flow into the other.  As well as adding mystery, it helps with the TOV (the track of vision) or the way your eyes flow through the piece.

Obscurity Something is obscure when you’re not really sure what it is..could it be a group of houses? or a set of rhomboids?  If I don’t give you any clues…perhaps I’ll achieve more mystery.  Another way to obscure would be to introduce more shadows with strange amorphous things possibly happening within them.  One of the things about such unnamed shapes is that the viewer can put their own ideas into a piece...and see what they want to see.  And seeing what they really want to see...will keep them looking!

Abstracting Picasso once defined all art as being abstract (because it’s never perfectly realistic) and no art as being abstract – because there are always associations and influences from the real world. But obviously there is a continuum ......between the two.  And, in any case,  I think it's really rather tiresome the way that people just seem driven to classify things.

There are many ways to abstract:  an interesting way would be to work through all the five elements  (shape, line, value, color, texture) considering the original scene from the standpoint of one element only and deliberately ignore the rest: e.g. consider only shapes…or only values (that might be really interesting!!), only colour…or only texture.     Certainly many artists have done this.
Look at Sean Scully's paintings of stripes - they're  derived from old houses, doors, walls made from strips of wood - he took the shapes ...and some of the texture...and used that for his paintings. He completely stripped away all the rest of the context.

I love reducing things to black and white! 

This is an easy way to drop detail and reduce an image to squares alone…put the image into Photoshop or GIMP and then reduce the pixels.  What’s fascinating is how far you can simplify and still know what the image is.

Unusual angle of view wow I got so many good ideas from this one! Look!! IMG_1839 IMG_1845

Reflections always a favorite:    Reflections in rounded objects are really mysterious!!

Close ups

 What are those things?     What is that texture?  

Gestalt – subtraction I’m a great believer in getting rid of stuff in quilts.  We know from Gestalt theory that we really need very little information to mk sns f thgs!
we don't need everything spelled out for us....and we are likely to stay with a piece longer if everything isn't spelled out.  You don't need to quilt every brick, add every window and branch and all the separate petals of a flower.

Disguise I could disguise one thing as another…is that a Dalmation or is it currant cake?
Is it a gold fish or a flower?    Is there a person hiding in the bushes, or just a lot of strange shadows?
Remember that quilt that looked like flowers but when you got closer, it was all insects arranged into flower shapes??

Enigma I love this word…how to create an enigma…an enigma is a puzzle...a visual illusion - you think you know what it is, but is it really?  Like the two profiles that make a vase if you gaze at the negative space between them.

Subtlety not  spelling  out but merely hinting – e.g. instead of the edges of a window or a flower, just indicating the shadow on the window, the light on the flower.

Obfuscation Of course in language one should eschew obfuscation, but perhaps in visual terms??? One possibility might be to reverse things like Hockney did so amazingly in his reverse perspective paintings.  something truly the Surrealist paintings of Magriite.

So what d'you think? would adding some mystery help?  And can you come up with any other ways of creating it?
If you have been…thanks for reading!  I apologize for radio silence!!  First I wasn't well (am fine now thank you!) and then I had to finish writing a new course for
And I'll tell you all about it on my next blog!