Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Plein Air Quilter

Today I joined a group of plein air artists and had a really pleasant morning, sitting in someone’s gorgeously landscaped grounds pretending to paint but really just enjoying the sun and the breeze, the light and the shadows.  After painting, we reviewed our work and then repaired to a local restaurant for (considerable!) revitilization while we moaned about the lot of starving artists!

So, on getting home, I thought why should painters be the only ones to work outside?  I did debate trying to get a picture of me hauling a sewing machine up a tree…but…alas couldn’t figure out how to use the timer on the camera! (which of course  would be  the only difficulty in getting such a picture ;)!)

Instead, I headed to the patio and stretched out a couple of yards of fabric onto a table I have there which has 3 layers of foam insulation nailed onto the top (so much easier to pin into than carpet underlay – whoever dreamed that up for print tables can’t have had arthritis!).   


As you can see I’m right outside in the garden (and have the mozzie bites to prove it!)  but one should suffer for one’s art, right?

IMG_2566 IMG_2567

I’m very lucky to have a beautiful big screen which I’d prepared Kerr Grabowski style yesterday.  It’s about 4 feet square so fits nicely onto my 4ft by 8ft table:

IMG_2571 here it is ready to print…it’s very heavy so getting it into position saves me from upper body exercises for at least 3 days!     I can just about reach across it with the squeegee if I don’t mind slightly printed – ahh – protuberances!



  And here’s the finished result…I think it looks really interesting…after I made two prints (which covered the entire 4 by 8 area), I set the screen down to dry again.   I think I can get a few more prints off it tomorrow…but I took all my scraped off gloop and used it to “paint” all the sides of the fabric…that way I’ll have long strips of lighter value, similar hue colour which will be very useful when I start to design a piece using this fabric.


here’s a detail – I just love this texture – I actually made a couple of monoprints from it too (it’s just corrugated cardboard) which are underneath the printed fabric – didn’t want to disturb them!  Now I shall have to hope for a warm night so it’ll batch well.  I usually leave this kind of printed fabric a week or more before washing.  Waiting is one of the surface design processes I do well!! Especially en plein air.

If you have been, thanks for reading!  And do let me know about your own plein air adventures!   Elizabeth


Willa said...

Do you know my plein air watercolor friend Judi Wagner ( She is also a fabric artist. Hanging in her home is a landscape quilt that I understand she did as a plein air exercise!

Deb Lacativa said...

Hellsbells,'s going to be in the damp 40s tonight ...don't move the thing until well past noon!

I love working outside on the deck but had to cart the sunbrella around with me the other day...sunblinded.

magsramsay said...

On painting trips to the Yorkshire Dales, besides watercolour paper I've taken gessoed pieces of old Durham quilt to daub with acrylics.
Closer to home ,in the garden I've used plants to produce sunprints on fabric.
Perhaps that should be 'plein soleil'!!!

Nina Marie said...

I loved dyeing fabric on my porch in August and I have a friend who does her traditional piecing poolside while friends swim. Still those days are long gone here in NW PA. We are in the midst of a pretty cool fall. I even had to put my dyeing in my oven over night since the house temps are in the low 60's (and yes - this menopausal brain managed to put on a sign on the oven not to turn on!)

June said...

I suggested to a couple of New Mexico artists that they take their blank fabrics out and capture the sunset with paint. I think they'll do it.

But working outside and painting the outside (or quilting it) might be two different things

I am impressed with the size of the screen (and the table). What joy!

Patty said...


Thanks to Claire Clements for pointing me to your blog. I love it! (even though I am not an artist, I enjoy your point of view, especially the post on what you should be thinking while looking at art.) I tend to analyze my thoughts alot too.