Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year

A special gift from the Earth & Sun on the last day of 2007.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

a white Christmas...

the view from the window of our mountain house in the Sierras.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

light, shade & shadow

The last workshop I took in the fall session was called "Light, Shade, & Shadow." Although we learned about shading in the earlier workshops, this one was focused on shading from a more general perspective. We learned how light and shadows fall on different objects like rope and silk ribbon.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

bamboo weaves & trellises

This artwork came from a workshop called "Bamboo Trellises & Weaves." The main idea we learned about here was where and how to shade it to make it look like the bamboo was weaving under and over itself. I found that taking the workshops also helped me to learn more about working with gouache so that I began to feel more comfortable mixing colors and applying the paint. My classmates agreed that spending the day painting with gouache really sped up the learning curve.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

to you and yours...

May all beings have peace.
May all beings have love.
May all beings have joy.
May all beings have health.
May all beings have abundance.

vintage flowers

The next workshop I took was called "Vintage Flowers." We worked from existing pictures of flowers as reference to draw pleasing bouquets of flowers. Then we painted the flowers using a "vintage" palette which means we added sepia to each color to mute it so it would have a faded look.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

flower drawing

The first Saturday daylong workshop I took in the fall session was "Realistic Flower Drawing." We brought in live Lillie's and drew them using various different pencils & smudging implements in order to achieve the shading. Although they are realistic looking, they are also somewhat stylized in that we changed the shading to adapt the image to the textile industry. Using the techniques we learned in this class, we can make realistic drawings of other subject matter that we may use in our textile designs. It is hard to give up one full day of my weekend but if I have to do so, making art is probably the best way to do it.

Friday, December 21, 2007


After our layouts were approved, we moved on to the color stage. Our assignment was to create several different color comprehensive (comp) designs. A color comp is a small section of the layout that the designer paints and presents to the client for approval before the final design is created. The comp must contain enough of the layout so that one can visualize what the whole design will eventually look like. For instance, it would not have been enough of the design if I only showed one motif (flower). My color comps were about 5" square whereas my layout was 18"x20". We used existing fabric as reference for our color combinations which were chosen by our instructor/client. Below are the first 4 comps that I presented. In this first one I added little dots to the layout to make use of another color which is light green although it looks like they are the same blue as the flowers in these pictures. In this comp, I used the same colors as the first one but changed the motifs by allowing more of the backfround color to show through in between the petals and leaves. Although this one looks like it is black & white, it is actually black and cream.

Out of the above four comps this is the one that my instructor/client approved but she requested that I modify the leaves making them green.

One neat trick we learned at this stage was to use prepared acetate as a color overlay. Since the modification to my comp was simple, I was able to attach acetate to my comp and then paint the green color on it right over the leaves instead of making an entire new comp. All of the comps are hand painted so it is great to learn about time-saving measures like this.

With the addition of the green leaves, my comp was approved and I was able to move on to the final painting which you saw in this post. The shiny acetate made it difficult to photograph but you get an idea of what I'm talking about. That's it for this design. It took twelve weeks to complete! But that was because we were newbies. I have a feeling that things are going to speed up in January. Aside from this design, I took several day long workshops and I will post some of the work from them in the next few posts.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

the process

This was how the scribble flower design from the previous post started. Well, it actually started with a visit to the flower shop. Our assignment was to purchase a flower with a large face such as a lily or sunflower or Gerbera daisy, etc. and bring it to class along with the fattest black marker we could find. Once we were in class, we lined up all the flowers on a table and walked around it drawing the flowers individually. The idea was to be quick and try to fill the page which was 8.5 x 11. It was kind of like musical chairs as we stood in front of one flower awaiting the go ahead from the instructor, then we would draw furiously for about 3 minutes at which point she would tell us to stop and move on to the next flower. The above flowers are what I came up with and out of all those the instructor/client chose this flower as my motif.
Our next assignment was to reduce our motifs and create a "tossed" layout. The idea with a "tossed" layout is it is supposed to be reminiscent of having thrown the flowers in the air and letting them land where they will. In practice, it is more complicated. The goal is to have an evenly spaced design making sure that there are no "holes" or "alley ways" in the layout and each motif should rotate to aviod having a "Vegas slot machine" look. This is my layout.
My graphic design background gave me an advantage at this stage because my first layout was approved by our very demanding instructor/client. Some of my classmates who have not had any prior art background were required to do many revisions before having their layouts approved. I'm impressed with their efforts as this is a whole new world for them. Like many people, they have wanted to express themselves through art for ages but have been discouraged until now. It is exciting to see the flowering of creative expression that comes through us all. I continue to realize how fortunate I feel to have had parents who always encouraged me to be creative. That is not the norm and I will forever be grateful to them for that gift.
You may have noticed that I refer to my instructor as a client as well. That is because the school is structured in an effort to replicate the textile industry with the instructor acting as a client. I greatly appreciate this aspect of my education. It is my experience that most art education programs fail to address this important facet of an art career. In my next post I'll show you how we went from black & white layout to final color painting.

Monday, December 03, 2007

A new adventure

Although I usually make no excuses for not posting on a regular basis, I actually do have a good one for this latest hiatus. I began a Textile Design program and it has consumed my free time in a wonderful way. We just finished the first course of seven. It's a 2.5 year long program and at the end of it I'll have a portfolio that consists of original textile designs that have been both hand painted and computer generated. In addition to classes every Tuesday evening we also have daylong workshops on most Saturdays. I'm on my holiday break now but we were assigned tons of homework due in January when I will start my second course. Then I will also add another evening class learning how to use Photoshop with textile designs. So I hope to do some posting about what I've learned so far before January when I'll get buried under classes and homework and my part-time work again.
This design is called a scribble flower and I hand painted it using gouache which is a water-based paint that is very opaque and has a flat matt surface so it simulates fabric better than other water-based media. It differs from acrylic paint which is also water-based but is less opaque and has a shinier surface. The mixed media art that I have posted in the past was all done using acrylics. We will be learning water color techniques for more transparent designs later. Although I have used gouache before, it was about 20 years ago in my undergraduate art program. It is a persnickety medium to work with but is also very beautiful. So I have been re-learning how to work with it. It is also hard to photograph but you get the idea (above). Another difference is the painting style I am learning is very "tight-handed" rather than "loose-handed" which is what most of the art I have done for the past 10 years has been. We will be working on looser designs later but it is important to know how to do both for the textile industry. I'll post more about how this design came into being and what I've learned in the weekend workshops soon.