Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Its all about plants

I don't have any new work to post today but I thought I'd collect all of my botanical themed pieces and present them here. My alter ego is a botanist and I actually had a double major as an undergraduate in art and biology. I went on to pursue botany for a higher degree but, of course, the art came along for the ride.

This still life features a bunch of realistic flowers, fruits and veggies. I just love the tulips--they got me started on this piece. i thought they looked like the very traditional old fashioned dutch varieties that caused so much avarice and turmoil.

Here is an entirely fanciful flower--straight from a dream image that I had one night. I had a smirk on my face the whole time I was putting this one together. Very satisfying. This piece is from my "Inner Landscape" series which are all metaphorical. A unifying theme is the black frame.

This is my very first flower piece. Its roughly based on a very botanical scheme of a generic flower that clearly demonstrates all of the parts. I draw this sort of diagram for my students all the time. Fittingly, it hangs in my office in the Biology Department at UCF. Its official name is "Wallflower renaissance" but I think of it as my inside-out flower. As in: live your life from the inside out rather than the outside in.

This passionflower is not totally anatomically correct but I felt moved to add in some extra parts for aesthetic balance. I'm guessing that if you're not a botanist, you likely can't tell what is incorrect. I love the appearance and symbolism of passionflowers--I've used them as design elements in another piece too.

These beauties are pretty correct and are based on some night blooming Brugmansias, or Angel's Trumpets, blooming in my yard here in Florida. I posted about them before but in the interest of thoroughness, I've got them up here again.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Postcard strike

Just couldn't face more frickin' postcards today. So I made another blue strip. Tedious but it has to be done. That makes 5 strips down and 5 to go. sigh.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Upcycled T-shirts

Been pretty busy with my day job so I haven't had time to get in the studio as much as I'd like to. But I am trying to get ready for a little sidewalk Art Stroll next week in Baldwin Park. http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=99819432058&ref=ts So I'm bustling away making postcards to fill up my cool new postcard rack (I showed it here a few posts back) which I will be using in the show. But, DAMN, that rack holds a lot of cards. I have been making cards like there's no tomorrow and its still not full. Close, though. Today I completed sixteen T-shirt post cards. Since I'm a pack-rat from way back, I naturally saved some of my kids' cutest t-shirts from when they were just little guys. Couldn't bear to toss them or pass them on to good-will. Thought I might someday make a quilt out of them but that idea has since palled. Hmmm, but post cards! Now there's an idea! I did have to iron on some stabilizing interfacing to the back of the t-shirts and then I just trimmed out the images and did some simple contour quilting around them. A matching or contrasting color for the blanket-stitch that goes around the edge completed these fast and easy postcards. Check them out!

Here's the whole batch all piled up. Can you tell we have 2 boys and a girl who all like critters of all sorts, especially bugs? They still do, too even though they're not so little any more.

My favorite is this froggy one. I love the whimsical aspect of the drawings. I got 2 cards out of this particular shirt.

There are also a lot of realistic image shirts in my stash, including these spiders. I sure hope someone else like spiders as much as we do and buys one or more of these!

It occurred to me that I've never shown the back of one of my post cards. As you can see, I use some vintage style letter stamps to write "POST CARD" and delimit the address side from the message side. The plain white fabric takes writing from a sharpie or other permanent pen no problem.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Oh, the horror

Its been rough going for me lately so I'm seeking a creative outlet to help me process it all. I'm currently brainstorming on a piece that centers around Humpty Dumpty and what REALLY happened to him. It looks like the finished piece will actually consist of 3 separate components, one that has a poem on it (there's my written word I mentioned in the last post!). The 2 image components will depict Humpty far away and very close up. For it to be effective, I decided I needed a really strong expression of horror on Humpty's face. So I did a little googling to come up with something that hits home for me. It was actually not too easy to come up with these; there are a lot of unsavory horror movie images (yuck) out there if you search on "horror", "look of horror" and the like. But these images fit the bill so I will continue sketching out layout and templates with them in front of me.

Of course, Edvard Munch's "The Scream" is the grandaddy of all looks of horror. Must consider this one. Of course, a lot of the feelings of horror and despair derive from the painting style and background. But, of course, its still successful and a source to keep in mind.

This is an interesting one. The mouth really fascinated me. The eyes and forehead seem a little "fakey" to me but overall, pretty intense. I can hear a high-pitched shriek when I look at this woman, can't you?

This one is my favorite. This is Peter Stackpole's photo of TV actress Nancy Berg taken in 1953. You don't even see her whole face but what evocative eyes! Notice that they are wide open and how the eyebrows and forehead wrinkle contribute to the total feel of this image. Wow. very psychicly powerful. I hope I can capture this!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The written word and textile art

Its been an ongoing theme for me lately to use words in my textile art in some way. I am intrigued by the juxtaposition of a visual image and an associated or contrasting written word(s). Here are some of my works that have included writing in some way. Obviously I am still exploring the possibilities.

Here is my first written word quilt--9 blocks (one shown), each with its own fortune cookie fortune. I sealed in the fortune with a layer of vinyl that I then quilted right down onto the plain white block.

Here's my latest effort. I used a Sharpie pen to write in the white space around each bug. I wrote in a spiral so that really added to the design element.

Here I added some text to each of the 16 blocks of this quilt. I did this by first adhering the white fabric to freezer paper by ironing and then inserting it into a typewriter and typing on it.

Frida Kahlo often included some text in her paintings. Here is one where she painted a little fluttering penant at the bottom. I've been inspired by that and done this a couple of times in fabric form by writing on some lightweight fabric and then cutting it into a strip and tacking it down.

I'm considering some new allegorical pieces--about 4 of them, I think. They are very much in the embryonic phase right now so I won't mention any of the subject matter just yet. But I am planning on pairing them with an associated poem/prose. I know I want to try something different. Not sure how I want to do this--any ideas anyone?

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Chop, chop

Sometimes an idea just doesn't come together. Not a problem if I'm still in the planning stage but it seems pretty daunting if I've already done a bunch of sewing and assembled my top. Maybe I've even gotten to the embellishment sewing or (gasp!) quilting stage. Now what? Here's what I do and it usually works for me: I chop it up and resew it! Often in some sort of "crazy quilt" configuration or just however it seems to fit. I open myself up to the design possibilities and listen to the piece. Then I embellish, quilt or add elements. Some of my favorite pieces have undergone this process. Here are a few:

Only the floral centers of the blocks are crazy quilted here. The technique adds lots of textural interest. Then I just added strips and borders in matching or contrasting fabrics.

Ohh, I labored over this one. It started out as an exercise in working with a monochromatic color scheme. It was ok, but not great. Then I chopped it, sewed all the resulting pieces together and added the sun. Perfect!

This little beauty resulted from a leftover paper foundation pieced strip that just didn't work on the original piece. So that strip was removed and reassembled into what you see here. Its a jewel of a piece with glittery accents in seed beads, lurex embroidery thread and a bit of Angelina Fibers.
Love serendipity!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

More goofy ad copy

A little work on my postcards today but nothing much new to show. Recently, however, I have heard and recorded some new senseless ad copy. Do they never, ever proof these slogans? That is, run them by someone with half a brain?? Evidently not. Here they are.

The first was for one of those diet food plans where you purchase all of your food from the company and heat it and eat it. Describing the meals as: "Each one better than the next!" oops. Really? Hmmm, this doesn't bode well for the long haul, eh? Must be pretty horrible after a few days, I think.

The second one ran on my local radio station and was advertising one of those cheap hair cutting places and compared it to pricier salons. This one also has some issues for the long haul. "Get a great haircut for half the price of a great haircut." Ummm, does that mean that eventually it will cost 1 cent? Or maybe they will even owe you?


Monday, June 01, 2009

Postcards, postcards, as far as the eye can see...

Things have been hectic and crazy around my house (husband out of town, husband back in town, husband breaks ankle, husband taken to emergency room, husband incapacitated for 2 weeks, daily summer teaching begins) and so there has been absolutely no large chunks of time for me to escape to my studio. :( But that doesn't mean I haven't been in there as much as I can. Since I only have small units of time, I've only been working on small projects. I decided I need to have a good stock of postcards for my Etsy online store www.celestialtextiles.etsy.com and in person if I'm ever able to participate in a sidewalk show. So here are a few of the goodies I've completed.

I love this one! I had some leftover trimmed ocean blue pieces that were enough for a 4 x 6 card so I slapped a fish on it.

Here's the last little piece of my Tribal Kats series. I have since unearthed some more cat fabric so you'll see those eventually, too.

I just made the one of these checkerboard fish cards. Its reminiscent of the fish quilt I sent to the Fish Follies show in 2006 titled "Fishy Frolic". You can see that one on my main art website at: http://www.elizabeth-harris.com/Pages/G_Non-Series.html scroll down about half way.

I had a bunch of these strips left over from the Fishy Frolic quilt so I made several striped versions with a different kind of fish on each one. Fishy-tastic!