Creative Pursuits

Something Different

Big news here.

Each spring, one of our local art galleries sponsors a show for students of the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, where I take my art classes.  The instructors get to pick student work to put in the show, and this year . . . my instructor chose two of my watercolor paintings.

IMG_3014

So, that's my cow on top (the final version, sans eye patch).  And the one on the bottom is my egret.

It really is a thrill . . . to walk into a gallery and know your pieces are in there somewhere.  (Also unnerving.  Because what if everyone else's work is so much better than yours and you just look stupid by comparison.)  (Inner critic = super loud and obnoxious.)

IMG_2852

Whatever.  At some point, I just have to get over it!
There it is.  My work on the wall.

IMG_2850

Definitely something different!

(And if you're in the area and you want to see the show, it'll be up through the end of May at Life Story Network/Ignertia Gallery on North Street - near Bells! - in Kalamazoo.)

==========

Want to see the pieces closer up?

IMG_4453
IMG_4453

 

 


So Many Ways To . . . Unravel

I have plenty of hobbies in my life.

(PLENTY)

I read.  I knit.  I sew.  I paint.  I draw.  I garden.  I stitch.  I yoga.

I DO NOT NEED another hobby.

I DO NOT.

NOT.

IMG_1449

But there I was, sitting in an all-day workshop last Saturday.  
Learning about Shibori dyeing.

IMG_0521

Gleefully painting a gradient.  
Joyously wrapping and scrunching.

IMG_4943

Totally amazed.

IMG_2692

And, well. . .
completely charmed.

IMG_0051

So much mess.  
So much fun.  

IMG_7058
IMG_7058

I think I might have a new hobby.

(Oops.)

==========

Be sure to visit Kat today to see more Unraveled posts!

==========

And be sure to come back here on Friday . . . when I'll be ASKING QUESTIONS!


Merry and Bright

. . . and SHINY!

IMG_0926

Yesterday, I spent the afternoon with a friend in her studio making glitter balls.  Fabulously fun and super simple!

(And, yeah.  I don't have a Christmas tree at my house.  But I do have a lighted birch tree.  And these will look very fine hanging from the branches.)

We also tried some ornaments with alcohol inks.  Our results were decidedly mixed.  While this one looks quite pretty. . .

IMG_0925

I think there's a learning curve.  (Because not all of them worked quite as well.)

It was a fun afternoon, filled with mess, laughter, and creativity.  Merry and bright, indeed!

==========

It's kind of amazing how many "unraveled" posts I can come up with that have absolutely nothing to do with knitting.  I've been knitting a LOT, but can't show you any of it quite yet.  (Because Christmas.)  Stay tuned!

==========

Be sure to head over to Kat's today for more Unraveled posts.


Sparkle

Stitching Alabama Chanin-style can become rather obsessive.

Once you actually get over the intimidation factor and just make something . . . Well.  You discover it's really fun to stitch by hand.  And the garments you stitch are super comfortable to wear.  And the creative opportunities are just endless.

Earlier this summer I decided I wanted a simple, black tunic.  Nothing fancy.  No stenciling.  No appliqué.

But then . . . I decided to add some beads.

IMG_5524

(the front . . . finished)

And then . . . more beads.
(Because it really is an obsession.)

IMG_5523

(the back. . . finished)

I think I'm done with the beads now.  
(But maybe not.)
(You never know.)

IMG_5622

In the end, I got my simple, black tunic.  

IMG_5621

(Now with bonus sparkle!)


Slow on the Draw

As I mentioned last week, on Saturday I went to an all-day colored pencil workshop.  It was, specifically, a solvent workshop.  Colored pencil is quite a slow medium to work with.  (Many layers.)  (Many, many layers.)  But . . . if you apply solvents, you can work much quicker!  The workshop is designed so participants can complete a piece in one, 7-hour day.

And . . . the first time I took part in the workshop (3 years ago), I did just that!

But since then?  Well.  I've chosen to combine the solvent part with the regular, colored pencil drawing part -- so I can get a good start at the workshop -- but my drawings have been too complicated to finish in one session!  (I started Tom's Mini at last summer's workshop, and that took a long, long time to finish.)

Here's what I accomplished last Saturday:

First, I prepared my board (it's illustration board) and sketched out my drawing.  (You can see the photo I'm using on my iPad there; I shared it here on the blog not long ago.)  I taped out the petals of the lily to protect it from the solvent process, and began the coloring-in (with Prismacolor Art Stix).

IMG_5249

IMG_5250

Once I got the background (pretty much) the way I want it (although there's still a lot to be done with it, actually), I peeled off the tape to reveal the lily petals . . .

IMG_5253

and started on the detail work.  (Which, truth be told, is my favorite part!)  I'm beginning with the lily petals, but will also need to do the leaves and the reflections on the water.  (I use Prismacolor wax pencils for the detail work.)

IMG_5256

And that's what I came home with!

Since the workshop, I've been drawing when I can.  (It's easier to find the time right now -- because I'm not knitting anything at the moment, and I can devote my "creative time" to this project.)

But . . . it's slow.  Very detailed.  It's going to take a while!

IMG_5331

I don't mind.  I enjoy the process, and I'm pleased with my results so far.  (I'll show you how it unfolds as I progress . . . but don't expect it to be anytime soon!


Knittin' on the Dock of the . . . Lake

I'm enjoying a relaxed approach to my knitting this summer.  
No mystery knits, KALs, or speed knitting challenges for me this year (tempting as they may be).

IMG_5104

Nope.  
This year it's just me.  
And some lovely linen.  
Locked in a rhythmic design.*

IMG_5103

Knittin' on the dock of the . . . lake.

Watchin' the ships loons roll in. . .
And then I watch 'em roll away again. . .

IMG_5102

This is a perfect summer knit.  Easy.  Soothing.  Cool.

Wastin' time. . . 
(I think not.)

 How about you?  What are you knitting this summer?

==========

Be sure to head over to Kat's to read more Unraveled posts today.

==========

*  This is the Albers Shawl from the Mason-Dixon Knitting Field Guide No. 6 - Transparency.  I'm knitting with Reed by Shibui Knits.  (And I only had to unravel once.)  (So far.)  (Because counting.)


Just a Bit of Messing Around

Earlier this month, I had a notion to make myself an Alabama Chanin tunic.  Just plain-vanilla.  A single-layer black tunic using the Factory Dress pattern.

IMG_4697

It was my first project using Natalie Chanin's new book, The Geometry of Hand-Sewing, and the Really Useful Stitching Cards that come with it.  (Those white dots you can see on my edging above?  I used a chalk pencil to mark my binding strips so I could make uniform stitches.  The dots will wash off, leaving near-perfect stitches that make me look like a better hand-stitcher than I actually am.  Highly recommend.)

IMG_4698

I finished the tunic in record time -- but decided I wanted to mess around a bit with those Really Useful Stitching Cards and some beads. 

So I marked up the front edge of my tunic . . . 

IMG_4681

dumped out a bunch of beads . . . 

IMG_4682

and started messing around.

The trick here is . . . moderation, mixed with a bit of random.  I'm working slowly, just a little at a time.  I want to be sure I strike the right balance of bling here -- nothing too uniform, and nothing overdone.

So far, I like it . . . 

IMG_4684

this particular kind of messing around!

What are you working on this week?

==========

Be sure to stop in at Kat's to read other Unraveled posts this week.


Unraveling . . . On Paper

Although I am tempted to share my progress on my mitered-square project, I've realized that I'm close enough to the actual finish line now (10 squares to go!) that I might as well wait until next week when (I think) it will be finished.

So today, I'll share another kind of finished project for you . . . 

IMG_4085

This is a rather large (16" square) colored pencil "portrait" of Tom's Mini, based on a photograph I took while the car was parked in our driveway.

And it has taken me months to finish!

Agonizing months.  (So many times I just wanted to trash the thing.)

In the end, though, I think it turned out just fine.  And I certainly learned a whole lot in the process.  Which was really the point.

I thought you might enjoy seeing the drawing . . . unravel.  Back to the beginning.

IMG_6789

We're really fortunate here in Kalamazoo to have the Kalamazoo Institute of Art.  Not only is it a fine art museum, but it also has a wonderful art education program for both adults and kids -- with classes offered year-round in pretty much any art medium.  The classes are semester-based, and the teachers are excellent.

I loved art class in high school, and I even took a few classes in college, but it had been years and years since I'd done any real "arting," and it took a while before I finally decided to face my personal demons (the not-good-enough and who-do-you-think-you-are voices are loud) and sign up for a class at the KIA.  I was totally intimidated to walk through those doors that first time . . . with my little bin of drawing tools!

It's been a great experience, though.  I've taken colored pencil drawing and watercolor and printmaking classes -- finally settling on colored pencil as my preferred media.  (I'm a much better "drawer" than I am a "painter.")  I've made a whole crop of new friends -- and the environment is supportive and encouraging from both the instructors and fellow students.

IMG_6789

Although I draw and doodle all kinds of this-and-that at home, for my classes I like to choose more challenging subjects -- so I can learn new techniques and stretch myself a little.  I've done marbles and soap bubbles and a glass of beer with foam and a trout rising out of the water, for example.  Each time, I've frustrated the hell out of myself!  But each time, I've also learned a lot.

This time, I wanted to draw something shiny.

So I chose Tom's Mini.

IMG_8491

In retrospect, I really didn't know what I was getting into.  Cars . . . have a lot of detail!  Really specific details.  (And really specific details that . . . say . . . the car's owner notices.  Just sayin.)

The entire time I worked on this drawing, I felt like one of those boys back in junior high school who were always drawing highly detailed dragsters on their notebook pages.  (Remember them?)  

IMG_8319

There were many (many) times along the way when it was just too overwhelming.  It felt . . . too daunting.  How would I ever make this red blobby thing look like a CAR?

I whined.

But I also kept going.  And I had a lot of encouragement along the way -- from my instructor (remember this?) and my fellow classmates, and from Tom and my dad at home.

IMG_8318

And . . . eventually . . . I had a drawing of Tom's car!

Colored pencil drawing is s-l-o-w.  It's layer after layer of color.  Nothing speedy about it!  

Kind of like . . . knitting.  Y'know?

==========

Even though this post has nothing to do with stitching, I'm still playing the "unraveled" game along with Kat and friends.  Hop on over to Kat's to see what others are unraveling this week.

==========

Want to see the original photo of Tom's Mini?  Here it is . . . 

FullSizeRender


Sewing. So Much Faster Than Knitting.

I'm, basically, a tunic-and-leggings kind of gal.  It's what I wear about 90% of the time.  Often with some sort of sweater thrown over the top.  So when I first heard about the Knit & Sew Uniform book (published by Madder), I got myself on the pre-order list right away!

A variations-on-a-theme book of patterns for tunics (the "sew" part of the Uniform) and cardigans (the "knit" part of the Uniform), the whole concept is really perfect for me.

I whipped up a tunic for myself over the weekend.  

IMG_3759

I opted for the tunic version with pockets, no sleeves, and the rounded neckline.

IMG_3791

I pretty much love it.  (Although I have a few issues with the placement of the darts.  And from what I see from photos of other finished Uniform tunics, this is pretty typical. They're just . . . too high.)

The size options are good.  The directions are very clear.  The sewing is straightforward.

IMG_3790

I gave myself contrasting pocket linings.  Mostly because I like pops of color -- and a "surprise inside."  But also because I wanted to cut down on the bulk of fabric over my middle section (ahem).  (Because who wants four layers of heavy-ish linen over their middle section?)  So I used a lightweight cotton print for the pocket linings.

IMG_3793

I also used the cotton for the armhole bias facings.  Again, pop of color.  AND it really cut down on the bulk around the armholes.

IMG_3794

I'll probably make another tunic, as I really want to try the split-hem variation.  But I'm going to have to think about those darts for awhile first.  (It's such a pain to move darts.)

One thing is certain -- don't expect to see a completed knit Uniform cardigan around here anytime soon.  Someday, sure.  But not this summer.  

(Sewing.  So much faster than knitting. . . )