News

Great fiber art at the Palos Verdes Art Center

If you find yourself in the Los Angeles area in the next 2 months consider a visit to The Palos Verdes Art Center. There's a great exhibit of fiber art being shown from January 18 through March 17. Among the work included in the exhibit is the Art Cloth Network's "24 x 80" show, which was last seen in 2012 during Fiber Philadelphia. I'm really delighted to have my work in this show and to get some exposure on the west coast. PVAC postcard

Studio sale TODAY (Sun, 12/16) 1-4 PM

120054I'll be at the studio today from 1 - 4 PM for one last afternoon of holiday shopping. I've still got lots of great pieces, including new items such as the scarf shown here. I'm delighted with the way that this turned out. It's a combination of my own hand-dyed silk (the turquoise backing) and a wild textural print that I picked up last weekend at Mood in the Garment District in Manhattan.

Several of the other Artists in Residence will also be in their studios today. It's a great opportunity to shop for original art, meet the artists, and support local small businesspeople by shopping locally.

My studio is located on the 3rd floor of the Greenbelt Community Center at: 15 Crescent Rd, Greenbelt, MD 20770.

 

Mini buying trip to NYC

moodDan and I were in Manhattan last weekend for the wedding of two friends. It was a great excuse to do a little shopping in the garment district. I found some great deals on some basic white dyeable stuff--a wonderful cotton batiste in particular. I also happened upon a wonderful, wild bolt of fabric at Mood. I came home with 2 yards I’m going to use for scarves. Last night I dyed some turquoise blue silk habotai to use for backing. The result should be...well, I’ll post pictures of the finished product and you can decide for yourself. I'm excited I’m hoping to get at least a couple of new things ready for the open studio this weekend.  

Open Studio Sale: Sun, Dec 16, 1-4 pm

I'll be in the studio this Sunday (Dec 16), 1-4 PM for one last holiday shopping opportunity. Stop by for a little light refreshment and a little shopping. My studiomate Celestine will also be there selling her bags, bowls, and other fabric creations. And let's not forget Sherill's wonderful cut paper designs--original compositions, prints, and jewelry. Three artists in one room. That's a whole lot of art!

Our studio is in room 303 on the third floor of the Community Center at 15 Crescent Road, Greenbelt, MD 20770. You can't miss us. Hope to see you there.

 

Cautious optimism?

Well, it looks like the new site might be live. If you asked me right now I'd be hard pressed to explain exactly how I managed to get this to work. It involved changing my GoDaddy DNS settings. Copying a files around on my web host account and making a bunch of WordPress changes. There were times then the site wasn't working and I couldn't figure out why. The worst moment was when I did something that I thought I was supposed to do and completely lost access to the site--and only managed to fix it with a scary little PHP hack. All in all, this stuff is not for the faint of heart. I will be working over the next several days to add content, especially to the portfolio section. Watch for changes and updates.

Festival of Lights craft show was a big success

My booth at the Greenbelt Festival of Lights Art & Craft Fair was a great success. I had quite a few returning customers and lots of new ones. It was great to meet new folks, hang out with fellow artists, and get some ver nice positive feedback on my work.

I have to say though, I just don't know how working artists who sell this way do it week after week. You must develop some serious endurance. My day job is behind a desk. Two solid days on my feet and I was whipped. But I wouldn't trade this experience for anything.

A week of color

Guess where I've spent the last week. Well, that's probably not a fair question. The sign will be both familiar and evocative to some, and won't register at all with others.

Mystery solved. Since last Sunday afternoon I've spent most of my waking hours at The Crow Timber Frame Barn in Baltimore, Ohio taking a special 6-day version of Carol Soderlund's "True Colors" workshop.

The workshop was great and, as usual, Carol and my fellow participants were inspiring. I'm on my way home tomorrow morning and ready to get back into the studio so I can apply some of what I've learned this week.

I haven't abandoned my independent study of MX dyes and their behavior, but this class has given me valuable direction that's going to save me lots of time and money. Thanks Carol! Another home run.

Wonderful show

I feel a little awkward saying this. Some little voice in my head is telling me that it's just not proper to be too proud, but... Dan and I just spent a wonderful 24 hours in Philadelphia roaming through the galleries that are part of Fiber Philadelphia. We saw so much wonderful work. I'm very proud to say that "Lines and Numbers", the show by the Art Cloth Network was among the best. I'm just thrilled with the way our show looks and I'm grateful to those who worked hard to organize, hang, and promote it. I feel like I'm riding on the coat tails of some talented and generous folks. Other highlights included the biennial show at the Snyderman-Works Gallery and the show at the Highwire Gallery (including new work by Rayna Gillman). Both are outstanding. I came away inspired.

 

A fresh look

I'm trying out the new "Dynamic views" template for my blog. It looks a bit fresher. We'll see how it goes. Let me know if there are problems.

I've been back from the workshop with Kerr in Bay St. Louis for a week. It seems like longer. The workshop was very productive. I've got probably 10 pieces started and the time there helped me develop some ideas. It also gave me food for thought.

Workshops! Although I tell myself I'm going off to do this work with goals but no expectations, it seems that afterword  I always ask myself it the experience lived up to my expectations. They never do. That's not because the experience isn't good. It's because expectations are formed in a vacuum with little or no connection to the people, place, and "space" in which the actual experience will happen. Gosh, that sounds terribly abstract. I'm struggling to say that regardless of what I expected, I got what I got, and it was good.

Much to my surprise I was deeply affected by Bay St. Louis and the people that I met there. The town and surrounding region were devastated by the 30-foot tidal surge that accompanied hurricane Katrina in late August 2005. People died, the town was all by wiped from the map, and the suffering and loss were overshadowed by the disaster in New Orleans. It's more than I can imagine. What little we saw on TV and in print could never give a sense of scale of the thing.

The Bay is coming back, but even almost 7 years of work there is still plenty of physical evidence that something tremendously destructive happened there. It's was hard not to talk about the storm and what followed, but I felt guilty mentioning it. On one hand, it's like failing to acknowledge the 500 pound guerilla in the room; one the other it's felt like asking someone to relive their hurt and loss. That said, I heard amazing stories from strong, creative, and vital people about their survival, their love of the place and each other, and their hard work to restore their community. I'm reading Ellis Anderson's first person account of the storm and the events that followed. I highly recommend, "Under surge, Under siege: The Odyssey of Bay St. Louis and Katrina." I'm only 75% of the way through it, but it's outstanding.

I don't know if or when I will get back the Bay, but I hope I do, and I hope it will be sooner rather than later.

Continuing workshop efforts

It's the end of Thursday and I'm pooped. I'm the last one in the studio, enjoying a little peace and the luxury of a working Internet connection. It's been a good week. Although I have nothing finished to show for it, I've got some new direction and about 5-6 pieces that, while they will require substantial work to finish, can be finished at some point in the future.

One piece in particular has been presenting an interesting challenge. I've been working from a practice watercolor in my sketchbook, trying to come close to the same look and feel on cloth.

Here's the sketchbook page. Love it.

The cloth. The image is too strong. It's not nearly this high-contrast or saturated in person

Here's the same cloth with an overlay of painted organza (the dark circle). I'm really happy with where this is going and I think I know what it needs next, but that's a project that requires more time, space, and concentration than I have right now. At least I know what comes next.

OK. Off to bed.

Getting intimate with MX colors

Over the last few weeks I've been doing some experiments and gathering supplies for a project that I've had kicking around in my head for the last 2 years: I'm going to dye every combination of MX primary colors. I should qualify that statement a bit and add a few "yes, I knows":
  • I fully acknowledge that this might be a little crazy (in the OCD category).
  • I'm only planning to dye the primaries, secondary, and tertiary colors, and I"m only dying a single value of each hue.
  • Yes, there will be duplication from one color group to the next. For example, the same yellow will be crossed with multiple reds and blues.
When all's said and done (and dyed) the goals are these:
  1. Produce a reference that shows how the primaries interact.
  2. Identify primary triads that speak to me and merit further exploration (Soderlund color cube?).
  3. Learn by doing.
  4. Develop color palettes different from the one that have become habitual to me. 
So why am I doing that? Well, in part it's because I can't seem to resist doing it. Yes it's lots of work, but the discovery will be fun. And, the end result will be useful.
The dyeing plan is a little convoluted. After a couple of sessions where I dyed one or two color families at a time in small containers I realized that, while this was the easiest approach to organize, it was also the most wasteful. I would be spending most of my time mixing dye. Instead, I've developed a whopping big spreadsheet that allows me to identify every combination of the 4 yellows, 4 reds, and 5 blues--that makes 80 distinct color wheels--and shows how many 5"x 5" squares of each distinct YR, YB, and RB pair that I need to dye to assemble the wheels.
Once all of the dyeing is done I'm also going to do discharge samples to accompany each color wheel.


I'm looking at this as a 1-year project. I really want to do this, but I can't shutdown every other studio activity for this one obsession. More to come...

Getting ready for Kerr

Sunday morning I'm off to Bay St. Louis, Mississippi for a 1-week workshop with Kerr Grabowski. It's a very small group, just 6 of us, and all former students of hers. It should be great. Friends ask me what these workshops are like. Well, there's just no one-size-fits-all answer. Some are incredibly hard work. Others are lot's of laughing (and really hard work). It depends on the mix of teacher, students, and the phase of the moon. In every case there is learning and growth.

Now, Kerr is a special person. She's given me some of the most helpful critique I've ever received. And we laugh. It's hard to put a value on that. This YouTube video might give you a little insight into what her workshops are like. It's lots of what-if and "Oh, now I like that." There's lots of discovery and a good bit of laughter.

I'm talking myself into a big smile and a real sense of anticipation.

Restructured Circles #3

I finished this piece about a month ago and submitted it for a local show. No luck. It would have been nice to show it, but for some reason I'm not terribly disappointed that I don't have delivery, pickup, and reception on my to do list. Go figure. This is the 3rd completed piece in my "Restructured Circles" art quilt series. The marks are made entirely by discharge and I very happy with the results. The piecing is minimal, by which I mean it's 2 pieces. It doesn't get much more minimal.

When I finished the piece I stood back and said, "OMG it's a cairn." I've been taking pictures of rocks for years, and in the last few years have really become fascinated with stacked rocks. I think this might be the beginning of something. A new direction or a course refinement? To be determined.

All set for the Greenbelt Art+Craft fair

Sherill and I are all setup for the Greenbelt Festival of Lights Art + Craft Fair. For a first attempt booth I'm very pleased. As it worked out it's pretty much exactly a 50/50 mix of her work and mine. The framed work on the wall is Sherill's cut paper--just fantastic stuff. She's also got books and other paper work. She also make small purses and other things out of some my hand dyed and printed cloth from my scrap pile. I'll have to post some more detailed pictures of them. I wasn't sure what to expect, but they are terrific and absolutely cool. For my part is just miles of scarves--miles. I've very happy with the result of my recent work and I'm hoping for a good show.

Now I just need a drink, a little snack, and someplace to park my rear for a little while before bed. It'll be an early start tomorrow.

My new Etsy store is live

My new online store on Etsy went live quietly last week and I've been adding to it ever sense. I just announced it for the first time yesterday and I'm happy to say I've made my first sale. Frankly, this is way more effort that I expected it to be, but it's worth it because I didn't have to do any of the programming work. That's a fair trade, even with the listing costs.

Stop by and take a look at etsy.com/shop/russlittlefiberart.

Getting ready

I feel like I'm getting ready for so many things. That might or might not be a good thing. I think sometimes I use "getting ready"-- the act of collecting, gathering, studying -- as an excuse for not starting. Lately, however, I find myself getting ready for things that are going to happen no matter what. I spent 2 full days this weekend printing, dyeing, and discharging cloth because I'm getting ready for my first craft show, which is coming up in December. I'm also getting ready for the Art Cloth Network meeting later this week in St. Petersburg, FL. That means packing, but also finishing the Treasurer's report, collecting cloth to bring, and finishing my presentation. None of these things is truly monumental, but collectively...well let's just say that I've been busy.

No pictures of new art tonight, but there's plenty on the way and I hope to share some pictures of work in progress over the next several weeks.