Category Archives: art in general

Solar Eclipse

So in Europe, there was a solar eclipse on equinox day, the official start of spring. It was like 68% at peak where I live. Can there be a more special start of the season?

I spend that morning in the garden watching. I had eclipse glasses, but most of the time I just felt the curious icyness of the air and the weird, cold light. Also, I  felt inspired to put my feelings on paper, The first is supposed to show the peak, the second the moment before the sun is fully back. Sorry they are probably not astronomically correct, I didn’t want to stare at the sun too much.

I wish I could paint the light of that morning but I guess that’s quite beyond my skill.




R.I.P Dennis Hopper

A great one has left us. I probably can’t say more intelligent or touching things about him than already have been said. I think Easy Rider and the lifestyle of Hopper and his ilk had a deep and lasting influence on today’s culture and counterculture. What’s probably greater, he did what he felt like, and was good at it most of the time. Check out his paintings and photography if you haven’t.

In interviews he claimed that his drive behind painting and doing photography is that he wants to leave something behind that lasts. But while his art is good, he left the most lasting impressions on the world by just being himself. Of course, being driven was an impotant part of it.

My most poignant memory about him would be that saturday afternoon I watched The Last Movie and fiercely tried to enjoy it, while the rest of the family kept complaining about that “awful waste of two hours”. I think I was in my late teens and had seen Easy Rider recently. He was not even of my generation, I’ve been born 1972.

For a few moments I was contemplating doing some sort of commemorative art. But again, what could I do that hasn’t been done? Also, I can’t draw a harley. So I’m going to honour a wild one by being wild. I had an automatic drawing session today and post the results, which I wouldn’t normally do. And yes, I’m gonna drink more than one beer in his honour as soon as opportunity arises. When I do those I scribble or paint with closed eyes until it feels enough, then I paint over this what I feel like.

Some time ago I wanted to stop that separation between private and public art, seems I haven’t gone as far on this path as I told myself I did. It’s people like Dennis Hopper who remind me what joy there is in being wild, being myself. Probably we’d better not go as far in this as he did at times, but I know I could use some more of his spirit.

Two pics without title

Black ink and acrylics on watercolour paper, the first one raw the second one coated with white acrylic paint first.
Size: 17*24 cm

Thoughts of TIF 5

The topic of this month’s take it further challenge is “What do you call yourself? (related to what we do). Artist or Craftsperson?

Basically, that’s the old art versus craft debate taken to a personal level. My first thought was “Why, I’m just a dabbler anyway”. But I guess that answer would be the easy way out.

I dabble in acrylic paint and watercolour, so I can well call myself an artist. But on the other hand, where is the line between art and craft in paintings? Are paintings in the style of the home decor TV shows art? In fiber, I do a few original things. But I also love doing crafty things like knitting, crochet and mindless embroidery. I think I never really defined myself beyond “dabbler in xyz”, replace xyz with my current subject of study. Maybe it’s high time I think about such things a bit.

I don’t really know yet what I’m going to do about that topic, but I think it screams for another sampler, showing the artsy and the crafty sides of me.

The colour scheme is another interesting case. The official me hates it but I think my inner child loves it.

To add a bit of eye candy, here is another progress shot of the pulled thread tulip. If I really do a sampler this will be part of it. Sometimes things just fall into place like this. This ttime, the picture is not clickable, I’ll upload a really big one when it’s finished.

Stuckism – did you know that? (rant)

Sometime this week I was surfing arround idly on wikipedia – and found Stuckism , an article about a group of artists who reject conceptual art and postmodernism in favour of paintings which are kind of understandable and done out of a need to express oneself, not just for attention and monetary gain.

I went on to read their manifesto and other stuff on their website. Some of it might be irelevant to a fiber artist. But on the whole, I agree to their manifesto enthusiastically. I guess I’m not going to become a stuckinst now, I’ too much of an amateur to be part of any -ism, I guess. Also, my painting teacher would probably foam at the mouth with wrath about some of their art (he is into fantastic realism, and able to paint photorealistically if he wants to).

What I especially enjoy is their quest for meaning. Just some days ago I had a discussion with someone who claimed that painting (in the widest sense, including pictorial fiber art) as a medium of art is utterly dead. I responded that there’s truth in that, but it doesn’t need to be that way. What is killing art is the snobbism and of the art scene, which make art look disgusting for ordinary people. What also kills it is the notion that something must be shocking or a novelty to be art. This on the one hand, and the strive for decorativeness on the other hand. Once my painting teacher said: ” Don’t paint decorative abstract stuff. leave that to interior designers, they are trained for it much better”. In my oppinion, art in any medium should be about expressing emotions, thoughts and experiences, if possible in a way that is effective in communicating them to others. And it shouldn’t be spelt with a big A. I certainly found some of this in the stuckist manifesto.

Oh well, I guess the fact that I didn’t know about them, and many other art movements I found on wikipedia, probably means I’m a bloody amateur who has no business ranting about such stuff.

orange again

This is a little knitting test I did for a jumper that probably won’t happen because I’m not as fond of the material as I thought I would be. I’m posting it because it shows which colour should best go with red-orange for my gut feeling. It is just slightly off the official complemetary colour (turquoise), and again to the yellow side, just as in my favourite orange/turquoise combination. I have posted some musings about orange here before.

I don’t know yet if I’m going to use this as a background for some felting and stitching, or if I just keep it as is in that ring binder I abuse as a kind of visual journal.


Using unusual materials

I just found an article about using cheap and unususal materials by Arlee Barr via Arlee Barr’s blog. It is very well done, I learned a thing or two from it although I’m not as much into plastic an using heat guns as she is.

Here are a few of my cheapo favourites that she doesn’t mention.

  • All kinds of jute fabrics. I like to work on burlap/ hessian, but also on the very loosely woven deco jute and colourful jute bands. Glue arround the edges of the loose stuff with fabric glue or glossy acrylic gel before use. I’m adding an ATC sized embroidery on jute band and present band at the end of the posting
  • browse the deco shops regularly, they will often have small fabric pieces for reduced prices; especially useful if you like to work small
  • Try to pester a local tailor for her/his waste fabric
  • make use of clothes you don’t wear any more, it also adds a very personal note to your art
  • The ribbons and bands you use for christmass presents and flower arrangements. You often get good deals on them after major hollidays, and you can use what comes off your presents
  • Cocoa fiber and similar stuff. The loose ones can be used for couching, the glued sheets can be used to do embroidery on or for collages.
  • natural bast is very good for stitching on rough fabric, but it isn’t washable. If you use the coloured ones do a fading test before using them on precious projects; it bends easier when wet, but will shrink considerably when drying again
  • use natural materials and found objects
  • buying cheap jewelry and cutting it up for the beads is often cheaper than buying beads at a craft shop
  • glossy acrylic gel makes a good surrogate for fabric glue and is cheaper if you need more than a few ounces of it. Beware of the matte varieties, they will come off if you wash pieces, while the glossy one from Schmincke even survives procedures like wet felting with hot water onto the glued piece.
  • If you’re into painting save your brush cleaning rags to do fiber art on them later. But never ever burn them if you use any cadmium colours
  • if you already have acrylic paints use them instead of fabric paints. Again, beware of heating cadmium pigments (they will turn poisonous if you do)

now here’s an example, a roughly ATC-sized thing assembled from jute band and flower band ironed on black vilene and embroidered:

wild rose

about orange

During the last two weeks I added some bits to one of my WIPs, the goldfish . The background fabric is a bit more on the greenish side than the scan shows. This made me think about my use of colours. The following is not meant as a lesson in colour use but as a rant about my personal use of certain colours. If it has any use for others than as a prompt to think about your very own relationship to colours. The pictures I painted for demonstration have no meaning, I was just doodling.

Orange and turquoise is one of the colour combinations I use very often in my creative work although I would name none of them as favourite colours. The goldfish picture is cleary a variant of this even if the turquoise is rather muted.

I did some doodling with acrylic paint to demonstrate my colour choice. Turquoise and that pure orange I like to go with it are not complimetary colours. If you mix them, you’ll find that there’s too much yellow in the mix for complimetary colous. I seem to be preferring harmony over exitement here.

orange 1

Now, the next picture shows the same orange and its complimetary colour according to the traditional colour weel . That would be blue. You can see that blue and orange mix up to black. I do kind of like this combination, but I seem to use it very rarely. Maybe I’m going to add something blue to the goldfish pic just for the heck of it.

orange 3

The next picture shows the same turquoise and a red orage, which is approximately its complimentary colour acording to the traditional colour weel . The fact that they don’t mix up to black has more to do with the pigments than the colours. For me, this contrast looks horrible when used in such massive ammounts, but I still did use it in the goldfish piece. I used red-orange for small parts of the goldfish. I just stumbled over this blog post about Luci’s orange and turquoise doodling cloth, so obviously there are people out there who love this colour combination. Amazing how different we all are.

orange 3

Rules of being creative

In response to this at inaminutago, and this at gapevoid

The callenge was to pick ten of the rules of creativity there. I must say that I do disagree with some of those points, but I did find a few that resonate for me. The sequence does not necessariely reflect importance, because that was too hard to decide.

1. Sing in your own voice.
All else just isn’t worth the effort

2. Keep your day job
says me who doesn’t have one (but would like to)

3. put in the hours
even if you don’t feel like doing anything really. If nothing else it will keep your techical skills from getting rusty

4. Don’t worry about finding inspiration. It comes eventually.
scroll down one posting for this one

5. The best way to get approval is not to need it.
says me, the failed inet attention whore

6. Whatever choice you make, The Devil gets his due eventually.
so true, and not only in creativity. Realizing this one a while ago made me fret and fuss over decisions a lot less

7. The hardest part of being creative is getting used to it.
anything I do ends up getting creative eventually. Exept those little hobbies (like going to art class) I intended to use for venting my creativity in a harmless way. you can’t tame that kind of bug

8. The choice of media is irrelevant.
As long as you use something that speaks to your heart

9. Merit can be bought. Passion can’t.
Passion can’t be baught, can’t be ingested in pill or liquid form, but there are ways to kindle it

10. Dying young is overrated.
says me, who attempted the booze and party way and failed

Art or what?

OK, so where do I begin this post? a few days ago there was an interesting post at a movable feast about the meaning of buying equipment, learning mew techniques and such. Annica posted a link to the incomplete manifesto by Bruce Mau which might be a mental gold mine for any creative person. This sat in my draft folder for a while because it seemed too personal, but now there was another posting about creativity at inaminuteago .

Reading all this made me think, and formulate a few thoughts that were floating arround in my brain for a while. (A big thank you for that to all people in the previous discussion). So why did I enter this challenge? Because I wanted to do some embroidery and needed a reason to drag my ass away from the TV and get started.

Why embroidery? I’ve been trying to paint and draw for ages, but never got really good at it. But the longer I was at it, the more I expected from myself, and ended up totally blocking myself. I never really got beyond the stage of classroom drawing exercises because I never was content with my results. I wanted to do something “creative” and lacked ideas most of the time, or thought the ideas I had were not fit for public display.

Outside fiber art circles, embroidery is mostly considered a harmless hobby for bored women. (At least here, in rural Germany). I wanted to do it that way, although I had some contact with the German fiber art scene before. And that seemed the right thing for me: a way to keep my hands busy without worrying about anything. And then I found myself competing with people who have university degrees in fiber art. I tried to ignore that and just do my thing. But as I went, I realized that I put more and more of myself into the pieces I did. Probably that is not obvious to others, but to me. Suddenly there was this “creativity” I have always been looking for, or at least the beginnings of it. Why? No idea really. Maybe because I allowed myself to play and enjoy.

Now is this “art” ? Does the answer even matter? Probably these are questions I shouldn’t be asking. Seeking critique on technical matters is important, but questioning ones own or others creative impulses is rarely productive in my opinion.

I don’t even know why I’m posting all this in a public forum. Maybe as a little inspiration for other struggling with such issues, and a thanks to those who inspired me with similarly open postings.


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