Saturday, 26 February 2011

Refashioning Projects

I need to get a few refashioning projects going.

In my studio I always have 6 to 9 paintings and drawings going at any one time. This is great because it means whatever my mood I can jump in. When I am filled with inspiration and beginning energy I can start one of the paintings waiting in my sketchbook. Or draw more compositional ideas. Other times I might feel like doing something already plotted out, something kind of mindless like details on a dress or in the hair. Other days I am up for a challenge, ready to tackle that problem that has me completely stuck.

But now when I am out of the studio and itching to sew, I am at a loss. I finished my dress but nothing else is ready to go. I am not feeling inspired and full of energy, I would like to do some gentle stitching. But nothing is prepared or even planned.
I do have this rather nice white top that I bought at a thrift store. I am not much into white, but I like the woven yoke and it has cute little covered buttons on the back and the sleeves. I have been trying to get a stain out of the front, no luck.

I have bought some Dylon Ocean Blue dye and plan to dye it. That might be enough. We will see if it covers the stain.
Here is a thrift store shirt. It is a men's pajama top, loads big for me. I bought it for the fabric. I am thinking of using it for a yoke for a tunic. I am imagining cutting off the sleeves, saving the collar and the buttons, sewing up the sides smaller and then sewing another fabric on as a kind of gathered bottom. A little on the style of the dress that sucks, (sounds like it is doomed from the start, doesn't it?)
And finally, perhaps my most interesting thrift store find. Is it a dress or a coat? It is of medium weight cotton, fitted with darts and no lining, it seems more like a dress. But as you can see, the buttons stop about crotch length.
And the back would be indecent as well. The size is a little smaller than I would like. The sleeves are a bit tight around the elbows (those must be dress not coat sleeves) so I might cut them short. The bust fits fine. I am thinking to put a triangle of interesting cloth in the back. I don't have it yet. Maybe a pattern of some kind.

Now what about something with some embroidery stitching? Or beading? I would like to do some handwork.
Please feel free to jump in if you have any ideas for my projects.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

How to do Background Undercollage for your Art Journal

Easy peasy. Paste down some magazine pictures or book pages. Strong images work well. You can cover the pages or only undercollage in selected areas.
Here I used torn edges so they would blend in more. Either way. Do different page backgrounds differently. Try out stuff. It's fun.

Glue them down well with acrylic matte medium (be generous). Stick glue won't keep its 'stick' when you paint over the top. If you smooth the papers down with a ruler or credit card while still drying you will have less bubbling.
Then paint over the top with gesso. For this background I used black gesso, with the first one I used white (forgot to take a photo of the white one.) You can wipe off some of the gesso if you want the undercollage to show more. But it is intended to be a background. I usually put more collage over the top.
I will put more writing on this page, some over the top of the undercollage, to take it more into the background.
Here is the beginning of some collage and drawing over the first undercollage.

You can see how the magazine images were knocked back with the white gesso. Some of the images I completely covered, others I wiped back again. I then painted over the gesso before I added the collage and drawing.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Who Do You Admire?

Who do you admire, who do you like, and what might it mean?

Consider that the person you admire might represent a shadow side of your self. We have a positive shadow as well as a negative one. Our positive shadow contains those qualities in ourself that we don't feel 'good enough' to claim. You might be creative or clever or smart just like that person you admire. At least consider that the potential for that is within you and that might be why you are so attracted to them.

Lately I have been avidly following the blog Notes from The Voodoo Cafe. Rice is a creative and entertaining woman. She is a true individual. By that I mean someone who has the self-esteem to be truly who they are and express that in the world. She looks eccentric, but not out of a desire to be noticed - it is an expression of her being.

When I was still in high school there was a 'dress code'. It wasn't from the school, we were allowed to wear whatever we wanted, it was from our fellow classmates. Depending on the clique you were part of, you dressed a certain way. Doesn't sound that different from the everyday grown-up world, does it? I don't remember all the ins and outs, but I remember that all the popular girls wore clogs.

I wore ballet slippers. I wasn't a dancer, I just liked them. I also used to wear my Dad's over-sized shirts, and some over-alls that I had made into a dress. I was fortunate in that my family could have afforded to dress me in the popular girls' uniform so I had that option, but I just wasn't interested.

Sometimes I used to paint a flower on my face. I remember feeling rather uncomfortable with the attention I would receive when I did this. I wasn't doing it to be noticed. I felt compelled to express myself this way.

I think over the years I have lost that some. It has been overlaid with too many magazine articles telling me what is in fashion and how to dress for my body type, and now how to dress for my age.

For some reason, the changes of menopause are making me feel free to start the return journey back to that girl who dressed to express herself.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Remember the Dress that Sucked?

Yeah, this one. The muumuu-clown dress. Incredibly ugly. And do you remember what I was going to try? (check out the post if you don't).
It may not be perfect, but you gotta admit it is a big improvement.
It even has side pockets. Yippee.
The bodice I took from a thrift dress that I had. It is barer than I would like.

I am still looking for a good dresslet pattern. The one I used to make the original dress obviously does not qualify.

Monday, 14 February 2011

This is not a Tutorial - Beginning a New Painting

This is not a tutorial. You have been warned. I don't always know what I am doing, so don't follow in my footsteps!

In the last two weeks I have begun two new paintings. Beginnings are fun, exciting. I haven't made any mistakes yet. Everything is glorious potential, not the problem solving that comes in later.
I have two sketches in my studio sketchbook that I want to paint. I am always putting ideas for paintings in here. The majority never become paintings, because there are too many to get around to. I like lots of choice.

The beginning of the painting using the sketch on the left I blogged last week here.
I photocopied the sketch the size of the painting.
I covered the back of the photocopy with soft pencil to make homemade carbon paper, then I placed it onto the prepared panel and traced over the lines with a hard pencil.
I finished drawing it in after that as it was difficult to see. I don't usually draw the image out to this detail, but I have an idea that I am trying.
I might want to keep the background as wood, so I just gesso inside the figure. The panel is already gessoed with clear gesso (you can't oil paint onto unprepared wood) but I want the figure to stand out from the background so I put down this white layer.
At this point there was a wallaby outside, eating grass. By the time I got the camera, he had gone.
Here are the two beginnings side by side. I wanted to show you how I am going about them in two different ways. I don't know if it will make a difference in the end.
It must have been the next day that I decided to work on this painting a bit more. I like to switch around a lot. I guess that is why the slow drying of oil paints has never bothered me.
Even though I am working from a compositional sketch, there are continuous decisions to make. I am constantly evaluating what I want to keep or change from the original idea. Here I am designing the leaves as I paint the shapes in.
Colour and tone bring in entirely new elements as well. I might have a basic tonal idea in my initial sketch, but that can always change and has to be refined.

I don't know what I am going to do about the old painting that I painted over still showing through. You can still see the railing behind her head.
I leave the first painting to dry and go back to the one I drew out. I paint on the initial colours to try them out. She is more finely drawn so there are fewer decisions of placement. But I am finding that I am not so interested in keeping the pencil line as I thought.

And I don't like the way the colours are against the wood so I put down a thin layer of blue in the background. I want the woodgrain to show through. I don't know if I will try and keep it.

Friday, 11 February 2011

This Dress Sucks

I can't believe how this dress I am sewing is turning out. I wanted to make a dresslet and bought this pattern. This is exactly why I haven't sewn in years. I pick out the material, the pattern, spend hours sewing it together and it turns out disgusting.

The first thing I thought when I tried it on was 'clown dress'. The blue looks stupid with the tulips. And the weird V neck seems to accentuate it. The whole shape is really bad. This is worse than looking pregnant.
I have made a f**king mumu.
And I have bought more fabric for another dresslet from this pattern! I don't think so.

The only thing I like is that I put in side pockets. I added inseam pockets (because of course this stupid pattern didn't have them. ~not really fair, as it did have quite nice patch pockets.)
See? Aren't I clever? I even had to make the pattern for them.

I shouldn't have made them white though. That was a mistake. Still, I Love the pockets. (Here is a tutorial from the Owls are not what They Seem on how to put inseam pockets into skirts and dresses.)

But hopefully there is a happy ending, or new beginning, to this tale. Because of art journaling, because of all the interest I have been taking in refashioning, almost immediately my mind went to 'what can I do with this?' Fortunately, the skirt is only basted to the yoke. I can take it apart and refashion it.

One idea I have has to do with the above recent thrift buy. (Just ignore the model, she thought she was striking some pose, boy has she got a lot to learn!) Too short, even for over pants. But what about if I cut off the skirt and put the tulip skirt on? Here I drew a picture to help us imagine.
I think it is worth a try, don't you?

But is there anything we can do with the turquoise yoke? It is lined and everything (meaning it was a hassle and I want to use it). If I use more drapey fabric for the bottom and made it into a shorter top, do you think it could work?

Monday, 7 February 2011

Art Journal Pages

Sometimes I stick writing in my journal that I have written elsewhere. I like that you have to open them.
Cat woman with her cat.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Beginning a New Painting

On Thursday and Friday I began a new painting. Beginnings are the most exciting, everything feels possible.
I looked through my sketchbook, deciding which composition to use. There are always lots of ideas waiting.
This is an old painting that I never finished. It was one of the initial works in my In Between series. The later paintings were better so I lost interest in this one.
It is almost 2 years old so there is no problem with painting over it. I don't have any other supports ready and I want to start something new, so I decide to sand it back.
More sanding. I like the texture. I am just trying to make it less definite, it doesn't need to go back to white.
But I also don't want to be fighting the old image, so I coat it with lead white. Lead white is a beautiful white, and very stable, but they don't sell it in Australia any longer because the lead is so dangerous. I don't recommend using it for that reason.
I am roughly drawing out the new composition with vine charcoal. I am using the sketch on the far left which I have gridded out.
I have turned the support upsidedown so I won't be distracted by the old image.
Then I can begin drawing it out with some neutral colour used with an underpainting medium. This isn't an exact drawing, more of an approximate blocking out.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Sewing and Refashioning

I have begun my dresslet. That is what Rice from Voodoo Cafe calls them. This one is going to be a dress (so I am not sure if it qualifies as a dresslet), but is for wearing over pants as well.
Here is the pattern. I am doing one with the v-neck, then making it longer with a blue border at the hem.

It has been so long since I have sewn anything, especially from a pattern. Ten years? More? I had decided that I didn't like sewing and was going to sell my sewing machine. But the refashioning has ignited my interest again.

And this time, I feel free to experiment. I never used to feel that way. I would follow the pattern exactly, not trusting myself to change anything.
See the white bodice-thingie? I was concerned that the pattern size might be a little big so I decided to make the top part in muslin first. I made the shoulder a bit longer because I am so long in the body. But it didn't look good. Then, because it was a little baggie, I tried making the side seams larger but that made the armholes too small. Then I tried darts in the back. I liked that.
Funny to have darts in the back, but the top is more of a yoke than a bodice. It ends above the peak of the breast so darts in the front wouldn't have worked.

I rather enjoyed doing all the fooling around. I had the patience for it because I am plan to make several versions.
Here is a top I got from the thrift store. I like the bodice with gathers underneath, and I like the black and pink plaid. The length was unflattering for me, I have a pear shape with thunder thighs so I don't like tops ending there.
Here it is, shorter. Strangely satisfying, cutting things off. Looks a bit like a maternity top, but I like that shape. So easy to wear.
Here is a linen dress I got from the thrift store. I like the colour and that it is linen. It is very dumpy.
My plan is: cut off the length to knee height. Take in the side seams a bit. Recut the armholes so they angle into my shoulder (much more graceful). And new buttons. I would like to cover buttons for it in a patterned fabric.
The dress is actually made from seven pieces, so I am not sure whether I need to take all 6 seams in or can get away with just the side seams. I don't think it will get finished before the weather gets cold.
Finally this shirt. I have already taken in the side seams. The only plan I have at the moment is a dye job, a gutsier blue. Then we will see.