Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Northeast Fiberarts Center felting challenge

It is a rainy, windy day so I am going to catch up on my blog posts. This is also to shamelessly solicit votes for the piece I created for this challenge.
The Northeast Fiberarts Center offered a felting challenge in March. For a nominal fee we were sent a nice packet of fibers with the instructions that we had to use some of all of the fibers in our felt. We were allowed to add one thing of our choice to make the piece. Here is a photo of the packet of fibers I received. (It was a lot of fiber for the fee!)

 The packet had "4 ounces of white Vermont merino... 4 ounces of red/orange/purple Vermont Swirl (wool with a bit of silk), a piece of gold pre/partial felt, some turquoise reeled silk waterfall, a hunk of multi-colored (but mainly pink) pulled silk, some blue/turquoise silk mawattas/hankies...and several yards of loopy orange/purple/black , funky, but feltable boucle yarn".
I decided that the first thing to do was to sample how all of the fibers would felt so I made a small sample.

Front and back.

I was stumped at first. These were pretty close to the same colors that I had just challenged myself with doing an image of a tulip. I don't often work with warm colors; blues and greens are my favorite colors. I thought about doing a kind of desert scene. I finally asked myself what I would call the predominant color in the sample and the word 'coral' popped into my head. I decided I could do a kind of funky coral reef scene if I added some blue wool for the color of the water. So I chose a turquoise blue short fiber merino for my one added thing.
I am not used to working with so limited a color palette so I decided that I could increase the range of hues by separating some of the variegated fibers. I took out bits of grey and black from the loopy yarn, separated out the stripes in the wool top, and even picked out different bits of color from the pulled silk.

Here is the variegated roving separated .

Since I have been playing with having 3D objects in my pictorial felts I this would be the perfect piece to have objects in high relief in the foreground. I had been wanting to try one of  Marjolaine Dalinga's technique for creating interesting shapes. This is what I ended up with. 

I decided that I really needed some green to make sea grass type stuff so I decided that I could card the yellow fibers from the prefelt with the turquoise short fiber merino. It worked but mixing those super short fibers was the real challenge. Here is a close up of the sea grass.

I did not take any other process photos so here is the finished piece. 

So, now go to this page and check out the other pieces that were submitted and if you are inclined to vote for mine it would be very much appreciated. ;)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

First landscape class in my home.

     I am really behind on my blog posts so I am going to try to write just a little bit about one subject at a time and try to write several over the next couple of days.
     First, I want to show off the work that the students did in the class I taught here. I had originally said that the class minimum had to be 4 students but when only three signed up I decided to do the class anyway as a trial run on teaching in my space. One of my students was coming to Connecticut from California. It made me feel really good to know that someone was willing to travel all that distance to take a class with me! Unfortunately she lives right where the Camarillo Springs fire wildfire started. The fire was still raging at that point so she had to cancel her trip. I can't imagine how frightening that situation must be. So I was down to two students but decided to hold the class anyway since money scarce and is very necessary if I want to pay for the workshops I signed up for, and I was already set up.
Here you can part of the set up, with examples of  my landscapes and SOME of the various fibers I use.

     Barb and Lisa got to have an almost private lesson and I was able to work on a landscape as well. I asked them if they minded if I did some busy work felting while they were working and they said it would be better if I worked on my own landscape so they could see how I did it. I do demos when I teach but that is just to show different techniques I use. I could see how it was helpful for them to be able to see the entire process.
     One of the things that I talk about in my art lesson at the beginning of class is the importance of value in the 'painting' and how to see it. Students will often use a wide range of colors but a limited range of values. The wet felting process tends to lessen the value range further. I have found that my camera is a great tool for showing values. Here is a photo of one of my 'palettes'  in color and in greyscale

Here is a photo of Barb's layout first in color, then in greyscale.

I suggested that adding some real darks would make the image more interesting and would be more indicative of a clear sunny day. Here is the layout a little later in the afternoon.

And here is her layout just before wet felting it.

Lisa's piece had a greater value range from the start. She had a bit of an advantage in the her reference photo had more contrast to start with.

One of the tricks of teaching landscape is to learn how a student approaches things and how to guide them to achieve the look they want. One thing that is difficult for anyone to depict is something random. We tend to make patterns, and while there is a lot of patterning in nature there is also a lot of variation. I find that people who tend to be orderly in their lives have more of a tendency to make all the lines and masses of a piece very similar in size and weight. I encouraged Lisa to try to put a bit more variation in her piece.
Here is Lisa's piece just before wetting.

Here is Lisa's piece after wet felting. I don't seem to have a photo of Barb's piece at this stage.
Here are the pieces at the end of the second day during which they developed the pieces by needle felting.

They were both very happy with the class and their pieces. I thought they both came out lovely and really had such a nice relaxed time teaching.  Smaller classes are so much easier. I also learned that I would not really want to do more than 4 students in my current space as it is set up now.
Here is my piece after wet felting. It is based on one of the photos that Barb brought and gave me permission to use. It is of Newfound Lake in New Hampshire. 

I kind of liked the flat undeveloped look of it at this stage. It reminded me of a very loose pastel done with a lot of scumbling. However I used it as a demo piece for the needle felting techniques so in the end it totally lost that effect....but it has a bit better value range. ;)