Sunday, October 28, 2007

Life on Hold

Looks like I've got to shut down for a few days. I'll have to put everything on hold. We are having our kitchen, family room, and office floors refinished this week. This naturally affects the rest of the house. The cat will have to live in the attic for a few days since we can't shut off the rooms being worked on from the rest of the house. He must be banished or we'll have to deal with cat footprints for the next 20 years. I expect the finish on these floors to last that long. The first go round -- the finish only held up for 2 years. We've been living with a disintegrating floor for the last 7 years. Remodeling rule: 4 coats of polyurethane minimum!!!

Since the cat will be residing in the attic, I will be unable to work. The attic is my studio! I will have to thoroughly cover all surfaces to protect them from the cat. Any project or surface left uncovered will no doubt be marked by a hairball. Why can't he stay in another room -- well the attic is the only room where the door closes and stays closed -- we live in an old house. The commission is on hold anyway while the client reviews samples and mails back "yes" and "no" swatches.

Since the computer is in the office and there is no more room in the rest of the house to place it, we will have to shut it down for a few days. No Blogging!!!!! No email!!!!!! It will be like solitary confinement.

So, no kitchen, no computer, no studio, no inside access to the basement (so maybe no laundry).

Back in a few days!

Friday, October 26, 2007

What to do with That Old Stuff?

I guess I shouldn't call it "old stuff". It thought it was great stuff when I did it. And there's still a lot more like it all over my house.
Should I put it somewhere on my website? I'd like my website to look cohesive, however. I'd like my collectors to think that I've been doing the same sort of thing and will continue to do it, and not run off and change my mind and media completely. Which obviously has happened before.
This is a piece from my Biological Clock series. From way back when I did collages. My collages are a mixture of fabric and paper. All backgrounds are from fabric, and often, a great deal of the content is from fabric. The collages were done on illustration board, then glazed to look like a painting -- all are ornately framed. It became so difficult to find fabrics with realistic flowers and fruits & my home became overrun with magazines for clipping pictures from.
So I haven't a clue what to do with them now. I can't just fold them and put them away in a drawer like I do my quilts. I hate to take them off of my walls, but I really do need to make some room for my newer fabric pieces. They just make me feel a bit guilty somehow.
What do other artists do in this situation? Sell them cheaply? Give them as gifts? Hold on to them as long as it takes to sell them? Post pictures of them somewhere and list them as not for sale -- perhaps that is the way to get people to really want them -- tell them they can't have them.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

More Orange, New Blue, Less Brown, No Poo

I'll assume that most readers are tired of seeing what appears to be the same thing. A few more changes on the commission. I think it may even go more orange. I'm wondering if I need more texture in the fabrics, perhaps more swirls. I'm sure the additional applique and stitching will add much more texture, yet I feel more is needed at this point.

I bid on Ebay for 4 bags of beads that I thought would be great on this quilt. A total of $25.00. How many of these 4 do I think will work? Yes. None. Great beads, different project. I always end up throwing money at a new project. Often most of what I purchase does not end up in the project purchased for. The vast majority of things do find their way into something eventually. It may take a couple of hours, it may take 10 years. Oh well.

I "cleaned up" my studio to begin on this project and threw out lots of old paints, crusty brushes, unidentified things stuck together and some hand-dyed fabric from my last commission. It has laid in a pile on the floor for four months. Ugly colors. Splotchy, infected looking pieces. Nothing to do but toss them. I attempted to dye fabrics to match some computer generated colors from the client. Not just one piece at a time, but three pieces at a time. If I did not dye them at the same time, they would not look identical. And they had to look identical as I was placing these pieces side by side in a large wall hanging. So when I failed, I failed three times. It took four tries to get one orange right. Three failures times three pieces. I need to put that behind me now. It's time to create some new failures. I'm sure I'll love this piece in the end. I'm already loving the color orange.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Orange, Orange, Orange

Yesterday the new orange and gold fabrics arrived for my commission. Nine new fabrics. How many did I like?!? One! So on this rainy cool day, I sat in my attic and lightly painted each fabric with Setacolor paints. I blasted them with a hairdryer and came up with all sorts of lusious colors. A great day for orange! For some reason I cannot get enough of this color lately. Maybe its the fall leaves convincing me what a beautiful color this is.
I used to dislike orange, only having a handful of oranges in my fabric collection. Now its in loads of my latests pieces. Its in my home -- I just bought a beautiful (and cheap) orange throw from Target. It has even crept into my closet. I've even thought of purchasing an orange sofa. Don't think my husband would go for it though. But that's where the orange throw comes in. Might have to make some orange pillows to go with it.
After a couple hitches and glitches, the contract for my commission is going out tomorrow. I'm excited to get this underway! It will require much more indoor painting of fabric, but as long as orange is involved, I'm looking forward to it.

I'm going off to make dinner now. I'll shall look for something orange to make.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Starting a Commission

While I'm still waiting for my orange fabrics to arrive in the mail, I'm playing around with some applique ideas. This will, perhaps, be the central piece of the triptych.

I'm quite fond of the open, irregular circles. However, I think I will need to make them much larger, as the client would like them to flow from one piece to another -- one half circle on one piece, one half on the other. These circles and small blue squares are pieces of fabric I have coated with acrylic medium and have backed with fusible web to attach them to the quilt. I will still use stitching on these appliques, but the acrylic medium keeps the edges from fraying and gives them a somewhat glossy texture that contrasts with the untreated fabric.

My first idea for applique shapes was to have them look like river rocks. I had applied the medium to brown sponge painted fabric and cut out shapes that I had intended to look like smooth stones from a river. I had mentioned this idea to the client & she wasn't against the idea. The picture below will have her convinced that it was the wrong idea. It looks quite like poop.

Anyway, new fabric should be here tomorrow & I will actually be able to get this job underway.

Friday, October 19, 2007

New Commission

I'm embarking on a new commission. As usual, I'm excited and I'm scared. As far as commissions have gone for me, 50% are wonderful and "easy", 50% are agonizing and extremely difficult. By easy, I mean the work flows, ideas come easily and the purchaser is wonderful to work with. By extremely difficult, I may mean many different things: the customer takes control and I am just a machine to produce the desired results, the customer cannot make up their minds what they want, the customer demands a product I feel will not reflect the type of work I do and as a result, I will be forced to produce an inferior product. A recent project was a combination of all bad things. We won't go there. It is the only time that I feel I produced an inferior product. The next time, I will look for warning signs and heed them by saying "NO" to the commission.

However, this looks to be a promising one. I've been given photos and a description of the room where the piece will hang. I've been shown artwork by the customer's favorite artists. We have been through a handful of what I call "color boards" and have come up with these colors above so far. I know there will be at least one more round of photos to the client as I am expecting an order of orangey/gold fabrics.

As far as commissions go, yes, I often panic and want to say no immediately. Yet, aside from one job, I've come away from every commission loving the piece I have made, and realize I have enjoyed the process. I wish I could feel as positive at the beginning of each project. Perhaps it is superstition. If I am overly confident, maybe I will fail.

For almost every commission I have done, I have learned at least one new technique. Often I am forced to learn these new techniques. Sometimes knowing that someone loves my artwork and has sought me out encourages me to try something new. I do run these new ideas past the customer, though.

Right now I'm reading Living the Creative Life by Rice Freeman-Zachary. Most of the artists interviewed for this book prefer NOT to do commissions. It makes me wonder what is wrong with me. I'm usually the negative, no-way, go way and leave me alone, can't do it person. So why would I actually do it?

I like the interaction. Especially when it's done through email -- I can get angry, jump up and down, and heartily insult the customer & they never have to see it or hear it.

I actually get new (and good) ideas from customers.

I find I gain freedom from taking on commissions. A sell is definite and I don't have to explain to anyone why I am not making money. The money from the commission is verification & I can then play and do what I want when I'm done.


Gallery not required

Commissioned pieces are often larger (and more expensive) than those that people buy at smaller galleries, craft shows, ebay, etc. My sales usually are from pieces $30-$250. My commissions run a great deal more than that! And I get a larger canvas on which to play.

I'll keep posting my progress & we'll all see how this turns out.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Another Bird! I feel a Series coming on

This is number two. It's called Winter Feeding and is 15"x10". This one has two birds on it. Now I have a small flock. There is yet another bird quilt in progress & it has even more birds. It's getting a bit Hitchcockish around here. I feel like the birds are taking over. In the studio, little birds are all over the floor, cut out and ready to go. I've stamped fabric squares with birds and they are turning up everywhere. I think I've found the perfect square for another project & when I turn it over, there's a bird on the back. I guess I should just go with the flow and make even more.

I have a comission in the works which is now on the back burner for a few days. The woman commissioning wants lots of orangey yellows & I don't have any. I spent some time yesterday on Equilter ordering as many orangey yellows as I could & I'll wait and see what comes to my door. It's so hard to order fabric through the internet. Well, its quite easy (too easy). The hard part is attempting to match colors. For a commission I had over the summer, I needed blues. $250 worth of blues later, I found the 2 blues I needed for the project. I now need to do the blue series. Hmmmmm.......

This is my favorite and most inspirational time of year. I love autumn. My home is surrounded by mums in all shades of red, yellow and orange. This morning, I walked my daughter to the bus stop and discovered some kids had built a leaf fort. I should have gone in and sat down. Too worried that other adults would think I was a bit of a freak and should not be allowed to stand at the bus stop with small children. Perhaps if the fort is still there this afternoon I will talk my daughter into sitting in there with me.

If my commission goes as planned, and perhaps if those things will sell on Etsy and Ebay, I will buy an additional camera. I'm tired of sharing with my husband. He took it with him today & I really would like to go and photograph the neighbor's sidewalk. While walking home from the bus stop the other day, I looked down and gasped. My daughter thought I was dying, but I saw the most beautiful pattern of dead pine tree needles perfectly scattered on the sidewalk. It was only perfect that one day. Hasn't had the same effect since. So I need to find a bitty camera that I can carry with me. I'm not so good with a sketchbook. I'll have to convince my husband that the extra camera will be a great investment.

Monday, October 15, 2007

My Spiral Weekend

An entire weekend was laid out in front of me, and what did I do? Well, I purchased some beads on Ebay. I'm very excited about that. I'm preparing to have my kitchen floors refinished. I'm not excited about that. Most of the weekend was spent moving in spirals. Tight spirals. I can't tell if I've made any progress on anything.

Right now I'm working on a commission. My studio is covered in fabric samples, and during the entire weekend (included all day Friday), all I managed to do was move a couple samples around. Whew! Such hard work. Maybe some progress has been made, but at this point, it doesn't seem like it. These spirals drive me nuts. I can't see the end of them until I am actually at the end. Maybe that's a good thing. If I actually knew how long these spirals were, I would never get started in the first place.

Perhaps its more like being in one of those hamster balls. Rolling, rolling, rolling and never really getting anywhere. Or maybe that's what next weekend will be like. Or there could be some gerbil wheel action.

Hopefully my next post will show loads of progress on something. Anything.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

What is Art?

Do you really think I can do this subject justice? I'll give it a lame try. I have stumbled across a handful of blogs that try to justify what they do as art & some blogs try to explain why what others create is not art. Seems like a bit of a waste of time when one posts pages and pages, quoting multitudes of people. I think the answer should be short and easy to arrive at.

One blog of interest belongs to Petra Voegtle. There are quite involved discussions of different views. Finally, the example of monkeys with cameras is brought to the front. If a monkey took a photograph, it would not be art. No a random act of photography would not be art. However, an intentional act of photography could be considered art. A person moved and inspired by a certain scene, could capture it with a photograph. Why would this not be considered art? Many arguements seem to point in the direction of complete originality. If we haven't invented something, done something, seen something, that has never been invented, done or seen before, then we cannot create art. I have heard this quote, although I do not know who said it, that "there is nothing new in the world." Then, would that mean that nothing we create is art?

My old college American Heritage dictionary (usually used for pressing leaves), defines art as the "Human effort to imitate, supplement, alter, or counteract the work of nature." Pretty broad, huh?

As I see it, art is the creation of a work, whether it is a painting, a quilt (original of course), sculpture, etc. Art is the creation! The finished work is just a piece of work. It sits in a museum, a gallery, a closet. . . until a viewer (the artist, a collector, or an innocent bystander) connects with this piece of work. This relationship once again makes the piece of work art.

Anybody agree?!?

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Won't Dye Until Next Year (if I can help it)

These are my favorite pieces from my last round of fabric painting. It has been in the mid-80's and sunny in central PA for a long time. Lots of time to dye. But the temp. will drop tonight & clouds will come in and my prepared for dyeing fabric has run out so that's that. I'm kind of glad. I get kind of loopy being out in the sun for hours at a time. The piece on the top was done with a mix of Setacolor brown and gold sun paints. The design was made with cutouts from kid's foam sheets. The piece on the bottom was made with the same colors and I used leaves from my favorite Japanese maple. The tree has been quite sick for a few years. Each year we cut out the dead wood and hope. I love this tree and I NEED this tree.

I tend to dye in small doses. Each piece is rarely more than 14 x 20". I tend to be a bit messy when I create these fabrics, so I cut my losses & do small pieces. Its quite irritating to have a beautiful piece, only to ruin it by spattering it with a different color as I do another piece. Another reason is my teeny back yard. The whole yard is 30x45' with most of that given over to garden.

Now, each piece I have created must be heat set. This takes a huge amount of time. And its extremely boring. Needless to say, I have a whole summer of fabric that needs to be dealt with. I need procrastination therapy. Off to iron!!!

Monday, October 8, 2007

When a Fiber Artist Paints

What happens when a fiber artist tries to paint? A self-taught fiber artist? Someone who does not know how to paint? Well, it's not necessarily pretty, but at the time, it felt necessary. This piece was created after I received another rejection from a juried show. I don't know which show, other than it was the show that broke the camel's back. I was FRUSTRATED. Where could my anger go? For me, creating fiber art is not a quick and anger releasing method. It had to be immediate. I grabbed a canvas. I have several still hanging around from when I used to glue starched fabric pieces to canvas to create what I called "acryliquilts." Since I have acrylic paints and brushes at the ready, I tore off the plastic from the canvas and let myself make a mess. At the bottom of all of this paint are negative words. Not profanity, just negativity. These words looked violent and terrible against the white canvas, so I gave it an ochre glaze. Then I wrote less negative words. With each layer, I changed paint color and painted more positive words. The last layer consisted of a large red yes. I figured one yes was not enough and added several more. I felt much better after this was done! MOMA has not contacted me yet about acquiring it.
This noisy piece was created in the few days after the shooting at my Alma Mater Virginia Tech. I did a painting as soon as I heard what was going on, before the total number of people killed was even known. I find that piece too disturbing and have hidden it. This one has some graphic wording at the bottom. Other layers include the words "33 dead", words against the proliferation of guns in this country, words overheard regarding our right to bear arms. Over that, I painted white birds for peace, and words for hope and freedom from violence. This was not created for arts sake. It was a release from all the anger and desperation I was feeling. While I know I will always involve fabric in my day to day creations, there is nothing better than a supply of fast drying acrylic paints and stretched canvas at the ready. MOMA has not contacted me about this piece either.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Donating Artwork

Mineral Rights - donated to Palmer Museum's fundraising Gala

The more I read blogs, articles, and any other artist information, the more confused I become about whether or not to donate art.

Why not:
- It makes an artist look bad just to give away art.
- It will not actually give the artist any exposure.
- The buying public will see a discounted price on the art and assume the rest of the artist’s work should be just as cheap.

These seem to be the main three reasons. They are all good reasons. But in the end, the artist must ask themselves if they should donate for each separate request.

Last year I donated two pieces. This year, I will probably donate three pieces. I will (hopefully) refuse any more requests after that.

The first request last year was from the Greater Richmond (Virginia) Meals on Wheels program. The president of that organization is a very good friend. His good friends are volunteers and it is a great program. I donated to help a friend and to do a little bit of good. From what I remember, the fundraiser is a wine and food tasting and an art auction. The second request was from a former gallery owner who showed and sold a great deal of my work. It was to benefit Penn State’s Palmer Museum of Art. The museum has great special exhibits and in the cultural desert of Central Pennsylvania, it is an oasis. This year I have volunteered to add the Clearwater Conservancy, a local natural resource conservation organization. It is a group I believe in to do good things. They have an annual chocolate fest and art auction.

Donating artwork will give me minimal exposure. One or two people out of a room of 200 people might actually look at my work and remember my name. I do not expect any exposure.

I feel I look pretty good donating to these causes. I live in a fairly small, but culturally and economically upscale area. A few people who see my work will remember my name. These few people are important, though. The vast majority of the people who see my art will not bother to make a bid on it, they will probably not even look at it. Therefore, how can I diminish my name when only a handful of people, local ones at that, will even see my name attached to my artwork? The majority of people are cheap (how else does Wal-mart survive). The majority of people want to buy art cheaply. Whether I ask $20,000 or $20, the majority of buyers would rather pay $20. The majority of art buyers will NEVER know that someone purchased a $200 Kim Hambric original for $95.00.

Reasons I donate:

- A person I like and respect asks me to (hopefully they feel the same about me). I can give up a small piece.
- I like the cause.
- It makes me feel good to donate.
- Someone who needs the money benefits.
- Someone out there will connect with my artwork. Hopefully they will hang it on their wall, have a dinner party, tell the story of getting a great deal on a beautiful piece, tell their friends who the great artist is, pass along my name, the interested people will google my name, locate my website, and buy a piece of their own. Much in the same way that a person who purchases a piece for the full retail price will hang it on their wall, have a dinner party, tell the story of finding a great artist, tell their friends who the great artist is, pass along my name, the interested people will google my name, locate my website, and buy a piece of their own.

I am curious about what other artists think.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Time to Dye

Yes, the air grows chill, night comes early, it is time to dye. My time is running out!
I told myself over and over this summer to get outside and create some new fabrics. But it was always too hot, too cloudy, too cranky (me). There are two sunny October days ahead & this is probably going to be it. Once the leaves turn and fall I won't be able to do this anymore. But so many other things need to be done. Blog, check on blogs, dig up some fabrics for a commission (yay). I just am not into spreading on the sunblock anymore.
So out I go! Time to dye!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Travel and Inspiration

I spent last weekend in (or nearby) Ft. Worth, Texas. I thought I might get some inspiration from the landscape and from doing some "authentic" Texas sightseeing. But with several kids in tow (only one my own), we went to the zoo. Fun, but not exactly inspiration for art. A submerged hippo is a submerged hippo no matter where you are.

One interesting diversion was the meat fest at Texas de Brazil Restaurant in Ft. Worth. Our table of 8 (+ one non-meat eating baby) was surrounded for 60 minutes with sword-wielding, meat slicing men. Beef, chicken, beef, pork, beef and more beef sliced right on your plate. And then dessert. I'm overcome just thinking about it. Great food, highly recommended, just wouldn't do it again for another year.

As far as art inspiration, my issue of Cloth, Paper, Scissors, provided the greatest amount of motivation to create. My three-hour plane ride forced me to read ALL of the articles, many I would have skipped because they might not pertain to fiber art. One reason I did pick up this issue was for the Kelly Rae Roberts article. Her yearning to find a creative outlet is definitely something I understand. Yet, her becoming an artist was not her initial goal, but a result of reaching a goal of becoming a runner. By achieving this goal, she knew she could achieve other goals. I do wish to get further in the world with my art. But perhaps I need another goal to achieve first.

For now, my goal will be to find a goal.