Thursday, January 29, 2009

Recommendation - Surface Design Association

The Surface Design Association is committed to "educate, inspire and provide opportunities in the field of surface design." Although you will find members of the organization who utilize almost any kind of surface design, SDA also includes members in all areas of fiber and promotes study in technological advances. The organization includes not just individuals, but academia and industry among its members. A sampling of the media and techniques explored by SDA members includes: dyed fabric, discharged fabric (remove color), batik, felting, embroidery, basketry, digital prints on fabric and other materials, weaving, knitting, knotting, crochet, screen printed fabric and painted fabric. There are many other ways to alter fabric that are used by the diverse membership - this is just a sampling.

The organization publishes the quarterly Surface Design Journal, as well as the Surface Design Newsletter. The journal is exceptional with full color images and thought provoking articles. The newsletter features articles on members, resources, deadlines, a student corner, process articles, and professional information.

In the fall, I applied for the Personal Development Grant awarded in the fall and spring by SDA. I was thrilled when I received a call from Bette Levy, the Director of Fund Raising at SDA, with the news that I had been awarded the grant. At the time of the call, Bette told me that I and images of my work would be featured in an upcoming newsletter as part of an article she was writing on grant writing. I received the newsletter a week ago and was very happy to see the above page.

If you are a fiber artist working in any media, I would highly recommend this organization. They hold a conference every two years in late May/early June and this is the year! It is held in Kansas City. There are wonderful speakers and workshops and the organization really makes an effort to showcase as much fiber art as possible in conjunction with the conference. To get information on the conference go here.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Recommendation - Pitt pens

I believe that the type of pen or pencil used for sketching and drawing is such a personal choice; I have gotten into heated discussions with artists on which is the best and why. I used to love Pigma Micron pens, the nib was so fine and the ink was waterproof and I loved how they flowed on the paper or fabric. But soon I found out that the ink has a tendency to dry out more quickly than other pens. I tried all the recommended fixes, store the pen on its side, shake it before use, etc. but still they would be "unresponsive" after what seemed like a very short period of time.

A friend recommended the Faber-Castell Pitt artist pens. I tried the superfine one in black and loved it - they are so smooth and don't skip or scratch. And they last! They also come in sepia which is a luscious brown (and the one I used in the above sketches). Today I found that F-C has released a new nib but only in black, Extra Fine nib.The pens are waterproof so that you can use watercolor or gouache over a drawing with no problem. Faber-Castell also has brush and big brush pens in wonderful colors and warm and cool grays.

Some people swear by the Rotring Rapidograph but I found that they leaked. Others favor the Staedtler pigment liner. In the long run, though, I guess what matters is what works for you. I tend to find something I like and stick with it until usually the manufacturer discontinues it. Let's hope that doesn't happen at Faber-Castell!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Honoring Agnes Martin

Honoring Agnes (detail), 12" x 6" x 6", 2007, mylar and thread

Honoring Agnes (detail 2), 12" x 6" x 6", 2007, mylar and thread

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Teaching and Cross-Disciplinary Studies

I am currently teaching as an adjunct professor at the university where I got my MFA. Teaching can be very rewarding, especially when you have students that go out of their way to acknowledge you. We are starting our meetings this week prior to beginning the semester and I found the above card in my box. It was from two of my students that I had in the fall. Both of these students were extraordinary - they worked very hard and produced exceptional work. In the card, one student wrote about how much he enjoyed the class, was appreciative of my help in furthering his design skills and wanted to thank me for taking the time to work with him one on one. This is what makes teaching so rewarding and worth all those long hours preparing.

While i was in school, I had the opportunity to study under some amazing professors. I wanted to take studio classes in different disciplines, so I took a drawing class with Annette Lawrence. She was open to me not just drawing with graphite but also using my sewing machine to draw on fabric. She was an excellent listener and gave me invaluable help to strengthen my artwork. When I had the class with her, I was just starting down my path of interpretation of the human spine, perception and strength. My work was very raw then and a little bit all over the place, but she was patient yet asked me some tough questions and gave me honest feedback. I learned a ton and still refer back to my notes from that class.

Free Paper, Installation View 1, ©Annette Lawrence at Dunn and Brown Contemporary

Annette also recommended many books to me, particularly catalogs. She said that the curator essays were often excellent and gave you a nice overview of some of the best examples of artwork in that period or style.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Primal Memory

Untitled, 2008, 40" x 18", wool felt, thread

A friend and I were talking about the idea of habit that evolves into memory, a type of muscle memory. The idea is that if you spend an hour or 1/2 hour each day working in your sketchbook on a single concept, that these drawings would become second nature and, thus, muscle memory. Your hand, wrist and arm automatically default to drawing the same shapes over and over again.

Sketchbook pages from 11-2008

As I did these drawings, I thought about line quality, placement and tension. I verbalized more about what I was drawing and discovered more layers about my original concept. Without thinking about it, my original idea expanded and grew.

While reading Abstract Painting by Vicky Perry the other night, I came across her discussion of this same thought.

Page 10 from Abstract Painting, by Vicky Perry

She referred to this muscle memory as primal memory when discussing the work of Jonathan Lasker. In talking about his work, she said, "The paintings proceed from a long chain of image-forming effectors, starting with the primal memory that wills Lasker's wrist to carry on such-and-such a scribble. What follows are refined doodles, then a small painting."

Sunday, January 4, 2009


©Image from Sketchbook, mid-November, 2008

©Image from sketchbook; mid-November 2008