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Rabbits Redux

I’m making a series of small somethings using a simple cartoon-like rabbit stamp.

For this week’s iteration, I applied a technique I recalled from my youth: Draw a tangle, draw a simple shape in the middle of the tangle; color in the shape.

Instead of drawing a tangle, I stamped rabbits all over the place. Then I selected and colored a few individual rabbits.

I believe this approach could have worked. But I can’t say that it did.

Another try some day, perhaps. you have to make a lot of art if you want to make a lot of art you love.

Inspiration

Late in April, I saw a show of quilts by the Professional Art Quilters Association – South. For this week’s mixed media project, I made a piece inspired by a quilt from this exhibit.

This is the section of the quilt that I drew from. I am sorry to say that I discarded my photo of the wall text, so I can’t credit the artist.

I studied the photo for a long time, but when I began work, I put it away so that I would be inspired without copying.

Aside from the obvious changes in design, a significant difference I see is that the source quilt has been embroidered to a much greater density than mine is. No surprise! This quilter probably worked on this for months.

Yes, a few pins remain. Another hour or so to finish.

One takeaway from this project is the discovery that I have a lot of neutrals that are begging to be combined. Gotta get going on that.

I ask myself that a lot. Often, when I go for “subtle,” what I get is blah. But high contrast isn’t always quite it either.

I thought about that a lot while I worked on this piece. Finished size is 4 x 6 inches.

I think the contrast on this stitchery is about right. The background is well-worn sheeting, “marbled” with acrylics on a shaving cream base.

Over that I added some pale blue stamping. I expected it to be brighter. But the faint impressions were all right, too.

Then the little critter stamped in red and somewhat brighter. Nevertheless I stitched over the outline in even brighter red.

Note to self: it will take more practice to achieve smooth outlines!

And then I stitched away until I stopped. It was fun to use 4 or 6 strands of floss in some places. There’s even some perle cotton, which I almost never use.

I think the amount of content and contrast is about right. I’m going to work in this smaller size again. Effort and reward are in good balance.

I’m starting to explore scratchboard drawing on a DIY scratchboard. My first try is tube acrylic black over crayon on card stock.

That doesn’t seem to work very well. The paint is plasticky and peels as much as it scratches. Next I’ll try India ink or tempera paint.

On the other hand, where I cleaned the palette knife, I got interesting smears that formed a background for a little collage.

There’s very little waste in mixed media art.

There are occasional exceptions. It’s better out of my head and on the page.

I’m reminded of the Vietnam War era expression: “We had to destroy the village in order to save it.”

What Do Pigeons Eat?

Somehow, this draft got left behind back in February …

The prompts for the mixed media group this week included both “architecture” and “something from the grocery store.”

I would have been done sooner if I had thought of a birdhouse made from a gourd …

Is Less More?

It can be hard to say.

I have an interest in small dwelling places: travel trailers, wall tents, cabins in the woods. In line with this interest, I copied a photo of a cabin in my home state of New Hampshire.

I printed the photo and let it drift around on the art desk. Each time it rose to the top, I asked myself what I could do with it. Eventually I stepped up.

I worked on the photo for several days. After I piled on a lot of collage elements, I removed many of them, on the less is more principle.

And yet, a true minimalist would have left only the sky, the trees, and the roof piece is what I think now.

Stitching on paper is the mixed media group’s plan for the week. I don’t often combine stitch and paper, so I was a little nervous.

Mulberry paper seems a little bit like fabric … at least, you can see fibers in it. After I painted this pink mulberry paper with hot pink dots, I hit on the idea of backing the piece with felt. That made it handle more like fabric.

My comfort level soared.

The rest of the work was make it up as you go. First the ragged little flags, made from some beautiful gift wrap.

Then a gauzy soft lawn fabric from my stash to make vertical stripes. I couldn’t believe how it picked up all the accent colors: coral pink, navy blue, golden yellow.

Then I cut the butterfly from a scrap of tight-woven polished cotton decorator fabric – so many threads per inch that the sewing needle would barely go through it.

Some detail …

A hot-pink paper border on the right and left, zig-zag stitched to the paper-and-felt sandwich. Still intimidated by my new sewing machine, I didn’t try to change the navy blue bobbin or adjust the tension. The top thread is pink, but only the dark bobbin thread is really visible. I embraced the effect.

A little more raveling lawn and stitching for top and bottom edges. Some smoky blue buttons are standing by, but I haven’t added them yet.

The more I handle this stitchery, the more it crumples and the more I like it.

More to come; stand by.