Author Archives: Jane Prater
Zachary, age 11, sent me a picture of his art project.
I am so proud of his art, and I am thrilled he wants to share it with me. He told me about doing all the pencil work which I really find hard. We discussed how hard it is to draw hands. He said he didn’t get the hand right; it comes out of the chest. I said he should look at Picasso. Besides, I can make a great case for the theme of your hand being controlled by your heart.
Evan, aged 7, won’t draw with me anymore. He says he doesn’t know how. I suspect an adult told him that. But he will build a fairy house. Grace, age 6, lives down the street. She is a budding architect who also builds fairy houses.
When children begin to draw, they have no inner critic. We need to hang on to that. So often we just assume we can’t do something. Think about it.
My knee is still out. I am using crutches to rest it. Seems it isn’t possible for me to merely sit still. Taking Ibuprofen and icing it. When better, I will start some weight therapy. No, no doctor consulted. Years of bad joints have taught me that they will say one of two things: Take Ibuprofen, ice and rest it, OR cut it out. Too early to see a surgeon.
But I have been working on things.
Sewing for my dogs
What are you playing with?
If you live in Charlotte and like to draw, consider this.
This is going on at my house.
Refinishing the floors. Steve is in charge and the dogs and I ran away to Athens to play.
Across the road from their home is a large wooded area with a great creek. Zachary took me over to tromp around. Yes, I sort of fell in the creek. Rock to rock jumping doesn’t seem to be a skill I possess. Anyway, I was transfixed. It is another world like Narnia or a safe Oz. Hogwarts may be back there. We found a Lenten Rose I want to liberate for Erica.
We went back to the woods yesterday.
Erica says I harvested some poison ivy. We researched for my next excursion. Evidently if you are going to harvest in the woods, you need more knowledge than I have. I don’t think I am allergic to it. We will see.
Go make something
We spent the weekend in Gatlinburg, TN, where I taught a three day class on fitting your body. The event was the Southeastern Fiber Forum Biennial Conference, and it was wonderful. The facility is perfect for an ultra-casual, get your hands on fiber playdate with your tribe.
Dyeing, spinning, weaving (even a bench), and this year—a knitter. (People kept saying to me, “oh, you’re the knitter.)” I think I’m a trendsetter. I wish I had pictures from other classrooms for you, but they kept me so busy I just didn’t get them. Well, you’ll just have to go in 2015.
I have my friend Jan Smiley who created of the Carolina Fiber Frolic for this invitation to teach. As with the Frolic, I met fantastic, interesting people. All skill levels were there learning from instructors and each other. I know my students taught me some cool things about sewn garments.
Steve went along and had three days to wander on his own which he likes. He found an 18th century ish cabin that showed signs of rehab and an old miniature golf course that didn’t. Both entertained him. The kitschy tourist town of Gatlinburg overwhelmed him. Not at all his cup of tea. He kept talking about how many candy stores there were on one street. But check out this evening sky.
But Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts is a different world. It is right in the center of town, but once you turn into the drive, all other words fall away. Very natural, earthy, handmade. I mean the crafts are handmade.
I also watched a video that included bits from a basketry class which used cotton rag paper painted with acrylics and cut into strips. The book store had a suitable paper and that is a future project.
One of the weaving instructors, Susan Levielle, used potholder looms to weave samples of different patterns. Easy to warp, fast to produce. Must try it. Mug rugs? Blanket squares? Bath cloths? Kid project? Clever, I thought.
The very best thing about a fiber conference is the inspiration, both in ideas and in motivation.
Wish you all had been there with me.
I feel a bit like a groundhog just emerging from her hole. I haven’t any profound thoughts to share. I’ve spent the winter making stuff, drawing, painting, holding dogs, and laughing with grandsons. Edna is so much better and loves her new apartment. Steve is well and eagerly awaiting warm weather so he can ride his bike outside instead of in the basement. I have a bum knee, but I am ignoring it.
I’m getting ready for a weekend workshop that I am teaching at the Southeastern Fiber Forum which will hold their biennial meeting at Arrowmont in Gatlinburg, TN. This will be my first visit to Arrowmont. I can’t wait to see the galleries and facilities. I hope to see some of my spinning and knitting friends from the Carolina Fiber Frolic.
This is my current knitting project. It is half of my swing knit ruana. Renate taught a few of us the basics of swing knitting at our Weds, morning knit group at Charlotte Yarn. Now I am playing to see what I can do. I’m using Elsbeth Lavold Silky Wool, several colors of my all time favorite Debbie Bliss Cathay, and some random bits of sock yarn and ribbon. I’m not knitting a lot, but I am enjoying it when I do.
Thanks to a friend who entertains more than I do–doesn’t everyone?–I have a big bag of wine corks. This is my first cork creation. It is a memo board, about 40 inches, to hand on a long skinny wall. I just hot glued the corks on a one inch strip of wood, trying to get a sort of wavy effect.
This is my tenth in a series of 20 owls I plan to paint. Each one is a bit better than the last usually. By number twenty, I expect the bird to fly off the paper and feed on my backyard chipmunks. This one seems to be awaiting a thunderstorm, but I felt quite cheery working on him this morning.
Some other recent work is below. I do hope you are healthy, happy, and making stuff.
Busy, busy, gloriously busy! This quote so describes my brain.
Steve’s mom took a serious fall, but she is better than ever now. It was during a power outage and the Merrywood staff on duty that night went from apartment to apartment just to check on everyone. They called for an ambulance, could not reach us (some kind of phone snafu), and took her to CMC where she got great care.
Next morning we were called and Steve went immediately. He met her doctor and the doctor’s team of residents. Guess who? My knitting/spinning buddy Samantha!! She took care of Edna and was able to teach us a bunch about needs we had not been aware of. Edna doesn’t want to be a burden. That makes it hard for us to know what she needs. She won’t ask!!!
When I get older, I am going to be a bit of a burden. I am going to share problems and needs with my kids. Believe me, that will be a lesser burden in the long run. It won’t involve them feeling guilty. Do consider this!!
Edna has moved into an apartment in the assisted living area. She still has her independence, her privacy, and her personal belongings around her. She has help when she needs it, and they pamper her while making sure she gets plenty of opportunity to play. Meghan and I have started some redecorating for her and we edited her closet. Pitched a bunch of clothes that were too big or too worn or just didn’t flatter her. Now we are taking her shopping for new stuff.
I am visiting more often and taking the dogs who are a hit with everyone there.
Edna is happier than she has been in years. She is such a sweet person and deserves a good life. She is 94, but that is young in her family. Her mom made 102.
Thank you Dr. Dreyer and thank your wonderful team for putting us on this path.
Now, some pics of my recent work. I’m learning more and more which keeps me happy, healthy, and feeling young.
From my series of owl drawings
From my Watercolor and Sketching-Journal Style class with Jane Lafazio
I hope you are making something that keeps you happy, too.
Felicia is my doctor’s secretary. She is always cheerful, even when you ask her to send mega documents to your insurance provider who isn’t sure you need all your medications—every year! My 94 year old mother-in-law is also a patient. If she talks to my mother-in-law and doesn’t think she sounds right, Felicia tracks us down so we can check on her. When we go away on vacation, Felicia calls Steve’s mom just to check on her. Where do you find that kind of caring in this world of corporate medicine?
When you do find it, you cherish it.
She loved it.
Today I played with some of my photos–laser printer copies of my photos–and attempted to transfer the images to cloth. This has great possibilities.
Image Transfer Workshop: Mixed-Media Techniques for Successful Transfers By Darlene Olivia McElroy
This is the source of the information that led to today’s experiments. I used digital photos of my own that were printed on plain paper with a laser printer. Laser printer is important because this works with the toner, not the ink in an inkjet printer. You need a spray can of Krylon Crystal Clear (under $7 at Michaels), some cotton fabric which has been prewashed to remove any sizing, a wooden spoon or old credit card. Then you just need a playful spirit.
The technique was for black and white images, so I took my scan of my Owl #5 to Dilworth Packing Company to make a copy. I followed the instructions and got nothing on my cloth. I cannot explain that, but it turns out that the technique which has you saturate the photocopy with the acrylic sealer has a great effect on the paper. This is the back of the plain piece of printer paper after the saturation. The whole thing is translucent and has a great look to it.
But back to the cloth thing. I decided to try some photos Steve had printed for me but they were all in color. Well, “in for a penny, in for a pound” . . .
This is the first attempt. McElroy explains some common problems about getting good images in her book, so I blame this on being a newbie. But…..I used a twill (diagonal) weave cotton for this and the texture on the cloth showed I wasn’t getting full contact. I then tried printing it to a piece of white cardstock lying nearby. Again I got a twill effect–the other half of the transfer that didn’t go on the cloth. Eureka and Thomas Edison. I discovered twill fabric doesn’t work.
Try number three was another color photocopy, a bike burial ground in Australia. This time I used cotton knit. An aside: I’m really playing with this to see if I can make cute appliques to cover food stains on my Tshirts. A much better transfer yet still not strong color. I also think this photo is too busy.
Number 4 is a watercolor pencil mandala assigned in a former art class. I sprayed the heck out of this one. I also used plain weave cotton–an old baby sheet to be exact. This was my best impression. I could add permanent ink to this to make a washable applique and put it on something. Plus I would get the fun of coloring it all over again.
I still have some other transfer techniques to try.
In the mean time I started a new bigger watercolor painting.
This is the beginning. The blue tape is to keep the paper clean and provide a nice border to the finished painting. This is an activity I found on line from the Learning Center on Susie Short’s website. She even provides a traceable sketch to get you painting without worrying about drawing. I love hydrangeas, especially blue ones. Oh, you didn’t realize this was a picture of a hydrangea. That’s because I got so rushed and excited laying on this first bit of color and then trying to fix it that it is really a blob. Except for the leaves. I have the start of some great leaves.
Check out that top one. See the lines/veins. Those are not drawn in. They are carved into the paper with a stylus and then painted over again. The second coat of paint seeps down in the depression of the veins and therefore dries darker than the surface color. Isn’t that cool?
Later I’ll show you how I’m learning to draw watercolor tree trunks with a credit card. I just love clever.
Cindy Angiel is an artist. She has spent a large amount of time and energy encouraging and teaching others of us to make art and have fun. I don’t know how she does it.
She started the Linedrawing Forum– see button in right hand column. I joined it fairly early on and have been amazed at its growth. There you will find instruction, inspiration, shared resources, many freebies shared by members of the community just for the fun of it. You will also find challenges and swaps to enter if you wish.
The latest swap from Cindy deals with Serendipity Colored backgrounds. These are my kind of backgrounds. You just throw, drip, spatter, whatever paints of several colors onto a piece of paper and let them do their thing. If you don’t like what you see, throw different paint. No skill or talent required. Try to harness your inner four year old. Use it any way you want. Cindy made us a video. Here’s one I made today with watercolor.
Cindy asked us to cut Artist Trading Cards (2.5×3.5″) from it and decorate it with repeated pattern drawings, aka Tangles, letting the color guide us. Then we were to create a set of five cards to send to her. We will each receive five cards created by another artist. Cindy made us a video.
I have been creating these serendipitous pages for awhile and drawing whatever I see in the chaos, so this seemed perfect for my first swap. Cindy’s vast following is very talented, but not at all judgmental. This should be as non-threatening as it gets. Hah!
I picked my paper, cut my cards and began. I was too worried about messing up to just start as the tangle community encourages. I actually traced out the color patterns and tried out various patterns. One at a time I drew the cards, then I mounted them all on a solid card stock piece. Finally I created the label to attach to the back. Help is in the video above.
An aside—-I have had this box of labels since the Stone Age. I went to the Avery site to get a template but couldn’t find one. Do you think it is possible I am the only person who still has a box of VHS Cassette labels?
This one was a lucky accident, no, more an example of faking it to fix it. I misspelled Darkness on the original. Yeah. I loved the way the paint created the woman’s profile and wasn’t willing to give up on it. I finally just cut that corner of the card away and mounted the card on the black background. Then I wrote the beginning of the quote in white ink. Like it even better.
Then I made some more cards. The small size makes them quick to do, so finishing satisfaction is really high, unlike my recent knitting. I’ll show them later.
Then I made some envelopes. I used an envelope template provided by Cindy for her next swap, Mail Art.
If you can write your name, you can make this art. It’s great for kids as well. Give it a go. Several of us in my knit group come early to share our tangling beforehand.
I received the annual report about my blog from WordPress. No surprise that the top hits were all on knitting pages, especially free patterns. Well and good. I put them here to share and am delighted when someone takes them. But that sort of presents a problem. I’m not knitting so much anymore, so there will be fewer knitting entries.
I started this blog to share my enthusiasm for knitting. The key is “share my enthusiasm.” So I have decided to just continue to do that and not worry. I am far from an expert at the things I am doing now, but in some ways that is a plus. My mistakes and uglies may be just the thing that encourages someone else to give it a go. The creative world I find myself in now with classes, flickr, and the blog world has certainly taught me that it is the journey that brings satisfaction, not the end product.
Here are some pictures of what I did over the holidays. Not everything. One of my resolutions is to take better pictures of my work. I am in the process of building a light box and will shoot some other things when it is finished.
Okay, I have to comment on this one. It is really ugly, but I learned a lot and believe I can do a better one the second time around. It was great fun to watch the colors run and to feel so free about it. Here’s the free video that I watched. Once I’ve done a better try, I’ll cut this one up and use it for other things. More about “other things” later.
This is still in progress. The grey background doesn’t work, so I will cut it off after I finish the handwork and may put it on black linen. I’ll tell you how I did it when it is finished.
Finally–for today anyway–