Sunday, November 9, 2014

Pumpkin Art Quilt Demo

© 2014 Loreen Leedy
While browsing for produce in my favorite store in early October, I rounded a corner and found heaps of bright orange pumpkins. It was a striking display and later I couldn't resist making one with fabric. In addition to using paint, the idea was to render the pumpkin without laboriously cutting fabric shapes to create the image...but how?

A orangy yellowy batik with leaves seemed like a good starting point. This is actually the reverse with some of the paint showing through but it gives the general idea. Some reference photos helped with making a same-size sketch on tracing paper. I lightly drew it on the fabric with a white chalk pencil (or possibly regular school chalk, can't recall.)

The scribbly pencil lines on the the right side of the sketch are where the darker values will go. 

Rectangular chunks of fabric were arranged either randomly or with some values placed with the light source from the upper left. The rectangles were glue-basted in place. Then the lines were painted with black acrylic using a pointed round brush. The acrylic bled a bit on some of the fabrics but it was in keeping with the casual look. 

In order to separate the pumpkin from the background, acrylic paint was applied. First the black lines were masked off with torn-edged paper tape. It's a low-tack white paper tape, no idea if it's still being sold (this stuff has been rattling around in my studio for YEARS.) In any case, it worked well to protect the line work. The paint was applied with a scrunched up piece of waxed paper, which gives a nice random texture. The pumpkin gained a cream-colored "glow" and a plum shadow. It looks good but another time I may skip that step.

With the mask removed, the emerging pumpkin requested a few more chunks of fabric. The edge of striped fabric at the bottom was tinted orange and the stem got some brown lines. Love the stripes. Stripes make me happy!

It's always helpful to desaturate a photo to look at the art in grayscale to determine if there is enough contrast. Looked good to me.

Batting and a backing were pinned to the top for the quilting stage. In order to preserve the irregular blocky edges, the stitches stop about a half inch from the edges. The stitching consists of free-motion straight and zigzag stitches, mostly. I haven't decided how to mount this yet...on a stretched canvas? On a plain quilted support?

The balance of realism and abstraction works as I had hoped in this piece, which is nice. One minor complaint is that the style of the line work is somewhat old-fashioned...perhaps "retro" is a more positive way to look at it. Being hypercritical of lines is an occupational hazard of being an illustrator, alas. Also, the bluish chunks look a little out of place. There are some blue tones in the thread but from a distance that doesn't show. Then again, maybe it would be boring without the blue. If I really wanted to it would be fairly easy to cover up the blue with different fabric, but it's not bothering me enough at this point.
© 2014 Loreen Leedy
So that's the story of this pumpkin, hope you enjoyed it!


Monday, October 27, 2014

Fruit Frieze Art Quilt, Step-by-Step

This space above the kitchen windows has been calling for artwork ever since we moved here...has it really been almost 11 years?!?

The vintage 70s-era stained glass chandelier provided the fruit theme so next I made a sketch
The fruit is big and cropped along the top and bottom to fill the art with a variety of colors. The original concept was to make several individual pieces mounted on canvas. After thinking about it, one wide, continuous banner made more sense. I taped together pieces of tracing paper along a long hallway and drew the fruit freehand.

Next the background pieces in medium and light tones of cyan blues were overlapped about a 1/4 inch and sewed onto the batting and backing. All of the fabric except the binding is left raw-edged, by the way. I transferred the tracing paper sketch using white Saral paper and blue removable pen, then painted the black outlines with acrylic paint. Painting directly is a tad nerve-wracking, as you can imagine. Then I washed on the basic colors of the fruit, often thin enough to allow some of the blue background fabrics to come through.
Because the piece was so wide (over 8 feet), it had to be rolled up and worked on in segments, starting on the left edge. There actually is a countertop in the room that would have been long enough but for reasons that escape me now, I didn't use it. Too much clutter, no doubt.

This middle section shows the red apple, bananas, and a peek of the strawberries after being painted then additional fabric added. To keep the fabric pieces in place I use thin basting glue, not fusible. Fusible is good on occasion but can be overkill and kind of a pain, what with the accidental ironing on the wrong side, etc.

Here is the apple close up. Hope these photos are okay...they were taken with my iPad, which is not very high-res. Some machine quilting is visible plus some hand-stitching with perle cotton.

The binding is made with various black on black fabrics. It was tough to photograph the whole frieze in place because of the lighting but this should give a reasonable idea. The vivid colors are a big improvement for the decor. The quilt has two sleeves on back with a break in the middle to leave space for a third nail. I used a piece of wood molding for hanging but it's not quite thin enough and causes a minor bulge. The plan is to replace the wood with aluminum bars which have been sitting in the garage for a month or two or three...

Here's another, rather extreme angle.

I'm happy with it and particularly like the plaid and checked fabrics. One thing that slipped my mind was the shrinkage caused by machine quilting. The width is about a half inch less on each end than I had planned, but nobody would know that. Except you, so please don't tell.

Some of my longtime readers may have wondered what happened to me since there have been no posts on this blog for three years. The main reason has been too many things to do and not enough time and energy to keep up with everything. So no worries, and I hope your artistic endeavors are going well. 

If you have any fruit-themed art you'd like to share, please feel free to post a link in the comments.