Archive for the ‘Art Process’ Category

Virtual Tour of my Taft Canyon Art Studio

August 8, 2011

Thanks to my brother Paul, here is a video virtual tour of my studio as it was set up for the Fort Collins Studio Tour in June:

In the part of the studio where my long arm quilting machine lives, I hung several newly completed textile paintings, including several small kitschy cowgirl pieces on one wall.  I also devoted one entire wall to work in progress.  Since we were asked to provide demos of how we make our work, I thought it would be fun for visitors to see some of the pieces I’m working on, in their various stages of completion, which revealed a bit of my working process.

On the printmaking side of the studio where my etching press lives, I included a “demo” area with some of the tools used for the various kinds of prints such as linocuts, woodcuts, and etchings as well as examples of different printmaking blocks/plates and the prints that were made from each, so visitors could see the range of mark-making possibilities in hand-pulled prints.

I also had my artist book of etchings displayed accordian-style, with the actual copper plates the prints were made from lined up in front of it, again so visitors could see both the prints and the plates they were made from.

My Process

I like to work on multiple pieces at a time, moving back and forth between the several pieces in progress.  This allows me most efficient use of my time and endless variety, as depending on what I’m interested in doing during a creative session (dyeing, drawing, stitching, composing, etc), or if I only have a small window of time to work with, I have lots of options of how to spend my time.

There is also a downside to working this way as well; at times I get too many new things started (because of new ideas being spawned from a piece I’m working on, or answers not appearing for resolving some of the existing pieces in progress) and then I get overwhelmed with all of the work I’ve got started.

It’s a kind of expansion and contraction process, the exploration of beginning a new idea/new work, expanding into new territory, and then needing to have the discipline to to resolve and complete the work, a sort of contraction, bringing it to a close.

This is why artists make good project managers!  Artists have to be able to come up with an idea worth doing, and then plan/figure out how best to do it, and then implement/deliver the goods, hopefully achieving a great result in the finished piece.

Anyway, back to the tour….  There were 36 studios participating in this year’s tour and visitors had 2 days to get around to as many as they could.  For my first time participating, I think the event was a success.  My goal was to introduce my studio and artwork to the local public and meet more people involved in local art scene.  I achieved that and I also sold some work.  And, best of all, I got some great feedback about my studio, hearing that some visitors thought it was the highlight of their tour – and in the end, that made it all worthwhile.


The Next Best Thing to Playing in the Mud

August 5, 2011

Eco dyeing with natural plant materials!

Eco Dyeing supplies: plant material, string, cotton and silk fabric, metal pieces.

My friend Diedre Adams attended an India Flint workshop at this year’s SDA conference in Minneapolis, and shared her experience in 2 great blog posts.   Who knew you could make cool art cloth by picking up stuff on the ground in your environment, wrapping it in fabric, and boiling it in water?  No toxic chemicals involved, and no special supplies to buy.  After reading her first post, I was off and running – I just had to try this.

Really having no idea what I was doing (other than having read Diedre’s first blog post and having previously done some dyeing with procion MX dyes), yet trusting my process-intensive background in printmaking, I dove in.  We had had a pretty intense hail storm and I have lots of trees/plants/greenery in my yard, so there were lots of healthy green leaves, stems, and petals laying about for easy gathering.  I also had a big collection of dried wildflowers that I had harvested years ago and still had preserved between layers of newsprint, knowing I’d find a use for them some day.  I laid out my fabric and like a burrito, filled it with plant materials and in some cases, wire and metal pieces, and then folded and rolled it up into tight bundles:

I tore some strips of PFD cotton fabric and also decided to try dyeing some silk (which I have never worked with before but had recently bought some yardage to try out).  I didn’t know this at the time, but when using protein fibers such as silk, it is necessary to add some type of mordant agent to the boiling water pot to “fix” the natural plant dye colors to the fabric.  There are several things that can be used for mordant – metal, milk, and soy milk are some options.

Wrapping up the "burrito" of plant materials. In this case, I used a hollow metal rod to roll up the bundle around and then tied it with string.

I had seen some pictures in Diedre’s post where they had used metal clamps and flat metal pieces as “supports” when preparing the fabric bundles.  Lucky for me, my Partner uses wire and metal in some of her work, so I was able to pilfer some great rusty metal pieces from her stash for my bundling.  I used these metal pieces as embellishments on the fabric bundles and to help provide some structure as I rolled, folded and wrapped the plant materials up in the fabric, tying them into tight bundles with string and rubber bands:

Plant filled bundles all tied up and ready for boiling.

Backside of the 3 bundles with more metal pieces tied on.

Then it was bundle boiling time.  All those leaves, needles, petals, sticks, and pieces of metal made for an interesting aroma in the house.  It was my very own backyard brew!

Bundles in the water pot.

After boiling, I let the bundles sit overnight in the brew pot before opening up the first one.

Bundles after boiling in the water pot and "steeping" for a couple of days.

The magical part of the process – revealing the results:

Above photos are 1 piece of cotton, and below, are photos of another piece of cotton:

After heat setting the color and then washing the fabrics out, these 2 pieces of cotton looked like this:

2 pieces of eco-dyed cotton fabric, dyed with plant materials from my own backyard.

The colors that the plant materials created in each fabric are very subtle yet beautiful (hard to see in the photos), and I love the dark shapes and marks that the metal pieces and string resist contributed.  These 2 pieces of fabric really seemed to need to be together and so, over the next 3 days, I created a new textile painting using these fabrics along with some other cotton that I had hand-dyed earlier this year:

"The Vagaries of Recall" ©Ayn Hanna, 46"x28", Textile Painting (cotton fabrics, eco-dyed and hand-dyed by the artist, cotton batting, cotton threads)

I’ll post more of the results of this first eco-dyeing session, as well as photos from a follow-on 2nd dyeing session in a follow-up post.

My Creative Process and Allowing Another Way

March 3, 2011

My Creative Process

I’m having one of those “in the flow” moments…… where words to describe my working process – at least the way it worked in creating my “Another Way” piece – seem ready to spill out.

"Another Way" ©2011, Ayn Hanna, 28"x12", Textile Painting

Allowing myself to become, following an intuitive path, comfortable and enjoying that this is what needs to be, without really knowing what comes next.  Something wonderful about the easy-ness, good energy, warmth, and kindness toward self that helps open, relax, reduce stress, and expand breath.

Ideas flow, about learning, exploring, loving the art/mark-making, the meditative unfoldment and expansion of a thought, which evolves and becomes a thing, a real physical art object.  And this newly created artwork has come forth, through a dance, back and forth, to and fro, between my own heart and mind and this object, in it’s becoming.

"Another Way" state 1: discharge paste painted on hand-dyed fabric

The exhilaration of moving through the unknown, taking chances, risks, trying things out, listening to what it wants to become, then getting distracted and disconnected, whoops, what happened there?  Now I’m not sure, not loving this, thinking this may not even work out.  But, not ready to give up on it, I’ll keep trying, and see what happens.

We keep going, and, now I’m lost, tired, not liking this and it’s time to stop for today.  I’m really confused, unsure of where this is going or even IF it can be resolved.  Tomorrow, the struggle continues, and the day after, and the next after that.  I’ve lost track of how long it’s been, muddling about, I wonder what happened to that clarity that once was.

"Another Way" state 2: hand-dyed fabric discharged, fabric paint, applique

Knowing it may return, in a wiser form, I keep going.  And sometimes, it’s not until just before the piece is complete, that we come back together and I feel my re-attachment to the work again, finally.  And I have changed.  The world seems different.  And with some pieces, I really want to spend some time with my new creations, because we need time to debrief.  And with others, with this one, not so much.

It’s in this process of thought, drawing, visual play, struggle, unknown, searching, wondering, finding, becoming, resolving, and learning that the magic of making art happens.  This is my drug.  I’m hooked on Art.

"Another Way" state 3: auditioning additional applique shapes

Allowing “Another Way”

My creative process for completing “Another Way” was a  struggle, a battle of allowing.  I began with a general thought in mind, and in the end, the finished piece evolved into something very different.  I felt as if I was being spun around in a tornado and there was a large span of time during the making in which I really did not like the piece at all and seriously wondered if it was even going to be possible to resolve.

Would I ever reach a point with it where I would like it again?  I was hung up in that uncomfortable zone of not liking the way it was looking and trying things to make it better which really weren’t helping, putting more and more work into it, all the while wondering if it was going to be for a lost cause.

"Another Way" (detail) ©2011, Ayn Hanna, 28"x12", Textile Painting

It was teetering for a long time on the brink of being trashed.  Then, something I’d try would improve it, and I’d have hope again.  Then, not.  It went back and forth.  I was getting emotional about it, and a little crazy.  At one point, I had a revelation – wow, this piece is such a perfect metaphor for what I’m encountering in my day job AND my mixed up emotions about the major changes happening around the world right now.

In the end, I feel like I’ve grown up in some way.  I stuck with it, even when I wanted to trash it, and ultimately resolved it.  I actually kind of like it, but am ready to let it go.  It’s an odd piece and I have a strange relationship with it.  I’m not all that sure about it, but I think it works.

Happy Veterans Day: A Navy Quilt Challenge Award Winner

November 11, 2010

"Keep Your Mach Up, Always Check Your Six" ©2010 Ayn Hanna, 41"x42", Textile Painting (Cotton Fabric, Fabric Paint & Ink, Cotton Thread, Cotton Batting)

Openings and Closings

“You are a Navy Quilt Challenge Winner!”

What a nice message to find in my email inbox on this Veterans’ Day.  “Keep Your Mach Up, Always Check Your Six” is the winner of the “Best Use of Aviation Theme” Award.  Both of the quilts I made for this Navy Quilt show were inspired by and in honor of Navy Pilot and Commander Captain Bill Catlett.

You can see all of the award winning quilts in the show here and the full list of venues where this group of quilts will be on tour throughout 2010 – 2011 here.  The debut showing of the whole quilt collection is this weekend, 11/12-11/13, at the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, FL.

While the Navy Quilt Show and year-long tour is kicking off this weekend, 2 other shows that I have artwork in are coming to a close.  The Drawing in the Expanded Field Show at CSU’s Hatton Gallery will end tomorrow, and the Simply irRESISTible Show at Some Things Looming Gallery in Reading, PA ends on Sunday.  The Evolutions Show at the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum ended recently as well, so I’m now starting to get my work returned from these shows.

It’s fun to get these pieces back and have a chance to spend a little time with them again, revisiting and reviewing the work in the context of who/where I was when I made them compared to who/where I am now and the work that I currently have in progress in the studio.  These pieces are visible records of my process of becoming.

Morphing and Shifting – We’re not the same people we were just 5 minutes ago

Change is everywhere – days are noticeably shorter now, winter has arrived with our first snow of the season, a change in my day job role, and completing Wall Drawing #3.

My artwork and I are shifting too.  Supported by the change in weather, I’m drawn inward toward cocooning in my studio, allowing myself some intuitive drawing and play time, exploring fabric surface design techniques that best convey my visual messages.

I’m focusing on several new small scale pieces, extending my tangled web series.  It’s all about intuitive drawing and mark-making through surface design, with intent to also eventually incorporate some hand-stitching as well.  Here’s a first look at the first few of these new small pieces in progress:

TW 6 (state 1) ©Ayn Hanna, 17"x10"

TW5 (state 1) ©Ayn Hanna, 17"x10"

TW 7 (state 1) ©Ayn Hanna, 17"x10"

Hand Stitching a New Wall Drawing

November 4, 2010

"Wall Drawing#3" ©2010 Ayn Hanna, 18" x 17.5", Textile Painting (cotton & velvet fabrics, fabric paint, cotton embroidery threads)

I started this latest piece from the Wall Drawing series during a Leslie Gabrielse workshop in September.  I first posted some thoughts from this workshop experience here.

While the subject matter and imagery are familiar, the construction methods were all new to me – this piece was completely done by hand by collaging and overlapping pieces of fabric and pinning them together, adding some paint with stencils and then hand-stitching the layers together, adding texture with a variety of hand-embroidery stitches.

"Wall Drawing #3"(detail) ©2010 Ayn Hanna

I’ve always admired hand-stitched work, especially for the texture and line quality that you just can’t achieve through any other stitching methods, and for the low tech human-ness present in every piece.  But I never really knew much about it.

Watching Leslie conduct the needle and thread across the fabric surfaces and seeing the magic of the thread drawn marks was all it took to really hook me into this process.  I like the slowed down speed of creating with hand stitching – it’s a meditative, rhythmic, thoughtful process, something soothing to look forward to doing a little bit of every day.  It’s good thinking time.

"Wall Drawing #3" (detail) ©2010 Ayn Hanna

Wall Drawing #3 was completed with no deadlines, just playing and having fun.  I learned and practiced a few of the many embroidery stitches – running, blanket, cross hatch, seed, back, and French knot.

I’ve found a new repetitive meditative way to create, a process that allows easy connection to one’s quiet thoughts and feelings, and generates new work by drawing, with thread.

"Wall Drawing #3" (detail) ©2010 Ayn Hanna

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