Along the Way in Deep Spaces

September 7, 2011

Deep Spaces Show Postcard

One of my textile paintings, Along the Way, is included in the  “Deep Spaces”  exhibit which opened this week at the Latimer Quilt and Textile Center in Tillamook, OR.

"Along the Way" (detail) ©Ayn Hanna, 45"x18", Textile Painting

The Curator/Juror of the show, Larkin Jean Van Horn, has assembled 50 artworks, and created a stunning catalog of the exhibit, available for purchase with all proceeds going to support Doctors without Borders.

Deep Spaces

From the show’s catalog:

Curator Larkin Jean Van Horn selected the theme “Deep Spaces” following a conversation with friends about the limits of space and the photography from the Hubble telescope. While it was clear that textile art dealing with the cosmos would be an appealing exhibit, the title implied so much more. Artists interested in participating in the exhibit were encouraged to interpret the theme in any manner that suited them, and the entries were outstanding.

The artists went deep into space, deep underground, deep under water, deep into the woods, canyons, and prairies, and deep into the mysteries of the heart. Each artist worked in her own style, whether photorealism or pure abstraction or something in between. Holding all this wide variety together is a common size: 18 inches wide by 45 inches long.

The Making of Along the Way

This piece is the second in a series of discharged wholecloth black cotton fabric textile paintings.  Making marks by using various drawing techniques to apply color removal agents, these artworks evolve intuitively, through quiet meditative drawing and wordless conversation with the work itself.  This way of working aligned nicely with the theme of this exhibit, giving me good opportunity to spend some much needed creative meditative time going inward to the deep spaces within.

"Along the Way" ©Ayn Hanna, 45"x18", Textile Painting

I began by drawing with discharge paste, which after steamed to remove the color, created the “lighter/white” areas.  Next I drew with a bleach pen, which created the orange marks.  Once the drawing was finished, I quilted this top layer together with batting and a backing layer of fabric on my long arm quilting machine.

My artist’s statement for Along the Way

An inward journey, intuitive drawing, mapping of a mind, lost in thought, problem-solving, the time ticks away.

"Along the Way" (detail) ©Ayn Hanna, 45"x18", Textile Painting

Deep Spaces Exhibit Logistics

Latimer Quilt and Textile Center, Tillamook, OR – Sept 5 through Nov 6, 2011.

Sam Houston Memorial Museum, Huntsville, TX – Jan 10 through March 12, 2012.

LaConner Quilt and Textile Museum, LaConner, WA – March 28 through June 24, 2012


A place you’ve got to see to believe

August 31, 2011

There are many beautiful mountain towns in Colorado, and then there’s Telluride, CO.  Perched at 8750 feet above sea level in a box canyon with mountains all around, Telluride has to be one of the most beautiful (and cleanest) places on earth.  Spending a week there, teaching an art cloth workshop was heavenly.  Words and even pictures really can’t describe it.  Every morning, I was filled with quiet appreciation as my eyes tried to absorb all the surrounding glory.

And in this most beautiful place, I was gifted with working with a wonderful group of artists, in an amazing facility – the Old Stone building, which houses the American Academy of Bookbinding / Aha School for the Arts classes.

Old Stone Building in Telluride, CO

Students at work making hand-printed art cloth.

For 3 days we played, making art cloth using various impermanent silkscreen techniques.  My students were off and running after the very first technique demo – no fear here, just wind them up and watch them go – they dove right in and achieved incredible results.  I think it’s safe to say that the discharge/color removal techniques were a group favorite!

Michele applying a discharge paste design to her cloth.

Suzette using a bleach pen to draw her design.

Kathy got some great results printing with stencils on this piece.

Cindy enjoyed the monoprint technique, printing multiple leaves she gathered during the lunch break one day.

By the end of the 3 days, my students were all rockstar printmakers and every one of them had a good variety of unique art cloth pieces to take home and incorporate into their art projects.  Here’s some more photos of the great cloth pieces they made:

Kathy working with the bleach pen.

Cindy made this piece using 2 techniques, glue screen and flour paste screen prints.

Suzette is going to use this cloth in a quilt that's already in progress.

Michele made several pieces of art cloth which she will be incorporating into her art quilts.

It really was a special week, visiting a beautiful new place, teaching at a great school and meeting and working with some new artist friends.  Thanks to all for a great time – Can’t wait to go back again next year and play some more!

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.

5th Floor Reflections – Drawing in My Textile Art

July 27, 2011

I made this drawing one morning when I was staying in a downtown Denver high rise hotel.  Upon opening the curtains, I was so taken by the abstract images I saw in the reflections of the windows in the building across the street, I sat down and started recording them on a small piece of card stock that I found in the room.

"5th Floor Reflections" ©Ayn Hanna, Ink Drawing on Paper

Drawing – The Artist’s act of thinking

Michael Gormley, Editor Director of American Artist Group, shares some interesting thoughts about drawing in an article he wrote:

“Practiced frequently and without inhibition, drawing represents the graphic remains of a thought or idea-hence its evolution ultimately aims to record not just the gesture of the hand but the inspired movement of the mind.  Drawing is thus a powerful tool for recording the stages and end products of our imaginative thought processes; it is associated with the highest levels of human consciousness.  In a sense, drawing is an artist’s act of thinking.”

I resonate with Michael’s statement, as well as with this one, from Cate Prato, Online Editor, Cloth Paper Scissor Today:

“Knowing ‘how to draw’ is not just about putting down an organized series of lines to create an image we recognize, it’s a way to organize and express our thoughts.”

So true.  This is why drawing is such an important component within every artwork I make, whether that artwork is a hand-pulled print, piece of sculpture, or textile painting.  It’s the inherent drawing within a piece that gives the viewer the most insight to the artist maker.

I am fascinated by other artists’ drawing qualities in their work.  It’s the first thing I notice and most appreciate in other artists’ work because it reveals so much to me about the person who did the work, without them even being there to tell me about it in words.  It takes courage to put your honest drawing in your work, because it is so revealing, and “speaks” for you visually.

"5th Floor Reflections" ©Ayn Hanna, 43"x36", Textile painting (cotton fabric, cotton batting, cotton thread)

I made the textile painting above based on that quick little drawing of the window reflections.  In the drawing, I really liked the abstract compositions within each window, the graphic quality, and the repetition of the hand drawn squares.  The dual association of the repeating square format with art quilting seemed a natural segue for me to (literally) extend my drawing into a textile painting.  And so I did.

I scanned my drawing and printed it out, and to my surprise, my old scanner read the drawing as a cut-out and printed the image with a black border framing the irregular shape of it.  I realized I was looking at my mock-up for my new textile painting.

In a way, creating a textile painting of my drawing helped bring emphasis to it, objectifying it into something larger that feels like it has a better chance of being seen or noticed by others.  And I think that’s a part of why all artists make art, at least I know it’s a part of why I do – to have a voice, share my thoughts, and participate in our society’s conversations.

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