This last week, we had three students for TAC (Turtle Art Camp
) here at our home in Wooster, Ohio: Bonnie Zieben and Kathy Zieben of Houston, Texas, and Marsha Boasso, from Augusta, Georgia. As with all of our Turtle Art Camps of the last 15 years, the students lived in our home, each with her own bedroom, and worked in the studios, learning my ways of working with fabric markers, fabric paint with brush and airpen, and airbrush with airbrush paint, all on cloth paintings for art quilting. They drew, wrote, colored, and sewed their creations in five full days of studio work, which are recorded here. Enjoy!
The students flew in on Wednesday, and that night we settled into the studio and began our work. After the four of us made a long list of theme ideas, the group chose "Glamour Dolls" as our theme for Thursday's paintings, which are fat quarter size (18" x 22") on white Kona PFD (prepared for dyeing) cotton. Here's Bonnie painting her Barbie piece on Thursday.
Marsha's getting going on her doll piece, that's about paper dolls and the clothes we used to design for them, in our girlhood. My piece is in the foreground, about Svetlana Medvedev and Michelle Obama being glamour dolls at the signing of the START Treaty on nuclear arms reduction, which was happening that day.
Kathy was busy painting on her wild glamour doll, who was meant to have a little of Cruella DeVille in her, with flowing free hair, and a gentle side in the mirror.
Jimmy unpacked the iLuv HD radio that arrived on Thursday, just in time to start our camp with streaming folk music, thanks to WKSU giving us this amazing radio as an incentive for donating to the radio station! WKSU now has 3 HD stations: their regular FM station, one just for classical music, and one just for folk music. Soon to come is a WKSU all-news station, too. Radio stations all over the country are developing HD stations, and their reception, being digital, is really excellent! The HD radios also receive regular FM and AM stations. (It takes some getting used to how to run the thing, but it's worth it!)
Thursday night we elected the theme Couples for our Friday work. The rule is that you don't have to do the theme, if you don't like it. Or you can combine themes, especially if you get behind (which I always do, since I'm also teaching a lot.)
Airpen lessons started on Friday, and here's Marsha, jumping right in, after a few test marks on blank fabric, now working on her painting. Yea!
Then it was Bonnie's turn to try her hand at airpen, working on her handwriting.
Kathy took to airpen like a duck to water and had a great time learning to control it.
On Saturday morning we took our Downtown Wooster field trip and ran into a woman walking her Cockatoo, outside of The Wooster Book Company. Wooster never ceases to amaze! (You'll soon see how meeting this Bird Lady had a big impact in breaking my "stuck" problem, for how to depict the next big piece I wanted to get busy on with airbrush! I KNOW she completely shifted my thinking for the Washingtons' slaves piece! Read on!) We had a great time downtown, eating at The Parlor and visiting lots of unique stores, including Uptown/Downtown, Local Roots, ArtFind Tile, Moorefield Pottery, Wooster Natural Foods, and Books in Stock. Then it was back to the studio, with everyone ready to learn airbrush, via my demo of a very large painting.
Bonnie's Couples piece was about the animals in Noah's Ark.
Marsha's was her two yard gnomes, looking in a window at a lovely piece of pie.
And about this time, I started my airbrush demo, using the largest piece of fabric I've ever used to demonstrate for a camp. This is the start of my piece for the President's House project of curator Michelle Flamer in Philadelphia. My 82"h x 72"w painting is of George and Martha Washington (meeting the Couples theme idea...) and the nine slaves they held illegally in the President's House in Philly, from 1790 through 1797. I drew them as birds flying out of a cage (Martha's hoop skirt), on to freedom, in my idea of what should have happened (their escape.) Two of the slaves did eventually successfully flee, but only after seven years of being slaves there in a free state!
I included a tenth bird, as President Obama, at the top of the painting, encouraging the slaves to find a way to freedom, or maybe trying to tell them about how in 2008 a black man would become president.
By Sunday, the day I finished making my painting, we had chosen the theme of Music for that day. And in our Library Time for the day, I got the name "Philadelphia Freedom" for my piece. I wasn't thinking about our theme, when that name popped into my head. I knew it was an Elton John song, but a few minutes later, I realized that meant that my painting also met the day's theme requirement! I wrote the name in with a paint marker, and I like how it's more subtle that way, than if it had as thick of lines as the drawing with airbrush has.
I wanted Martha's hoop skirt / bird cage to also resemble the Liberty Bell ringing - maybe ringing uncontrollably, as the slaves escape! Maybe I can write that concept on it, so you'll imagine a big bell clanging away, as the birds flap their wings and stretch out for freedom!
I'll put a whole sequence of pix of making this painting with airbrush either in a next blog or on my Facebook page, in an album there, soon.
And then it was time on Sunday, for each of the students to try the airbrush. God only knows what this creature Marsha drew is, though I suspect it's a goddess who can burst her enemies into flames ...
Kathy, duck to water, etc. :)
Bonnie, not a duck, but more like a determined woman who keeps after her goals, got pretty good with all the art processes that were so new to her. She was the student I always want to have: the one who thinks they can't do art, and then has a breakthrough and learns to trust her abilities and her ideas, and fledges the nest and flies! Bonnie made us all cry a few times, with her epiphanies!
Jimmy just loved these three students and enjoyed showing them his studio and current projects. Kathy, who was taking pix with her very excellent SLR camera all week, got some really good ones of him and his leatherwork, I know! Here the girls are listening to some leather talk in Jimmy's studio, which he insists is NOT a man cave.
I love to listen to Jimmy talk about his work, which is such a huge part of his life. I love that in 1996 he found fly fishing and was soon making cases for that sport, as the perfect combination of his leather work and his fishing hobby. I love that we both work at home and help each other in our art making. I love living this way, tho we could sure use a rich spouse! :)
Sunday I demonstrated the method I'd invented years and years ago, in my Lucky School of Quilting way, of how to sandwich a quilt in a very simplified process and then quilt it in another super easy Crazy Grid way. Here Kathy tries it out and learns to really like my "Barbie doll clothes" way of sewing art quilts.
While Kathy sews on my Janome 6600, Bonnie checks out all the different names of Barbie dolls, historically correct and also our own irreverent versions, to write on her Glamour Doll piece.
It was Sunday when Marsha's netbook stopped connecting to the wifi, while our friend Duane Hart was visiting. He fixed her computer and also took my laptop apart and fixed the bad connection on my keyboard. Mac laptops have about 50 screws to take out, to access the innerds, so we'd been putting it off. But Duane, our hero, fixed everything in record time, and we were all back in business.
Kathy had brought this year's Hoffman challenge fabric along with her, even though no student has to bring any supplies, which I have in the ready here. In this shot, she was taping the challenge fabric to her painting of the Music theme (for Saturday), and was getting ready to cut the fabric to fit the guitar. Pretty cool idea! Her piece was about how her husband's banjo saved the day for a famous concert to go on.
Kathy wanted to make her piece for the challenge on Quilt Art, too, for the Quinceañera, QA's 15th anniversary, with a due date for the images on April 15! My piece for it was made too large, in my last class at Hudson River Valley Art Workshops, but I was getting into the idea of trying again. Above is my drawing, based on research Marsha did, in which she found pix online of the dolls parents give their daughter for her Quinceañera.
I realized that Turtle Art Camp is also celebrating its 15th year now, if you don't count 2004, the first year. That year, I only did one day workshops, where people would bring a sack lunch and just stay that one day. In 2005 is when I began the format we have now, of a weeklong, live-in workshop. So I drew Judy Smith and me, with two Bloody Marys, celebrating our mutual Quinceañeras. I didn't get to paint this idea though, as we somehow switched to cupcakes for the Quinceañera theme.
Marsha, now a duck to water with airbrush, jumped up and drew a cupcake and the candles for Sweet 15 on her 15" x 15" piece of fabric. Kathy had made 15" squares for all of us, and we also had a fat quarter for a group piece. We all drew cupcakes on our own panels, and then each of us worked on each other's Quinceañera Cupcake painting with the airbrush. Everyone learns faster when it's a fun little project like this! And soon we were done with painting, and Kathy was thinking of how she'd quilt hers in time for the QA deadline three days later!
Kathy adds her Quinceañera doll to our larger group piece.
Then we all started adding to each other's pieces.
Putting in the colors with airbrush is a lot easier than writing and drawing with it. Everyone relaxed while we colored our cupcakes!
Here they all are, from left: Kathy's, Bonnie's, mine, and Marsha's cupcakes.
Marsha heatset the airbrush panels.
And here they are, on the fancy white photo wall upstairs. We put our names on pieces of paper, and Jimmy drew Marsha's name, so she won our group piece, of the Quinceañera dolls, which is on the bottom of the display above, below our individual cupcake pieces. (Well, individual, but we all worked on all of the five paintings.)
Back in the studio Marsha made her quilt sandwich of her Gnomes Pie (not her title, just my crazy name for it.) Ome had been helping, but walked away. Marsha's paper dolls piece is on the wall above.
Bonnie's sewing her quilt.
And Jimmy's barbecuing steaks for all of us!
Here we are, celebrating our final night together here at Turtle Art Camp. Steaks and baked potatoes, salad, and for late night dessert: ice cream! Yikes!
I've left out two themes: Sunday's was Inspired Mandalas, and Monday's was Fortunes: our fortune cookie papers from Wild Ginger, a local Chinese restaurant the night before. Since none of us actually got five paintings started, we all missed at least one theme, unless we combined themes to account for them all. I will write my fortune on my Philadelphia Freedom piece, in large enough lettering that you'll see it. My fortune was "They are never alone, who are accompanied by noble thought." (in bed.)
Late on Monday afternoon, the students had to combine most of the works we'd created all week, into a pleasing arrangement, so we could take pix of our work, and because the exercise was a provocative exercise in art aesthetics. (ie, its good to think about what works together and what doesn't, and why.) I left my big airbrushed painting out of the project, since it fills the whole wall. You'll see it on the same wall later here.
Here's the harmonious arrangement of our works, some of which are still paintings, some are quilted, but need more writing yet. A few are finished art quilts.
Here's Bonnie's Barbie piece, for the Glamour Dolls theme.
Here's Kathy's Glam Doll.
This is Marsha's Cherry Pie and Garden Gnomes, pinned and with quilting started.
This is my Glamour Dolls piece, about Michelle Obama and Svetlana Medvedev, at the START nuclear treaty. I used it to demo my Crazy Grid way of quilting, but I still need to write a lot more on it with the airpen. After that, I'll do a final heat set with a press cloth, with the painting side up. Before quilting, each heat set is done by ironing on the back of the painting. I'll write on the border, too, and then add a row of hand stitching with perle cotton along the border edge, which makes the piece lay really nice and flat on the wall.
Marsha got her Glamour Dolls piece, about paper dolls and their clothes, all quilted. I don't think she wants to add more writing with airpen.
This is Bonnie's Music theme piece, still in the drawing on fabric stage, before painting it.
The Couples theme Noah's Ark piece that Bonnie made is all finished.
This is Kathy's Couples theme piece, about her husband and her, and their kids, as the flowers.
Kathy's Music theme piece is also her Hoffman Challenge entry, so she's hard at work to meet her deadline for that.
We are Turtle Moon!
And WE are Turtle Moon! (Some smarty cracked a joke, apparently. One of many jokes cracked that week! :) )
I got Kathy to sign my "Journey of Hope" book and my "President Obama" book, both of which we're both in. This is her page in the newer book. Yea!
Here's my big painting for the President's House show, "Philadelphia Freedom." Now I'm working on the ton of airpen writing on it, before quilting. I hope to have it finished in a month or so.
Now, about this Quinceañera Challenge for the 15th anniversary of Quilt Art, our huge art quilters' email listserv that started in 1995: Above is the piece I made in my class at Hudson River Valley Art Workshops in late March. It's a real biopic about Judy Smith founding Quilt Art and describing some of the adventures on the list. BUT it breaks the only rule made up for the challenge: that the piece be exactly 15 x 15" in size! (I made it 18 x 22", the size my students make paintings in, so I'd be in sync with my class.)
Then Kathy Zieben said she wanted to make a Quinceañera piece while here at camp, and we ended up making our very fun collaboration airbrush paintings of cupcakes for the Quinceañera subject. Each of us will do what we want with our own paintings. Kathy's finishing hers for the challenge entry, due today. I wrote all over mine with airpen and quilted it last night, so that it would be a clean and crispy 15" x 15". No more, no less. In our camp airbrush exercise, I drew the cupcake. Kathy added the hands, to which I later added the eyes. Marsha added the black line texture on the cupcake's frosting, and later I colored it all pink with cranberries. Bonnie added the tiara on the left and the words "Niña a Mujer" on the right (girl to woman). I wrote Quinceañera, put in the peace symbols, and all the rest of the writing and all of the quilting. It's a collaboration, but my name is on it, since I did most of it.
I really loved doing that project, and am glad I had a chance to make a second run at doing this challenge. Quilt Art means a lot to me, and yesterday, when I realized that my Turtle Art Camps are also 15 years old this year, I really got into it! 1995 was the year I changed the camp format from a once-a-month salon day to a weeklong biosphere happening! So, Happy Quinceañera to both QA and TAC! Yea!
If you'd like to sign up for a Turtle Art Camp for this year, or just read about the camp logistics, please visit my site's page for it
I've posted my airbrush painting sequence of "Philadelhpia Freedom" on my Turtle Moon Studios Facebook page. You can see a whole bunch of photos of me making the painting
See you later, mien alligators! Love, Lucky