Demystifying PhotoShop

This year I’ve vowed to get better at photography. No more crooked or bowed photos of quilts. My spare room now is accessorized with a tripod and lights.

I’m a few weeks into an online class in PhotoShop Elements. I know there’s cheaper/free photo editing software available, but the issue for me is always learning how to use it. My class has already been useful as I clean up and straighten quilts in old photos.

One fun task was abstracting a photo. This is sometimes known as posterizing an image. I know some software will do this automatically, but we’re learning the layers way, which gives more flexibility. I’ve been experimenting with photos from my last year’s Around Here posts.

These abstractions get even cooler when you invert them.

I’m beginning to know enough to become really dangerous.

 

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Artistic Endeavors – Humanae Project

Brazilian photographer Angelica Bass’s work in progress aims to “record and catalog all possible human skin tones, highlighting true tones rather than clichéd colors. The 2000 image-strong initiative is a series of portraits, all with the exact Pantone® tone of the subject pronounced in the background; the color extracted from an 11×11 pixel sample of the subject’s face.”

“Humanae began as a final project when Dass was completing her Masters in Art Photography, in April 2012. She started with photographs of family members in Brazil; and within the same year, she made announcements, attracting more participants. Later, the photographer was able to travel, capturing images of women and men in Madrid, Barcelona, ​​Winterthur, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Paris and Chicago.”

Dass explains her project in her TED talk. Further descriptions and explorations of her project are here and here.

What a great way to show there’s just no one “flesh” color.

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January 2018 Finishes

Actually, I should call them carryovers from 2017 finishes.

The second bullseye quilt is now done. “Crazy Bullseyes” (25 by 36 inches) used up some of my blue green scraps and a yard piece of fabric I bought for the heck of it.

The second finish is for a Chinese Year of the Dog art quilt group challenge. I don’t have a dog, so I looked to outer space for inspiration. In this case I traced the Canus Major constellation, which is home to Sirius, the dog star.  I discussed this piece in another post, but here’s “Siriusly” again.

I began to quilt the third (and last) bullseye quilt this month, and started an improv abstract piece to avoid the boring task of sewing in hanging sleeves.

My excuse for the improv piece was I needed to test out my new (used, actually) portable Pfaff sewing machine before the 2 month warranty ran out. So far, so good. My old portable sewing machine keeps requiring repair, which sets me back at least $100 each time, and the used machine cost $300. So, I plan to donate my old Elna to the sewing machine shop for them to fix and give to a local charity.

While I was at the sewing machine shop I browsed the newest fancy machines and suffered sticker shock. The idea seems to be to remove all thinking from the sewing process, just push a button and follow the laser line. Sorry, I’m a piece of tape on the machine bed kind of sewer.

 

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Have A Heart

Heart In Gold

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Artistic Endeavors – Wear A Matisse

I came across mention of the American Textile History Museum in Lowell, Massachusetts, and became excited about a possible road trip, but alas, it has shut its doors due to budget deficits. My interest was piqued by an article on Saatchi Art’s blog,  “Modern Artists and Their Textiles, “which talks about the museum’s 2015 exhibit of 20th century artist-designed fabrics.

Picasso, Calder, Dali, Matisse, and even Warhol worked with fabric companies along with many other artists. The TextielMuseum Tilburg in the Netherlands held the same exhibit in 2014. The exhibit is now at the New Lanark Visitor Centre, Lanark, Scotland, through April 29, 2018. Here’s a link to a short video about the exhibit. The individual designers aren’t identified, but you can get a feel for the clothing made with the fabrics. Fred Butler published a frustratingly unlabeled photo heavy post about the 2015 London showing of this exhibit.

Here’s just a few items that appealed to me.

According to the introduction to the Artist Textiles: Picasso to Warhol exhibit, “many turn-of-the-century artists looked for ways to make their work less elitist and more appealing to a broader audience. Like [William] Morris they discovered design, and in particular mass-produced textiles, as a means to achieve this…. Before the Second World War, many artists, mainly from the Fauvist, Futurist and Constructivist movements, turned to textile design. Like graphic design and book illustrations, printing their designs on fabric was a logical step. … French Modernist artists Raoul Dufy and Sonia Delaunay as well as Russians Liubov Popova and Vavara Stepanova were pioneers of this trend. They sought to eliminate the distinction between fine and applied art. ”

Apparently there was a vogue for such textiles in post-World War II United States. They showed up in scarves, draperies, upholstery, and clothing.

“In the mid-1950s, an ambitious collaboration between a textile company and artists produced to the ‘Modern Masters’ series. New York-based Fuller Fabrics released a line of Picasso prints, quickly followed by ‘Art by the Yard’ by Joan Miró, Fernand Léger, Marc Chagall and Raoul Dufy. Even Pop artist Andy Warhol turned his hand to textiles in the early 1960s, designing food-related patterns that have only recently become widely known.”

Fun Fact: Picasso wouldn’t allow his designs to be printed on upholstery fabric as he didn’t want people to sit on his work.

Sonia Delaunay is my favorite artist who worked in textiles. Not only did she design fabrics, but she turned her hand to rugs and even clothing design. She doesn’t seem to have much in this exhibit. In fact, she is one of just two women in the show.

I don’t know if today’s artists are actively seeking to eliminate “the distinction between fine and applied art” in branching out beyond museums and galleries. In fairness to them, I suspect their names don’t have the same cachet as Picasso’s did in the 1950s. It seems celebrity name franchising is more the norm – athletic shoes and the like.

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The Thread From H-E-Double-L

My nemesis was lurking in my threads box waiting for the day I would need a glittery silver thread.  That day arrived when I chose a galaxy for a Chinese Year of the Dog quilt challenge. I’ve never owned a dog so I don’t have a burning desire to capture my fur person in fabric. I’m OK with dogs, but don’t turn to mush over them.

Instead, I decided to do an outline of the Canus Major constellation, which contains Sirius, the dog star.  I FMQed glittery synthetic black organza to a piece of navy cotton, and then outlined the constellation using my mother’s tracing wheel and paper.

The constellation of Canis Major and nearby open clusters and nebulas.

My problems began at this point. I wanted to use a silver metallic thread over the outline, but had only a Sulky thread called Holoshimmer in the right color. Since I didn’t see this challenge piece as a work of art I had no intention of buying additional supplies. Holoshimmer it was.

Even after following the helpful hints on the Sulky website I had issues with the thread. I was using a jeans stitch to outline the constellation and that went OK except for one thread wrap-around that broke the thread. The real issues started with the zigzag edge stitching. Despite the vertical thread stand, stitching slowly, and 50 weight bobbin thread; the Holoshimmer insisted on wrapping itself around all the openings on my machine, causing the thread to break many times. I finally ended up hand feeding it through my tension discs to remove tangles. Never have I been so glad to see the starting point of a stitch line. The spool of thread is now in the trash.

Everything after that was anticlimactic. I sorted through my Swarovski crystals to find appropriate colors and sizes. and glued them on for the stars in Canus Major. Because the piece is so small I made a backing for it out of a painting experiment. I found that my Decor bond had lost most of its adhesiveness. I didn’t think it was that old. My mother’s tracing paper from the 1960s held up much better.

Finally, I stitched the black part to the backing at the corners. My plan to sew on some fabric stars was thwarted when I couldn’t find them. I know they’re in my sewing room … somewhere.

At this point I declared “Siriusly” done.

 

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Artistic Endeavors – The Blues

One of my art quilt groups has an upcoming challenge to make a quilt with denim. I’m not too crazy about this one as I find denim hard to sew and the resulting piece to be heavy. Maybe I’ll pass on it. I don’t even have any old jeans to cut up.

Meanwhile, check out what artist Ian Berry does with denim.

This short video shows his painstaking, but technically simple process – denim jeans, scissors, glue.  Thanks to Abby Glassenberg for bringing Ian Berry to my attention.

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