Thursday, November 15, 2018

“Start Your Art”... and a give-away!


My friend Lyric Kinard has a new product out called Start Your Art: 48 Warm Up Exercises to Jumpstart Your Art. It’s a beautiful pack of cards with fun exercises designed to get your creativity revved up. You can choose a card and do the exercise yourself, or you can do it with a friend, or a big group. 


Lyric encourages us to “make bad art” (by that, she means art thrown together quickly, without the pressure of perfection, that is about “exploring, playing and learning.” ) The directions include suggestions on playing with a group, and on your own. 


I chose this card, “Click and Cut” because I love to take photos, and I love texture and pattern. But I really don’t love black and white, and I don’t love collage. (I’m more about bright, saturated color, precision and things that are tedious and take a very long time to do.) So I figured this would take me out of my comfort zone. 


I started by taking digital photos (on my iPhone) of things around my house that had a lot of texture or pattern. It was raining, so I didn't go outside, except for the cabbage/kale photo. Here are just a few of them:

Basket made from electrical wire from South Africa
Birch bark trash basket
Decorative cabbage/kale 
Plastic lobster
Decorative balls made from paper
Sea urchin

I pulled them all into my computer, then into Photoshop, and converted them to black and white, and changed the brightness and contrast to make them more interesting. In some cases, I zoomed in on parts of the photos to change the scale. Then I printed them out and started cutting. My idea was to make a piece with a beetle theme. 


I forced myself to cut pieces freehand, with out a pattern, and to work quickly. 


I mixed up some Aleene’s Original Tacky Glue with a bit of water, and brushed the pieces down onto white paper with this glue mixture. 


Here’s my final composition. I was surprised that it came out as well as it did! 


Here’s what I learned:

1. It’s fun, and healthy, to try something new.
2. Stepping out of your comfort zone doesn't have to be painful. 
3. Using a different technique can inform your primary technique, helping you to think about things in a slightly different way. 
4. I still love color. I’m going to try adding color on top, either with transparent water color, or with tissue paper, or colored pencils. 
5. I still love my primary medium (fabric). The whole time I was doing this, I kept thinking, “Oh, I wish these pieces were fabric!” It would be fun to take this to the next level, and do it in fabric while attempting to replicate the look of this collaged piece. 


You can get your own pack of Start Your Art cards here: 

Why not give this Start Your Art exercise a try? If you do, please share your results on this Facebook page:

GIVE-AWAY!
Here’s a chance to win Start Your Art for yourself and for an art teacher! Lyric is donating a digital deck to the winner, and physical pack of cards to the art teacher of your choice. How cool is that? Leave a comment on this post and tell me why you’d like to win. Please note that all comments are moderated to filter out spam and links to porn and other unpleasantness, so they won’t show up right away. I'll pull one name at random on Nov. 22 (after I finish baking my pies for Thanksgiving). Make sure you include a way to get in touch, or that you check back on Nov. 23 to see if you’ve won! 

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Bald Head Island Marsh, After the Storm


Bald Head Island Marsh, After the Storm
by Susan Brubaker Knapp
31.5" x 45.5" (Copyright 2018)
Cotton fabric, cotton threads, cotton batting, ink. Raw-edge appliqué, free-motion machine quilted. Based on an aerial photo taken after Hurricane Florence by Steve Montgomery/Greater Charlotte Properties; used with permission.


My family has lived in North Carolina for the past 22 years, and for most of those years, we have vacationed on the state’s spectacular barrier islands. Our favorite place is Bald Head Island, at the tip of Cape Fear, where the Fear River opens to the sea. It is one of North Carolina’s southernmost barrier islands, has three distinct ecosystems: the beach, the maritime forest, and the salt marsh. A good part of the island is held in conservancy, so that development can’t happen there, and in my opinion, that’s what makes the island so magical.  




I started this new piece just after Hurricane Florence slammed into the coast of North Carolina near Wrightsville, dropping almost 36" of rain in some areas, causing devastating flooding and catastrophic damage to homes and businesses throughout eastern North Carolina. Forty-two people died in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia (where some died from tornadoes spawned by Florence). Tens of thousands of people, many of them desperately poor, have damage to their homes from which they will never completely recover. 

The environmental damage was horrific, too. A dam holding back a pond of coal ash burst, releasing toxic waste from Duke Energy’s coal-burning power plants into the Cape Fear River. Ponds on industrial hog farms, designed to hold feces and urine from the hogs, also leaked, contaminating flood water with bacteria like salmonella. 

In the aftermath of the storm, I looked online for photos that would reveal the extent of the damage to Bald Head Island, and I discovered aerial shots by Steve Montgomery, and got permission to create a piece based on one of them. I’ve seen the marsh from docks and trails, but the view from above made the intricate waterways appear to me like arteries and capillaries – and the marsh itself as a chartreuse and sapphire-hued heart, pumping water and life in and out along the edge of the island. 

The salt marsh on Bald Head Island is vital to its ecosystem, acting as a filter to keep waters clean, nurturing many sea creatures, and providing food for coastal mammals and birds. In many places in the United States, salt marshes have been destroyed or degraded at an alarming rate. They've been destroyed by pollution, oil spills, development, and agricultural run-off. Salt marshes also play an important role in protecting islands and coastlines from storm damage, so it is to our benefit to keep them healthy. This website has good information: http://www.oceanhealthindex.org/methodology/components/salt-marsh-area



Monday, August 27, 2018

“The Female Kicker”

“The Female Kicker”
Copyright Susan Brubaker Knapp 2018
24" x 72"
“The Female Kicker,” is a portrait of my daughter Julia, who is a real inspiration to me. She played high school soccer and basketball, and in her senior year, she kicked for the football team, hitting seven of her 10 field goal attempts and 46 of 48 PATs – making her the first girl to score a point for her school's football team. She was named All-County kicker and her high school's Athlete of the Year. Her fellow students also voted her Homecoming Queen the same night she was named Offensive Player of the Game.

We had worried that the boys or the coaches would not welcome a girl, but she was treated just like any other player. It turned out to be a wonderful experience for her. I was unprepared for the response from fans, parents and her friends. Women approached me in the stands at games with tears in their eyes, and several told me that they had wanted to play when they were children, but were denied. Little girls – and boys – came up to her on the field after games, asking for photos and autographs. Her friends rallied around her and supported her efforts. 

The name for this piece comes from a guy who frequented online high school football message boards and always referred to Julia as “the female kicker.”

Here's a shot of her with the piece in progress:



Wednesday, June 27, 2018

“Drawn to the Light”

“Drawn to the Light”
Copyright Susan Brubaker Knapp 2018
30" x 50"
This is my latest work, “Drawn to the Light,” which was recently juried in to the Best of Dinner@8 Artists’ exhibition. It will debut at International Quilt Festival in the fall. This is a whole cloth painted quilt (which means it was painted on white fabric) and then free-motion machine quilted. 

It features 13 moth species:

Row one, from top left:
Rosy maple moth (Dryocampa rubicunda) – pink and yellow; upper left
Comet moth (Argema mittrei) or Madagascan moon moth – yellow with brown spots; upper middle
Emperor moth (Saturnia pavonia) – orange and pink; upper right

Row two, from left:
Atlas two column (Attacus atlas) – orange and yellow with white spots; left
Luna moth (Actias luna) – green; middle
Garden tiger moth (Arctia caja) – orange, brown and white; right

Row three, from left:
Blue tiger moth (Dysphania percota) - blue with some yellow; left
Spanish moon moth (Graellsia isabellae)– green with chocolate brown and black; right

Row four, from left:
Oleander hawk moth (Daphnis nerii– green camouflage pattern; left
Giant leopard moth  (Hypercompe scribonia)– black, white and light blue; right

Row five:
Spiny oakworm moth (Anisota stigma) – rusty orange and yellow; left
Green carpet moth (Colostygia pectinataria) – greens; middle
Io moth (Automeris io) – yellow and orange with black spots; right

Here are a few photos of the piece in progress. I drew the moths from specimen photos, then scanned my line drawings and digitally positioned them within the 30x50" space. I printed out the design full size, and stretched fine cotton fabric on top, and painted the moths. For detailed information about my process, see my blog post “FAQs: Wholecloth Painting” here: https://wwwbluemoonriver.blogspot.com/2014/01/faqs-wholecloth-painting.html





This is the first piece I free-motion machine quilted on my new BERNINA 770 QE machine. The extra space (10 inches to the right of the needle!) and the bobbin, which holds 70% more thread  than a normal bobbin, really come in handy on a large piece like this. 



The background is densely quilted in a pattern to suggest cross-hatching. I chose it because it looks a bit like screen, and I am used to seeing moths on my screen doors in the summer. 







A catalog of the exhibition will be available later this summer. I’ve already seen a number of the pieces that were juried in on social media, and it’s going to be a fabulous show!

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Florabunda Blog Hop

“Ups and Downs” by Susan Brubaker Knapp
40" square
Hello! I’m today’s stop on the Florabunda! Blog Hop to celebrate Melanie Testa’s new fabric line for RJR Fabrics. If you are just joining the hop, make sure to go back and check out the other posts (see the list of participating hoppers below) so you won’t miss anything. 




My first impression of Florabunda was that it looks hand printed and hand crafted, and I absolutely adore that look. You don’t see fabrics with that kind of vibe come around very often, at least not in quilt shops and fabric stores. These fabrics are rich in detail, and the colors are saturated and vibrant. This is a fabric collection happy and full of life. It makes for a very joyful baby quilt!

Because of their large scale and high level of detail, these fabrics really shine when you can use them in big, uncut pieces. So I designed my baby quilt to use mostly larger strips of fabric. For the same reason, I think all the Florabunda fabrics would make really wonderful quilt backings. And what about a big tablecloth or pillow made in one of the Blowsy Rose fabrics, with their big, loose roses?

My quilt is 40" square, a great size for a baby. It’s called “Ups and Downs.” I used three of Melanie’s Florabunda! fabrics in the “Bengal Rose” color way (pinky-purple):


3344-001 Tendrils-Bengal Rose
3342-001 Blowsy Rose-Bengal Rose
3345-001 Ivy-Bengal Rose

To complement Melanie’s Florabunda fabrics and give them a little breathing room in my baby quilt, I chose polka dot fabrics with white backgrounds from the “Darling Dots” line by Flaurie & Finch for RJR Fabrics. I also used other purple dot fabrics from the same line.

My cat Wicked is always trying to slow me down when I quilt! I had to stop here to avoid sewing over her tail. 


But it’s hard to stay mad at her when she looks this beautiful; the color of these Florabunda! fabrics really complement her green eyes, don’t you think?



About the hop:

RJR will be highlighting some of the blog hop participants and will host a 5-day-long giveaway through Instagram. (Follow them on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/rjrfabrics/). 

Quilty Box , a company that sells and ships specially selected fabrics, tools and other exciting products for quilters by subscription, will also have special offers for those who follow Florabunda! Blog Hoppers on Instagram (don’t forget @RJRFabrics, @QuiltyBox and @MellyTesta) to increase your chances for winning the give-aways).

There are 12 quilt makers and artists participating, and all of us have made quilts and usable items showcasing Florabunda! Join us each day through June 16. 

June 7: Tiffany Hayes 
@needleinahaystackdesigns

June 8: Deborah Boschert
@deborahboschert

June 9: Sara Mika
@mockpiestudio

June 10: Lyric Kinard
@lyrickinard

June 11: Kathy York
@kakiyork

June 11: Teri Lucas
Facebook: @terificreations 
Instagram: @terilucas

June 12: Susan Brubaker Knapp
Facebook: @susanbrubakerknappfiberartist
Instagram:@susanbrubakerknapp

June 12: Leslie Tucker Jenison
Facebook: @lesliejenison 
Intagram: @leslietuckerjenison

June 13: Tiffany Hayes 
@needleinahaystackdesigns

June 13: Jamie Fingal
@jamiefingal

June 14: Debby Brown
@debbybrownquilts

June 14: Heidi Kelly
@hkellydesigns

June 15: David Gillieland
@vectorquilts

June 15: Melanie Testa
Facebook: @MelanieTestaArtist
@mellytesta

June 16: Melanie Testa
Facebook: @MelanieTestaArtist
@mellytesta

Thursday, June 7, 2018

It's a Blog Hop!


Let’s start hopping! I'll be participating in a Blog Hop to celebrate Melanie Testa’s new fabric line for RJR Fabrics, Florabunda!, that starts today. RJR will be highlighting some of the blog hop participants and will host a 5-day-long giveaway through Instagram. (Follow them on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/rjrfabrics/). 

Quilty Box , a company that sells and ships specially selected fabrics, tools and other exciting products for quilters by subscription, will also have special offers for those who follow Florabunda! Blog Hoppers on Instagram (don’t forget @RJRFabrics, @QuiltyBox and @MellyTesta) to increase your chances for winning the give-aways).

There are 12 quilt makers and artists participating, and all of us have made quilts and usable items showcasing Florabunda! Join us each day, today through June 16. The hop starts with Tiffany Hayes, who is featuring a lovely quilt called “Blue Without You” made with lots of blue fabrics from Melanie’s line. 


June 7: Tiffany Hayes 
@needleinahaystackdesigns

June 8: Deborah Boschert
@deborahboschert

June 9: Sara Mika
@mockpiestudio

June 10: Lyric Kinard
@lyrickinard

June 11: Kathy York
@kakiyork

June 11: Teri Lucas
Facebook: @terificreations 
Instagram: @terilucas

June 12: Susan Brubaker Knapp
Facebook: @susanbrubakerknappfiberartist
Instagram:@susanbrubakerknapp

June 12: Leslie Tucker Jenison
Facebook: @lesliejenison 
Intagram: @leslietuckerjenison

June 13: Tiffany Hayes 
@needleinahaystackdesigns

June 13: Jamie Fingal
@jamiefingal

June 14: Debby Brown
@debbybrownquilts

June 14: Heidi Kelly
@hkellydesigns

June 15: David Gillieland
@vectorquilts

June 15: Melanie Testa
Facebook: @MelanieTestaArtist
@mellytesta

June 16: Melanie Testa
Facebook: @MelanieTestaArtist
@mellytesta

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Woo-hoo!



I’m excited to announce that I’m now a BERNINA Ambassador! I’ve loved piecing, free-motion quilting, thread sketching and basic garment sewing on my two BERNINAs – the VIRTUOSA 153 QE and the AURORA 440 QE – for almost 15 years. 

With my mom, sewing on her 1958 Singer Slant Needle 404 in 1995.
My mother bought me my first BERNINA, the 153, at a time when I couldn’t afford a good, modern machine. (I was working on her 1958 Singer Slant Needle 404.) My mom was a home economics major in college, and taught in public schools for about six years, before she had me, and devoted herself to being a mother and wife. She was an excellent seamstress, and a really great quilter. I made my first patchwork quilt with her when I was 10. She recognized quality in the BERNINA machines, and had purchased a 153 for herself when she had to replace her 1980s-era Kenmore.   

It’s not an exaggeration to say that the new BERNINA totally changed my life. I was able to do things, like thread sketching, that I had never been able to do on her 1958 machine. It took me in new directions, into art quilting, and eventually to teaching classes nationally and internationally, to writing books and doing videos, and to becoming the host of Quilting Arts TV. After my mother died suddenly in 2011, I inherited her AURORA 440 QE. It was wonderful having a second machine as a backup, when my other machine was in for service. And I think of her every time I use it. 

Soon, I’ll get to play on the BERNINA 770 QE! This is one of the versatile machines we have on the set of Quilting Arts TV, and I’m thrilled that I’ll now have the time to get to know its features intimately. Stay tuned; throughout the next year, I’ll be blogging about my experiences and progress, and I’ll share some projects and tips on WeAllSew.com, BERNINA USA’s blog.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Shooting Quilting Arts TV Series 2200


We shot Quilting Arts TV Series 2200 at KS Productions’ studio in Solon, Ohio, last month. The 13 episodes in this series will be released to participating Public TV stations in late July, and will also be available on DVD and digital download through The Quilting Company then. 

Series 2200 guests are: 
Lesley Riley
Sandra Bruce
Luana Rubin
Susan Brubaker Knapp
Vivika Hansen DeNegre
Susan Shie
Jill Jensen
Maria Shell
Laurie Ceesay
Mary McCauley
Heidi Proffety *
Maggie Vanderweit*
Cindy Grisdela*
MJ Kinman*

*these guests shot segments in September that appear in both Series 2100 and 2200. 

Here’s a sneak peek at all the creative goodness coming your way soon:








Laurie Ceesay/www.laurieceesay.com
Pop art portrait quilts
Discount store embellishments
Creating realistic hair in a portrait quilt






Jane Davila/www.janedavila.com
Using sprays and stencils on alternative surfaces
Bohemian embellishments – tassels and pom moms
Bespoke edge finishes for quilts and pillows









Vivika Hansen DeNegre/Editor of Quilting Arts magazine
Overprinting on fabric
Matting special improvisational blocks
Attaching embellishments with embroidery
Quilts and prayer flags with a message






Sandra Bruce/www.sandrabruce.com
“Material Matrix” – Pixelated quilts
Stitching words
Bindings that match the inside of the quilt








Jill Jensen/www.jilljensenart.com
Linoleum block carving and printing
Free-motion quilting to enhance imagery in art quilts
Weekly quilt project













Lesley Riley/www.LesleyRiley.com
Eco-printing
Wet-cyan printing
Beyond the print – how to turn your eco and wet-cyan prints into unique works of nature inspired art with photo manipulation. (Shot for Series 2300)







Mary McCauley/www.maryhmmccauley.com
3-D Quilted vessels (Shot for Series 2300)
Greeting card pop-up
Gift box




Luana Rubin/www.eQuilter.com
Trends from the Tokyo Quilt Show
Quilts with a message 




Maria Shell/www.mariashell.com
Improvisational piecing (shot for Series 2300)
Blow it up!
Sewing machine features you need








Susan “Lucky” Shie/www.turtlemoon.com
Journey of the artist
Sketchbooks and drawing 













Susan Brubaker Knapp/www.bluemoonriver.com
Simplified soy wax batik
Succulent pin cushion
Free-motion starts and stops
Improving free-motion quilting: practice on panels



Many thanks to our
Quilting Arts TV Series 2200 sponsors:

BERNINA of America, LLC
Wooly Felted Wonders
Marabu
eQuilter.com
Dharma Trading Co.