Monday, May 16, 2011

Fall Farm Stand, Part 2

After some delays, I‘m back to work on a piece based on a photo of gourds I took last fall. I’m calling it Fall Farm Stand. It is for a nice couple who traded me a piano for my daughter to play. 

The gourd I painted today is the one in the upper right hand corner of the photo below. It is dark orangish-red with dark gray sploches and a big yellow place where it was sitting on the ground while it grew.

I’ve decided that I should try to keep track of the hours I spend on some of my new pieces. Everyone always asks me “How much time did it take you to make this?” and I never know exactly what to say. I wonder whether these people place a monetary value on things that take a long time to make, or whether they are simply curious. Or do they think I just whip these things out, and that my prices are way too high? What is the appropriate hourly wage for an artist, anyway? Pricing is always a difficult issue for an artist.

After about two hours, here’s how the gourd looked, with the dark orange and yellow painted in:

Here’s how it looked after four hours, with the dark and light grays filled in, and some highlights and shadows added:

I will be adding the rest of the details with thread sketching and quilting. I’m doing all of the gourds on this piece separately. Some of the bumpier ones will have melted Tyvek pieces on them. Then they will all get needleturn appliqued down to the background before thread sketching. 

I spent about two hours working on the gray pumpkin earlier. You can read about it in my previous post. Total hours on this piece so far: approximately 6.

Rusty Chevys

“Rusty Chevys” by Susan Brubaker Knapp
20.5 x 15.25"

This is Rusty Chevys, one of the pieces in my new book, Point, Click, Quilt! Turn Your Photos into Fabulous Fabric Art, which comes out in mid July. I know it is kind of weird (to non-artists, at least), but I have a thing for rust, for old objects with the patina of time and survival. A few years ago, I was making a burger run to our our local What-a-Burger #11 when I discovered some great vintage 1950s Chevrolet cars sitting in a parking lot next to the drive-in. What-a-Burger is a local landmark in Mooresville, serving up burgers with a pickle tooth-picked to the top, fries and soft drinks, including the local favorites, Sun Drop and Cheerwine.

The old cars called to me with their curvy fenders, worn leather seats, and encrusted rust patterns. I ran back home, dropped off the burgers, and got my camera. I took more than a hundred photos; this is the one I chose to work with:

Original photo by Susan Brubaker Knapp
You can see that I eliminated most of the background (the drive-in) because it was distracting. Especially the zig-zag line of the drive-in carports, which hover right over the tops of the cars in the photo. I kept the grass-filled cracks in the cement, and the basic shape of the trees in the background, but added a field. This sets off the shapes and colors of the cars much better. Eliminating extraneous details helps draw attention to the focal point, those great cars.

This piece is made with fused layers of fabric, mostly hand-dyeds and batiks, which add a lot of subtle color changes. Then I thread sketched on top to add details, like the patches of reddish-brown rust:
Detail shot of “Rusty Chevys”
I quilted the windshield quite heavily so that it would recede a bit in the finished piece. The gray thread adds a haze over the steering wheel and seats inside, creating the impression of these things viewed through the glass windshield and windows.

Detail shot of “Rusty Chevys”
I added a lot of thread-sketching and quilting on both the concrete and grass to give them more color and texture.
Detail shot of “Rusty Chevys”
The pattern for this piece is in the book. If you would like to get more information about when my book is available, just e-mail me at and let me know. I’ll add you to my mailing list and let you know when you can pre-order it.