Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Fear of faces

I have a fear of faces. Of drawing them in a realistic fashion, that is. I am never pleased with the results I get. Take, for example, the portrait above. I drew it last night from a photo of my mother-in-law as a young girl. It is okay, I guess, but it looks nothing like her. I think the eyes are too big, or the head too small. And the eyes are too high on the head; there needs to be more forehead. The proportions are all wrong. The nose is crooked. The hair is unnatural. And does the shading make her look like she has a five-o’clock shadow? Egads.

I know I need to just buckle down and study the subject, but I never seem to make/take the time. This wouldn’t be much of a problem, except that I have a piece in my head that I want to make, and it has a face in it. I think I need to face my fear.

The Fundamentals of Drawing Portraits: A Practical and Inspirational Course Years ago, I bought a very good book called The Fundamental of Drawing Portraits: A Practical and Inspirational Course by Barrington Barber. I could work my way through this. 

I’ve been inspired by the approach taken by Lyric Kinard, which she details in a recent post on The Sketchbook Challenge. Basically, she decided to draw a face a day for a year. She showed enormous progress.

And I’ve drooled over the soulful portraits by Pam Carriker. She offers an online course called Pursuing Portraits that I’d love to take. 

If you have taught yourself to draw realistic portraits, what approach have you taken? If you have suggestions, let me know… I think this is a fear I have to face soon.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Quilting “First Green”

I have started quilting a new piece I am calling “First Green.”  I created the leaves by first piecing green and black strips, then cutting these strips on a diagonal, and sewing them to the center vein. I appliqued the leaves to a black background, then cut them out and appliqued them to the blue background. All of these fabrics are batiks, and it is about 24" x 42". 

I will be donating this piece to the Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative when it is done. This fabulous organization has raised more than $713,000 for education and research since January 2006. They auction and sell donated quilts, and also sponsor a nationally touring exhibition of quilts about Alzheimer’s. Ami Simms of Flint, Michigan, is the founder and executive director. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting her at International Quilt Festival several times, and she is one amazing woman!

I am having a lot of fun quilting this piece. I started by adding straight lines to indicate the veins on the leaves, and to play up the lines and pump up the graphic quality of this piece. Now I am using different free-motion designs within the veins.

The name of this piece comes from one of my favorite poems by American poet Robert Frost:

Nothing Gold Can Stay
by Robert Frost

Nature’s first green is gold, 
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower
But only so an hour. 
Then leaf subsides to leaf. 
So Eden sank to grief.
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Uncle Albert’s Reverie

For more than two years, a piece of collaged fabric that I made in Judy Coates Perez’s Mixed Media Painted Fabric class has been pinned to the design wall in my studio. Yesterday, I finally took it down and quilted it!

Here is the whole piece. I haven’t done the facing yet. It will be about 18" x 43".

The body part images are copyright-free clip art, printed on paper, and glued down on white cotton fabric with gel medium. The paints are Jacquard Textile Color (the orange and green) and Lumiere (the gold metallic).

The name comes from my great grand uncle, Dr. Albert Philson Brubaker, who was a physiology professor at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, Pa., in the late 1800s through the early 1900s. He wrote several books on human physiology that contain illustrations like the ones I used in this piece. 

Dr. Albert Philson Brubaker


Thursday, April 12, 2012

I’m in “Rituals”

I am honored to announce that my piece “I See the Moon” has been juried into the “Rituals” exhibition curated by Jamie Fingal and Leslie Tucker Jenison. You can see the complete list of participating artists at the Dinner at Eight Artists blog. Each piece measures 24" x 60" in a vertical format. 

“Rituals” will debut July 26-29 at International Quilt Festival – Long Beach, where it will be sponsored by Moore’s Sewing Centers

Then it will travel to Houston for International Quilt Market (Oct. 27-29) and International Quilt Festival (Oct. 31-Nov. 4), where it will be sponsored by Havel’s Sewing

Thanks so much to these two companies for their help!

October’s retreat is filled

My “Once in a Blue Moon” Fiber Art Retreat this October in Black Mountain, NC, is officially filled. Hooray! That means it is time to start planning the next one. I’ll be working with my friend and retreat coordinator Joyce Mullis in the next few months to pick a date and location, and I’ll keep you posted.

Thursday, April 5, 2012


This afternoon, Lya drove north toward the sea, to a grand old house called Verhildersum. It is surrounded by a moat and big gardens (although there was little blooming this early in the spring).

The gardens have some lovely sculpture.

The inside of the house was open, but is undergoing restoration, and photography is not permitted.


Before we got to the house, we toured some small roads into the countryside in search of what Lya calls "trees with eyes," which are birch in rows along a country road.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Out and about in Groningen

This afternoon, Lya and I went into Groningen to see the Groningen Museum and visit Lya's favorite cheese shop. I was eager to buy some cheese to bring back; it has all been fantastic, and I think I may have eaten my weight in cheese during my stay. Hope my suitcase won't be overweight! Here are some shots of this wonderful city.

This is the old newspaper building. It has beautiful tile work, and nice windows.

This is the cheese shop. I bought a "young" Dutch cheese, an "old" ( aged one year) Dutch cheese, and one round cheese sealed in wax.

The shop had lovely Easter displays in its windows:

Looks like this guy has an appetite for autos!

Mosaic of men in traditional dress carrying cheeses:

Amazing doors:

This is the entrance to the Groningen museum:

The museum is known for its brightly colored walls, which are changed to complement the current exhibitions.

This exhibit was on fashion designer Azzedine Alaia, one of the last living couturiers.

Wonderful texture!

"Jan Jansz de Stomme" by Meenwertien Fockens, 1645. Detail below:

"Anoniem" by Bouwina Coenders van Helpen, 1630. Detail below.

From the museum's top level:

There was also an exhibit of fashion by the young Dutch designer Iris van Herpen, including this snakelike creation:

And this, which I think is made of heated acrylic that gives the impression of water: