Monday, August 27, 2012

Tutorial and video on the 2012 Free-Motion Quilting Challenge

I just finished doing a fun tutorial for SewCalGal’s 2012 Free-Motion Quilting Challenge. It’s on finding original quilting motifs (like the one above) in your environment, and my kids and husband helped me make a video to go with it.

It’s up on SewCalGal's blog now, and you can check it out here.

If you don’t know about the Free-Motion Quilting Challenge, you can read more here. Every month in 2012, she has a FMQ expert sharing a tutorial with tips to help quilters learn and/or improve their free-motion quilting skills. The focus is on inspiring others to learn and have fun doing free-motion quilting.

The tutorial includes my first short home-produced video, made with the assistance of my kids and husband. One daughter was videographer, one daughter recorded original music, and my husband helped with production. It’s pretty primitive, and I know I have a long way to go to produce videos that look they way I want, but I’m proud of our family effort on this first one. 

If you take a peep, please leave me a comment here and let me know what you think, and what you’d like to see me cover in future videos. Thanks! 
P.S. There is information about a way to win of one of my DVDs at the end of the tutorial!

Friday, August 24, 2012

I’m in Quilting Arts’ Aug/Sept issue!

My work is featured in the current issue of Quilting Arts magazine! This is the August/September 2012 issue, and it includes a look at quilts in Art Quilt Portfolio: The Natural World. Martha Sielman, executive director of Studio Art Quilt Associates, wrote this volume and selected the quilts. It is a great look at work focusing on nature by some of the best art quilters in the world today.

It was a thrill to be included in the book, and it is an equal thrill to see my work in a major magazine that I love, read and respect. As usual, this issue of Quilting Arts is chock full of inspiration, helpful tips and great techniques and projects. You can purchase this issue online here

The book Art Quilt Portfolio: The Natural World (192 pages, Lark Crafts, $24.95) is available from the SAQA bookstore, and major book retailers.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Fast and free ink drawings

I recently bought a new, fairly inexpensive fountain pen (by fountain pen standards, at least) that I love. It is a LAMY Safari fountain pen, and I first heard about it on Danny Gregory’s blog. I’ve been following Danny’s work for some time, and have always admired his line drawings, which are so spontaneous and free.

Reading Danny’s blog is like a little bite of dessert every morning. (I usually read in my jammies, since the posts pop up in my e-mailbox overnight). And I love the series of videos he’s been doing on different artists, like this amazing one on Hayley Morris, a stop-motion animator.

Tonight, I challenged myself to try drawing with the pen. My usual style is to do drawings in pencil, erasing and re-drawing if necessary, then carefully inking them in. This time I just picked up some 4x6" unlined index cards (not as much pressure as a sketchbook) and drew a few objects sitting on my desk. Fast and free. No erasers, no regrets.

My goal: work fast, have fun, stop striving for perfection and just get it down. 

 Hey, I like this! Maybe I’m on to something.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

I’m teaching at the Inspire Retreat in the UK in June 2013

 Inspire Summer 2013 Quilting & Creative Textile Retreat
I’m thrilled to announce that I'll be teaching in the UK next summer, at the Inspire Retreat June 25-30. Other instructors that week are Gillian Travis, Dan Cameron Dick, Pat Archibald and Ferret Capri. You can choose a different workshop with a different instructor each day. (As usual, I wish I were going as a student!) 
The event was organized by artists Gail Cowley and Janet Gledhill, and will be held at the lovely Lancaster House Hotel Green Lane in Ellel, Lancaster. Check out all the details here and make plans to join us! Here are my classes:
Tuesday, June 26: Wholecloth Painting: Still Life

Wednesday, June 27: Thread Sketching: Crayons

Thursday, June 28: Paint & Stitch: Peacock Feather

Friday, June 29: Thread Sketching: Dragonfly

Saturday, June 30: Wholecloth Painting: Botanicals

Saturday, August 11, 2012

“Friso” is done!

“Friso” (2012) by Susan Brubaker Knapp

“Friso,” a portrait  of my friend Lya’s cat, is done! This is a 10-3/4" x 13-1/4" wholecloth painted piece that is heavily thread sketched. You can read about the painting process in this blog post and this one. The thread really gives him texture and you can almost feel the fur looking at it.

“Friso” detail (2012) by Susan Brubaker Knapp
When I was thread sketching him last night, the piece started to go a bit wonky on me, because I was doing so much heavy thread work on the fur. When I teach, I often get questions about how much wonkyness to expect. With my technique, I don't put my work in a hoop. I rely on a fairly stiff but lightweight interfacing underneath the painted surface to keep it from drawing up and puckering. Even then, I still get some wave in the piece. Usually when I distribute the threadwork evenly over the surface, it helps reduce this. I thought I’d show you how much this piece was waving early on in the process:

Of course, my cat Wicked had to  take a closer look. With her black and white markings, she looks a lot like Friso, but has half a mustache and half a goatee.

Next week, “Friso” will be on its way to Lya in the Netherlands.

Shelter: Nests

[The theme for The Sketchbook Challenge this month is shelter, 
and this is a recap of a post I made on that blog on Friday.] 

A few weeks ago, I was on safari in South Africa, and spent a lot of time to think about how animals make or find shelter. This brought me around to nests. I’ve always loved them. When I was a kid, I used to watch the birds working in the springtime, and worried that they might not get their nests made before the eggs arrived. So I would make nests of mud and grass, let them dry and then perch them up in the branches. Sometimes in the spring, my mom would help me cut lengths of brightly colored yarn, and hang them out in the trees. Then we’d look for them in nests around the neighborhood. 
There’s something magical about the shelter created by a nest. I think it has to do with hope, with the waiting, quiet and still, for things to grow, break forth, and then to take wing.
I think it is very interesting how much I think while I sketch. Maybe that’s why I find it so relaxing and meditative. I’m usually so busy bustling around that I don’t have much time for deep thoughts. Sketching forces me to be in the moment, and frees my brain and my soul to explore.
For this sketch, I worked from a still life I created more than a year ago in a glass apothocary jar. I used smooth, round stones I collected on a beach in Washington state, a nest that I found in the woods years ago, blue jay feathers picked up while walking the dog around my neighborhood, and bluebird eggs that never hatched.
Setting up a still life for sketching is a lot of fun. Give it a try: collect things you love, things that seem to go together, and arrange them so that they please your eye. Have fun. Try bold juxtapositions. Make something pretty, or scary, or weird. Something that tells a secret story. Something that makes people look twice. Then sit down and sketch it.
I have created several pieces of fiber art with nests as their theme:
“Harbinger’s Hope” by Susan Brubaker Knapp (2007)

“Nestled” by Susan Brubaker Knapp (2011)
This last one is an appliqué design that simplifies the shapes:

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Day 9: Cape Town

Please note: the photos in this post are a bit fuzzy because of the program I used to upload my blog post from my iPad. You can click on each photo for a clearer view. 

The weather was looking up this morning, so we headed for the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. Even in winter (we are in the Southern Hemisphere, remember), it was incredible.

Guinea Fowl:

Egyptian Goose:

Yellow Cobra Lilly:

"Mandela's Gold" stelitzia:

Awe-inspiring views:

The Camphor trees are huge!

The garden has many specimens of protea:

And delicate smaller blooms:

This is a Baobab tree, which does not grow this far south, except in a greenhouse. I wanted to see one when I was in Kruger, but we were not far enough north. Next time, I want to see it in its natural environment.

A section of the garden features fabulous sculptures.

At Hout Bay, south of Cape Town, we found brilliant, clear blue-green water, and brightly painted fishing boats:

This sea lion was tormenting a dog on shore, leaping up and splashing him, making the dog bark furiously!

Freshly caught fish are tossed on the concrete at harbor:

Along Llandudno Bay on the way back to Cape Town:

Camps Bay:

This giant sign is posted at the beach. Would you swim?

Close up of the boulders. Mostly quartz and mica, I think.

Gigantic Kelp on the beach: