Online Teaching and our In-person Retreat

This is Jane. For my blog post this month I am reflecting on what I like about teaching my collage classes. I’ve been thinking about how I have survived 2020 by teaching online and enjoyed the experience. But now, although I am still teaching via Zoom, I’m excited and looking forward to our Artistic Alchemy retreat in September .

Ready to teach Hens and Roosters via Zoom

 It seems a long time since I have gathered with quilters or traveled to visit a quilt guild. I have kept busy presenting and teaching classes to quilt guilds and taught at many online quilt shows. I think this platform is great for sharing information with students, demos are successful because students have the best front row seat and working from home they will not run short of supplies. Also I can set up the day before and be ready at my laptop 30 mins before class starts.

This may look like a crazy amount of fabric but its enough for this fabric collage of Ruby the Cow

I do miss cruising the classroom and chatting with my students, monitoring how their work is progressing and offering tips along the way. When I teach online its harder to see the progress they are making and with collage its tricky to pick the piece up to show on camera. But recently I have received photos via email of finished students work. It makes me feel happy that they have enjoyed the process and then spent their time working and completing the project.

When I am teaching I like to say to my students “Value = Contrast = Dimension”  These words are especially important when making collage and other art practices. I encourage students to” look” at their photo. If you spend 5 minutes really looking at what is going on in a photo your brain will see things that you do not expect. Sometimes when we work we make things as we think they are. By showing what is really going will result in a better and more successful design!

Looking at contrast in a photo

In the photo above I see contrast between the color families of the two types of succulent. I see contrast when looking into the shadows between the leaves of the succulents and I see contrast between what is in focus in the foreground against the blurriness of the background.

Ruby 24″ x 34″

To achieve this I encourage students to exaggerate what they see for a successful piece of work. Where you see the shadows or the areas that are layered this would be where you need to add your dark or black fabrics. For those light reflections or highlights, use your lightest fabrics even going to white or off white. The rest of the time we can use the medium value or our fun fabrics.

Enough of this lesson!

At the 2021 Artistic Alchemy retreat in Lake Tahoe, September 6-10th, I will be teaching collage quilting starting from a photo or you can use one of my patterns.

Little succulent designs in blue and white pots

We will spend time learning to make a pattern, choosing the right fabrics to use and then jumping into my technique for making fabric collage. If you are unfamiliar I don’t use pattern pieces or use fusible on the backs of the fabric but trace the shape onto the fabric and cut it out. It is a little more freeform with fewer rules. Resulting in a finished piece that is fun and unique. I don’t want students to stress over this process as its just “small bits of fabric!”

As well as the fabric collage in my workshop we will be spending the first day playing with surface design and mark making. I love to do this when the opportunity arises. What is better than using your own handmade textiles in your collage. 

Lino Cutting and printmaking

I like to use textural print fabrics in my collage and if I’ve made them myself that is even better. I use paints, fabric or acrylic paints and a number of simple tools to create unique patterns and textures. For my workshop there will be a small fee for materials. I will provide paints, a gel plate, fabrics and other materials. You will have the opportunity to paint on fabric, make your own stamps, lino-cuts, cyanotype prints and monoprints. 

Spring is on its way in my garden.

Now looking at this photo, and I am really looking, I’m thinking about mark-making and collage. I could paint some fabric to make those beautiful violet and lavender petals. Also the texture of the sepal leaves could be created using mono-prints and then there is the blurred background to consider!

So if you are considering attending our retreat this September the registration is already open. Go to the Workshop page on the blog and you will find out more info about the pricing etc if you click on the registration button. Remember priority for lake-front rooms is given to those who sign up first.

My latest recommendation

After my post back in November when I reviewed many of the books that I had read over 2020 this is one of my newest reads. I’m over half way through and am really enjoying the narrative and the rich descriptions in this book. I believe there are plans for a movie in the works.

Let’s hope as Spring arrives we are all more optimistic. We can savor the days when we will be able to socialize and have fun together at the retreat. Keep creative as Heidi, Sandra and myself continue to do.

Kicking Off 2021 with Creativity

This is Jane. Happy New Year. 2021 is finally here, yeah!

Hoping everyone is well and staying healthy. Going forward we will need patience as we keep wearing our masks while waiting for the vaccine program to roll out and hopefully politics will take a backseat in our lives.

The start of a New Year

Leading into 2021 we have been in contact with Zephyr Point Conference Center and are planning our retreat, September 6-10th 2021. Finally here’s an event we can anticipate and get excited about after so much time sheltering at home. We should be able to gather, maybe still wearing our masks but share this beautiful and creative environment. As usual our retreat information and reservation forms will come out at the beginning of February. So be looking for that. We are all excited to make our announcement for the September retreat.

Playtime using my new Gelli plate

Christmas time rolls around and my family asks me “What would you like for Christmas?” I really don’t need anything but usually I will buy items that can be gifted to me! This year these included a knitted beanie, quilting books, and some art supplies. I was caught by surprise as my son James bought me a Gelli plate and two brayers for printing. The Gelli plate by Gel Press is the biggest one I have seen! Its 12″ x 14″

Getting to play with my new Gel Plate

After watching a few Youtube videos, I went outside gathered some leaves and weeds from my garden, organized my supplies and started printing. I used acrylic and fabric paints I already had. Tip: I did buy expensive Golden fluid acrylics but found they worked no differently than less expensive craft paints. I tore up some white muslin into 13″ x 15″ pieces, which I sprayed with Terial Magic to stiffen them. I also gathered some sketchbook paper and covered my table with newsprint in preparation.

With my daughter Lucy to help and all the supplies around, we ended up making about 10 panels of fabric and about the same on paper. Many of the prints have three layers using three different colors and a variety of leaf shapes. Some layers were made using the the paint off the plate and others came off the ghost print that was under the leaves after the initial print.

The question I ask myself and I am sure my family does too, is what will I do with them? They are all unique, some more successful than others but beautiful and unexpected art. I have a few favorites and some of these are on paper. I plan to copy these using my inkjet printer onto fabric sheets.

My workshop for the 2021 retreat will again be a combo class of mark-making and collage. So if you wish to play with fabrics, papers, printing supplies and paint then this could be the workshop for you. As I think about using these panels I could cut and piece them together for a great background for my collage.

Starting some fabric collage using succulent imagery

The two books I “bought myself” for Christmas were The Painted Quilt by Laura and Linda Kemshall and Botanicals by Uppercase. I have also been watching videos on DesignmattersTV which is fun and relaxing, inspiring all things surface design and quilting.

Using my new iPhone to take a picture as I work

This year some of my goals include finishing some of the collage quilts I have made but not quilted or finished. Above I am working on finishing one such quilt which I need for an online class next week. I am teaching my class Little Frank Fabric Collage for Craft Napa Uncorked. Other goals include using my stash of fabric, drawing and painting in my sketchbook, being more experimental in my work and writing another online, on-demand workshop on Coursecraft. Check out more of my work and patterns etc I have for sale on my website

Another new product I have been using is called Applipops These are a variety of different sized metal rings, that you use in pairs, to make simple pressed circles of fabric. I have been using them in the hand stitched Japanese Rice Pouches I’ve been stitching. The pattern I use for the above bag is from KZStevens and is very simple to make. I’m on my sixth one! My current hand stitch, meditative stitching project is this floral panel that I stitch in the evening whilst watching Hinterland on Netflix. This panel will be number seven Rice Pouch!

Work in Progress hand stitched, embroidery panel

So now you know what I have been up to in 2021 and I hope you too have been inspired and creative. So lets get through these crazy times by staying busy and staying home. As Heid says try to get in 15 minutes a day of creativity.

Until next time, Jane