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Mondrian top

img_1860Dang, mine doesn’t look as chic as the original by YSL. I’m wearing it. no one else in town has it and there will be a show of YSL styles at the VMFA in May.

I don’t have much experience with piecing, and was wondering how to do this. Our fellow blogger Linda, of Nice Dress, Thanks, I made it, gave me a good tip, and I looked it up. It seems there’s more than one version of this design from the 60s, and more than one way to make it. Any way, it looked like it would be difficult, and it was. Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong, but I finished it.

Maybe I shouldn’t have used cotton, because it wrinkles too easily. I don’t know what fabric YSL used.img_1855First, I made it out of lining, because patterns don’t always fit as well as I hope they will. When I tried this on, it was a little too snug to reach my arms forward. I drew charcoal lines on this, where I thought the black stripes should go. It’s just a rough marking, because I was wearing it and drawing on myself. I was glad I took the time to make it out of lining first, because it would be disappointing if I did all the work of piecing it then it was too small. Then I took this one apart and decided where to mark my paper pattern for the color blocking.

I saw some Mondrian dresses online made like a straight shift with no darts. I considered that style, but decided to use and A- line dress pattern, so it would fit me better. And I need sleeves because in the summer I get an uneven tan on my arms, from painting outdoors wearing T shirts every day. I saw the old Vogue pattern had the vertical line in the center of the dress, but I wanted mine off center like the original, so I didn’t want the Vogue pattern even if I could buy it, which might be hard to find.

I did the piecing before cutting the pattern.img_1857

When I got to this point, I knew I made a mistake. The lines match up at the side seams laying flat like this, but after I sew the darts, it will shorten the front red block and the black lines on the back would not match the lines on the front at the side seams. I had already put a lot of time into it and didn’t want to give up, so I had to take the black line off the back pieces and move it up about 1 1/2″ . So that might be the reason for making the dress as a straight shift, to eliminate that problem. I got it to work so my black lines meet at the side seams ok, though. It was just another sewing problem to figure out, and that kind of thing happens if you experiment. There’s a way to fix every mistake.

I wore it with jeans today, but it would hang better over a skirt. So a skirt is my next project. It will be a simple straight skirt.

yellow bathrobe / spotted pajamas

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America wants me to paint, but I have to sew first because I really need some new clothes and I can’t find what I want in the stores.

A friend that I worked with at a sewing job years ago asked me why I go to the trouble of sewing when I can buy it for less on sale. She enjoys shopping more than I do to start with, but she did admit she never sees bathrobes in yellow. I wanted yellow not white. White is so generic and it doesn’t pick up my energy like yellow does on a dreary morning. And the pajamas in the stores are made of thin cheap fabric that shrinks in the dryer and wears out fast. If you go into a store and scan the room, you pick up black, white, gray, bright red and dark blue, but there’s no wide variety spectrum of colors available. It’s almost like our overlords want us to dress in a sort of uniform. What has happened to individualism? There’s no room for it. When will the garment industry pick up in the USA? This makes no sense to me. We can do better. Forget about all of us looking alike, and no class distinctions based on clothing.  Social engineering doesn’t work. When I wear my new fringed jacket, I can tell people are looking at it and judging me to be either rich or an artist. It makes me feel more respected. New clothes, nice colors, and fabrics, it all adds up to a better self esteem and energy. I’m just lucky I was pushed into sewing when I was young. Sewing is like drawing, you can learn at any age and make progress if you practice. Good teachers help.

I’m enjoying the pajama fabric. It’s so soft. From Joanne Fabrics. There’s a thin cloth backing on it which will make it hold up better in the wash too. And they fit just right because I put it on for a fitting and marked the waist before I put the elastic in.

Next project : steal the Mondrian dress. I think I can do it.

fringed jacket

img_1848Darling, will this make me look fat?

hahahahah I don’t care. I’m wearing it anyway.

The story of the jacket.

Long ago my Mom showed me this pattern and asked me if I wanted her to make it for me. I said, “OhHellYeah!!” because I’ve always loved fringe. The pattern said the jacket comes out looking elegant in black white and gray, and it looks striking in red white and  blue. I asked for the red white and blue one. I wore it all the time. Then when I couldn’t wash it again, because the fringe was not good anymore, I asked her if she still had the pattern. She didn’t.  I kept the jacket in the closet for years, sometimes I thought  about trying to copy it. I knew it would be difficult and time consuming so I put it off. Finally I got around to it. It took weeks. But I can’t find something I like when I shop for a jacket, so I had to do it. I tried to make a pattern by pinning the old jacket to aimg_1847 big sheet of packing material I had and tracing around it. The back front and sleeves of the jacket are all one piece. I cut a pattern out of denim and made a few corrections, trying to improve my rough first pattern. The denim felt too stiff and wouldn’t drape as nicely as my old jacket, which had a shell made of dress lining fabric. So the third time I cut the shape, I used the blue dress lining fabric and it seemed ok. Making that fringe took f-o-r-e-v-e-r- I had to cut 3 yards of the fabric into 1″ bias strips and join them up into one long piece. I had to draw chalk lines on the shell 1/2″ apart on an angle like the original. Then I had to sew each strip on until I had the whole shell covered. I worked on it a few days all day and a few days part of the day. Some days I had to let it go and do something else. But then I still had to go back and cut each strip the whole length to make a fringe. I had to do a lot of hand sewing because I wanted to cover my cut edges on the seams and I don’t have a serger. So, omg, what a big job that was.

Isn’t that a beautiful dress by YSL? I want it! And I think I might be able to STEAL IT!!! hahaha I really do want to get out of the house and paint in plein air, but not today. I’m going to  look at the pattern books and try to find a pattern that I can adapt to make the YSL. I would rather have it as a top than a dress. I could cut it off at the bottom of the black line. If I can’t find a pattern to use to fake the YSL, then I might not do it.

new duvet cover on top of new slipcover

img_1845The sewing bug got me. It’s uplifting to see my chair look better and yesterday I made this new duvet cover for my down filled throw.  I think it looks good on top of the chair. I flipped over the corner so you can see the ultra plush fleece I used for the backing. The front fabric is a batik and the blue trim is a thinner fleece.

It was more difficult because I used fleece. It stretched as I was sewing and I had to rip and fix it. I liked the color of the blue, that’s why I picked fleece for the trim instead of cotton. The cottons weren’t the exact blue I wanted. That’s one thing I really enjoy about sewing, the colors and textures in my hands. I have to keep my hands out of my paint, but sewing is kind of sculptural in the sense that it’s a more tactile experience than painting.Sewing is as challenging as painting. Unexpected problems always happen. You have to stop and figure out how to make it come out the way you want it.

Now the muse is telling me to make a jacket, so I must go out and shop for fabric. I have an old one  I can trace a pattern from. It’s covered in fringe but looks simple to make.

2 stained glass windows I love at the VMFA

img_1841Magnolia and Apple Blossom Window  /  Tiffanyimg_1838Jacques Gruber  /  French  /  1870 – 1936

I think I’ll steal one or both of these designs. Why should an artist put extra pressure on herself by trying to be “creative” and “original” when she could just copy something great? A lot of artists like to steal from the masters. There’s those funny books telling you how to steal like an artist. They crack me up. Then sometimes you still hear people saying, “It’s been done before.” like that’s a bad thing. I don’t get it. I go with the side of stealing a great design and making it my own. I remember our teachers at York Academy of Art told us one rule of stealing a design. Only steal the good stuff.

I can’t decide how to use one of these in my next project. I need to think it through and do a couple sketches first. Another funny contradiction you hear in the art world sometimes is, a teacher tells the students to just do it, don’t think about it. That sounds weird to me. I would have to take some kind of drug to stop from thinking.  What those teachers want is some subconscious thought to come out in the art.  They like a dream quality in art, I guess. I’m not doing that. I think there’s a reason why the subconscious is sub. It’s a bad decision maker.

These windows were well planned. That, and the great technical skill of the artists make them masterpieces.

A Good View at Agecroft Hall / oil

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It’s the most zen place in town.  I’m not a follower of an Eastern religion, but it’s easy to pick up the vibe. That’s one of the benefits of painting in plein air. I have a reason to hang around under a tree like Buddha! hahahahahah

I started on this painting a month or so ago and finished it last week. The trees changed faster than I could paint them. I could keep going and going making corrections but decided not to because I’m starting on the next painting  now.

The banana trees were taken out of the garden before I finished painting them, but I had enough of a start that I could finish them at home. I liked them in the composition. They wouldn’t have lived through the frost. Now they’re in a greenhouse.img_1813

This is what the scene looked like to my camera when I got started. I drew it before I took the photo. The photo looks a lot different than what I drew, so I’m not sure if my perspective is right or if the camera’s perspective is better. I decided my painting doesn’t need the  hedge and close up fence that show in the photo. It might be too much darkness on the bottom of the canvas for a good composition.

The James River isn’t showing in the photo, but if you step 15 feet to the right you can see  it and I wanted to show it in my painting. I hoped after the frost I’d be able to see more of the river when leaves came down, so I mixed my colors for the river and painted it in, knowing I was going to cover it with trees and have small peaks of water showing. I used my artistic license there. If I copied the photo the river wouldn’t be in this painting.

That’s Willow Oaks Country Club golf course on Southside.img_1814

This is my underpainting in gray.

You can see where I stood my easel under a Magnolia tree and sat on the ground on an old beach towel to mix my colors. Cones were falling off the tree all around me but didn’t hit me or my painting. I kept my hat on just in case I got hit because those cones might hurt my head. It’s not as scary sitting under a Magnolia as it is being under a Walnut tree. I avoid the Walnuts trees! hahahahah  Trees dropping cones are a part of the life of your plein air artist. Is that a zen thing?

 

 

The Iverskaya / Mother of God

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19th century, oil on panel, silver-gilt, enamel,silk

It’s at the VMFA in the Faberge gallery.

I’m not Catholic, but this is inspiring me to do an icon. Mine won’t be religious, but an American icon. I’m planning it for the spring art show at the Poe Museum, so it needs to be Edgar Allen Poe in the icon. Yes, I need to start planning now because I’m kind of slow. hahahahah This will be something I can work on when the weather gets too cold to paint outside in a month or so.

Just yesterday, I was thinking of doing a mixed media  piece to enter in their annual call to artists for the show “Poe’s Enchanted Garden.” I was trying to decide on how to make cut out layers. I had in mind a Dada piece I love by Arp with cut outs, “Mountains Table Anchors Navel.”  I couldn’t decide, should the image of Poe be on top of the layers or underneath to be seen through the cut outs. This real icon tells me, the pic of Poe should be inside the cut out and surrounded by an ornate border with gold and sparkly jewels. Poe won’t be getting a halo though. He might look good in an Art Deco type floral design, all dripping with sad flowers in gold and jewels. Maybe I can work a raven or black cat into the design.

It will be a challenge to do a nice portrait of Poe  for my icon.

The Trio / oil

Is it just my imagination, or does it look like the Pitcher Plants are singing?
Is it just my imagination, or does it look like the Pitcher Plants are singing?

They’re standing in the hot sun on the edge of the pond. The 1st few days I worked on this painting, it was rainy and cloudy, which kept it from getting too hot. Now the weather seems to be going back to the hot and humid. I like to work on my painting in the morning before it gets too hot outside. I can find some shade to sit in and mix my colors, then I usually stand in the sun with the plants to paint. It helps me see if I have my colors and values close to what’s natural in sunlight. I’ll stand up to paint because it’s more comfortable than painting sitting down. After 45 minutes or so, I take a little break and look away from my painting for a few minutes. I can go back to it and get my concentration back for another 30 – 45 minutes. But when the temperature goes up to 85 or so, I’m done.

Now I’m looking for a place to sit and stand in the shade for my next painting.

Evening after Rousseau by Felix Bracquemond

etching and drypoint
etching and drypoint

The Winter weather is a bummer even in our normally mild VA.  I hung out at the museum last week and worked on a drawing of a horse. The VMFA has a great new exhibit of etchings by Bracquemond, so I got a shot of my favorite one for you.

When I was in art school I took a print making class and learned the process of etching. It’s more difficult than drawing with a pencil because you can’t erase. My etching from art school looked kind of weak, I must admit.  Strong drawing skill is a necessity if you want to do an etching.

This artist is a master. I hope you can see it clearly on your computer because I was amazed by the depth showing. The detail is so fine. The textures go from sharp to fuzzy. How did he do it?