planning

The last two days have been spent planning. Planning what? Art of course!

I am delighted to share that I have been juried into the Armonk Outdoor Art Show in Armonk, NY. It has been around for 55 years! One of the most prestigious shows in my neck of the woods. Can you tell I'm excited? It'll take place on September 24th and 25th, so I have plenty of time to get ready.

I have several large pieces that I already know that I'll be exhibiting. They are the ones I was juried in with. But I would like to have a variety of smaller pieces on hand also and that's what I've been planning. It'll be a busy summer in the studio!

I started the planning part with organizing my inspiration photos. Usually when I upload my photos from the camera or phone I immediately put them into albums for easy reference later. Well.... I am ashamed to admit that I have really slacked off on that task.... So today I organized them into albums.


I did a bit of editing and narrowed my choices down to about 20 that speak to me right now.


Then I narrowed my choices even more and opened them up in Photoshop for a closer look. My first two mini-series of works will based on fire escapes and water towers.


Now I'll play with them in Photoshop - cropping and figuring out the composition. Once I have that decided on, I'll dig into my materials and start making some serious choices. Right now I think that they will all be on backgrounds created from re-purposed plastics and the images will be hand-stitched with various threads. Stay tuned!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing a wonderful day of gratitude to everyone celebrating in the US. I am thankful to all of you who stop by this little blog to take a peek at my madness and give me encouragement. THANK YOU!
always grateful for autumnal treasures..

I'm back!

An extended, unintended break happened here. Preparing to teach and then teaching and then spring break are all to blame.... I have been trying to ease myself back into the studio routine despite the school break and now I'm going to try to ease myself back into the blogging routine. And a report on my latest teaching gig is the fodder!

Last week for the very first time I taught a workshop at the Hudson River Valley Art Workshops. It was also the first time I taught a workshop for more than two days! Five whole days actually! I have been teaching a workshop based on my use of Photoshop for art quilts for several years now, so it was a real treat to develop it into a longer version. And lucky me, there were only two students, so I got to tweak everything to their needs and figure out how to space the lesson plan best. Of course it will work differently with more students next time, but I have everything in place now.

Due to the luxury of time and space, my students were able to really spend the time developing their ideas and figuring out how Photoshop will aid them best. Here are a few pictures of our art filled days below...
Alison and her THREE! design walls
she got to play with pictures of Paris and NYC
Alison created a very moody work in sheers from pictures of the World Trade Center Memorial and was working on figuring out how to put together pictures of columns from WTC into an artwork
her work space was very busy!
here she is working tiny tiny hand stitches into her haunting slurry wall from WTC
Jane's design wall was very ethereal and magical, she played with pictures of her CitraSolv experiments and her own pen sketches
She created a mixed media work using metal sheets and sketches manipulated in Photoshop and printed on fabric
Jane even free-motion stitched for the very first time and really put the pedal to the metal! Oh and she hand stitched also.
This another finished artwork of hers that incorporated printed paper, dryer sheets and free motion machine stitching
layers of printed dryer sheets get the free motion treatment on her sketched work that was printed on cotton voile
We had a fabulous five day retreat with our lovely hosts Kim and Mark LaPolla. Oh and the food was delish! Thank you!
I got to do a bit of art too in the teachers sketchbook! and in case you're wondering... it's not easy to machine stitch a page while it's still in the notebook....

thinking.....

I've been preparing for my upcoming workshop at Hudson River Valley Art Workshops. And as I was going down my check list, I decided to take a peek at my page on their website. One of the images that is being used to promote the workshop is right below and is one of my favorite old pieces.
St. Pete Lace 1 © Natalya Aikens
It struck me though, that my ways of using Photoshop for my art has changed dramatically in last couple of years. And come to think of it so has my way of using vintage linens and recycled ephemera. So I took a little tour of my portfolio, and then my research and work in progress files, and pulled out a few things to share here.

Some of you might remember this piece below. It's my pride and joy, especially since it made it into QN'13. I used Photoshop to help create it. Doesn't look anything like the image above, does it?
The City © Natalya Aikens
Yet I used vintage linens, paper and dryer sheets, just like in St. Pete Lace 1. Of course I also added plastic and oil paint sticks to the materials list here. In my archives I found the Photoshopped image of the very beginnings of this piece.
photoshopped collage
I used this image as my guide for constructing the final piece. It'll be one of the things I'll be discussing in the workshop. Collage is such an integral part of what I do and Photoshop is my number one tool in the tool box.

Recently I participated as one the invited artists in The 100 fundraiser organized by Virginia Spiegel. The artwork I created for this event relied heavily on Photoshop too.
Fire Escape Abstraction © Natalya Aikens
No vintage linens here, but just paper and two dryer sheets. No machine stitching either. Yes on the hand stitching though! This one relied on Photoshop in a completely different way than The City. While Photoshop helped me create the guide for The City, in Fire Escape Abstraction, Photoshop helped me create color and line. Of course the printer was important here too. Below is how this piece started.
a plain old NYC fire escape
I am so looking forward to sharing how I use Photoshop in my art. There is just so much to it! And all of it is very intuitive despite looking scary sometimes. 
some vintage linens from my stash
I'm also looking forward to collaging the Photoshopped images with the fabrics, vintage or not, that the workshop participants will bring. Maybe even recycled ephemera too! The best part of teaching a workshop for me, is seeing what my students come up with. I love when they learn how to use a new tool to create their artwork. And how that new tool helps them create in new ways. 

And because this workshop is five full days, we'll get to spend time machine stitching and hand stitching! I've never before had an opportunity to have the time to delve in so deeply into a workshop like this. Can you tell I'm excited? ;)

To sign up for the workshop go here. To read my interview on the InnSane blog go here.

Come play with me!!

100 ready for action!

My artwork for the FFAC The 100 Fundraiser to benefit the American Cancer Society is ready for sharing!

But first a few how and why's from Virginia Spiegel:

1 Day - 100 Artists - 100 Patrons - $10,000
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Opens 10 a.m. Central

How The Fundraiser Works
1. On February 4, the first 100 people to contact me (Virginia(at)VirginiaSpiegel.com) beginning at 10 a.m. Central will be given a link to donate $100 by credit card directly to the American Cancer Society through Fiberart For A Cause.
To be fair to all, no e-mails time dated before 10 a.m. Central will be opened. I am not responsible for the vagaries of the e-mail system.
Please note your donation to the ACS will be credited through the Forest Lake Area Relay For Life. Why?
2. Each donor will receive an artwork from one of the 100 generous and talented artists. Assignments of artwork will be made using a random number generator by someone other than me. Artwork will not be shared here in advance, but may appear on artists' websites or other social media before the event. See our Pinterest board for previews of many artworks. Thanks to Deborah Boschert for maintaining the board.
3. The artwork may be any size as long as the minimum retail value is $100. Artwork smaller than 8x10" will be mounted to 8x10" or 9x9." The artwork will contain fiber and may or may not be stitched. The artwork may or may not be made specifically for this event.

3. Each artist will receive her/his patron's e-mail address to arrange shipping. Artwork will be shipped directly from the artist. Please note this is an international roster of artists. Please thank the artist for not only donating the artwork, but also shipping it to you.
4. Each artist would love to receive a low res photo of the artwork in situ from the new owner. This is not required, but the best photos may be shared here after the event.
Questions? Contact me at Virginia(at)VirginiaSpiegel.com
or here is a series of Q&A about the event.
If you would like to be sure your Request to Donate does not go in my spam folder on February 4, send a trial message today.
Special Note: Our goal of $10,000 will make Fiberart For A Cause's donations to the American Cancer Society a nice even one-quarter of a million dollars and FFAC will be happily retired.

Thank you in advance for your support!
Spread the word about "The 100"

And now for the artwork that I will be donating:



Fire Escape Abstraction © Natalya Aikens 2015
Image manipulated in Photoshop, printed on geesoed dryer sheets, layered with repurposed florist wrap and lightly hand-stitched. Measures 8"x10". Adhered to Ampersand hardboard, edges painted with acrylic paint.
Please help support this worthy cause! Thank you!

100 beginnings

This is a beginning of a new artwork. It begins with a plain photo of a plain NYC fire escape.
This is step one. It consists of playing with the color to make the fire escape not so plain.
This is step two. Play with several filters is what happened here. Less plain.
Stay tuned for further not so plain transformations....

And a PS, a very important PS: THIS ARTWORK IS FOR THE 100 FFAC FUNDRAISER ON FEBRUARY 4th, 2015. Click the link for all the important details! I am very honored to be one of the 100 participating artists. Thank you.

holding up

That's what this guy does. He is an Atlant and together with the others Atlantes he holds up the entrance to the New Hermitage.

I admired his physique and took a picture. Yes I did. He's made of granite, very strong. I chose to manipulate him in Photoshop and print him on a dryer sheet. Then he needed a few stitches in silk thread....
holding up my mantle


Atlant Spb © 2014 Natalya Aikens
And now he's in my Etsy shop ready to hold up your mantle.... ;)

little art

I have been waiting to post about a finished artwork or two. But it seems with all the seasonal craziness I cannot finish any artwork of a decent size even though I have a couple close to being done... So I figured I'll post about this little artwork (only 5"x5") which has a destination.
can you guess what material I'm using?
silk thread and wood
just a little bit of stitching

Choir Lace Spb © Natalya Aikens
This piece came about from my experiments earlier this year and further experiments preparing for this little video. The image that I worked with in it, is from my photograph of Choir Singers bridge and it's shadow in St. Petersburg, Russia. You might recognize the motif as I have used it in many earlier pieces. Oh and Spb stands for St. Petersburg.
I mentioned earlier in the post that this piece has a destination. Yes it does! And if you're a subscriber to my newsletter, you'll find out about that destination when you receive the newsletter later this week! I love a good tease.....

photogenic

Playing in Photoshop is something I enjoy doing. So when the opportunity comes up and it's a commission too, how could I resist?

The client liked the dryer sheet prints in my Etsy store, but wanted something a bit different. You want images from two of of the most photogenic cities in the world? That I have a special connection to? And you want me to play with Photoshop and dryer sheets? Where do I sign up?

I thought I'd share a few of the images that I have been playing with. These are Photoshopped creations from my own photographs. This is the mid stage of the project as they will now be printed on the dryer sheets and will look very different in the end.

a detail of St. Basil's in Moscow
one of the towers of the Kremlin
detail of the Choir Singers bridge in St. Petersburg
The Mariinsky theater
A side entrance to the Hermitage
Hopefully next week I'll be able to share the final project. Now back to the studio!