Happy New Year!

Reflections 1 © 2019 Natalya Khorover Aikens


Happy 2019!

"May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you're wonderful, and don't forget to make some art - write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you will surprise yourself."


Thank you for being a part of my artistic journey!
~Natalya

thoughtfully repurposed

If my solo exhibit had a title, it would be Thoughtfully Repurposed.

But it doesn't have an official title, and as it's coming down on Friday, I thought it was time to share a few photos. Those of you who were able to see it, I sincerely appreciate that you came, your kind words mean so much to me! Those of you who are too far to come, I appreciate all your well wishes also. Thank you.

art and seed pods at the entrance

Iron Spine 6XL makes it's debut surrounded by older relatives

Rhetoric with Iron Vessels: Reclaim Love and Iron Vessel: Enough

The top portion of Iron Spine/Urban Edge installation

another view of Iron Spine/Urban Edge installation

a small portion of the bottom of Iron Spine/Urban Edge installation

Full view: Iron Spine/Urban Edge

a visitor from the insect kingdom

food matching art/art matching food

viewer matching art

artist with art (Iron Spine/Urban Edge)
What a whirlwind summer!

Quilt National visit redux

It's nearly a month since I have returned from a whirlwind trip to Athens, Ohio for the opening weekend of Quilt National 2017. What a fun weekend it was! My friend Gail was my copilot as we let Waze guide us along the roads of NJ, PA, MD, WV and OH. The routes were all very scenic, but we had no time to stop for pictures, we had a destination to get to!

I have to say that as much as it was a thrill to see my art hanging in this prestigious exhibit, it was even more of a thrill to commune with all the artists who were there!

There's nothing better than hanging out with fellow creative souls. Sharing ideas, techniques, trials and tribulations and just basking in each others company. I was delighted to meet all the artists that I could, and wished every single one could have attended!

Here's the gallery view with my piece, Iron Spine 5XL hanging between work by Paula Kovarik and Kit Vincent, and then followed by Amy Meissner and Kerri Green

Here's moi talking about my work.... apparently I talk with my hands....
The powers that be took videos of the two minute talks that each artist gave about their work and when those videos become available I will gladly share where they can be seen. I always find public speaking rather nerve-wracking, but I was told that I spoke well and made sense. What more could I ask for?

Upon my return home, there was a lovely surprise in the mail - SDA magazine wrote a bit about the exhibit and used my art to illustrate it! So cool!
I'm still reliving bits and pieces of conversations that took place. So much to consider and enjoy remembering!

a conversation

As I prepare to share some of my art with you, please enjoy this interview recently recorded with Nathalie Kalbach. It's really more of a conversation than an interview, Nat is lovely to talk to! And you'll love her new book Artful Adventures in Mixed Media! So grab your favorite beverage and settle in...

click for the interview!

gratitude

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving here in the US. I have many people to be grateful for this year... but here I thank all the readers of this blog! Thank you for clicking, scrolling, reading and commenting! I appreciate that you take the time out of your busy day to stop by... I appreciate the thoughtful and kind comments and suggestions that you leave here!

Thank you!! and happy Thanksgiving to all!


leap day

How can I resist making sure that there is a blog post here on leap day? I can't!

So a little overview of what's been brewing lately:
steadily stitching away on my extra large project
mending my favorite jeans boro style
embroidering a chinchilla for a friend
paint therapy happened (an old collage got thoroughly reworked many times) (just for the fun of it) 
I got the fieriest little doily in the mail from Amy Meissner
I rediscovered the lichen rock in my back yard... in the sunshine...
All these pictures are from my Instagram feed. Take a peek! Happy leap year!

so much to do!

Autumn is such a busy season in so many ways. School activities are in full swing, holiday prep is in full swing. This year I had the opportunity to be in many exhibitions, so that means packing and printing labels and gallery sitting. I've been hard at work on my latest home portrait, it's almost done and I'll be sharing it in my newsletter very soon.

And now another annual tradition has crept up on me... Costumes for my daughters annual Russian School Christmas play! So among the finishing stitches on the home portrait, I have been sketching costumes, making lists of children and dreaming of how to bring my ideas to life. And I do mean dreaming. I been having costume construction dreams quite literally.... now I have to start stitching in real life though.

This years play is "The Little Hump Backed Horse". I gleefully ran to my kids home library and dug up the book from my childhood, I have always loved the illustrations in it. We watched the cartoon version just get up to speed! We have yet to watch the ballet, but that I'd want to see in real life...

So I thought I'd share a few of my sketches here. They are of the more fantastical costumes that will be a challenge to construct...
the Little Humpbacked Horse and the three beautiful horses

the Moon and the Sun and the Firebird

the Fishes

the Tzar and the Tzar Princess
I'll be back with in-progress pictures of this motley crew in a week or so... You can also follow my progress on Instagram.

saturday snapshot

...or several... This spring I indulged in something slightly different from my usual oeuvre.

In our Russian scouting tradition we have a wonderful little quirk that everyone loves. During the second summer in the older kids camp, they receive their forest name. It could be anything from an animal to a force of nature. Everyone awaits in anticipation and speculates what name they will wind up with. It's a tradition to embroider the name on your neckerchief, or stitch a patch on. I indulged my daughter and her friends and stitched a few names for them.
an arctic fox
a cherry blossom
a lyre bird
a waterfall
a white rose


The hole you see in each one is made with a hot stick from the campfire. It's burned into the neckerchief as they get their name. And looks like I'll have a few more to embroider in the near future...

magic monday

I haven't been in my studio since I finished Spruce Street. Life got in the way. But I haven't stopped thinking about what I want to do once I got to the studio.... Here are a few things that caught my eye during the thinking stage.
beautiful bouquet
sunset lighting up newly minted leaves
a fabulous chandelier
And today I did get into the studio. For just a little bit....
a start of something new.....
Now full steam ahead! There is much to be accomplished....

and the winner is....

Me! Thank you everyone for taking a look through my art and choosing your favorites! And thank you for the lovely birthday wishes too!
First I'd like to feature a few of your favorites, because they are my favorites too:
Dormition Cupola © Natalya Aikens
The City © Natalya Aikens
Walls Between Neighbors © Natalya Aikens
Sunset © Natalya Aikens
And the lucky recipient of my birthday gift is Anastaija! Thank you so much for your kind words to all of you! and thank you for playing, you have all made this a most lovely day....

instafun

I know that some of my blog readers don't belong to social media sites, so I thought I'd share somethings I've been posting on Instagram here. Instagram is an app and a social media platform on the smart phone that lets you apply filters to photographs and post them for your followers to see.

I think of it as rather fun and post not only my artwork related photos, but also nature stuff and general life stuff that comes my way. Here's just a few of photos I posted in last two weeks.
I made a flower out of fallen leaves and propped it up on a log.
A weekend later I was impressed that it was still on the log and dried beautifully.
Fun with mirrors and filters while watching a ballet class.
Sheep in a meadow and a watercolor app? How can I resist?
I've been stitching tiny pieces while in a waiting room and shared.
And this is the view on the worktable in my studio this morning as seen on Instagram and Facebook.
Hope you enjoyed my little social media tour. Instafun!

back to school!

Are you tired yet at looking at only Wordless Wednesdays here? I am! Summer is very busy around these parts with kid excursions, camps, travel and all other things that summer with children entails... But now it's back to the school routine, the after-school routine and back-to-the-studio routine. Woo hooo!!! As much as I enjoy planned and not, spur-of-a-moment and crazy activities of summer, I also love the dependability of routine.

So back to our regularly scheduled programming here, aside from WW. I have a few blog posts planned to share some delightful sights that I saw over the summer and I'll also fill you in on the goings on in my studio.

If you are ever in upstate NY, north of Albany, I highly recommend a visit to this little gem of a museum. Located on the grounds of the Russian Orthodox Holy Trinity Monastery, (which makes you feel as though you are in the Russian countryside) it's actually geared toward the non-Russian speaking visitor. The museum contains wonderful artifacts of representing four centuries of books and art in Russia. I thought I'd share with you the few that really captured my attention.
a detail from the Book of Gospels circa 1575...handwritten....
Book of the Twelve Great Feasts from 1825, also handwritten...
Gold-work detail from a Regimental Standard 1875
more gold-work from the Standard
Gorgeous cover of a book titled The Tzar's Hunt 1896
detail of gold-work from an Epigonation from the late 20th century
exquisite gold-work on a Shroud from the late 19th century
Hope you enjoyed this little tour of Russian history..

aaaahhh......

Summers are tough. Tough for me to spend any real time in my studio that is. But I do get to spend lots of time in nature, so that compensates.

Here are few views that I enjoyed recently and inhaled deeply.....



Hope your summer is going well!

an art tour

I have been asked to participate in a blog tour that focuses on the artistic process. I think that this is always an interesting and fun subject, so here I am. Cathy Mendola is the blogger before me, so do take a moment to read her post and click back for other artists participating.
City Love Affair 3 (detail) © Natalya Aikens

~what am i working on?
Quite a few things are currently on my plate. 

First I am getting ready to teach in New Jersey at the Create Retreat. So I'm checking my supplies, packing samples and going over lesson plans.

I am working on my latest in the home portrait series. This is a fun project as I get to work with the homeowners ephemera and photographs and translate that into a fiber artwork.

I am also slowly plugging along on the next in my St. Pete Cathedrals series. This art is inspired by the many architectural wonders of St. Petersburg, Russia and is very intensely hand stitched.

And last, but not least, and actually the largest, is a big piece that will be part of the City Lines series which is inspired by NYC. I haven't shared anything about this yet as it is in it's very beginning stages of planning, drawing and tentative stitching. But there will be a few peeks coming up soon.

~how does my work differ from others of its genre?

hhhmmmmm........ is it my point of view? Of course. Also perhaps it's my architectural subject matter. And quite likely, it differs because of the materials I use. Almost exclusively I use vintage linens and recyclables such as plastic shopping bags. Very rarely will you find commercial or hand made fabric in my current art. I like to challenge myself with my materials.

~why do i write/create what i do?

Because I have to. I need that creative outlet for my energies and emotions. It's the best kind of meditation and/or therapy. Creating something with your own two hands is extremely gratifying. And putting it out there for the world to see, hopefully adding beauty to the world is the icing on the cake.

~how does your writing/creative process work?

That differs with each project. Usually I get an idea in my head and then I gather my inspirations and materials to create it. Other times a photograph or a piece of material will demand to be made into art. Whichever way I start a project it always includes a lot of listening to the muse in my head as I play with my materials. My art-making is intuitive to the core, it's in my nature to go with the flow.



Thanks for reading! For next Monday, do check out these friends of mine and see what they have to say about their artistic process.

Deborah Boschert creates collages with fabric and stitching. She uses all kinds of materials including vintage linens, commercial prints and original fabrics created with painted patterns. Her work explores themes of home, adventure, growth and identity using symbols like houses, stones, botanical elements and handwriting. She always includes bits of hand embroidery to add detail and texture. Her work is layered with translucent fabrics, frayed edges, splotches of paint and stitched patterns. She lives in a suburb of Dallas with her husband and two kids.

Vivien Zepf is an artist, writer, and photographer.  As a self taught photographer, Vivien's images focus primarily on the natural world and vary from macro to panoramic views.  Her textile art ranges from representational to abstract.  The art in both disciplines share common elements such as saturated colors, strong graphic elements, and relatively uncluttered compositions.  Vivien's writing is a natural progression from her years as a college English major and is supplemented by what's she's learned from making art, contemplating the art of others, and being a museum docent.

a lovely evening

Thank you to all the lovely people who came and all the lovely people who couldn't, but wished me well. 'Twas a lovely evening graciously organized by Julie, the owner of Etui Fiber Arts Gallery.

Here are a few pictures of the festivities:
Auntie Ann approved of the placement.
My official photographer got photographed
Friends enjoyed checking things out
Guest appearances were delightful.
My supportive FANE friends are always a hoot!
Yes, we had art in the bathroom. It fit perfectly.
Guests came in all ages.
Friends traveled far and wide.
The exhibit is up through June 3rd and the gallery is open during business hours. If you are making a special trip to the area do let me know as I would love to meet you at the gallery and happy to explain my work.
PS all photos are by my official Art By Natalya photographer aka my younger daughter who insisted that I give her credit and by Auntie Ann.

a tease...

Because I want those of you close enough to come to see it for yourself and join me for the opening reception, I'm offering just a little tease of what my exhibit looks like for the rest of you...
peeking through the windows
I hung my show yesterday at Etui Fiber Arts Gallery in Larchmont, NY. The show will be on view until Wednesday June 4th. The opening reception is next Friday, May 9th from 6:30 to 8:30 PM.
I do hope you can join us!

Here's a little blurb Julie, the gallery owner, wrote up:

CITY LINES is a series of art quilts inspired by New York City:  small alleyways, huge avenues, cracked pavement, glass skyscrapers, brick storefronts, vibrant graffiti, grand bridges and rusting fire escapes.
 
These works are made from 90% recycled materials; however, the recyclables used in Natalya's quilts are undetectable, transforming into something sophisticated and beautiful.  Natalya's manipulation of photos coupled with intense hand and machine stitching produce translucent effects.   The sewing machine is one of Natalya's most important drawing tools creating works visually stunning and complex.

a lovely, well lit gallery
Come on over!

what the fiber

There is a wonderful exhibit that I can recommend for you to see if you're anywhere near New Jersey. It's called What The Fiber and it's on view at the West Windsor Art Center in Princeton Junction. Some great art representing terrific women artists whom I honored to be among! It's up until May 2nd.
My work on the right is in awesome company with Diane Savona

Another one of mine on the right, in company with Judith Plotner and Judy Langille

Me giving a two minute speech at the opening last week...eeek!
It's lovely large, well lit gallery that does great work, totally worth a visit!

a studio tour

It feels like it's been a while since I've shared pictures of my studio on the blog. Last week a good friend came by to take a few photos from his point of view. The plan is to use these on my website to update the pictures that are there now. But I can't decide which ones to use yet, so I thought I'd share a few here first.
here I am working on my design wall
ironing in front of my wall of thread
that's a peek at my inspiration wall
I use an old typeset tray to display the little treasures that I collect and a cork board (and the wall...) for photos and magazine pages of images that speak to me.
a mannequin from 1938 wears a necklace of my numerous embroidery hoops
my hands in action
more treasures a top of the bookcase
old glass electrical insulators that I use for weights rest on the windowsill
my pincushions...
It's a small, cozy, well lit and efficient place... and by the way, if you're in the neighborhood and would like a personal tour, do email me... Thanks!