a plastic tree grows in Armonk

Last September, at the Armonk Outdoor Art Show in Armonk, NY, a community art project was started. The organizers of the show wanted a Hands On Art project for the attendees, I wanted to conduct a community art project that used repurposed materials and both wanted to emphasize the need to reduce the use of single use plastic. The stars aligned!

I chose the symbol of the Armonk Outdoor Art Show as our image and a local framing shop prepared our plastic canvas.

I sketched the tree outline on the canvas; cut out leaves from green plastic bags and squares and rectangles from orange, red and yellow plastic bags.

For the two days of the show visitors happily participated by gluing and stitching pieces of plastic on to our canvas.

I took the canvas back to my studio at the end of the show and added more plastic leaves and background pieces.

Several stitching sessions were arranged at the local library where the show attendees and volunteers were invited to come and stitch the details on the tree.

I returned the canvas to my studio again for the finishing touches.

And finally this weekend, in conjunction with Earth Day, the Armonk tree was revealed! It will be installed in the lobby of the North Castle Public library for all to enjoy. This is the library whose programs are funded by the Armonk Outdoor Art Show.

Please enjoy the photos of the progression of the tree:

The tree is being worked on by the show attendees.

The tree is being worked on by the show attendees.

Progress1a.jpg
Progress2.jpg
Progress2a.jpg
Now it’s starting to take shape!

Now it’s starting to take shape!

More progress..

More progress..

At the end of day two.

At the end of day two.

One of the library stitching sessions.

One of the library stitching sessions.

A detail of the final product.

A detail of the final product.

Another detail.

Another detail.

A bit of the background detail.

A bit of the background detail.

Tah dah! The Armonk Tree!

Tah dah! The Armonk Tree!

Adams Farm Road

It is officially complete and in the hands of the owners, who came by my studio to personally pick up their home portrait. They are delighted with the result and I am pleased as well.

And now for your viewing pleasure, I present Adams Farm Road home portrait!

Adams Farm Road home portrait ©Natalya Khorover Aikens 2019

Personal ephemera used: sheet music for wedding song and lullaby (printed on silk organza by me), baby announcement, moms hospital bracelet, baby's hospital tag, fabric from the hospital baby hat, and fabric from a onesie.

My materials: silk organza, various cotton, silk and rayon threads, interfacing, stretched canvas and acrylic paint.

Techniques: fabric collage and hand embroidery and a bazillion French knots of various, but mostly tiny sizes....

I get so much pleasure from creating these one of a kind treasures, and I love when the owners allow me to share the process. Will you let me do one for you? Email me! (natalya at artbynatalya dot com)

I see it!

I see the finish line.... let me lead you to it with this update.

Here's what happened to the Adams Farm Road home portrait this week, my fingers have been very busy!

the grass started "growing" on the front lawn

it grew quite well on that precious fabric of the newborn's hospital cap

then the trees started filling in (yes the roof is sagging at the moment, but not for long!)

filling in nicely with teeny tiny french knots

I really need a macro lens for these... (Santa?)

The stitching is done! This is my highly advanced weight system to help the piece smoothly adhere to the canvas.
In about 24 hours I'll release the portrait from its weight prison, trim the edges and paint the sides of the canvas. Then it'll have its very own photo session and will be presented to the owners. And then I can share the final product with all of you!

Now is the time to check out the commission page on my website and email me (natalya at artbynatalya dot com) to book your very own portrait.

finish line in sight

It's full steam ahead here in the home portrait studio. It is such a pleasure to switch gears from the high speed sewing machine work on the Iron Spine Aloft installation to the intimacy of this hand stitched small treasure.

One of the things I love so much about my studio practice is the ability to switch back and forth from large, expansive, and speed driven work to a meditative slow practice. Sometimes the two even meld in one piece as well.

Here's the illustrated update on the progress of the latest home portrait:
cobble stones going into the driveway

a different type of roof went on to the house from the original plan, but it feels right

the stone entry wanted to be french knotted (that's only the beginning of all the knots in this piece!)

windows wanted to be filled with glass (or shiny thread)

there's a dark blue trim around the door that looks black in this photo

the start of front yard bushes and walkway

I contemplated leaving the round bushes as negative space

but the french knots wanted to take up residence there in the end
I am thoroughly enjoying the French knotting that decided it needed to be in the home portrait. It's telling me that it will be throughout the piece in varying sizes and threads.

More updates soon!

moving right along

The home portrait I've been working on is moving along nicely. I have finished putting in all the outlines, and now I am considering how to stitch the details.

Outlines in place

considering how to add the hospital tag to the driveway

trees are just bare outlines for now
 I am still considering these trees. Do I want to add finer details with hand stitching or scrap the idea and thread sketch them with the sewing machine?

I wonder if baby toes will make good bushes??
And then I also got an idea about bushes and baby toes. I think I'll give it a try! More pix next week!

deep in art in the depths of winter

Work in progress - Home Portrait © Natalya Khorover Aikens 2019
Home portrait work in progress
February has been a busy month so far and promises to continue to be so. I am simultaneously working on two projects in the studio. They could not be more different from each other.

One project is a home portrait for a sweet family with a brand new daughter. I am loving incorporating her hospital hat, onesie and sheet music of special songs into an image of their home. I am taking time to thoughtfully hand stitch all the pieces in place, making sure all the right details are included.


I am furiously stitching on my Bernina sewing machine for my other project: the installation for the Rye Arts Center exhibit in March. I have pieces of plastic bags and various sheeting all stitched together; I am about half way through stitching the outlines of the fire escape on them. After that, I will piece all the sections together. I'll likely spend a few days cutting out the negative spaces between the outlines. I am still figuring out the logistics of hanging the piece in it's outdoor space, between two trees.


Making sure to keep my inspiration tank full, I was recently on a photo safari in NYC. And while I was quite busy trying to get good shots of buildings, rusty bridge undercarriages, and sidewalk cracks, I could not help but notice plastic litter in leafless trees. I abhor litter of any kind, but it's especially plastic litter that makes me want to weep. For goodness sakes, if you can't recycle it, is it so hard to put it into a garbage container? To carry it just a few more feet to the trashcan on the corner? Ok, rant over.


Here's the interesting thought... as much as I despise seeing plastic trash flapping in the wind on trees, I am also inspired by it. Is that crazy? I don't think so. I think that the installation that I am working on right now is partly inspired by the plastic bags I have seen caught in tree branches along highways. In my case, the plastic that will be waving amongst trees is obviously not trash. It is quite intentional. I can't wait until you see it!
Snowmelt, blue skies, bare trees through the clear plastic lens of Urban Edge/Iron Spine Installation detail © Natalya Khorover Aikens 2019
Snowmelt, blue skies, bare trees through the clear plastic lens of Urban Edge/Iron Spine installation detail

a tree grows in Armonk

Wow! Sometimes that's the only word that can be uttered. My reason for the word in this case, is that I am amazed and grateful that so many people loved to participate in a hands on community art project!

I was delighted to organize a collaborative art piece created with reclaimed and repurposed materials at the Armonk Outdoor Art Show. Thank you to the Friends of the Library, who collected materials and provided the space, thank you to the volunteers to helped visitors to the Armonk Outdoor Art Show participate in the project AND thank you to those visitors who took the time to stitch on or glue on a piece of plastic and help our tree grow!

We're hoping to schedule a stitching day at the North Castle Public Library in Armonk in the near future, so that interested collaborators can come help me put finishing touches on this artwork.

Meanwhile please enjoy the photos from the project and stay tuned for further developments!
This is how our tree looked on Saturday morning at the beginning of its journey.
By Sunday morning it was well into its transformation!
And here it is by the end of the day Sunday! Wow!
The following are pictures taken by our talented photographer Ilene Africk, of all the hands which made the art!










THANK YOU!!


detail of a City Sketch ©Natalya Khorover Aikens 2018

Hello friends!

At the end of this month, I would be delighted to greet you in booth V-08/09 at the Armonk Outdoor Art Show in Armonk, NY. September 29th and 30th, 10AM to 5PM, rain or shine.
 
The exhibit was just ranked as the #2 Fine Art and Design Show in the entire United States by Sunshine Artist Magazine, August 2018. The #2 Rank, based on sales reported by exhibitors to Sunshine Artist, is a spectacular jump from the previous #46 position! This is THE show for sophisticated art lovers expecting to find top quality work available to purchase!

I will be bringing brand new series of stitched collages that I am calling City Sketches. And, of course, a collection of your favorite urban subjects - fire escapes, bridges, and graffiti - will also be on hand.

In addition to presenting my artwork, I will be directing a collaborative art piece created with reclaimed and repurposed materials, a portion of which will be brought in by community members. Visitors will apply layers of plastic to the outline of the Armonk Outdoor Art Show tree logo. After the show, I will finish the artwork with my signature stitching and it will be installed at the North Castle Public Library in Armonk.

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!

stuffing it

Expanding on an idea. Or rather expanding my explanation of an idea.

In the last post I mentioned that I was stuffing undesirable bits and pieces of plastic and styrofoam into containers and making building out of them. I thought that this needed clarification. For the latest set of buildings that I made, I spent the time photographing the items that I stuffed them with.

Here is the collage of my documentation:
stuff that got stuffed
Then, while I was all set up for photography, I continued.. Here are my containers, patterns sketched out on scraps of upholstery fabric. Then layered with scraps cut off from other art, stitched for texture till my hearts content, and glued onto the containers. Then the edges were all hand stitched with a nice, satisfyingly thick thread.
the how to
 And now the results:
Urban Tower 5 © Natalya Aikens 2018 (3"x3"x9")

Urban Tower 7xs © Natalya Aikens 2018 (3"x3"x5")
This one's insides were not photographed because I realized that I still had scraps left, but was already out of time to photograph the stuffing ephemera. But it's basically the same bunch of stuff.
Urban Tower 8xs © Natalya Aikens 2018 (2"x2"x5")
 And here are all three together. Don't they look swell?
Urban Tower family? ☺︎
I enjoyed the photo documenting process so much, that I created a tiny little book of it. Just photos, no words.
I decided that if someone buys all three of these little Urban Towers, they'll get the little book as a bonus. That way they know exactly how it happened. And knowing feels good.

fire escape love story

I love fire escapes. There. I've said it. Wait. I may have said it before. Well it's true. I do love them. Let me count the ways. I love their graphic lines, their rusty or sleek texture, their negative space, the layers upon layers of straight lines, the angles.
research...

research...
 I love interpreting them in stitch. Large, small and medium.
detail of Iron Spine 4 (snow dyed pine thread on plastic)

detail of Iron Spine: Hot in the City ( embroidery thread on plastic and thread snips)

Iron Spine xs2 (variegated thread on plastic)

details of Urban Towers (embroidery thread on plastic and fabric over repurposed containers)

detail of Green News ( thread over newspaper and plastic)
And extra large of course.
in progress Iron Spine 6XL

in progress Iron Spine 6XL

trying to do good

I have been thinking a lot about what I can do as an environmentally and socially conscious artist and human. It is not enough for me to be using materials which, when not properly recycled, are destined to be trash that pollutes our waterways and makes its way to the Pacific Trash Vortex.


While I am still trying to figure out exactly what I could be doing, I can be helping already. And so can you. I am making a pledge to donate 25% from the proceeds of the sale of the artwork above to Riverkeeper, New York's clean water advocate.


It seems appropriate to me that the first artwork I will be selling to support clean water efforts is TZB Span. It depicts the old Tappan Zee bridge, which spans the Hudson River from Westchester county to Rockland county. It'll soon be gone as the new bridge is being built right next to it.

Let's help Riverkeeper keep the Hudson clean for us all. Every little bit helps. Thank you. Follow the links to see and purchase the art on my website or just click here! This piece is $650, so $162.50 will go to Riverkeeper. There is a $10 shipping fee. It's not much, but it's a start! Together we can make a difference!
TZB Span, 8"x8" © Natalya Aikens 2017

Rauschenberg and I

Grand Black Tie Sperm Glut by Robert Rauschenberg

If you're in NYC or visiting soon, don't miss Robert Rauschenberg: Among Friends exhibit at the MoMA. It's up till mid September thankfully!

As I wandered through this exhibition with my friend Nathalie, I felt more and more empowered. So odd. Usually I feel inspired by an exhibit. But this time I felt empowered! What the heck?

After some pondering I realized that it's because of the materials! Yes materials. Rauschenberg's and mine. I loved peering into each of his pieces on display and figuring out what he used where. I found cardboard and fabric of course. But also plastic! Plastic bags and balloons. And I must say that they still looked good after all these years, one was from 1961! I have heard that his work is a conservators nightmare, so I am being much more careful with mine. All my materials are archival, except for the plastic. But the plastic is indestructible as we all know....

And now that you see Rauschenberg's street signs above, I can make another connection. Perhaps an obnoxious one on my part.... but I've made some street sign art myself. Mine are a bit more delicate though... and a lot smaller! Stitched on plastic of course. And made completely by my hands.
Bump © Natalya Aikens
Other Side © Natalya Aikens

Crosswalk © Natalya Aikens

Dip © Natalya Aikens

No Turning Back © Natalya Aikens

One Way Or Another © Natalya Aikens
I've updated my website with new work including three of the pieces above. The other three were already there. There is still more new art to add, so check back every few days as I'll be adding a few on a regular schedule. And for everyones convenience, I'm adding PayPal buttons as I go.
Thank you!!

teasing apart thread nests

Yup, that's the title of this post. I'm sure any long time reader of this blog must have suspected that I collect thread snips from various projects. I pile them up into little cubbies until I figure out a way to use them. I try to keep them in color families, but sometimes I fail and then I don't stress about it.

Recently I thought they (the thread snips) would make a great texture representing a brick wall and heat rising. So I used them in this piece - Iron Spine: Hot in the City.
fire escape detail

another fire escape, more to follow, but please note the threads in the back ground



Iron Spine:Hot in the City ©Natalya Aikens 2017
As you might suspect, I have a few more thread nests to unravel. Here's some that I am using for the sky in a piece about water towers. Still working on this one.
teasing out the thread nest over repurposed plastic

sketching out the water towers

building up the rungs
Stay tuned! Hopefully this piece will be finished before the end of the month..

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!

approaching

I love when deadlines are approaching. Sometimes deadlines are looming... that feels daunting and dreaded. But when they are approaching it's a bit more light hearted and exciting. Yes still lots of work ahead, but it feels happy. My favorite kind of deadline.

That's how things are now in the studio. I am getting ready for CraftMorristown in Morristown, NJ on March 17th, 18th and 19th. I finished my Street Signs pieces and stretching them on canvas now. And yesterday I finished the Brooklyn Bridge! Yes I now have a bridge to sell you. Well right after I stretch it on canvas and frame it.

Here are a few pictures of the bridge in progress...
choosing colors

putting in the starting stitches through my mock up (photo by Vivien Zepf)

filling in the details

the back view is fun to see and will never be seen again!

lot's more details to go here

approaching the image in my head

almost there

just a few more
Hopefully in the next blog post I will share the finished piece in a lovely frame. The picture I snapped of it with my iPhone is not up to par.

Meanwhile as part of my preparation for the show, I've set up my booth in my living room. It barely fit, there was no room for anyone else, but I needed to see how it looked. I will have to do it again and try it out with my art in it. Oh boy.... the dog did not appreciate it at all!
eek! It's bigger in person!

artsy shot of envelopes with invitations
If you're in the Northern New Jersey area and would like to come see the show, email me for your personalized invitation! I have just a few left.

Ok now back to framing and other details. Hmmm.... can I stitch one more in two weeks??!!

one way or another

Done with costumes, and back to art! Last year, at the very end, I posted the last piece I made before the year was over. Today I want to tell you about the two pieces I am making that could be considered companion pieces to that one. All three could actually be companion pieces to these that I made a couple of years back. As you can see street signs still intrigue me...

Looks like these pieces are all about circles! Not really, but I am using layers and layers of cut up Target shopping bags, which I free-motion machine stitched in a circular pattern. Then I painted them with acrylic paint and now I am in the process of hand stitching the signs.
this one is in the embroidery hoop right now. I think I'll call it "one way or another"

a close up in progress

going for tons of texture here

this one is waiting to be hand stitched. I might call it "no turns"

can you see the turns?

all three - in progress, waiting and finished

slow art

Happy New Year! Wishing you all lots of love, peace and creativity this year!

I wanted to share the progress of my current XL artwork. I started it sometime in November, and if you follow me on Instagram and Facebook, you may have seen a few posts about it. It's truly slow art... it's quite large (for me) and is all hand-stitched so far. Thus the time factor. I am working on it in bits and pieces and sometime spurts of time. I take breaks to work on other art, some faster more immediately gratifying art. But I am really enjoying the pace of it.

This piece is a continuation of the experiment that I started last year with this piece. It's coming back soon from a photoshoot with Quilt National, and I cannot wait to see how it works with this new piece.

So here's how it's been coming along...
I cut out a very large paper stencil of a fire escape and traced in thread

audio books are great to listen to when I do this type of work, podcasts are great also

it started to look like this

the base is a very old linen bed sheet from my family, it might have even been used a drop cloth once as there are white paint splotches on it. I spent some quality time mending all the worn spots.

this is what it looked like when the stencil outline was done

then I started pinning bits and pieces of vintage lace to it


I intend to cut away some of the lace after it's stitched down

this is what it looked like at the beginning of the process. The idea behind all the lace layers is that I want it to resemble/represent a wall behind the fire escape

just lace didn't work, so the fabric scraps came out to play

this started looking better!

and better!

somehow it took on a spring like feeling... I don't think it'll stay...

this is when I got done layering my scraps and lace. Now I have to stitch it all down and cut away the excess so that the fire escape can be seen again

it's off the wall and on my dining room table, and I'm auditioning threads. Not only will they need to keep it all together for me, but they'll need to add color and texture
Stay tuned! I am trying to stick to working on it for at least an hour a day. I have lots of other projects that I have to be working on, but I don't want this to stagnate. Or keep taking up my dining room table....

crossing to the other side

It's very close. The end of the year. I'm ready to cross that line.

Usually at this time of the year I do an overview of all the artwork I have created throughout the year. But since I did an overview of the art created this summer not too long ago, I was in the mood for something different now.

This is the time of the year to finish up projects and artworks, put everything in order and generally clean up. I am doing that. But I also went and started a brand new piece and then got the bee in my bonnet to finish it before the year was over. Luckily it's a small piece and I was able to do exactly that.

You could probably have a great time psychoanalyzing the image and the name of the piece. But I'm choosing to look at it as moving on and crossing the street to new and bigger and better things. Come with me!



Other Side © Natalya Aikens 2016
Repurposed Target plastic shopping bags, layered (many layers!); free motion machine stitched; painted; hand stitched in many layered stitches and wrapped around a stretched canvas. 10"x10". Waiting for a frame.

By the way... I am trying to explore the online art selling universe a bit further, so I opened up a trial Shopify store. If you would be so kind as to take a peek and maybe even share, I would be very grateful. Thank you!

stitched paint strokes

Usually I stitch with a plan in mind. Meaning that I have seen in my minds eye what I want to achieve and I am stitching towards that vision. But sometimes.... just for the fun of it I want to stitch with no plan. Just meandering and enjoying the process, the colors and the texture that is being created.

For inspiration I'll pull out a picture and use my stitches to interpret that picture. I don't mean exactly, just the feeling of it. Like a moody autumnal landscape for example. I'll concentrate on the color, the direction of the vegetation.... This exercise is lots of fun to do with painting by famous artists. I'll open up a big heavy art book or print an image from the internet and try to capture the feeling of it with my stitches.

So where am I leading with all this? Well... I am trying to entice you to take a vacation with me. Yes. a vacation. In Ticino, that's in Switzerland. In August. I know it seems so far way, August and Switzerland. But August will be here in a blink of an eye and Switzerland is just a hop, skip and a jump away!
a detail of a Klimt
my stitchy interpretation
Picasso is fun to play with
fun to choose the fabrics and the stitches
Rothko's serenity is interpreted well in silk
simple is best
that's the hotel!

and that's the scenery!
So? Come stitch some paint strokes with me and enjoy the end of summer in Ticino!