permission to quit


Remember April? Yep, the month before May. Remember my daily discharge project for April? I just finished it. I hate to leave things unfinished. I feel like I cannot move on to the next thing until the first thing is done. I do not have too many UFO's precisely for that reason. Not everything I finish is worth showing to the world, but at least it's finished. And now I finished the April discharge. And I am sharing it with you. I enjoyed the unpredictability of bleach discharge, I did not enjoy the chemicals... But I am glad I experimented, learned what I did enjoy and did not enjoy. I got it out of my system. So above is the April discharge collage and below is one of my favorite results.
Want to know what else I finished? The daily journal project for 2011. Yep. Actually what I did is I gave myself permission to quit. I had a hard time finishing April due to family obligations and teaching commitments and in the interim I have lost the "need", the "drive" to finish this project. I wanted to be doing several other different projects that are burning in my head, but I could not get going on them because of this ridiculous desire to not leave things unfinished. So I made a deal with myself - finish April and then I could quit. So - I quit. There will be no May or June. I will work on what is exciting to me now. Maybe there will a July or August, maybe not. I'll let you know.
~Happy creating!

bleach in April

I decided that for my April journaling challenge I will experiment with discharge. I have only played with bleach a tiny bit in the past and had always wanted to experiment some more. So now is that experimenting time. Off to the local quilt shop I went looking for some solid cottons. Silly me had no idea how hard it would be to find them...
I settled on four dark colors I thought would probably discharge well. 

So far I am not too impressed with the way this dark brown is discharging, but I do like the teal green that is making an appearance. I would like some more drama please! 

For a few days I will experiment with leaving the dishwasher detergent and bleach pen on longer, and putting on more layers. I am looking forward to trying out some shibori like attempts at my little squares soon too. Oh and my new thermofax screens will probably work well also. Any suggestions and tips are welcome! What can I do to achieve more drama?

journal books

"Keeping it together" could be the alternate title for this post. I have finally gotten around to putting together my journal books for the first three months of the year (how quickly is it flying by?). 
I decided on hand made paper, which I ripped into small pages. I have sewn on the daily journals, one on each side and put them together by month with a cover that I drew in marker.
For now the books are just loosely held together with a few stitches. 
I do not feel at all finished with these books. I think my next step will be reinforcing the spines with some linen thread. 
Not sure where I will go next, but thoughts of dipping edges in paint are swirling in my head....


Here's the collage of daily journals for March. I experimented with Tsukineko inks and chose to paint objects in order to learn to control my materials. My first attempts were heavy handed to say the least...I learned to lighten up, dab my paint brush in a rag before putting it fabric and in the last few days I learned that a natural bristle brush holds a LOT more ink in it then a synthetic brush. I'm working out the details of how I am putting these little pieces of fabric together and will share that soon. Meanwhile I am trying to decide on my technique for April... ....decisions decisions....

playing with Tsukineko inks

My challenge to myself for the month of March is to master Tsukineko inks. OK maybe not master, but learn to be much better at them. Long time ago Judy Coates Perez gave me a quick lesson on using them, but my brain is a sieve... I just remembered something about using aloe vera gel instead of water. So I whipped out my inks and started painting. Disaster? Not quite, but not all that pretty either. I was tired of doing abstract, decorative doodles and figured the best way to teach myself would by trying to paint actual objects. I am not looking for absolute realism here, just close enough, mainly learning to control of the medium. Judy was kind enough to answer my question or two and I am slowly getting better. Her main tip in my opinion was to heat set as soon as you like what you see before going further. That has certainly helped! The only problem with this is that I have an ulterior motive as usual. I would like to possibly do some pleine air painting when the weather gets warm enough and definitely would like to use the inks in my life drawing class which starts in April. Having a plugged in iron in the great outdoors is a problem and may be a safety hazard in a studio of an art center too. So.... where does that leave me? Why of course I must master my materials with out the benefit of heat. Wish me luck!


Today I have completed my quest of creating daily marker sketches on fabric for the month of February. Here they are for your enjoyment. My enjoyment of them? meh... I quickly grew tired of my markers, and even a purchase of a few new juicy ones didn't make this better. Consensus? I'll stick to markers on paper next time. Onto March! What daily fabric journal shall I do for the next 31 days? I'll let you know!
PS still taking suggestions for techniques to explore!


Did you participate in the Sketchbook Project? I did and a few days ago I received notice that my sketchbook has made it to it's destination in Brooklyn. So I thought now would be a good time to share a few (too many) of my favorite pages with you.

I did a sketchbook post a while back, explaining how I worked on my sketchbook, and these are the results. After I put the book back together, I added some collaging to a few pages, TAP transfers to others, doodles to others and generally could have kept going and adding and adding and adding... Luckily there was a deadline to make me stop, scan in what I did and send it off on it's travels. I won't lie...I didn't want to let go. A small part of me wanted to keep it. But a promise is a promise, so to Brooklyn it went.

Up at the top of this post is the first page in book. That's a squiggly glue line through the middle that you see and I tore away the top part of the page. I did TAP transfer over the first and the third pages together and the second and the third pages is what you see next.
I enjoyed the dotty happiness of the next page, so I continued...with the next three page layouts, tearing away section of the middle layout. Then I had another slightly more serene bubbly moment. Here are several architectural pages. Photos on the pages that managed to get through my printer unscathed. Some machine stitching, some doodling, some collage. I had fun playing with cut out windows on a few pages. A sort of an abstract scene here... becomes gold lit windows here... Red watercolor swooshes here... become red lit windows here.. And I think I shall end here with this happy bright painted and collaged page.. See my Sketchbook Project artist page here.


Just a quick update on journaling for the month of January. I have been keeping up with my drawing on fabric and used up the rest of my silk habotai, had to use poplin for the last day. I have figured out how I want to contain my journals for this year and ordered the needed supplies. When they get here and I play and really figure it out, I shall share.

I have also decided to do something different every month, as in trying out a different technique or a product for each month. There are so many things out there I have always wanted to try and never have. I figured this would be a perfect way to do so. January was the month of Pigma pens (not new to me, but easy for the stressful month in my life), February is fabric markers, March will be Tsukineko inks. I already decided to try discharge, gutta resist, and flower pounding in the summer. What do you think I should do? All suggestions are welcome and I have a feeling I am going to have a hard time narrowing down to twelve (er.. ten)!


How can I resist a post with a title like that?? Even if all I would like to do is give you an update on my journaling progress so far.... Here's a very elaborate (not) collage of doodles on silk 1-4-11 through 1-11-11. I'm keeping up with myself so far. Costume blog posts coming up soon, I'm sewing like a banshee (that's if banshee's can sew... whoever they are)

journaling 2011

After much pondering, changing my mind several times and thinking of forgetting all about it, I have decided in the nick of time (12-31-10, 11:30PM to be exact) just how I was going to be journaling in 2011. I have been inspired by many in my choice. Two were Melly Testa and Kristin La Flamme, who I almost joined last year in the 30 sketches in 30 days project. But life was too crazy and I filed the idea away. Another is Paula Kovarick. Paula is the ultimate doodler. She invited me to participate in one of her doodle exchanges last year and I been always amazed at how she transforms her doodles into wonderful patterns and art. Perhaps I'll come up with a fun pattern too..
So I decided to start the year with 30 doodles on fabric in 30 days. I am following the basic premise of the project Melly did, that is line drawings on fabric with pen. This will work very well for the month of January as I expect to not have much breathing room this month, with Russian Orthodox Christmas on the 7th and then full speed ahead for finishing of the costumes for the Russian school play. After that I am leaving it open for whatever floats my boat and whatever time allows. I may decide to start adding stitches or paint or who knows what. I will stick to fabric as base and the size will remain manageable 6"x6" for cohesiveness of it all. That's the plan!Here's my start: Of course I could not start with plain cotton. I had to choose silk habotai. Ripped into 6"x6" squares and doodled on with Pigma pens. At first I didn't like the way the pens bled on silk, but now I am embracing it. 1.1.11 1.2.11 1.3.11
How are you journaling this year?

a review

edited - The diptychs measure 10" x 16" (8"+8") and I added links to each month, so that you can read about how I did it.

...of the 2010 diptychs that I created monthly and based on the sketches made daily in 2009.
January (how I did it here)February (how I did it here)March (how I did it here)April ( how I did it )May ( how I did it )June ( how I did it )July ( how I did it )August ( how I did it )September ( how I did it )October ( how I did it )November ( how I did it here and here)December ( how I did it )

I stitched by hand and machine, glued, cut, painted, felted, tore, recycled.
I used silk, cotton, synthetic, wool, lace, plastic, paper.
I used acrylic paint, Tsukineko inks, printer ink, Pebeo paint, Pigma pens.
I used fabrics, food netting, packaging material, buttons, paper, shopping bags.
I had fun and experimented.

Tune in to find out what journaling plans I have for 2011!

trip back in time December 2010 and the December diptych. The crazy hazy time of the holiday season has kept me from planned posts, but the art did get finished within the time frame. As usual I started with an inspiration from the December 2009 sketch journal. Which oddly enough was the last sketch in the book.I decided to experiment with abandon for this last diptych of the year. First step was taking out two pieces of silk prepared for printing and painting on them a la water color with Tsukineko ink. Here are several in progress shots and a close up. Then I went to play with Photoshop and created a stamp image of the original sketch. Which I then printed on the painted silk. I layered the printed silk on two pieces of silk dupioni that happened to work perfectly with the color scheme. You'll see the dupioni peeking through in later pictures. My base all usual is canvas board which for the fun of it I painted in large happy circles. I free hand machine stitched a few of the circles with variegated rayon thread and then hand stitched the printed silk on to the dupioni silk with different variegated embroidery floss. I outlined some circles and gathered two of the edges. Then I trimmed away the excess. And added a bit more embroidery floss stitches. I used matte medium to adhere the fabric to the canvas boards and to darken the edges and keep them from fraying. Then I used Pebeo gloss puff paint to draw circles around the edges, emphasize other circles and add some fun. Here's a detail. And the final (literally) December 2010 diptych.

the sketchbook project

I signed up for the Sketchbook Project way back in beginning of summer. I thought - what a perfect project to bring with me to St. Petersburg... hah! The book traveled with me to Russia, to Chicago, to Vermont, to North Carolina and did not acquire a single doodle! All my other sketchbooks got worked on, drawn in, doodled in. I even taught a journaling workshop! Nope. Nada. Nothing for this sketchbook....

Why? I do not know. Maybe it required the push (shove?) of the impending deadline? The rush (exhilaration?) of several projects d
ue at once? Perhaps... that is exactly what it needed.

So now in the mad holiday rush it is being diligently worked on, sharing the time allotted to it with a gazillion of other projects that are due NOW! I have never worked on a whole book at once. All my
other sketchbooks (there are several) are worked on one page at a time, maybe a few pages at a time, but never the whole book at the same time. I am enjoying this challenge to myself. I am working on the book intuitively, just following the muse/book and doing what she thinks I should. First I played with some glue dribbles, thinking they might provide interesting resists. So far nothing too exciting. Then I took out my watercolors and colored all the pages in washes of color, patterns and swirls, using brushes and sponges. Then I took the book apart, feeling the need to iron all the pages smooth before going further. Once I had them so smooth I just had to try printing on them. So I did and lost a few pages in the process due to printer acting up. Then I decided it was time to engage my sewing machine. Free-motion on paper. That was fun! Now I am in the process of putting the book back together. Stitching the pages back in order. I think I will glue a few things in to it now and do some doodling. Be back later with an update!


Kristin's comment on my previous post resulted in a slap on the forehead for me.

She said -
Nice interpretation. I miss the big white dots from the original though.

Of course! I completely forgot that I totally intended to add those big white dots! Just spaced out I guess, or more likely too busy thinking of the next project in queue.Back down to the studio I went and rummaged through my rarely used button stash.
And voila! here is the better (in my humble opinion) November diptych and detail.

november diptych

Skidding in to the end of the year! This is the 2009 journal sketch that I chose to interpret for the November diptych. This is when I was going crazy with shredding magazines, fingers covered in matte medium and loving every messy moment. I didn't want to get as messy this year, but did want capture the feeling of this collage which was one of my favorites. First I dove into my scrap basket and selected the materials. Then I lightly sponge-painted the canvas boards with a silvery gray and a cadmium red acrylic paints, and started laying out the rectangular swatches. Here's a further progression of my design. This about where, all of a sudden, I realized that I had not thought things through far enough and had no idea how I would adhere the swatches to the surface. (I'll blame that on being frazzled by the start of the holiday season...) Soooo....I cut four pieces of light light pink netting and very carefully transferred all the little pieces on the netting and trapped with another piece of netting. grumble.....Then I put the netting sandwich onto a piece of stabilizer and pinned. Took it to my machine and stitched parallel free motion lines to secure all the tiny pieces and keep the brick like feel. Here they are all stitched and still on the stabilizer. Then the messy part of the project started, ripping away the stabilizer.... my vacuum loves me! Here's a detail. And the final diptych. Now off to start on December....

october diptych

I know it's November, it sneaked up on me...but technically I have been working on this diptych all of October. I chose the sketch to interpret in October and it has percolating in my head since then, just did not have the opportunity to get into the physical till this morning. So glad it happened this morning though, because it turned out exactly as I wanted it to despite the fact that I wasn't sure how I was going to proceed when I started. By now some of you might know that I work intuitively and this diptych is the perfect example of it.I started off like I always do by sizing and cropping my sketch in Photoshop. This eventually goes on the back of my diptych as a handy reference of what the inspiration was, but it is also handy to look at it in the correct scale as I plan my approach. Usually the next step is painting my canvases with a base color. But I could not decide what it should be, so I left them blank. I knew I wanted to thread sketch my figure and it occurred to me that I could print it on the stabilizer sheets to use as a guide. I decided to pin them on top of my white cotton sheeting and picked out thread to machine sketch with and thread to embroider with later. Here's the thread sketching with black cotton thread and gray rayon thread. I then tore away most of the stabilizer. I decided not to torture myself with removing all the stabilizer, especially since I liked how the small pieces left over were giving a shadow effect. At this point I also decided to change my approach entirely... I flipped the two quilt sandwiches over and trimmed away most of the batting. Then I trimmed away the excess white fabric and that's when the diptych told me what color I needed to paint the canvas boards.I sponge painted the edges with silver metallic and black acrylic paint, trying to achieve a charcoal look. I was not worried about the center as I knew it would get covered up entirely. I decided not to wait for the paint to dry, added matte medium to the back of my sketches and glued them on the canvases. Then I dug into my recyclables stash and came up with a black plastic mesh bag and black tulle. I tore and ripped and glued little pieces to my hearts content. This part was way more fun then I thought it would be. I really liked the brush stroke like effect that the pieces produced and that I was able to keep the look of the spontaneity and the quickness of the initial sketch. I must admit I did work pretty quick on the whole thing! The longest and most painful part was waiting for the matte medium to dry so I can scan the diptych in for the final jpeg. Tell me what you think!

finally caught up to september!

Yes. I know it's October. But I'm caught up now and that's what counts! This is the inspiration for my September diptych, the simple sketch from 2009. I started off by painting my canvas boards with three (yes three) different shades of red. Why? Because I wanted achieve a slightly mottled background color. Naphthol crimson, cadmium red medium hue and cadmium red deep. I love paint names...Then I started cutting strips of painted dryer sheets (painted a while back just for the sake of painting and knowing they'll come in handy one day), stacking the different lengths and widths and then hand stitching them together with a cotton variegated thread. That's when I decided that I needed something a bit more substantial with the dryer sheets. White spongy packing material fit the bill perfectly. Here it is freshly glued down. And layered with dryer sheet strips. And with more packing strips added on top. Then I found a very light yellow plastic shopping bag, cut out small squares and glued them on in several layers. Here a textural close up for your pleasure! and tah-dah! The September diptych.
I'm starting on October tomorrow so I can be done before November...ahem...

catching up with myself

Catching up with my own expectations and promises... Remember my journals for this year? Or rather journal diptychs? Haven't posted about them for a while, because I haven't done them since June. Life got in the way... But I have caught up, almost, with July and August anyway. Here is the journal sketch from July 2009 that I chose to interpret for the July 2010 diptych. It was a negative space drawing of my aunt's vases in St. Petersburg. The ornate vase is a lovely example of Russian art deco that used to belong to my grandmother. For the back ground on the 8x10 canvas boards I chose newsprint that was a test print for another project that I was working on, it seemed appropriate as the subject matter was poetry about St. Petersburg.Here it is wrapped around the canvas boards, adhered with matte gel medium and the outline of my shapes sketched with pencil. I went over my pencil lines with a brush tipped Pigma pen and pulled out various sheers that I thought would work for my purposes. I cut the sheers into strips of different lengths and widths and layered them on to the surface.Here's a close up of several layers. This a progress shot of several layers. I adhered the sheers with dabs of matte gel medium. Then comes a point in my work where I get so involved in the process that I forget to document it. I added several more layers of sheer strips and added a few lines of delicate cotton thread. This is the final July 2010 diptych. For August I chose this sketch. And decided on a light blue back ground. I mixed my blue and white acrylic paint right on the canvases. It was fun to be messy! Here are the canvases in pale blue. Then I found some light green organza in my stash, layered it with green felt strips and started machine stitching away. Added some more stitching in my doodly style. And as above got carried away and forgot to take more progress shots... I added more stitching, cut away the organza and adhered the pieces to the canvas. And then I added some white paint...So here is the August 2010 diptych. to work on September....

june diptych

How did we get to the end of June already??? Time is flying by so fast I feel like I'm running behind trying to catch it by the tail....
At least I managed to get my June diptych journal done in time! This is the sketch from last year that I started with. I was playing with pictures of wrought iron fences in Photoshop, printed out an image, ripped and glued it into my journal and colored with a marker. Having recently taken a wet felting workshop I wanted to try wet felting for a journal. Here are my possible ingredients laid out on the already painted canvas boards. There is wool roving there, yarn, dryer sheets, silk scraps and sari ribbon.And here they are assembled on bubble wrap ready for felting. Here's a luscious close up. An in progress shot with one of the diptychs rolled around a rolling pin. (I never bake anymore with a great French bakery down the road, so I'm sure my rolling pin is happy to be used for something creative again!) This is what the rolled diptych looked opened. Here's the other after some more manipulations. Another luscious closeup. Here they both are, rather wet, but done. At this point I decided to layer them on pieces of tear away stabilizer and machine stitch the fence lines with thick silk thread.Then I went through a few alterations for the canvas boards, as I did not like the way they looked plain. I was sure I was going to like the bubble wrap stamped version, but it was quite underwhelming in reality. But after several layers of paint and almost starting over, I was finally happy with the final textural background. What do you think? Not sure that I'll do July diptych in wet felting, but I'll definitely revisit it again.