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.

Iron Spine Aloft

Iron Spine Aloft billowing on the front lawn of the Rye Arts Center
A few blog posts back, I spoke about seeing plastic trash flapping in the trees along the roads in my travels. I have reinterpreted that imagery by creating a public art installation, made from plastic, that is gracing the front lawn of the Rye Arts Center, strung between two trees. Iron Spine Aloft can be seen as you drive by the arts center until the end of April. Feel free to stop in and enjoy it up close. Make time to go inside and see Fiber Now: Textile Artists on the Cutting Edge, in which five of my pieces are presented alongside the works of eleven other talented fiber artists. Do email me, if you're in the neighborhood. Perhaps I'll be able to meet you there and we can talk art, stitching, texture, recycling and the circle of life. You can also join me for two BYOB workshops that I'll be teaching on March 21st and 28th.

I am hoping to continue creating large-scale public art installations created from repurposed plastic. I am working on a series of proposals to further this endeavor. Raising public awareness about the excess of single use plastic in our society and the problems of litter in our environment are at the forefront of my art practice. If you know of an institution to which you think I can submit such a proposal, please let me know. I welcome your input.

I have posted a few videos of the installation on Instagram and Facebook for your viewing pleasure. I'll be posting more in the near future, as well as a more substantial video detailing the creation of Iron Spine Aloft from start to finish, which I will post on my YouTube channel when completed.

Iron Spine Aloft detail


Iron Spine Aloft detail


studio update

Here's a review of what's been happening in my studio this week. Lot's and lot's of stitching!

I've been stitching the small pieces that will make up my extra large installation.

I made a quick visit to NYC for some inspiration.

I tried out one of the stitched plastic pieces on the window to see how translucent it is.

And another as well

And then the Polar Vortex came and I watched art make art in the snow...


Now I'll focus on a commissioned home portrait, so next week I post warmer looking photos to help everyone thaw out from this frigid cold...



a week in pictures (and videos)

Some weeks are crazy busy in the studio, and I have lots to share. Others seem that way, but because I am working on the same project day in and day out, I feel as though I have nothing to share.

But even when I feel that way.... I realize that I do have plenty to share. Sometimes not in words, but always definitely in pictures. Here are a few pictures and videos of what I have been working on this past week.
Layers of plastic waiting to be stitched for one of the portions of my installation in progress

a thread nest encased in a plastic air pocket

plastic thread nests being stitched

rain on a portion of Irons Spine/Urban Edge installation hanging on my deck

A little video of a portion of Iron Spine/Urban Edge installation moving in the rain.


Lucky that the pup needed to go out on a frigid morning during sunrise as I got to take this video of the plastic crackling as it moved in the wind.

Hope you have enjoyed these peeks into my studio happenings, stay tuned for more soon!

going big, bigger and BIG!

portion of Iron Spine/Urban Edge installation is being weather tested!

The first month of the new year is only half way done, but my calendar is already filled with plans for the start of 2019.

First on my agenda is ArtShow:Bedford starting January 25th. It's a wonderful, small show in the picturesque town of Bedford NY, now in its 46th year. All proceeds from the show go to local charities supporting a wide range of services. 

In March I am delighted to be participating in Fiber Now: Artists on the Cutting Edge presented by the Rye Arts Center in Rye, NY. In conjunction with the exhibit I will be teaching a Stitching+Embroidery workshop on March 21st and 28th. As part of the exhibit I've also been invited to create a large installation −more than 15 feet across− on the front lawn of the center. The installation will help raise public awareness of plastic pollution crisis we’re facing, while enabling me to repurpose plastic into my art. I believe this installation for the Rye Arts Center is a perfect fit for my art practice. 

At the moment I am rifling through my stash and pulling out the biggest, sturdiest pieces of plastic that I have to start assembling the substrate. I’m conducting weathering tests for the plastic and my stitching. I took a portion of the Iron Spine/Urban Edge installation and hung it on my deck to see how it holds up to the wind and weather for the next month or two. This experiment will inform some of the design and construction choices I’ll have to make going forward.

pattern for the installation to be is laid out on the floor taking up all the space!

another shot of the weather test from Iron Spine/Urban Edge

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

is it opera or art season?

detail of City Sketch 10
It's back to school and back to routine time around these parts. How fast the summer always flies by! Did you know that's it is also the start of the Metropolitan Opera season?

Why am I telling you that it's opera season? Because I have just the right piece of art for the New York City opera lover. It's a depiction of Lincoln Center in the heart of Manhattan. It's called City Sketch 10, part of a new series of city scenes. It's available on Saatchi Art, where you can buy the original or a print. So get your tickets for Samson et Delila, or whichever opera makes your heart flutter and buy my art to get your season started on the right note!

If you're in the New York metro area at the end of this month, come see me at the Armonk Outdoor Art Show on September 29th and 30th in Armonk, NY. I'll be exhibiting the other collages that are part of the City Sketch series and leading a community art project too. Booth V-08,09.
City Sketch 10 © Natalya Khorover Aikens 2018


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.

chromorama-bahamamama?

collages pre-stitching
After a very busy July, I took a stab at organizing the havoc in my studio. Instead, I discovered a stash of vintage 1980's Chromorama papers. They are still as luscious as ever! And despite several online searches, it seems that they don't exist anymore.... insert sad face here.

collages post-stitching
I took out my plastic scraps and worked up a bunch of collages with smaller paper segments. I experimented with some simple stitching and was thoroughly pleased with the results. I'm hoping the recipients of my August subscriber birthday cards will be pleased as well.

Now I have the larger sized papers laid out on my work table among the plastic scraps. I am looking forward to how these collages will turn out and the much more intricate stitching that will go on them. I am planning to debut these at The Armonk Outdoor Art Show at the end of September.
fresh batch of vintage paper to stitch on!
In other news, I'd like to extend an invitation to join me at the opening reception for the Creative Climate Awards on Monday, September 17th at 6PM. My piece called Sunrise has been accepted into the exhibit.

I'll be sharing photos of all happenings on Instagram and Facebook. Hope to see you at one event or another! 

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.

documenting the process

Why? Why do I use the materials that I use for my art?

I have always thought the answer is obvious. But lately I have been giving it a lot of thought, talking about it with other artists, and I have discovered that it's maybe not so obvious... and I am not sure if I can always speak about it clearly.

The basic answer is that I like my materials. I like the way they behave, I like the way that they feel, I love what I am able to achieve with them. I also love that I am creating something beautiful out of trash. I love that I am keeping even a tiny amount of plastic out of the sieve that is the local recycling process. And maybe somewhere out in the ocean, one less little or large aquatic creature will have one less bag to strangle itself in...

I have decided to start documenting my process. And in writing about it, maybe I'll make clear to my collectors and even to myself what it is exactly that goes into loving my materials and why I feel it's important.

In the last few weeks I have spent quite a bit of time communing with these materials of mine. I need to prepare quite a bit of them for future artworks and that meant a lot of time with scissors in hand. The plastic supermarket shopping bag seems so pedestrian. Yet so graphic. I am cutting apart all the graphics, the lettering. Only to put in back together again in completely different ways. This, below, is my pile of large-ish letters.

I have also been sewing plastic netting to vintage linen. I am in the process of trimming away the excesses now to reveal the lines and I just could not throw away the trimmings. For now I am gathering them in a container, one day they will tell me what to do with them.


On my walk with the pup one day a couple of weeks ago, I spotted these plastic bags. Trapped in a tree and gently swaying in the breeze, there was something beautiful about them. Yes they are trash, yes they are polluting the area... and yet... 

Unfortunately I could not reach them to take them off. But they inspired me, as did that scene in American Beauty of the plastic bag dancing with the wind. 

And I love this quote from the script : "Ricky Fitts: It was one of those days when it's a minute away from snowing and there's this electricity in the air, you can almost hear it. And this bag was, like, dancing with me. Like a little kid begging me to play with it. For fifteen minutes." 

So yes, I'm going to dance with some plastic bags....soon.



Back to the graphics of those plastic bags - I am also cutting out all the verbiage. It talks about how to recycle this bag, or where the store is located. I am interested in only the graphic nature of those lines. And I have amassed piles and piles of long and short, skinny and fat ribbons of plastic lettering. They will be my brush strokes...


And then there are pieces of plastic that have no graphic value to me. Or color value, or they are just in a awful shape and would not hold up to torture by stitching. Or I don't like the feel of them and don't want to use them in my art.

Those bags, and bits and pieces, and small hard plastic parts that get thrown in the trash and then quite likely wind up in the Pacific Garbage Patch; all those things, I am stuffing them into rinsed and thoroughly dried containers.

Those containers eventually become 3D buildings. Sculpture if you will, stitched sculpture. On their own they are very light, stuffed full of plastic they are still light, but have a bit of sturdiness to them. Enough to keep them upright and not blow away in the breeze.


I hate styrofoam. Yes hate is a strong word as I always tell my daughters. But I hate styrofoam and avoid purchasing anything in it. But sometimes it's inevitable. Especially if someone well meaning gives me something in styrofoam. I have discovered that if it's clean and dry, I can break it apart and stuff into my containers. That puts it to good use.


Most of the plastic bags come from my own household. I have been saving them for years, before I knew what it was that I wanted to do with them. Since I have started using them for my art, several friends have sent me their own collections. At the moment I have more than I can use for a long time. I now do grocery shopping with reusable bags and very rarely bring plastic bags into my home, and yet still have so many to make art from...

Since I have started filling the empty containers with rejected plastic and bits and pieces, I have become aware of how many of them there are! How many I have thrown into the trash, not even the recycling over the years... and I think of how many have found their way into the ocean. That thought saddens me.

Besides An Inconvenient Truth and the Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, see The Plastic Ocean and see what we're up against...


Here's how I used those strips of verbiage in a recent piece, Iron Spine 8, 12"x12".

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..

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??!!

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!

city love affair again

This one took a while.... too many distractions.. too many new experiments... but I still loved it, so I finally finished it.

Presenting City Love Affair 4. My grandmothers vintage linen towel, a lot of vintage lace from oh so many sources, a TAP transfer, machine stitching and hand stitching. A portrait of a beautiful building belonging to a school I never went to, but might have if I had stayed in Russia.

sky and roof

not so little round window

lampwork

details details
City Love Affair 4 © Natalya Aikens 2016
So different from the rest of the work I am doing right now, but yet such a part of me still.

something different

My friend Jane always challenges me. She's very good at it. Come to think of it... I think she might be responsible for planting the seed for all my 3D artworks.

And here's the latest one. Jane provided the wood block, as she's good with power tools also. And I covered the wood block with my art. I repurposed some older work that no longer felt right, used up some scraps from other pieces, added a ton of hand stitches. I'm pretty proud of what came to be. It's kind of raw and different and mine at the same time.

Urban Tower (three views) Natalya Aikens © 2016

Urban Tower Natalya Aikens © 2016 





By the way, you can see Urban Tower at the Nest Arts Factory until November 15th.

framing things

I have been focused on the business side of art lately. (With a bit of teaching prep thrown in!) And that meant frames this time!

I have listened to advice of experts and spent the time (and money) and framed quite a few of my pieces. Let's just say it's been a learning curve.... I have been adhering my embroideries to stretched canvas for a long time now, and then painting the edges, and I really love that look. So I was afraid that it would get spoiled in a frame. But it's just a matter of the right frame though... I went for simple and black, some shadow boxes, no glass, except for three little pieces that benefitted from mats also.

So here are some examples:
my dining room table production line...


you can see the three glassed and matted pieces here
I even framed two larger pieces. This is a corner of Iron Spine 4
Manhattan Bridge got framed
so did the Whitestone bridge

I really liked putting my abstracts on a white background and a shadow box.

Tappan Zee bridge got framed, I'm waiting patiently to do the new TZ soon!

Iron Spine 1 also got framed.
I am resisting putting these pieces up on my website as I have a few events coming up where they will up for sale. So if you're interested in these just shoot me an email! natalya@artbynatalya.com

fire escapes, bridges and water towers

I thought it's about time that I shared full images of all the new pieces I have created in the past few months. Now that I have premiered them at the Armonk Outdoor Art Show, it is time to see them on the blog. So without further a do here they are: 
Iron Spine 1xs (6"x6") © Natalya Aikens 2016
Iron Spine 2xs (6"x6") © Natalya Aikens 2016
Iron Spine 3xs (6"x6") © Natalya Aikens 2016
Iron Spine 4xs (6"x6") © Natalya Aikens 2016
Iron Spine 5xs (6"x6") © Natalya Aikens 2016
Water Tower 1xs (6"x6") © Natalya Aikens 2016
Water Tower 2xs (6"x6") © Natalya Aikens 2016
Water Tower 3xs (6"x6") © Natalya Aikens 2016
Water Tower 4xs (6"x6") © Natalya Aikens 2016
Water Tower 5xs (6"x6") © Natalya Aikens 2016
MNHB span (12"x12") © Natalya Aikens 2016
TRIboro span (12"x12") © Natalya Aikens 2016
TZB span (8"x8") © Natalya Aikens 2016
WHTstone span (8"x8") © Natalya Aikens 2016
GWB span (8"x8") © Natalya Aikens 2016
Soon I will have these up on my website with juicy detail images. Stay tuned! And thanks for stopping by!