Painting Space

I’ve been getting into the studio in Rimbey every week, just not as often as I’d like.   And in spite of that the paintings are progressing.

I’m working on four canvases right now, two small ones, one medium sized one and a very large one that I’m just starting.  I’m imagining space, worlds full of color and even planets that might also be stars.  The possibilities are endless.

Much of my inspiration comes from images that I find online, like the NASA Image Galleries page but the rest needs me to fill up the canvas with wonders that don’t really exist anywhere but in my imagination .  It should be easy.

Sometimes it’s not.  I get stuck on what I see in those amazing photographs, and part of me wants to reproduce them, but that’s not what I’m after.  So I’m working with the paint, building depth through layers of color, using contrast to let my planets glow and adding spatters of stars, comets and galaxies.

It’s building up those layers and textures that takes time though. My crackle medium took nearly two weeks to dry on one painting and often the clear, thicker layers of mediums take a day or more.  It will still be weeks before these paintings are finished, but here’s a visual progress report on the first three;

Just started this painting with a first layer of acrylic paint and some crackle medium.
Just started this painting with a first layer of acrylic paint and some crackle medium.
Just started this painting with a first layer of acrylic paint and some crackle medium.
Beginning here too.
Painting in progress
Painting in progress
Three or four layers of paint on these 'Planets' paintings so far. More to come.
Three or four layers of paint on these ‘Planets’ paintings so far. More to come.

A kitten and fabric art.

All my best intentions vanished into the mist on the day we found ‘Tiny’ a day old kitten in front of one our outbuildings. My plans to post here once a week, no matter what else was going on in my life, were lost in a sleep deprived haze.  Here’s a picture of the little trouble maker;

A five day old kitten being held.
Tiny the kitten at five days old.

Somehow I managed to find time to both sew and paint over the last couple of weeks in spite of that distraction.  I finished two fabric art trivets and started work on three smaller paintings at the studio in Rimbey.

The trivets were made using free motion quilting as well as raw edge applique. Two layers of cotton fabric enclosed one layer of insulating batting and one layer of cotton batting. After I sewed edges together and turned the layers inside out I ended up with two approximately 15″ x 18″ padded rectangles.

For the first trivet I decided to keep it simple and cut out some flowers from a batik print in my stash.  The leaves, from a mottled fabric, were shaped as I sewed.

Quilted flowers and leaves, using free motion quilting and raw edge applique.
Leaves and flowers appliqued on a fabric trivet.

After I finished that I returned to my outer space theme, since I’m trying to stick with that imagery for a while at least.

I found that the free motion quilting wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be, largely thanks to some very clear and informative YouTube videos by Zazu’s Stitch Art,  but what I did find was that the more small elements I made, the more I had to fiddle around.

Cutting thread and inserting the needle and pulling the thread up through the fabric layers, then cutting loose ends to keep them out of the way really slowed things down.  It was also much harder to keep nice flowing lines and more evenly sized stitches when my appliqued areas were so small.

To get the piece to lay flat, I also had to watch that the quilting was more or less evenly distributed.  Areas with less stitching tended to puff up and sometimes even distort the overall shape.  I did wash the finished work and found that I had very little fraying of the appliqued edges; I had been imagining the worst there so that was a relief.  Since all my cotton fabrics are pre-washed there were also no problems with shrinkage.

I’ll be trying out one or more different ways of creating fabric art after this.  But for now this is my ‘Sun and Comets’ trivet, front and back.  I used different colors of thread for different areas or objects and like the way the back looks like a thread painting too.

Fabric trivet, made with cotton fabric, raw edge applique and free motion quilting.
Sun and comets trivet
Fabric trivet, made with cotton fabric, free motion quilting and raw edge applique. View of the back of the piece.
Sun and comets trivet, back view.

 

Space, fantasy and my art

I haven’t been posting regularly and partly it’s because this winter I’ve been struggling to find a theme that will give me a framework, a starting point maybe or just a way create a more unified (looking) body of work.

My art work will never lose it’s experimental qualities because that’s who I am as an artist.  I have to be trying new things.  All the time. If I’m not stretching the envelop I’m not happy.  That’s just me.

So finally, finally I’ve decided.  I’m going to concentrate on outer space; imagining galaxies, black holes, gravity wave activity, even life on other planets.  I’m going to paint, draw and explore fabric art too.  Now I have a theme and a direction that hopefully will also allow me to address some questions about the human condition here on earth as well.

Some of my past work already goes there but now I plan to do more and will be back posting regularly again.   This is my latest painting on canvas;

Convergence is an acrylic painting of three black holes in a busy galaxy. By E.M.Schumacher
‘Convergence’ an acrylic painting on canvas by Elma Schumacher size; 24″ x 36″

 

Creativity and Community

I spent this past weekend at a quilt retreat.  Sitting at a sewing machine for that whole time has left every muscle in my body sore and aching, but my creative juices are flowing.  After it was over, I left feeling renewed.

I like collecting fabric and designing my own quilts a good deal more than I like sewing.  Quilting isn’t something that I do a lot, but lately it’s something that I can focus on and complete.  In many ways this has been a tough winter for me and focusing on any one thing long enough to finish what I started has been difficult to say the least.

A section of a quilt designed and created by Elma Schumacher
A section of a quilt designed and created by Elma Schumacher

The weekend reminded me that every creative soul needs one thing more than anything else.  Not a bright studio space, not plentiful supplies, not endless gallery visits or images of great art online, though we all want and need these things too.  But without a community of creators to share ideas with, staying inspired and motivated is at best a chore.

Spending time with others who are facing the same struggles and sharing their thoughts, advice and ideas is what keeps many artists in the cities where their communities support and inspire outstanding artwork and innovative ideas.  Simply put, creative people need each other.

Living in a rural area, where every friend and neighbor is a lengthy drive away,  that community has been hard to find.  At quilting retreats women of all ages laugh and share their stories as well as their expertise.  Most of them never think of themselves as artists.  But they should.

A large queen sized quilt made by Elma Schumacher using quilt as you go techniques.
Birds and Arrows Quilt designed and sewn by Elma Schumacher

 

My website renewed. . . again

It was time to change up my website.  It seems that I need to do that every so often, but this time it took much longer than usual.

WordPress fortunately makes it easy, but it never comes together as quickly as I’d like it to.

And that is largely my own fault.  My studio is a pretty tidy place.  I can’t seem to get much done if it isn’t.  The files on my computer on the other hand are always somewhere.  In some folders that share the same name that exist inside some other folders under three different names.  I’m good at saving things alright.  Not so good about where I put them.

My studio is organized.  I can find whatever I need.  Even this painting that I called ‘Black Hole’.

Black Hole, abstract painting on canvas by artist Elma Schumacher
Black Hole, acrylic on canvas by Elma Schumacher

But no matter how hard I try to clean it up, my computer files end up in a different kind of deep, bottomless black hole.