December 17, 2012

Interview by Stella Belikiewicz

The lovely and talented Stella Belikiewicz has done me the honor of interviewing me for her blog.  She asked some intriguing questions, and I think you will enjoy the dialogue that ensued.  Read all about it here.

Silk Mill #3 - Work in Progress, Update 2

Having printed the imagery I needed, I turned my attention to the color palette.  I wanted to pull out the brick tones of the building, along with sky, earth, and vegetation hues.  This is one of my favorite parts of the process.  There are infinite possibilities at this point, and I enjoy the discipline of narrowing them down.  And many of my fabrics are like old friends, having been used in previous works.  It’s a pleasure to find the new combinations that will make this work unique.
I chose four sets of fabrics, and began slicing them into strips for piecing.  I dislike measuring things as a general principle, as I feel it puts an unnatural interface between myself and the work, so I wing it where ever possible.  I cut as many strips as I think I might need, in the random widths that will give a scale appropriate to the work, and more often than not it works out correctly in the end.  Of course, I have paid my dues, I spent years and years doing the math and the plotting out, so based on that experience I have a good idea of what I will need.
There are silks, commercial cottons, hand woven cottons, and fabrics I hand painted in these sets.   I like the variety of textures and tonality they provide when all mixed together.
The blue strips on the left are some extra screen prints that I cut up. I find that it helps integrate the prints and the patchwork.  The fabric next to it is an especially fine French cotton; I’m using up the last of it here, and I will miss it now that it is gone. 
All of these were  sewn into strip sets, sliced apart, and combined again to form the framework for the printed imagery.  I feel it is an especially appropriate setting to represent a building that was put together brick by brick. 

To track back this work in progress, and the other works in this Silk Mill Series, click the Silk Mill tab at the top or click here.

As always, thanks for reading and commenting, and stay turned for further developments.

December 6, 2012

New Work in Progress - In Dreams I Flew Over the River

There’s a thousand and one things I could and should be accomplishing right now.  So I started an unscheduled new project and am obsessively exploring new ground.
My lifelong fascination with the Susquehanna River has been escalating lately.  It’s been showing up in my dreams.  I wanted to explore the ideas of flow and undercurrents.  I wanted a procedural vacation from my usual well loved techniques and modes of expression.

I started with six panels of wool/rayon felt.  I began laying out wool roving and slivers of wool and silk fabrics to block out areas of color and pattern.   I worked with a machine needle felter to meld the layers.  The felter looks something like a sewing machine.  The working part is a cluster of felting needles, which are very slim and are tipped with small barbs, that move up and down to interlock the fibers passed underneath them.  It’s faster than hand felting, but still picky and laborious.  It’s fascinating work, because different fibers and fabrics react in different ways.  Some of the silks stay cohesive, and some practically dissolve into the background fabric, and it’s fun to play around with the effects.  The wool roving can be fluffed out into a thin layer, or concentrated in denser areas.  All these decisions were made on the fly.
Once I had the river and the island delineated, I added to the banks and the fields and the woods running alongside it.  I have been saving the threads that unravel when I pre-wash my silk fabrics, and some of them were perfect for the foam and windblown wavelets on top of the water. 
I joined the panels and added more felting along the joins.  At this point it's roughly 26" high by 42" wide.  Upon  consideration, I flipped the orientation of the piece.  The majority of the felting is done, and I’m starting to add other elements.  The brown lines are vintage lace, temporarily held in place with white-headed pins.  There will probably be layering and quilting, but I honestly don’t know where I am headed with this one yet.  It’s just what I needed.

November 9, 2012

Squirrel and Locust wins Best of Show

I’m still floating on air a week after receiving the news that my Squirrel and Locust was awarded Best in Show by juror Adriene Buffington at Art Quilts XVII: Integrating a Paradox, at the Chandler Center for the Arts.
It’s been a long and convoluted voyage, from being gifted with a few small mammal skulls to winning recognition for the resultant artwork.   Along the way I took my initial enthusiasm for the intricacies of the structures of the skulls and developed it into a concept, followed by a spreadsheet, followed by the quest to gather more skulls. (I have interesting friends, and you can buy pretty much anything on the internet.)
The concept was spun around my deep and abiding love for my environment here in the beautiful suburban wilds of Lancaster County, PA, coupled with my observations of and interactions with the small mammals that also live here.  To bring it to fruition involved macro photography, digital image editing, and cyanotype printing.  There was the gathering of botanical specimens and more printmaking.  There was rummaging through collected vintage embroideries for the perfect visual commentary.

There was a lot of rearranging things on the design wall, followed by staring and contemplation, followed by stitching.  Lots and lots of stitching.  And lots of and lots of sewing on tiny beads by hand.

All of the act  of creation was its own reward.   Sending the artwork out into the world and seeing it gain recognition and validation, knowing that others people see what I am saying and/or bring their own interpretation to the work, is incredibly wonderful, somewhat  humbling, and extremely motivating.   So, a pause to say thank you, to those involved with this show and to the fiber arts community at large, and then back to work.  I have some raccoon skull cyanotypes looking out at me from the design wall.  Rumor has it that there is also an apple tree involved.

November 5, 2012

New Work - The Organic Landscape

Now that the Seasonal Palette exhibit has debuted at the International Quilt Festival in Houston this past week, I am delighted to be able to share the images of The Organic Landscape here on my blog and on my website as part of my Garden series.
I truly enjoyed every part of the process of creating this art quilt, from design through construction, and I think my joy shines through in the finished work.
Seasonal Palette is an invitational SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) exhibit, where each artist was asked to produce work to a standard size, 78”h x 32”w, and  relating to one of the four seasons of the year.  I was asked to interpret summer, and I chose my palette of colors from the warm and rich tones of the landscape in the height of the season.  I have gardened organically at this property for decades, and am always working to become more closely attuned to the rhythms and fluctuations  in the life cycles of the plants, animals, and insects --the flora and fauna--of the bit of earth I have stewardship over.  It’s the visual artist’s variation of the writer’s dictum, “write what you know”.  My work stems from deep rather than casual observation. SueReno_TheOrganicLandscapeDetail3
I began by making cyanotype prints of some favorite and reliable plants; painted ferns, big root perennial geraniums, japanese anemones, plume poppies, and two varieties of ornamental sweet potato vines.  Most of these have figured in previous works, and are always welcome subjects for new interpretations of their forms and presence in the landscape.  I began by making cyanotype prints and heliographic prints of the leaves.  I also hand painted cottons in the colors I needed, and combined them with silks I brought back from India, as well as commercial fabrics, for Seminole piecework. You can track back the the work in progress here, or by clicking the Seasonal Palette tab at the top of the blog.
One of the requirements for the exhibit was the documentation of the creative process.  This is my normal studio practice, to keep samples and make notes as I go along, so I expanded on it to produce the material for a portfolio book which is being shown along with the quilt.  Early reports from Houston indicate that these portfolios were an terrific enhancement to the experience.  There is also a catalogue for the exhibit, available in the SAQA store.  I don’t have my copy yet but I can’t wait to see it! The entire exhibit is now online, it is absolutely fabulous, and I am once again deeply honored to be a part of it.  Most of the quilts are also available for purchase--the link to mine is here.

The exhibit will now travel to:
The International Quilt Festival - Cincinnati, April 11-12, 2013
The International Quilt Festival - Long Beach, August 2-4, 2013
The National Quilt Museum, Paducah, Kentucky, September 12 - December 2, 2013 with possible further venues to be announced.   If you saw the exhibit in Houston I would love to hear your reaction.

As always, thank you for reading and commenting. 

October 25, 2012

Upcoming Exhibits - Houston and Chandler


Lots of excitement in the weeks ahead, as my work will be on display in some wonderful venues.  The center of the quilt universe will be in Houston, TX for Quilt Market, October 27 - 29, and The International Quilt Festival,  November 1 - 4.   The invitational Studio Art Quilts Associates exhibit “Seasonal Palette” will be unveiled at the Festival, including my work “The Organic Landscape”.  The exhibit will hang in a special hard wall gallery space. Each quilt will be accompanied by a gallery book with pictures, text, and samples detailing the process by which each artist created their work.  The roster of artists involved in this project is pretty fabulous, and it should be an outstanding exhibit!  There will also be a catalogue available, and gallery talks will take place Friday, November 2nd at 11:00 and Saturday, November 3rd at 2:00.

I’ll put “The Organic Landscape” up on my website after the debut, but for now there’s a teaser detail, above, and you can track back the work in progress by clicking the Seasonal Palette tab at the top of the blog. 

Also at Houston, my Columbine will be part of the “In Full Bloom” Exhibit.  There’s a lot of wonderful texture in this one, with cyanotypes on silk, and silk, cotton, and wool patchwork.  Like most textile works it is best appreciated in person so I am delighted to have this opportunity to share it.

My Watt & Shand #9 will be part of the “Tactile Architecture” Exhibit.  All three exhibits will travel on the  Quilt Festivals in Cincinnati, OH and Long Beach CA in 2013.

Watt & Shand #9 is also included in the feature article on this series, The Structures in the October issue of The Quilt Life magazine, on news stands now. 

My Houston cup runneth over with the inclusion of two of my macro photographs in “The Quilters Eye” exhibit.  I’m keeping them under wraps for the moment as well by showing a similar photo, above, but they were previously published on my Facebook and Instagram accounts.   Instagram is my newest passion; if you are also there, feel free to follow me @suereno.  I post lots of insects, flowers, landscapes, and architecture shots, and get boundless inspiration from the beauty of the images that I scroll through each day in my feed. 

I am equally excited and honored that my Squirrel and Locust is part of “Art Quilts XVII: Integrating a Paradox”, opening Nov. 2, 2012  and running through Jan. 19. 2013 at the  Chandler Center for the Arts, Chandler AZ.  This is a premier venue, and again I am in the company of some amazing fiber/quilt artists.  Stella Belikiewicz has done a excellent blog post about the exhibit; you can read and enjoy it  on her blog, The Art of Inclusion.  Thanks for your work in putting this together, Stella!

October 18, 2012

Reed Run Nature Preserve Hike

The weather was just perfect for hiking, so we headed out to a perennial local favorite, the Reed Run Nature Preserve, part of the Lancaster County Conservancy.  The trailhead is former farmland that is being managed on a transition back to native woodland.  I had my macro lens handy, and captured this shot of a Canadian thistle seed pod:
A portion of the farmland is being used for experimental chestnut plantings in association with the American Chestnut Foundation,  as part of the quest to breed a blight resistant American chestnut. There are other saplings and young trees mixed in the plantings, such as this hawthorn, with ripe fruits and impressively wicked looking thorns.
Approaching the mature woodlands, we spotted a log covered in small button mushrooms.
In the bottomland the trail follows the meanderings of Reed Run, a small  gurgling stream, lined with patches of pawpaw trees.
Several years ago I made an art quilt about Reed Run, using pawpaw leaves for the imagery.  It remains one of my personal favorites.  It’s very textural, with silk, wool, and cotton that are heavily stitched, and it’s embellished with beads and semi-precious stones that reference clouds and the streambed.  It’s a quiet and tranquil piece.
The trail winds up the hill, and a turn reveals the Balance Rock.
I love its shape and semi-precarious perch.
In 2006 I made a small piece, Balance, that I felt remained very true to the experience of the granite in the the late season sunlight.
A bit further uphill, and the trail reaches an unnamed overlook, marked by twin pines.
It’s a good spot to pause and enjoy the view out over the Susquehanna River.  I was eating an apple when I spotted this:
I didn’t have time to change to a telephoto lens, but I hope you can still tell that it’s a bald eagle!  I’ve been hanging out around the river my entire life, but this was my first eagle spotting.  It was swooping to and fro, presumable scanning for fish, and the white head and tail were unmistakable.  I was just thrilled to see this evidence of their comeback that I’ve been reading about.
I switched back to the macro lens  to capture something considerable smaller and more earthbound:
Switching over the the Conestoga Trail, we headed to another favorite spot, the House Rock overlook.  I never get tired of this view, captured here with a fisheye lens:
The View from House Rock has also served as inspiration:
I hope that wherever you might find yourself, you have a chance to get outside and experience the world around you .  Thanks for reading and commenting.

October 10, 2012

Silk Mill #3 - Work in Progress

With Silk Mill #1 and Silk Mill #2 finished, I still had some great images from my photos shoots of the former Ashley and Bailey Silk Mill that I wanted to work with.  I remain deeply fascinated by the idea of a structure that is in transition and partially open to the elements, where the blue sky shows through the empty portals of the windows.  I chose a photo that I thought beautiful, and felt had a lot of potential for expressing my enthusiasm.
I love the strong lines and vertical thrust of this image, and fooled around with it digitally until I had reached this black and white rendering, which I had converted into a thermofax screen.
I used dark brown textile paint to screen the image onto cotton fabric.  I like the stark, graphic simplicity of the images on plain white fabric.  I really love the movement and emotive potential of the image screened on fabric that I had first painted with earthy, brick red mottling.

I also reduced the initial photo and had it printed as a repeat on silk yardage by Spoonflower.  I put it all up on the design board and lived with it for a bit while I contemplated further design possibilities and color schemes.

September 10, 2012

Squirrel and Locust acceptance for Art Quilts XVII

I’m happy to announce that my Squirrel and Locust has been accepted into Art Quilts XVII: Integrating a Paradox.  The exhibit will run November 2 through January 19, 2013, at the Chandler Center for the Arts in Chandler, AZ.  The juror is Adrienne Buffington
Every now and again I find a call for entry where the theme really relates to my artwork.  I love the idea of integrating a paradox and combining seemingly disparate ideas and elements,  and it is one of the central themes of my Flora and Fauna series.
Here I’ve taken macro images of a squirrel skeleton and used them to print cyanotype images.  I’ve combined them with  a monoprint of the locust “my” squirrels scamper on, and integrated one of my very favorite bits of vintage embroidery:
Squirrels in love, gamboling about on lily pads, cheer me up every time.  What were they thinking?  What am I thinking?  This is where artwork comes from.  I’m so happy to have this great venue to share my work with you all.

Here’s the list of accepted artists.  I’ve added website links where I could find them.  There is a LOT of talent in this group of artists, and I predict it’s going to be an amazing show.

ART QUILTS XVII - Integrating A Paradox
Selected Artists
1. Allen, Pamela
2. Belikiewicz, Stella
3. Blake, Debra
4. Branjord, Sandra
5. Busby, Betty
6. Carter, Erika
7. Chippetine, Lisa
8. Christoff, Suzanne
9. Cline, Georgie
10. Currier, Denise
11. DeCamp, Marcia
12. Donabed, Sandra
13. Engstrom, Linda
14. Gamon, Nancy
15. Gaskin, Laura
16. Giacomini, Mita
17. Green, Nancy
18. Hahn, Betty
19. Hattabaugh, Marla
20. Hansen, Gloria
21. Hiller, Janet
22. Hixson, Steven
23. Huckvale, Neera
24. Kastles, Kathleen
25. Kleeman, Cathy
26. Kleinman, Sherry
27. Krawchuk, Joanne
28. Kyler, Kaci
29. Lauterborn, Eileen
30. Libby, Kathy
31. Linet, Denise
32. Markel, Beth
33. Maser-Flanagan, Valerie
34. Massey, Christina
35. McBride, Jimmy
36. McCurry, Linda
37. Mink, Patricia
38. Murphy, Francis
39. Nemirov, Sharon
40. Otte, Miriam
41. Padilla-Johnson, Alexanna
42. Redmond, Wen
43. Reno, Sue
44. Sample, Loraine
45. Schulze, Joan
46. Shell, Maria
47. Smith, Brenda
48. Sutherland, Tammy
49. Velis Turan, K
50. Weir, Deborah

September 8, 2012

New Work - Silk Mill #2

New Work!  Silk Mill #2 is finished and up on my website.  It’s the newest addition to my series The Structures, where I examine and intepret historic buildings.  I’m intrigued by the changes that take place over lengthy stretches of time, especially when the structure becomes open to the elements.  SueReno_SilkMill2Detail1
I first happened upon this building,  the Ashley and Bailey Silk Mill in Columbia, PA, when the roof had partially collapsed and many of the windows had missing panes.  It was a brilliant sunny day, and the blue sky shining through the formerly enclosed spaces completely captivated me.  I’m also fascinated by the former uses of the building, first as a silk mill and later as a women’s lingerie and garment factory, and all the textile associations that history evokes.
A portion of the building has since been  restored, and now serves as a tourist attraction promoting the Turkey Hill Dairy.  I’m so happy to be living in an area where historic structures are respected and repurposed.
Above is my photograph that inspired Silk Mill #2.  I edited it and had a thermofax screen made, which I then used to screen print the four main images.  I also had the image digitally printed on silk yardage by the good people at Spoonflower, and used the yardage for the center cruciform structure and in the patchwork. The result is a bit more abstract and graphic than my usual work, which I think represents the graphic nature of the photograph well. 

The size is 35” x 40” wide.  Materials are silks and cottons, some hand painted by me.  It’s embellished with couched threads and rick rack, and I took the time to do hand beadwork with seed and bugle beads around the main panels.

I’ve rounded up all my posts about this silk mill and added a tab at the top, so you can wander back through the works in progress and see all the amazing and inspirational original photos.  Enjoy! 

As always, thanks for reading and commenting.

And stay tuned--#3 is on the way.