February 8, 2014

New Work – Vole and Viburnum

SueReno_VoleAndViburnum
I’m delighted to share the newest work in my Flora and Fauna series, Vole and Viburnum.  It features cyanotype prints, altered vintage embroidery panels, patchwork, machine stitching, and hand beadwork.  It’s 47” high by 67” wide.  You can track it back as a work-in-progress by clicking on Vole and Viburnum in the right side panel, or click here.SueReno_VoleAndViburnumDetail1
I used the creation of this work as the basis for my article, “Cognitive Textile Artist Process”, in the current (March 2014) issue of American Quilter Magazine.  In the article I break down the thought process and practices that I use to conceive of and create an original work of quilted art.  It was a remarkable assignment—to focus on the cognitive process, not just the techniques used to achieve it—and I hope I have done it justice. 
SueReno_VoleAndViburnumDetail2
This issue also includes a profile piece about me,  “The Hand of the Maker”, written by the talented Marjorie Russell.  I am truly honored to have this opportunity share my professional life and my creative process with the magazine’s readership.  It’s on newsstands now!
SueReno_VoleAndViburnumDetail3

February 6, 2014

Work in Progress – Vole and Viburnum, update 4

Vole and Viburnum, by Sue Reno, work in progress image 15
Once I had the prints and the embroidered panels underway, I began working on the patchwork.  I like patchwork.  I like cutting up fabric and sewing it back together again to create patterning and texture.  I often use a mix of my own hand painted silks and cottons along with commercial fabrics.  I’m lucky to have a fabric stash that goes back for decades.  Fabric designs  and colorways follow trends just like clothing, and mixing them up adds depth to the composition and keeps it from being immediately identified with any particular point in time.Vole and Viburnum, by Sue Reno, work in progress image 16
Here I pulled and assembled two colorways, an orange/pink one, and a green/blue one.  I use a flip and stitch method, where I keep adding strips to essentially make new yardage, which I then slice into patchworked strips that I use to build the final composition.  The trick here is to keep it random without making it jarring.  People are natural pattern makers, so it’s fun to tweak that tendency just enough to make it interesting.Vole and Viburnum, by Sue Reno, work in progress image 17
I also painted a length of fabric to use for the back of the quilt.  It doesn’t show when you hang the finished work, of course—it’s against the wall—but it makes me happy to do it up right and that makes it important.  From hanging out with some of the talented jewelers in the PA Guild of Craftsmen, I’ve learned that some of them incorporate a bit of whimsy or design work into the back of a pendant, for example, as a bonus for the wearer.  This feels like a similar concept to me.  I started with a piece of cotton sateen, laid outside, and dripped and splattered textile paints on it.Vole and Viburnum, by Sue Reno, work in progress image 18
Some judicious work with the garden hose mellowed and blended the composition, and drying in the sun added more subtle patterning. 

This is my continuing coverage of the creation of  Vole and Viburnum, as featured in my article for the current March 2014 issue of American Quilter Magazine. I used this work in my article as an example when breaking down my cognitive process, and here in my blog I am covering the more technical aspects of the work. The magazine is now on the newsstands, and you can catch a glimpse of it here.

Up next—the big reveal!

February 5, 2014

Published in American Quilter Magazine

The Hand of the Maker, by Marjorie L. Russell, American Quilter Magazine
The current March 2014 issue of American Quilter Magazine, published by the American Quilter’s Society, features two articles about me and my work.  The first, “The Hand of the Maker” by Marjorie L. Russell, is a profile piece about my life and career as a studio art quilter, lecturer and juror.    Marjorie was wonderful to work with, and I am very appreciative of her interview and writing skills. The lead illustration is a portion of my recently completed Jack in the Pulpit, and there are seven quilts illustrated overall in the issue.Jack in the Pulpit, an art quilt by Sue Reno
I am the author of the second article, “Cognitive Textile Artist Process”, and I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Editor-in-Chief Michele Duffy  for giving me the assignment.  It was something new in my experience; Michele asked me to focus on my thought process as I go about creating a new original work of art.  The goal was to break the cognitive process down into steps that other artists and aspiring artists could find useful, regardless of their subject matter or preferred techniques. I actually think about the process quite a bit as I work, so it was an interesting challenge to put it down in an tangible form. I think it’s a relevant and helpful article, and I hope that many of you will get a copy, read it, and see how it can apply to furthering your own artist practice.
Cognitive Textile Artist Process, by Sue Reno, American Quilter Magazine
I used Vole and Viburnum as my specific example for the article.  I will continue to highlight the technical processes involved with it in my next several blog posts before its big reveal.  Stay tuned!  And thanks to one and all for your support and encouragement.

February 4, 2014

Work in Progress – Vole and Viburnum, update 3


Vole and Viburnum, by Sue Reno, work in progress image 11
I’ve been gardening on this property for decades, and have observed much of the flora and fauna undergoing cycles of growth and decline.  On the whole I find this to be a very reassuring prospect, and I wanted my vintage component for this quilt to reflect my optimistic attitude.Vole and Viburnum, by Sue Reno, work in progress image 12
I found two similar embroidered panels in my vintage textiles collection.  They were probably originally meant to be cushion covers.  The appliqu├ęd butterflies and flowers with embroidered details were aggressively cheerful and just the right counterpoint to the skulls.Vole and Viburnum, by Sue Reno, work in progress image 13
I added some hand beadwork, then layered and quilted them.  The white background was too stark and I wanted the skull and viburnum prints to have the highest contrast in the overall composition, so again I went in with textile paints and added color.

This is my continuing coverage of the creation of  Vole and Viburnum, as featured in my article for the current March 2014 issue of American Quilter Magazine.  I used this work in my article as an example when breaking down my cognitive process, and here in my blog I am covering the more technical aspects of the work.  The magazine hits the newsstands today! 

Up next—the patchwork.

February 3, 2014

More Ice on the Susquehanna River

The slight thaw of river ice in January that I documented here was followed by another polar vortex, which was followed by another partial thaw.  We went out on the first day of February and took pictures at various locales.  We started at the Veterans Memorial Bridge in Columbia, PA.Ice on the Susquehanna River, 2/2014, by Sue Reno, Image 1
There was a small flock of seagulls on a bit of open water.Ice on the Susquehanna River, 2/2014, by Sue Reno, Image 2
I love the architecture of this bridge, and have photographed it in all seasons, from many angles.  In the background you can see the piers from a much earlier bridge, and in the far background is the modern Rt. 30 span.Ice on the Susquehanna River, 2/2014, by Sue Reno, Image 3
 Ice on the Susquehanna River, 2/2014, by Sue Reno, Image 4
 Ice on the Susquehanna River, 2/2014, by Sue Reno, Image 5
I’ve made several small art quilts featuring The Old Bridge:
The Old Bridge, art quilt by Sue Reno
Further upriver we stopped at the Breezyview Overlook.Ice on the Susquehanna River, 2/2014, by Sue Reno, Image 6
Through the trees you can see the modern span in the foreground and the old bridge in the background.Ice on the Susquehanna River, 2/2014, by Sue Reno, Image 7
Next stop was a boat launch on the east side of Marietta, PA.  Here the ice was choppy and chunkier.Ice on the Susquehanna River, 2/2014, by Sue Reno, Image 8
 Ice on the Susquehanna River, 2/2014, by Sue Reno, Image 9
A bit west of Marietta the slabs were larger, and had pushed further up on the shore.Ice on the Susquehanna River, 2/2014, by Sue Reno, Image 10
 Ice on the Susquehanna River, 2/2014, by Sue Reno, Image 11
 Ice on the Susquehanna River, 2/2014, by Sue Reno, Image 12
The slabs were stacked up at a boat launch in Bainbridge, PA.Ice on the Susquehanna River, 2/2014, by Sue Reno, Image 13
To the left in this photo is Brunner Island, where there’s a coal fired power plant, and in the distance you can see a steam plume from a reactor at Three Mile Island.Ice on the Susquehanna River, 2/2014, by Sue Reno, Image 14
An overlook near Falmouth, PA was the last stop, for a good view of the Susquehanna just before sunset.  To the right is a portion of the Harrisburg International Airport.Ice on the Susquehanna River, 2/2014, by Sue Reno, Image 15
It was a good day, and helped quell some of the rampant cabin fever. Sue Reno by the frozen Susquehanna River, February 2014

Work in Progress – Vole and Viburnum, update 2

I am continuing my coverage of creating Vole and Viburnum, as featured in the current March 2014 issue of American Quilter Magazine.  I used this work in my article as an example when breaking down my cognitive process, and here in my blog I am covering the more technical aspects of the work.Vole and Viburnum, by Sue Reno, work in progress image 6
One winter I had an infestation of voles, under the deep snow, in a garden bed below some viburnum shrubs.  I discovered it after the fact in the spring, when the snow melted and I could see the network of runways they had built.  I discovered a bit later that their mission had been to snack on the smorgasbord of alstroemeria tubers and chionodoxa bulbs I had naturalized there.Vole and Viburnum, by Sue Reno, work in progress image 7
Thus viburnum became the plant of choice for the vole work.  (All the works in the Flora and Fauna series have a native mammal skull, a plant that I associate with that mammal, and some vintage needlework.)  I made a cyanotype print directly onto cotton using some viburnum branches.Vole and Viburnum, by Sue Reno, work in progress image 8
I layered the print with batting and backing fabric and machine quilted it intensively.Vole and Viburnum, by Sue Reno, work in progress image 9
I used a cyanotype print directly onto silk of some shasta daisies to stand in for my missing flowers.  Vole and Viburnum, by Sue Reno, work in progress image 10
After stitching, they seemed just a bit insipid, so I added vibrancy with textile paints.  SueReno_VoleAndViburnum_WorkInProgress11
Up next—the vintage component.

February 2, 2014

New Work in Progress – Vole and Viburnum

Vole and Viburnum, by Sue Reno, work in progress image 1
My ongoing work with my Flora and Fauna series continues with Vole and Viburnum.  Vole and Viburnum is featured in the current March 2014 issue of American Quilter Magazine, which will be on newsstands February 4th.  I used it as an example in my article “Cognitive Textile Artist Process”.  In the article I break down my creative process in terms of metacognitive strategies, and offer suggestions for analyzing  how artists can approach their own idiosyncratic creative process.  I’m quite proud of how the article turned out, and hope you all have a chance to read it.  I’ll be talking about the technical parts of my process in this short series of blog posts.Vole and Viburnum, by Sue Reno, work in progress image 2
The meadow vole, Microtus pennsylvanicus, is a small rodent resembling a field mouse but with a stubbier tale.  Their populations around my yard and garden seem to rise and fall due to the season, the weather and the presence of predators, including cats.  In winters with consistent snow cover, they build their highways and byways in the top layer of mulch and leaf litter, where they are free to cavort and breed and feed with relative impunity.Vole and Viburnum, by Sue Reno, work in progress image 3
I began this work by obtaining a vole skull and taking macro pictures of it.  I edited the pictures  and printed them on acetate transparency sheets, which served as negatives for making cyanotype prints on cotton.Vole and Viburnum, by Sue Reno, work in progress image 4
I layered the prints with batting and backing fabric and intensively quilted them.Vole and Viburnum, by Sue Reno, work in progress image 5

Up next—the viburnum.