August 31, 2015

Work in Progress – Raccoon and Apple, Update 2

After making the skull prints, I turned my attention to the apple tree.  I planted it decades ago; it’s a variety called Freedom, and Starks Nursery advertises it thusly: “Exceptional disease resistance! Easy-care tree ideal for areas with apple scab, powdery mildew, and fire blight issues. This vigorous tree has a lovely spreading nature. Large bright-red fruit with a juicy tender flesh great for fresh-eating, cider, juicing, and cooking. Cold-hardy. Ripens from late September to early October.”

Which is all true.  It’s disease free, and very prolific, although it tends to bear more heavily every other year.  It is not, however, insect free. As a strictly organic grower, I used to muck about with traps and organic sprays and so forth, but the tree got huge and I got distracted.  The crop of semi-damaged apples is now a huge boon for all the local wildlife, including raccoons, so I get a lot of satisfaction out of that.
Sue Reno, Raccoon and Apple, WIP7
But I digress.  I made cyanotype prints of apple branches, including one when it was in flower, and started to play around with possible color palettes and image placement:Sue Reno, Raccoon and Apple, WIP8   Here I continued to audition the design:
Sue Reno, Raccoon and Apple, WIP9

August 28, 2015

52 Ways to Look at the River, Update 2

It’s time to check in with my latest project, 52 Ways to Look at the River.  I finished the first 8 panels, and collectively they look like this pinned up on a design board:
Sue Reno, 52 Ways to Look at the River, Weeks 1 - 8 I’m really enjoying the challenge and the outcome, and judging from the comments I’m getting,  many of you are as well! Here’s how it works—every week I travel to the Susquehanna River and take a photo to use as my inspiration.  Back in the studio, I use the photo as a reference to create a needlefelted and stitched 6" x 12" panel.  It’s a simple concept, but one that is proving to have a lot of depth.  Each week I need to decide where to go, perhaps a favorite spot nearby, perhaps a road trip. Then I need to frame the view for the photo. Back in the studio, I get to choose what elements to focus on, and make it all work on a small canvas.

Because I want each one to feel a bit like a sketch, I set a time limit of 90 minutes for the actual felting and stitching.  Fiber art is very time-consuming, so I can’t dither. I start each one in a state of mild panic, which subsides as each design decision leads to the next one.  It’s very exciting and gratifying.

Below are the first 8 panels individually.  It’s going to be fun to see what happens as fall advances and the landscape color palette changes.

Sue Reno, 52 Ways to Look at the River, Week 1 Panel Sue Reno, 52 Ways to Look at the River, Week 2 Panel Sue Reno, 52 Ways to Look at the River, Week 3 Panel Sue Reno, 52 Ways to Look at the River, Week 4 Panel Sue Reno, 52 Ways to Look at the River, Week 5 Panel Sue Reno, 52 Ways to Look at the River, Week 6 Panel Sue Reno, 52 Ways to Look at the River, Week 7 Panel Sue Reno, 52 Ways to Look at the River, Week 8 Panel This next bit is for everyone who loves reading about process.  The only way I can complete a panel in 90 minutes is by being very organized in the studio.  I have my pieces of rayon/wool felt for the base precut.  The base color may or may not show through, depending on how I felt it, so each week I choose accordingly.
Sue Reno, 52 Ways to Look at the River, WIP 1
I have bins of wool roving in various colors, and lots of medium sized silk scraps I’ve been saving.Sue Reno, 52 Ways to Look at the River, WIP 2
If I need something specific that’s not in the scrap bin, like the plaid for the railroad tracks in the week 9 panel, I can go to the stash of silk yardage.  I have a fairly complete mental inventory of everything, so it doesn’t take me long to find what I need.Sue Reno, 52 Ways to Look at the River, WIP 3
I also have wool yardage and scraps to work with.Sue Reno, 52 Ways to Look at the River, WIP 4
And for finer details and spots of color, I have a bin of silk snippets, and the threads that pull off in the pre-wash, that I’ve been saving for years.  A lot of the silks were hand carried back from India, so I’m loath to waste any of it.Sue Reno, 52 Ways to Look at the River, WIP 5
I begin with my felt panel laid out on a piece of dense foam, where I block out the basic shapes and colors.  I use a hand felting punch to take things in place before taking it over to the needlefelting machine and doing a thorough job of it.Sue Reno, 52 Ways to Look at the River, WIP 6
Different hues of wool roving and silk snippets are blended and layered up on the base.Sue Reno, 52 Ways to Look at the River, WIP 7 Once the felting is done, I add detail with machine stitching.
Sue Reno, 52 Ways to Look at the River, Week 8 Panel
Here’s the fisheye image I started with for the week 8 panel:Sue Reno, 52 Ways to Look at the River, Week 8 Image 
I’m posting the weekly pieces to my Facebook page:
My Twitter feed:
My Tumblr:
and Instagram: sue_reno_studio

I also post each week’s inspiration photo. Pick a platform and follow along!

As always, thanks for reading and commenting.

August 26, 2015

Watt & Shand #3 at the PA Governor’s Residence

Sue Reno, Watt & Shand #3  I am a long time member of the Pennsylvania Arts Experience, a non-profit arts organization promoting the arts along the scenic river valleys of southeastern Pennsylvania. Thanks to the generous support of PA First Lady Frances Donnelley Wolfe, the PAE has been invited to present a exhibition of member artist works at the Governor’s Residence, 2035 N. Front St, Harrisburg, PA in Harrisburg from September 13th through February 2016.  The exhibit will fill the mansion on the main level, and will be up for a number of special events being held at the mansion starting with the annual Gallery Walk in Harrisburg on September 13th.  More information on the Gallery Walk here.
Sue Reno, Watt & Shand #3, detail
I am pleased that my Watt & Shand #3 will one of the 60+ artworks in this exhibit.  It’s from my series The Structures, where I focus on historic local architecture, and seems like a fitting choice to be displayed in the residence. 

September 13th is also the last date for the Art of the State exhibit at the Pennsylvania State Museum, so if you are in town stop by and visit my In Dreams I Flew Over the River and all the other fine works there as well.

See works by these Pennsylvania Arts Experience Member Artists:
Benjamin Ahlgrim
Robert Armetta
Joan McAvoy Austin
Jack Bingham
Glenn E. Blue
Adrienne Brenner
Barbara A. Pillette Buchanan
Robert E. Buchanan
William Chambers
Ophelia Chambliss
Matthew Clay-Robison
Jeff Crystal
Peter Danko
Gerald Davidson
Ann DeLaurentis
Renee Evans
Rob Evans
Jonathan Frazier
Phyllis Disher Fredericks
Carol Galligan
Claire Giblin
Susan Gottlieb
Steven Alvin Heffner
Maryel Henderson
Jerome Hershey
Tim Hirneisen
Mary B. Hochendoner
Richard Chandler Hoff
Lauren Litwa Holden
Joe Jacobs
Lorann Jacobs
Gale Jamieson
Rhoda Kahler
Paul Kicklighter
Phyllis Koster
Greg Layton
Sylvia Eisenbise Lehman
Cliff Maier
Stephen March
Jo Margolis
Carol Oldenburg
Robert Oughton
Robert Patierno
Kelly Pedersen
Fran Polk
Catherine Prescott
Theodore Prescott
Pete Quarracino
Sue Reno
Linda Mylin Ross
Kerry Sacco
Dillon Samuelson
Lou Schellenberg
Mimi Shapiro
Ellen Slupe
Tanya Snyder
Linda Sommer
David M. Stallings
Marion Stephenson
Reuben Swartz
Jason Tako
Geoffrey Thulin
Mary Todenhoft
Janette Toth-Musser
Kree Weide
Rita King Whitney
Brenda Wintermyer
JD Wissler
Frances Donnelly Wolf

August 21, 2015

New Work in Progress – Raccoon and Apple

Raccoon and Apple is part of my Flora and Fauna series, where I work with the skulls of native wildlife and reflect on my interactions with them and their place in my microcosm. It is perhaps a bit of a stretch to call this a “new” work in progress, as I’ve been working on it in fits and spurts since 2010.  But I realized that I hadn’t yet documented it here, so it’s time to share.

Sue Reno, Raccoon and Apple, WIP1

With raccoons as the subject, I had a lot to drawn on, as I spot them fairly regularly.  The three juveniles, above, were rambling about where my yard transitions into the woods, near the apple tree.  And adults sometimes make night raids on the food bowl I have out for the semi-feral cats.

Sue Reno, Raccoon and Apple, WIP2

I’ve seen their distinctive footprints down by the lake.  And, sadly but inevitably, I also find their carcasses.  I have a firm policy against bringing road kill home, but I did stop to photograph the cool patterning of this one’s tail. 

Sue Reno, Raccoon and Apple, WIP3   To start on this work, I took macro photographs of a generously loaned skull.  I shot it from the top, and in profile, but it was this shot of the underside of the jaw, showing the tooth sockets and sinus cavities, that ultimately made it into the work.

Sue Reno, Raccoon and Apple, WIP4

From that image I made a negative and printed it on a transparency sheet.Sue Reno, Raccoon and Apple, WIP5 

The transparency sheet was used to make cyanotype prints onto cotton.  I love this process so much, and these prints did not disappoint.Sue Reno, Raccoon and Apple, WIP6
Stay tuned!