September 18, 2015

Creating in the Garden at the Governor's Residence

Sue Reno_Watt & Shand #3_PA Governor's Residence
The opening reception at the PA Governor’s Residence for the Pennsylvania Arts Experience installation was excellent. Over 70 artworks were on display in the elegant public spaces of the residence, expertly placed by curator Rob Evans.  There I am above, with my Watt & Shand #3, in the State Dining Room, and below is a wider shot.  I enjoyed looking at all the art and saying hello to the other artists and friends attending.  There is a stunning amount of talent represented in this organization.
Sue Reno_Watt & Shand #3_PA State Dining Room And after torrential downpours the day before, the weather cooperated with picture perfect conditions, low 70s and scattered clouds.  About a dozen artists set up to create en plein air in the gardens around the residence.  There were painters, a sculptor, a performance artist, and myself.  I’d never done work on site in public before, so I was excited to give it a try.
Sue Reno_Magnolia Tree_PA Governor's Gardens
I found a good spot with a view of a spectacular magnolia tree, and broke out my needlefelting supplies.  My plan was to create an impressionistic scene with wool and wool roving.  The green and yellow tool is a hand needlefelting punch.  It has needles with tiny barbs that entangle the fibers and lock them together.Sue Reno_Magnolia_WIP1 It’s a very slow method, like a lot of my work, and I was happily interrupted frequently by visitors curious about the process.  I had a lot of fun explaining to adults and kids, and giving them bit of roving to handle.  I love that fiber is such a tactile medium, and the way it speaks to everyone. 
Sue Reno_Magnolia_WIP2 I usually work in quiet and solitude in the studio, so it was challenging to figure what to focus on creatively with all the outside stimulation.  I got the background blocked out and laid in, put in the skeletal framework of the magnolia tree, and started on some rosebushes while on site.  Below is how it looked at the end of the day:Sue Reno_Magnolia_WIP3 Back at the studio, I spent some time tightening everything up by working on it with the needlefelting machine.  This device looks like a sewing machine, but in place of a threaded needle it has a cluster of barbed needles just like the hand punch.  It does a great job of locking everything together, and saves my hands and wrists a lot of trauma.  The piece now looks like this:
Sue Reno_Magnolia_WIP4
That’s just the beginning.  I will build up texture and color on the background and add the leaves and flowers, and then detail it even more with stitching.  But I am very happy with this start, and even more pleased that I took a chance on trying something new and working outdoors.  I’m already filled with ideas on how to improve the presentation the next an opportunity presents itself. 


Sharon Benton said...

Sue! This sounds like such a cool gig! It's so much fun to be able to demo what you do and have people engage! I just love following your creative path and seeing where it takes you!

Martha Ginn said...

Sue, I read your March 24, 2016 post (Magnolia-plein air) and enjoyed going back through the progress posts. Will comment here at the beginning one because it mainly relates to working "plein air." Kudos for taking part in an art event like this where you reveal some of the "mysterious" steps we take that people love to know about. My local art association has held several of these which benefit South MS Children's Center. It's a ticketed event called a Quick Draw, held in a large venue where about 30 artists set up their workspace and have one hour to create their piece and 15 minutes to finish/frame it for a live auction. There is a band and heavy hors d'oeuvres to enjoy while people are milling among the artists to watch and visit. I'm the only one with a sewing machine, and I love demonstrating the creation of a fabric landscape or abstract using machine applique, improvisational piecing, thread-painting, and free-motion quilting. It takes lots or pre-planning of supplies and I usually do a dry run to be sure I can finish my project in an hour and can have some parts pre-cut, just as the painters can have a rough sketch on their canvas.
Yes, for us who usually work in isolation, it is rewarding to get to share some of the process and interact with the viewer. Thanks for the organized posts, and a way to track back through your labeling!
Martha Ginn