Jan 4 2017

Ahh, The Company We Keep!

Pixelkris

I regularly check out the website of Studio Art Quilt Associates because they frequently change their homepage banners. For me, it’s a weekly art fix. Well, wasn’t I surprised to check in the other day to find this amazing collage:

Jan 2017 SAQA Banner

Jan 2017 SAQA Banner

Wow, our Obama quilt is in great company! These artists have produced some amazing work, and we hope you click on their names to view more of their work. Let’s take a closer look at these “faces.”

Zazen

Zazen

Margaret Abramshe‘s “Zazen” is an explosion of color. She works with family photos to create compelling stories. Even subjects such as a pallbearer and immigrant are striking in their use of color.

Trusting

Trusting

One of our oldest SAQA friends, Mary Pal works with professional photographers in order to concentrate on portraits of older people. She is able to achieve remarkable and sensitive portrayals using . . . cheesecloth. Mary molds the cheesecloth into a story right on the person’s face, even if we don’t know exactly what that story is.

Masked Self Portrait

Masked Self Portrait

Kate Themel is known for her ability to create light. From the camera lens in this self portrait to her street scenes, look for her brilliant lighting effects. And, remember, she’s doing it all with fabric and thread.

Romancing Red

Romancing Red

Michelle Jackson often uses text in her work. In this case, she does so to great effect by interspersing words for the color red throughout the piece. It’s also an evocative portrait, creating other sensations associated with the color red.

The Picture is Only Half the Story

The Picture is Only Half the Story

Have you seen the Pixeladies‘s gallery of text art recently? We’ve been working away on pieces in our Language of Color series and our Walk a Mile in Her Shoes series. We use text to subtly influence meaning with specific word usage.

Always curious as to how things get done, I wrote SAQA’s multi-talented assistant executive director, Jennifer Solon, and asked her how these collages are selected and assembled for the SAQA banners. “I am still the person creating the banners. I select the artwork using the selections from the most recent online gallery,” Jennifer replied. We must note that among her many duties, Jennifer is still SAQA’s website master!

This month’s online gallery is called “Faces and Expressions.” You can access it by clicking here. Please take a look because there are so many other fascinating works of art in this gallery. Hats off to SAQA member Shruti Dandekar, who curated this particular online gallery!

Note: SAQA is always looking for guest curators. If you are an interested SAQA member, contact galleries@saqa.com for more information.

Share

Sep 26 2016

Bid On Our Quilt Starting Today!

Pixelkris

As most of you know, we are proud members of Studio Art Quilt Associates, whose mission is to promote the art quilt. Their annual online benefit auction is currently underway, and you can bid on our quilt starting today at 2 pm EDT.

The Language of Color 9: Color IQ

The Language of Color 7: Color IQ

“The Language of Color 7: Color IQ” is one in the series of pencils we have been creating to address the issue of race in America. The colored pencils are created using words and phrases cut from magazines and newspapers. While many of these snippets show how often color is used in everyday language, interspersed among them you can find some biting, cutting, or difficult concepts.

Detail

Detail

Prices today are $750 per quilt, but you can wait, if you dare, to try and get the quilt later on at a cheaper price. If our particular piece doesn’t grab your fancy, we’re pretty sure you’ll like something in the auction. Click here to get to SAQA’s auction page. Bid early! Bid often! And support this wonderful organization. SAQA has helped artists like us since 1989.

UPDATE: The quilt sold today (9/26/16)! Many thanks to all the supporters of SAQA and especially to Del Thomas. Click here to read more about Del Thomas and the Thomas Contemporary Quilt Art Collection.

Share

Feb 1 2016

Our Obama Art: From Exhibition to Times Square to Politico Magazine

Pixelkris

When Barack Obama was first elected president back in 2008, many artists took to their particular medium to mark this historic occasion – the first African American president of the United States of America. We wanted to commemorate this momentous occasion as well. “The Picture is Only Half the Story” has toured around the country, been published in a book, and is now included in a magazine’s retrospective of Obama art. As President Obama starts his final year in office, we want to step back a moment and reflect a bit on the journey “The Picture is Only Half the Story”* has taken.

The Picture is Only Half the Story

The Picture is Only Half the Story

We had just started working on pieces that were made up of snippets of texts, so we thought we would try to make an Obama piece using this process. First we searched for texts and phrases that people could have said – people who saw Candidate Obama as a symbol of hope and change. As they were projecting their hopes and dreams onto this man, we thought to put those words and phrases onto his face. After all, we, the people, were creating a president. Once we stepped back from the face, we realized that there was something missing. What had Obama been telling us all this time throughout the campaign? We looked at each other and asked ourselves what was the most important thing Obama said to us, Kris and Deb, during this election cycle. We both said: Obama’s speech on race.
On March 18, 2008, Candidate Obama spoke in response to controversial remarks made by his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright. You can read about this speech and watch the video by clicking here. While we couldn’t logistically place the entire speech onto the background, we made sure the words that left the greatest impression on us were there: long march, challenges, together, common hope, same direction.
We were honored when independent curator Carolyn Mazloomi chose to include us in her exhibit and book, Journey of Hope: Quilts Inspired by President Barack Obama.
JourneyOfHope

How excited we were to see where “The Picture is Only Half the Story” traveled. A detail of our piece even served as the bookmark for the exhibit. We met amazing people during the run of this exhibition and through the publication of the book.

ObamaBookmark001

And if you think our heads were exploding when we saw the bookmark, we almost lost it when Carolyn Mazloomi sent us this photo of our piece flashing up on one of the big screens in Times Square. Hot diggity! We figured if we could make it there (in New York), then we could make it anywhere!
ObamaTimesSquare

Now, if you think making it means getting published in Politico Magazine as among its favorite artworks depicting the 44th president, then we have made it! Please check out Politico Magazine‘s article called Obama, Art-ified: A tour through the unprecedented body of artwork depicting Barack Obama. (Click on #4 to see our piece.) We were humbled to be included in this amazing slideshow.

So how did Barack Obama’s candidacy, this speech, his presidency, and the making of “The Picture is Only Half the Story” impact our work? Well, we started a series called “The Language of Color” where we use colored pencils as sleek means to explore issues of race, which has come to occupy a focus of our recent work. And we’re not done. America is still striving to become that more perfect union. We’re trying to capture that journey. Here are some examples:

As I prepared this blog, I watched then Candidate Obama’s speech again. He has gotten a lot grayer, but his message of hope and change remains the same. And his call to talk about race is more important today than it was on that day eight years ago.

* “The Picture is Only Half the Story” is available for purchase ($2,044). Please contact us using the contact form.

Share

Jan 13 2016

By Hand Exhibition

Pixelkris

We are really looking forward to the premiere of “By Hand,” the first new exhibit of the year at the Blue Line Arts gallery in Roseville, CA. Our piece, “American Still Life: The Weight of the Nation,” is one of the works juried into the exhibit. We’re particularly happy our work was accepted because the juror is renowned curator, Elisabeth R. Agro, the Nancy M. McNeil Associate Curator of American Modern and Contemporary Crafts and Decorative Arts at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Co-Founder and Adviser of Critical Craft Forum. We’re even excited about the logo for the exhibit. We love text as form!

"By Hand" graphic

“By Hand” Logo

“American Still Life” was a special project for the Pixeladies. We had initially created it for Quilt National ’13. (You can read about that experience here.) I remember sitting around trying to dream up an idea that we could work up large. What to do? This is where the collaborative process really comes in handy. We started out by talking about art and what themes artists often approached. I told Deb that most artists at one time or another had attempted a still life. We haven’t accomplished anything as artists, I maintained, if we didn’t try a still life. Well, that may work in theory, but try figuring out how to create a dead pheasant and a bowl of fruit out of texts while trying to subtly remind the viewer of the transitory nature of life. We chewed on this for a while, perusing still life paintings on the Internet. Then Deb said, maybe we can’t think of how to do this when we don’t have any connection to dead pheasants and the other items we had been looking at, like this one by Jakob Gillig:

Freshwater Fish (1684)

Freshwater Fish (1684)

Good point, I replied. Who eats like that anymore, let alone prepares food? That’s when Deb said we should replace some of the food with the food Americans eat, like hamburgers and french fries. This was a grand idea, so we thought we should develop this idea further over lunch at our local McD’s. Lest you think this was just an excuse to eat, we came home with the perfect containers to photograph. After painting them white, we photographed them in different compositions. This is one of them:

The Original Photo

The Original Photo

It was obvious to us what kinds of words and phrases we needed. High cholesterol, diabetes, obesity. Not only could we highlight the health effects of the American diet, but we could also (and not so subtly) integrate the theme of the transitory nature of life. So off we went to cut words from food boxes and food ads in magazines and newspapers. (We did learn during this project to stick with magazines and newspapers because the cardboard and other materials of the food boxes were often too stiff or too thick.) While we tended to start out with random placement of words and phrases, we often linked some words together to create new combinations of meaning. In this detail, for example, we grouped together the phrases “Snack on this,” “palm oil,” and “your just desserts.” It’s fun to watch people scan “American Still Life,” looking for interesting combinations. Some of the combinations are rather funny, but the underlying message keeps creeping back into view.

American Still Life: The Weight of the Nation (detail)

American Still Life: The Weight of the Nation (detail)

The finished piece measures 60″ x 60,” the largest work we’ve ever tackled. We started out working on the dining room table, but we had to finish it on the floor. Can anyone say “knee pain?”

Deb Clutching her Glue Stick

Deb Clutching her Glue Stick

Kris Inserting the Final Piece

Kris Inserting the Final Piece

The artist reception for “By Hand” is Saturday, January 16, starting at 6 pm. We hope you can join us. Here is the finished piece:

American Still Life: The Weight of the Nation

American Still Life: The Weight of the Nation

Share

Sep 17 2015

Bid On Our Quilt!

Pixelkris

The SAQA Benefit Auction starts tomorrow. We donated this 12″x 12″ quilt to help support this wonderful organization. After all, earth without art is just “eh.”

Pixeladies_WalkAMileInHerShoes-WhatItsReallyLikeOutThere.

Walk a Mile in Her Shoes: What It’s Really Like Out There

There are a lot of great quilts available (just in case ours doesn’t strike your fancy). When our #internkelly was doing her internship with the Pixeladies, we all put together our “dream” collections of six quilts each. Take a look:

Deb’s Dream Collection featured this colorful quilt by Tommy Fitzsimmons.

FitzsimmonsTommy

Kris’s Dream Collection featured this striking quilt by Regula Affolter.

Regula-Affolter-BA15

#internkelly’s Dream Collection featured this evocative quilt by Maggi Birchenough.

Maggi-Birchenough-BA15

Whatever your personal taste, you will surely find something to bid on. And it’s also fun to watch the bidding. Click here to view the entire auction collection. Good luck!

Share

Mar 23 2015

Our Latest Series: Walk A Mile In Her/His Shoes

Pixelkris

We recently finished a 26-piece alphabet quilt for a client. The pieces were small, and while it was a challenge to work with such small text in that format (tweezers became our best friends), we really liked the objects and themes that went along with them. Since then we have worked on three donation quilts and wanted to look for suitable subjects. We returned again and again to the alphabet quilts, and the letter “O” kept jumping out at us – for Oxfords, of course!

O-Oxford

Why not do a series of quilts based on shoes, we thought? Well, we did our first red pumps for Virginia Spiegel’s Fiberart for a Cause auction, and we have another set of pumps ready for the SAQA Benefit Auction in September (more on that at another date).

WAMIHS-TheBalancingAct

For the Spotlight Auction at the SAQA Conference this April, we worked on a pair of court shoes. We took photos of Miles’ (Kris’ son) old-school Converse sneakers, reduced the values to about four, and printed out the image. Then we collaged the texts. We had to do a lot of reading of fine print to get the words and phrases to convey our feelings for “Walk a Mile in His Shoes: Too Much Pain for the Gain.” Then we printed the collage out on cotton and quilted it. Let us know what you think.

Pixeladies_WAMIHS-TooMuchPain-1800px

Share

Jan 15 2015

Fiber Art For A Cause Is February 4th

Pixelkris

Virginia Spiegel, mixed media artist and fellow SAQA member, has been organizing auctions of fiber artwork since 2005, with proceeds benefiting the American Cancer Society. This year it’s called The 100 Fundraiser for a Cause. Virginia invited 100 artists (including us, an honor) to donate an artwork that would be auctioned off for $100. On February 4, beginning at 10 am (Central time), donors can place their order. The first one hundred people to donate $100 will receive one of the artworks chosen randomly. We then send the artwork to the donor. This all seems very exciting, and we’re happy to be part of raising $10,000 for a good cause. Kris lost both her parents to cancer, and Deb lost her brother-in-law and childhood friend to the dreaded disease. We are happy to participate in this cause. Here’s our donation. It’s called “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes: The Balancing Act” (8″x 10″ matted). Please consider donating to this cause. You might get this piece!

WalkAMileInHerShoes_TheBalancingAct

Share

Oct 20 2014

Around the World Blog Hop: It’s Our Turn!

Pixelkris

Welcome to our installment of the “Around the World Blog Hop“.

We were invited to join the hop by Kate Themel.  We met Kate through SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates).  We have served on SAQA committees together and get to visit Kate at the annual SAQA Conference.  We love her work! We are in awe of how she creates light – sunlight, candlelight, moonlight, electric lights – with fabric and thread. Her expertise with light sometimes reminds us of John Singer Sargent and his portraits of women (and their dresses). Take a look at her blog to see some of the amazing work she’s been doing lately: http://katethemel.blogspot.com/.

The basic format of the Around the World blog posts is a set of Questions & Answers. Here we go!

What are we working on right now?

We have been working on a commission. It’s always interesting to learn how people get commissions. We had donated a 5″ x 7″ quilt to the Spotlight Auction, which has been held at the annual SAQA conference for the last couple of years. It’s called “An Apple a Day” and brings up the healthcare debate in the words and phrases we collaged onto the apple drawing.

An Apple a Day

An Apple a Day

The person who held the winning bid on the quilt came up to us after the auction and asked us to finish the “rest of the alphabet” for his infant son [deb’s note: we embroidered an “a” over the apple]. The best part of this commission was that our patron decided he did not want to have approval of  either the letter object or the letter theme. He gave us full artistic control. Needless to say, we are having loads of fun working on this project. We’re just “slightly” worried that we may mess up his son’s elementary school experience. Can you imagine what will happen when the teacher asks the class “Can you name a word that starts with Z, and the boy cries out, “Z is for ziggurat!” [deb’s note: personally, I’m worried about him shouting out “o” is for oxfords!]. Here’s a photo of the printed fabric in the rinse!

AlphabetSink

How does our work differ from others of its genre?

Our work probably differs most from others because we almost always start on the computer. Well, we really start out by talking to each other (see #4 below), but once we start thinking about design, it’s off to the computer. Fabric comes much later in the process. It’s like the dessert to the meal. Here you can see the original photo and then one layout that has the values all worked out for the ensuing collage.

Why do we create what we do?

One question often posed to us is why do we create in cloth? This is an interesting question, especially in light of our recent work, where we start with a paper collage. We could just stop there (and, yes, we save most of our paper collages), but fabric is our language. That’s what Deb says. And Deb has been sewing since she was a little girl. I like to say you can’t take a paper collage to bed with you. In other words, it’s the feel of the fabric when you work with it that is so satisfying. [It’s deb again: we learned a new word a few years back: haptic. Look it up]. Here is the finished quilt based on the design above:

LanguageOfColor5-SuesPencils

How does our creative process work?

People are often interested in learning why we collaborate. After all, art is a lonely pursuit, or so say many artists. Well, neither one of us had the gumption to do this by ourselves. Our first inclination was not to put ourselves out there. After all, what did we have to offer? Eleven years after forming Pixeladies, we look forward to sharing ideas with one another because the collaborative process produces a new vision that we often did not anticipate in the beginning. And we can blame the other one when things go kablooey. 😉 Here we are working on a project:

Now we’d like to point you to two blogs of quilt artists we admire:

Carla Barrett, quilter extraordinaire, can literally quilt circles around most people. She doesn’t just finish a quilt, she creates a story with her quilting. Look at her blog to see what we mean: http://featheredfibers.wordpress.com/. Carla lives down the road from Deb, and we will miss her terribly when she moves onto her boat. And, no, she will not be taking the long-arm machine with her.

Gerrie Congdon‘s hand-dyed fabric is what initially drew us to her work, but the way in which she composes her pieces keeps us coming back to her web site to see what she has created lately. Visit her blog at http://www.gericondesigns.com/weblog/. We met Gerrie through SAQA, too, and always look forward to seeing her at SAQA conferences. Next year the SAQA conference will be in Portland, OR, so we plan on partying with Gerrie while we’re there.

Share

Dec 10 2013

We’ve Cleaned Up Our Art

deb-of-pixeladies

I was back on the torture machine (the elliptical for normal people), listening to TED talks, when I came across Ursus Wehrli and his technique of “tidying up art.” This one’s worth watching. If you don’t want to watch while exercising, then grab a snack and put your feet up… If your browser blocks this embedded video, click here to go directly to the link: http://www.ted.com/talks/ursus_wehrli_tidies_up_art.html

Since I’m not great at tidying up my house, I thought maybe I should start small and tidy up one of our apple quilts.

An Apple A Day

An Apple A Day

Here’s the “tidy” result.

An Apple A Day--Tidied Up

An Apple A Day–Tidied Up

Share

Dec 3 2013

Tech Tuesday: An Apple A Day

deb-of-pixeladies

We have recently been creating fruit using words and phrases cut from magazines and newspapers. We started with a tomato. SacraTomato is the pet name for our city, and some of the text was about issues surrounding California’s migrant and sometimes undocumented farm workers. Now that we’ve moved onto apples, we wanted to take up a different issue, but what message should the apples send? Sometimes our text is inspired by what we find in current newspapers and magazines. Seen any articles about health care recently? It made sense to us that an apple could be about health care. After all, an apple a day keeps the doctor away. So, this is how we make a “pattern” for our text quilts, using the apple as an example.

We start out by taking lots of photos of apples–different colors, varieties, and lighting angles. Then we upload the photos into the computer and start playing. We want to decrease the number of values in the image to around four values (it’s much easier to make the collage with only four values). There are many ways to break down an image into its values.

1) Convert the image to black and white. Here’s a little video to show you how we do that using Photoshop CS4.

2) There are several filters that can help you simplify the image into a few shades of gray. Here are some examples:

Black & White

Stamped

Posterized #1

Posterized #2

Cut Out #1

Cut Out #2

Often we don’t get exactly what we’re looking for by just using a filter, so we’ll start modifying one of the layers. We might repaint some of the shapes to get a better look.

"Hand" Drawn

“Hand” Drawn

When we’re happy with the shapes, we’ll print out our “pattern” and start collecting the appropriate text. Finding just the right words consumes by far the most time. Once we have a lot of the text, we spread out all the words and sort them into values. Then we start gluing the words onto our pattern. Kris’ best find was the repositionable glue stick. It’s really nice to be able to take off a piece of text and replace it with something better. This is where we have the most fun. We will sit around and talk about the issues and laugh ourselves silly whenever we come up with some crazy combinations. Once we’ve finished gluing text to better, we either photograph or scan the collage and make any final adjustments in Photoshop before we print it out on fabric.

Apple Collage

Apple Collage

You can use this technique for creating pattern pieces for appliqueing or fusing, too. If you want to learn more about Photoshop and how to use it for your art projects, consider joining us at one of the retreats we’ll be teaching at in 2014. Three great locations–the Atlantic coast of Florida, the Big Island of Hawaii, or beautiful Lake Tahoe, Nevada. Click here for more details.

Share