Transforming the Traditional: Day Three

Today was the final day of the workshop I attended in conjunction with the Stitches in Bloom quilt show. If you missed my posts about the first two days, you can read about them by clicking right here. The topic today was a short lesson in drawing faces, which I found extremely helpful. Then, we talked about various media for marking, shading, and coloring fabric. Here's the beginning of the face I drew. Don't laugh, but this is the best face I've ever drawn in my entire life:

I only wish I could take a drawing class from Lura Schwarz Smith. After I finish writing this post, I'm going to peruse her website and see if she has any books on the subject. Her way of teaching is something I can completely wrap my head around...and when it comes to drawing, that's saying something...obviously. She had us start with the eyes, which she described as "pumpkin seeds". They are set about another pumpkin seed and a half apart. The bottom is left open. Then she described the eye itself as being like a tire with a hubcap. And since the entire iris isn't visible in our eyes (unless we're wide-eyed with fright or something), she told us to draw them as parentheses, and to leave the bottom flat. She encouraged us to make the pupil larger than pinhole (which is what mine is above), and to leave a little "slice out of the pie" for the "gleam" in an eye. In photography, we call that the "eye spot", and it gives life to the eyes. 

Before I go on, if I were assessing the guy above in the hospital emergency department (in my former life as a social worker), I'd probably say he was using heroin. That's what gives him those pinhole pupils, I'd say. But I digress.

Anyway...moving on, she had us make a small line for the eye lid, and then to add "blowing grass" for the eyebrows, pointing out that the inner part of the eyebrow would be the darkest. 

After that, we moved on to the nose. She first had us draw a little cup at the bottom of the nose and at either end, we drew a "watermelon seed". Then we drew some more parentheses that leaned over a little at the top. When we drew the mouth, she had us draw a sort of wavy line, and she also reminded us that lips always narrow at the outer edges. Depending on whether the face is happy or sad, we should draw the outer edges of the middle lip line either upward facing or downward drooping. Then we added a line with a dip in the middle for the upper lip. The upper lip shouldn't extend all the way to the outer edges of the middle line. The lower lip is then drawn in, but it doesn't need to meet the middle line. It can just be a suggestion...a dip longer than the cup of the nose, but without the "watermelon seeds".

After that, she had us add "C's" for the ears with a little hook at the bottom. Then, a question mark in the middle of each, and on the outer sides of the question mark, another flattened "C". Keeping in mind that the eyes are sort of in the middle of the oval that represents the skull, she had us fill in the upper part of the skull/forehead, but using only dots rather than a line. Then we filled in the hair using just strokes. We were to choose a "part" and then work outward from that point. She encouraged us to make some "side burns" since everyone has those, and to add some hair below the ears too. Here's Lura's face:

We also talked about whether the chin would have a little line, as my chin does. Not everyone has that line. And we talked about necks. Children and women have more slender necks than men, especially men who happen to be football players. Then, they have almost no neck at all, but just a huge muscle that extends from their ears to their shoulders. 

You wouldn't know it from the face I drew, but I found this exercise very helpful. Here's the face I drew (and no laughing!):

I did make the pupils a little larger. This person has probably been using cocaine. On the other hand, I may have just drawn the "missing link" in our evolutionary process. I might actually submit this to some scientific journal as a suggestion of what our missing ancestor might have looked like. Do you suppose it was cocaine that did him in?

So then we talked about various media for marking fabrics. The three kinds she brought were all permanent and washable (at least I think they were washable). Lura makes a distinction between quilts for the wall or quilts for the wash. If they are quilts for the wall, then the markers don't necessarily need to be washable.

Below are the Prismacolor pencils that could be used for lining or shading...even over dark shading. She had a white pencil that would show even against the darkest of shading, and she suggested it would bring back the "gleam" in the eye if it somehow got shaded over as we worked. She had other colors, but these were the longest pencils, and therefore had the whole name of the product on them.

The ones in the image below are a little like Sharpies, only they don't spread out on your fabric like Sharpie ink does. She showed us how to do the "dot test", where she puts the pen down on a piece of muslin, and then counts to five to see if the dot spreads or leaks through the fabric. These pens have a roller ball so that they won't skip over the threads in the fabric as you write, as the Micron pens do. (Those are the ones I'm accustomed to using for tracing embroidery designs and writing on labels.) The ones in the image below are obviously a better choice. These had a tip at both ends, one sharper than the other. 

Finally, she showed us these "inks", which I really liked. I see a set of these in my future. She applied them with the "fantastix" which are a sort of sponge tip, rather than a brush. The can be obtained with a sharp or a blunt point. One simply dips them in the ink, then uses a "rub cloth" (such as a scrap of muslin) to rub the amount of ink to the shade you are looking for.

In the image below, you can see some of my "rubbing". To the left is the color straight from the ink bottle, then with back and forth strokes, it gets lighter and lighter. At the top toward the right, you can see the roller ball pen markings in brown, and the Prismacolors in green and yellow. Oh yes, and the "inks" can be blended until they dry, and then they are permanent.

Lura said all of the items are available online, and that some of them are available at Michael's and JoAnn. She suggested a website: Jukebox Quilts, as a good resource. 

Remember her little cat quilt I showed you the other day?

That's her kitty "Woody", the one who was rescued from a wood pile. She drew him with pen and ink, and then printed the drawing onto fabric. She had the fabric sheets for sale, and I purchased one to use at home when I get my own set of inks. They were originally just black and white, but today, she used some orange ink to shade in the kitty. The green eyes were filled in with the green Prismacolor pencil. Look how pretty this turned out. The kitty really comes to life with the extra color:

I was feeling a little worn out by this time, and so I didn't try any of the shading exercises myself, but I did sit and listen while she worked with another participant to talk about shading in faces. She was using the same ink and fantastix paint stick to do the face below. 

She let me keep the original of this so that I can refer to it when I try this at home on my own. Nice, huh?

So, I wasn't really in the mood to do much with that, and so I went back to making roses. Mine have turned out really large...about 12 inches square. I want to make some smaller ones to put above the larger ones with some greenery to suggest leaves and maybe I'll fashion some sort of vase along with some greenery below. I don't know...maybe I won't do anything with it. Anyway...here's the purple one I made today:

And here it is with the other two:

I spent some time studying ones that were made by other workshop participants. Theirs are about 1/4 the size of mine, and so I was trying to figure out why mine end up so large. For one thing, their center triangles start out a little smaller, but they are also making their "petals" narrower. I need to work on that part, I think. I was also paying attention to how they put leaves on theirs:

I love the reds in the one below:

And after I made my purple rose, I'd had just about enough sewing to last me for a while. We had the room until 4:00, but I started packing my stuff up around 2:30, and I was back in my room by 3:30. Dinner was at 6:00, and now I'm finished except for the quilt show tomorrow. Our instructor has several quilts in the show, and one of the other women has two quilts in the show. I'm feeling a little intimidated by them since they are art quilters, and I'm more of a traditional quilter, but I'll get over it.

If I were an infant, I would be one of the slow-to-warm-up kind. For all I know, I might have been that kind of infant. It occurs to me that I am certainly that kind of an adult. By around noon today, I was finally beginning to feel comfortable with the other participants in the workshop. Part of my problem is that I do not have a voice that carries, and so even when I attempt to speak up, I am often drowned out by others. One doesn't have to be ignored or interrupted too many times before one just stops talking. Anyway...all of that to say that my discomfort with the group wasn't so great that I would be reluctant to do this again. I did enjoy this workshop, and I found the information provided to be inspiring and valuable. I am already looking ahead to next year's workshop which will feature Cynthia Corbin on The ABC's of Composition, which I think would be very interesting. Here is how her website describes it:

The ABCs of Composition
Think about the letters of the alphabet as simple shapes. Strung together as words or simply a series of symbols, letters become fascinating abstract structures that also pull in another layer of meaning.
This class is based on my own Text Series work. Utilizing the “black fabric sketch” method of visualizing a composition, students will develop a series of pieces based on a single word or series of letters—sometimes readable, sometimes not. I provide a starting place, guidance, and encouragement, and each student takes it from there—giving voice to their own point of view.

 It is a five-day workshop, however, and I'm not sure I'm up for such a lengthy commitment. This three-day commitment has stretched me to my limit, but maybe I will feel differently about it a year from now. And, of course, cost always factors into the final decision. We'll see. I'm not ruling it out, and in my mind, that constitutes at least a small amount of growth.

So I would definitely rate this a positive experience, even given my level of angst about it ahead of time. It certainly has helped to be sitting at a sewing machine and concentrating on that. Lura's teaching style fit well with my temperament and that helped a lot. I would definitely take another class from her if the opportunity presented itself. 

Now I'm ready for the quilt show tomorrow. My friend Sue is meeting me here, and so it will be good to have a friend along at the show. Then, I'm looking forward to going home and seeing my kitties. I have missed my little pals. Smitty usually sleeps under the covers, curled up next to me, and I've grown accustomed to his furry little body beside mine. Mike says he's been curled up next to him the last couple of nights, so perhaps he needs me there as much as I need him.

I'll have some eye candy for you once I get back home and back into a little bit of a routine. You can be watching for that. Lura had posters of some of her quilts that will be on display at the show, and I'm looking forward to seeing them in person.

19 comments from clever and witty friends:

WoolenSails said...

It is nice that you tried things that were out of your comfort zone, always a personal victory for us. I am a sometimes artist, sometimes I can actually draw something and sometimes I can't get past a stick figure, lol.


Junebug613 said...

Very interesting! Glad you were more comfortable than you expected. There really is something to how much you can get yourself worked up over certain situations. I'm more anxious over a large family gathering (my stepmother's family is huge), than I am about taking a class with a group of strangers. We all have our quirks. Your face drawing came out pretty good. I'm not good at drawing either. Somewhere I have a book on drawing techniques. I'll have to dig it out. Im looking forward to seeing the quilts. I totally understand about missing the kitties. Have a great time with Sue tomorrow and a safe trip home!

Tami C said...

I am glad that you did enjoy your workshop. It looks like you have been introduced to several techniques that interested you. Have a safe trip home!

Lynda Halliger Otvos (Lynda M O) said...

Love that Smitty sleeps under the blankies with you. I think CatCat 2.0 will be a snuggler as well. She crawls into corners head first, sits looking into the corner of the living room staring at "who-knows-what", paws at whatever blanket she's on as if it were sand in her litter box and wraps herself around my head as I lie recumbent. It's fun compared to her predecessor who was standoffish and a cat unto herself.

Have fun tomorrow with Sue and a safe trip home. Looking forward to pictures.

quiltzyx said...

You made great progress today! I am soooo proud of you Barbara! The big roses look terrific, maybe they could end up as a table runner or long, narrow wall hanging or, or, or... :) Those Fantastix are what I used in the class I took, aren't they fun to use? One day I'll use them again. I had signed up for another class using them, with Patt Blair, at the Glendale quilt show a few years back. Unfortunately there was a huge scheduling snafu & Patt was not able to be there for the class due to family coming into town. :( Jukebox Quilts is a great resource! I know the owner, Kelly Gallagher-Abbott, back from when she lived in SoCal & was President of the So Cal Council of Quilt Guilds. I bought my inks & Fantastix from her! I miss her now that she's in Colorado. I have seen some of Lura's quilts too, hanging at Road to CA & they were amazing.
I know what you mean about missing Smitty snuggles in bed. Zzyzx used to do that during the coolest nights. I usually read when I first go to bed, and she would lay at the foot of the bed. Then, when I turned off the light (sometimes at her urging!), she would come up & get under the covers & snuggle next to me.
Have fun at the show tomorrow - I'm glad that Sue will be there too, since you guys missed your walk the other week. Say hi to her for me! LOL

Vroomans' Quilts said...

You made it thru your class - and each day you learned and grew. Now breath and enjoy the show.

Jeanie said...

Well I think your drug addict looks great! I love how your instructor breaks the process down into little building steps for you all to follow along. Glad you stepped out of your comfort zone to learn some new skills and techniques. Have fun at the quilt show!

Doris Rice said...

You did it, you did it! YAY! And your druggie looks better than most druggies I see around here. Heck he looks better than any stick person I would ever draw. Sadly I can't even draw stick people well. lol.

Doris Rice said...

You did it, you did it! YAY! And your druggie looks better than most druggies I see around here. Heck he looks better than any stick person I would ever draw. Sadly I can't even draw stick people well. lol.

Dana Gaffney said...

Congratulations! You made it through and the show will be fun since you can relax. I think your face drawing is wonderful, they are hard to get right, I like how she described the bits and pieces to you.

gpc said...

I think it's amazing. Your face is tons better than I could have done (I think he's just high on life), and your roses have improved with each try. What a great result overall, plus the satisfaction of pushing yourself past your comfort zone. Good job! :)

MooseStashQuilting said...

Great job. You gave me a big laugh describing your drawing of the handsome guy! Enjoy the show now!

LynCC said...

OK - I wasn't laughing at all until you said this person is probably using cocaine. hehehe I couldn't draw a face half that well! Thank you for sharing so much helping and interesting information.

SJSM said...

Your first face drawing is much better than my first face. I still have trouble with drawing. It is intimidating. I liked how your instructor described the process and you related it beautifully to us. In the class I took, the instructor said each person tends to draw their own face on their subjects in the beginning. She suggested it may be a result of us staring in the mirror all our lives and seeing the image staring back as the ideal face.

Looking at my classmates pictures there might be truth to that. We were given directions similar to yours and each face became the nationality of the person who drew it with some similarity to their own features. The lady from India had Indian characteristics, Chinese ditto as well as African American. You could also see a part of each artist in the drawing.

Funny, huh.

Love the cat stories!

Janarama said...

Woo Hoo, you did it! Looking forward to see what you create using what you learned in your classes. What I see so far is great! Have fun at the show.

Smitty is going to be so happy to see you.

By the way, love your sense of humor and writing style.

Kate said...

Sounds like a success on multiple fronts.

Brown Family said...

Your roses are great! I do not think I could do them. The ink and colors are out of my reach, also.. I do use colored pencils and crayons, but have not mastered shading.

Kristine said...

I'm the same way with people I don't know well. A lot of people think I'm always this quiet, soft-spoken person that just follows the group. When I'm more comfortable, I can be quite loud and opinionated. Love the roses - I want to learn how to do that.

Lyndsey said...

You sound a lot like me Barbara. When I first agree to do something I like the idea, then I get all panicked at the thought of all the other people there. By the time to come home I've settled in and have started to enjoy myself. The only difference is I do have a loud voice - must be all the years of teaching. I tend not to use it unless people keep talking over me or others. Well we all deserve to be heard! It's great that you had a good time and learnt new techniques that you can use and that you are already considering next year. However great the experience has been it is always a joy to be home and I bet Mike, Smitty and Gracie are all pleased to have you back.