Category Archives: travel

Have you been to San Francisco?

I have and the experience is inspiring. Lines, light, shapes in buildings that remind me of trees, trees with different shapes, wide roads filled with cars and narrow ones surrounded by vineyards and GREEN. It rained and nature is responding with color and profusion.

Water and travel to places means bridges. I have made it across the Golden Gate Bridge and into Wine Country. Hills that are rounded but tall, rolling hills filled with the skeletons of spring vines, a rocky coastline and broiling waves are images I can conjure up from the past few days in Sebastopol and now Walnut Creek outside of San Francisco.

I was 3000 miles from home teaching an eager group mixed media techniques to incorporate into their rughooking designs. We explored the elements and principles of design, experimented with materials and techniques and shared ways we process, design and see. Here are some works in progress. The full class of 15 promised to send photos when completed. The workshop was sponsored by the Wine Country Rug Hookers an ATHA chapter. My compliments to everyone involved in setting up my contract, travel, definitely the evening dinners and enthusiastic participants.

Finishing work 17 years later

I learned an artistic textile technique, rughooking, in 1994 and stepped into the pattern making (line drawings) by interpreting traditional folk motifs on frakturs. In other words using someone else’s visual design (centuries old and out of copyright infringement) and composing with an expected balance. I mastered skills, materials and tools and became proficient in the craft.

Adam and Eve, Susan L Feller 2000

Adam and Eve, Susan L Feller 2000

By 1999 I wanted to grow into my own style and enrolled in a workshop “Balancing Act” lead by Rae Harrell at Green Mountain Rug Hooking Guild in Shelburne, VT. With an open mind and no planning lines were directly drawn on the foundation material, my colors selected from a comfort pile and friends contributions, and I began to hook breaking “rules” I did not even know I had adhered to when I saw others using different widths of strips in one piece! The result was Adam and Eve, completed in 2000 and juried by Mary Sheppard Burton into an exhibit Hooked Art in the 21st Century at the Textile Center, Minneapolis, MN.

I have continued this journey making patterns and more regularly creating artwork depicting the natural wonder around me in West Virginia, and communicating social and economic issues. All the while a panel hung in the studio labeled “work in progress-Adam and Eve weave”.

base, woven wool from Adam and Eve, Susan L Feller 2000-2016

base, woven wool from Adam and Eve, Susan L Feller 2000-2016

I had pinned onto muslin strips of the fabrics used to hook Adam and Eve with intentions to stabilize them either subtly or with embroidery stitches and attach to the hooked piece creating a large pillow (22 x 24).  A year of exploring past and new skills (Year Study), five years researching textile craftsmen from West Virginia (McDonalds), a source for discontinued upholstery samples and a conscious pull back to slow stitching with thrums from weaver Wendy Clark I finally felt it was the right time.

I enjoy composing, selecting materials and techniques each step interacting with the others until work can begin. There is a point of frustration when an idea can not be accomplished with existing materials or skills ….. the hunt for those takes away from the creative process but is essential if the work is going to be great instead of just good. I always have too many ingredients and need to simplify too.

upholstery samples, motifs from Design in a Box-Frakturs, Susan L Feller

upholstery samples, motifs from Design in a Box-Frakturs, Susan L Feller

The two figures came out of my Design in a Box-Frakturs. Until the organic leaf with blue color upholstery was added, my design was ok but too equal in values, shapes and colors. I decided the figures did not need to have facial details for us to know who they were. By us looking at their backs and the plants layered over the bodies the title made sense. They are going into the garden where the serpent rises up on the hooked side.

The tools needed were simple: embroidery needle, threads, sharp scissors, and a few embroidery stitches from my past (satin, long and short, and back stitching) with my studio frame by Townsend Industries and Bob the supervising cat. By stretching the piece on a 14″ square frame I often used the left hand as precisely as my dominant right one. I involved people in the process using Instagram and Facebook postings (the images show my left hand holding tools often staged for the shot).

Construction problems needed to be solved: selecting and installing a zipper (pillow form needs to be pulled out for transporting shell to workshops), anchoring edge with layers of wool and muslin and eliminating bulk for pillow, hand stitching two together when one was slightly larger than the other (measured but design grew, wool is a flexible material) but it all came together on January 16, 2017.

Into the Garden, Adam and Eve

Into the Garden, Adam and Eve

The proverbial question asked of a craftsman “How long did it take you?” can be answered this time with “Seventeen years!”

 

2016’s influence

It’s time to look back, review, evaluate and gather inspiration from the people, places and things on my journey of 2016.

With students and friends while gathering for a few days of immersion in our mutual interests…fiber arts on the Puget Sound, retreating in Hampshire County WV and South Carolina, teaching in Maryland and Ohio at Sauder Village and lectures at Schwenkfelder Library, Pennsburg PA inspired me as much as my encouraging their design skills. Working with Alissa Novoselick and Emma Pepper developing an arts conference in WV; participating in an exhibit curated by Roslyn Logsdon in Maryland; promoting the McDonald Sisters of Gilmer County to thousands; and handing off a legacy to Green Mountain Hooked Rugs exposed me to new skills and supportive people.

Big city Seattle, arts filled Asheville, rural Summerville Georgia,  Thomas, WV population 600 and the beauty of nature along trails in Fayetteville, Seneca Rocks, and Harpers Ferry are places remembered in my sketch books and beginning to appear in fibers.

We gather objects to remember places and people especially collecting them from fellow artists. I like to wear jewelry made by artist friends when traveling, it is as much of an ambassador as I am. We often photograph our flowers in the art vases, new artwork hanging on log walls, and even show great food on our trips sharing our experiences with an “extended family”. Thank you to Kate Harward, Ginger Danz, Christine Keller, Norma Acord, Donald Stone, Wendy Clark, Rebecca Wudarski, Mountain Daughter Metalworks, Bruce Wilson and Marilyn Bottjer for your talent we live with daily.

I am planning to explore places, interact with friends and react to artwork daily in 2017, perhaps we will meet up on our journeys and share some experiences.

Traveling to Vermont

What designs could come out of a June week in the capitol city of Vermont with friends?

Plenty of ideas for artwork and many personal memories were gathered while enjoying Montpelier, VT and the Green Mountain Hooked Rug School.  Looking forward to returning in 2017 teaching “Working in Abstract Expressionism”. Registration is open at GreenMountainHookedRugs.com

Travel Sketches-Seattle

Beginning a new series based on my travels. The challenge is to simplify the experience.

I decided a journal approach will help develop style and studies for larger art. Less pressure to “nail it” the first time and as you will see, the exercise leads to my goal… concise yet informative designs. Techniques and materials are not clarified yet, although my new supply of cotton fabric and threads will be tapped into.

Thanks go to the students in my design class at Puget Sound Rug School, who energized my own creativity. The first sketch is a result of one of the exercises. List a topic, describe it in words and motifs.

Initial Sketch

Initial Sketch

Over the past week I have developed three separate designs inspired by the trip to Seattle. The City View has seen 6 versions so far.  Next steps to decide size, techniques, materials and begin with my favorite tools-my hands. Slowly I will communicate.

 

Exploring Seattle

Two days ahead of Puget Sound Rug School I have immersed myself in Seattle visually and physically. Who knew you could “hike” five miles in a city?  Camera in pocket and rain gear on here are some inspiring compositions.

Okan Arts Japanese cottons

Okan Arts Japanese cottons

First stop was a fiber mecca for me. Patricia Belyea has amassed an amazing collection of Japanese yukata cottons available for  US quilting and fiber artists from her shop in Seattle or online at OkanArts.com.  I selected bold patterns and intimate repeats of lines to be combined into my art.

Pikes Market produce

Pikes Market produce

Vendors carrying produce, flowers, artisan products, and baked goods entice the tourists at Pikes Market down along the waterfront. The blast of color and natural shapes caught my attention.

The city is filled with contrasting shapes, lines of different strengths, and shots of color in the structures, everyone vying  for attention.

Coffee Beans

Coffee Beans

And then there was the sensual allure of roasting coffee at THE Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room.   Notice the gentle curves of the copper tubes and the warm color of the roasted beans awaiting the personal selection.

All of my senses were heightened. I am sure to end up with some visual artwork from these hours spent in the Emerald City.  Traveling from the West Virginia mountains to a metropolitan area increases the awareness of structure.

Searching for Inspiration

5 inch hooked mats Susan L Feller

5 inch hooked mats Susan L Feller

Granted I have 365 sketches to “inspire” me creatively. But there is something about beginning to do that has eluded me for a block of time. Don’t fret, we are not holed up here in the mountains though rather traveled to new museums and collected inspiring details.

 

 

Studying a favorite, Georgia O'Keefe

Studying a favorite, Georgia O’Keefe

The Chrysler Museum of Art is in Norfolk, VA and open (free) every day. Galleries are filled chronologically covering worldwide history. The contemporary exhibits change and a separate Glass Studio includes opportunities to watch work in progress.
Labeling can add to the experience and the information with the artwork enhances our understanding of time and technique. We also found the docents to be the friendliest and most knowledgeable.

 

Shadows in Contemporary Gallery

Shadows in Contemporary Gallery

 

At the Michener Museum, Doylestown, PA  color was abundant. Kaffe Fassett presented “Blanket Statements” exhibiting quilts from a British collection alongside the contemporary results through Feb 21, 2016.

 

IMG_3162

Bucks County Impressionist collection

Bucks County Impressionist collection

The Michener collection focuses on regional artwork and features the talent of Bucks County Impressionists hung in a salon manner with labels as handouts not interspersed on the wall.

Inspiration can and should come from traveling. Vancouver, BC was an exciting trip filled with Emily Carr’s vast Pacific Northwest rainforest, city structure, and studio visits. All made extra special by spending with several art friends.

Shapes, texture, color, scale and awe.

Then there are the every day scenes filled with memories that can trigger a design.  I am energized by selecting these scenes and with a snow storm predicted will gather materials and tools for a long weekend of creating.  Hope you too are prepared or will find inspiration in the days ahead.

 

Traveling Inspirations

On the road again teaching, lectures and just because the weather is nice and making a point to visit all the state parks in WV. Coopers Rock State Forest was just three miles off the Interstate on my way to Cedar Lakes last week.

Cooper's Rock State Forest WV CCC construction

Cooper’s Rock State Forest WV CCC construction

A breathtaking view of undeveloped forest and valley atop a massive ROCK.  The CCC program instituted by President Roosevelt employed thousands and left structures built with native materials which decades later are treasured.

Cooper's Rock State Park, WV

Cooper’s Rock State Park, WV

Birch Catkin

Birch catkin

 

The birds were singing, sun shining and wind blowing trees with bright new leaves and catkins. Picked up a book with trails described, will be sure to return in other seasons.

 

Arrived at Cedar Lakes Conference Center in Ripley for week long rug camp directed by Tomorrow’s Heirlooms. Always enjoy the early morning fog lifting off water surface and structures. How could this view be interpreted using fiber techniques? The reflecting light is what fascinates me.

early morning light

early morning light

Traveled to Charleston and visited the Capitol Market. Plants in all sizes, colors and leaf shapes.  Inspirations everywhere if you pause to see what you are looking at.

Charleston Farmers Market detail

And finished this stop with lunch at Soho which uses Homer Laughlin Fiestaware (WV company) for serving dishes along with local ingredients for fresh salads.

Fiestaware at SoHo

Fiestaware at SoHo

Inspirations collected depict space, scale, color, value, contrast, depth, texture, nature and history. May I encourage you to experience new visuals and sounds and add them to your work.

Class topics in 2014

I just reviewed photos from workshops this year.  Many lessons were taught, dozens of lessons learned, and plans were made for next year ….  all reasons why I teach.  See the calendar for workshop sites in 2015.

Alta Vista Golf Course, site of workshop

Alta Vista Golf Course, site of workshop

 

I flew to Mesa Arizona in January right in-between the coldest spells in West Virginia.  People came down from South Dakota to escape the cold and others ‘wintered’ in sunny Arizona.  The projects were colorful and three days went too quickly.

 

 

The class at Cedar Lakes Rug School was filled with sixteen eager students.  Some had finally signed up with me after a few years of seeing work by other students and others repeated with new projects and goals.  At the end of the week, I complimented them all, referring to this session as a Masters Class.  I was challenged, they contributed and every project was well on its way to being a great piece.  I am teaching here again next year, email Nancy Blair at  thhkrugs@altelco.net   for details.

The topic at Green Mountain Rug Hooking School in Vermont was the Moods of Color.  We did get to hooking designs based on a mood the participants brought  but began the three days with several exercises.  On the blackboard each posted a word under one of six colors.  Before looking farther what would you say about Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue and Purple?

Manistee Rug School in Onekama, MI is coordinated by a guild rather than a business.  Volunteers for every job join together bringing in the new members and adapting each year to the needs of all.  This was a repeat for me, the first time was in 2011.  I made a point to dine with a different instructor each evening, making new friends and delving deeper into old friendships.  The class included beginners, pattern designers, experimenters, folk painters and abstract artists.  Diverse and challenging, their projects evolved well over the week.

Sauder Village Rug Week is in Archbold, OH is in its 18th year.  Ruckman Mill Farm vended again right next to Dorr Mill Store in the Exhibit Hall where we enjoyed the Celebration rugs and special collection of Esther and Judy Knipe.  The workshop I taught covered a wide variety of ways for Finishing Hooked Rugs, (title of new book by experts in each technique… including a chapter on finishing work for gallery exhibits by me).  We used the exhibit to explore finishes, talked about the appropriate new technique for students work and using a small sample “learned” three techniques.  Response from the students was to offer this again.  Look for class schedules at SauderVillage.org in early November.  I will be teaching several different classes all week.

Susan L. Feller, Ruckman Mill Farm

Susan L. Feller, Ruckman Mill Farm

 

Juried into 7Stitch: Kentucky Surface Design Exhibit

Exciting email today, juror Jane Dunnewold, President of Surface Design Association accepted “Haying Stages” into the upcoming 7Stitch: Contemporary Textile Art from Kentucky & the Surrounding States exhibit at Morehead State University, Morehead, Kentucky. 

Coordinated by the Kentucky region of Surface Design, the collection of 35 fiber works will open on June 1 with a reception from 3-5pm at the Claypool-Young Art Gallery and continues through August 30, 2013.