Tag Archives: hooked rugs

Portrait transformation

Realism is the quest in my current studies.  I decided to work a self-portrait close to life size using #3 strips (3/32″ wide) for detail.  A group in Harrisonburg, VA brought instructor Donna Hrkman in for three days and I took advantage of her expertise to start the project.   The lesson which stayed with me was to use line of pronounced value to infer shape, attitude, texture, form. Our brain will finish the picture based on its knowledge.

Susan L. Feller 2014

Susan L. Feller 2014

Lesson 1: PREPARE  I sent this photo to Donna who  created a pattern using a grid to enlarge the details.  I also ran the photo through an app for iPad called uSketch and selected a washed out version with strong main lines.

Sketch for self-portrait

Sketch for self-portrait

This image was enlarged to fit a 12 x 16 format and directly sketched  using a lightbox.  I then drew the portrait by eye (ending up with softer features than the direct sketch.) By drawing the pattern myself several times I was prepared to notice nuances and hook the shapes and lines.

Lesson 2: If the subject is close to you, draw the design yourself.  I used Donna’s pattern and my guides trying to replicate what I was seeing not my mind’s interpretation of the subject.  You will see the first image (worked on for two days) needs severe sculpting to become recognizable to my friends as me.

Day 2 Portrait Susan L. Feller, Donna Hrkman pattern

Day 2 Portrait Susan L. Feller, Donna Hrkman pattern

Lesson 3: Color can draw attention and lead the viewer to a conclusion.  Glasses, hair, and background elements are in strong recognizable colors depicting me in 2014. I had brought along the actual drapery fabric from the photo as background but Donna suggested I use symbols to highlight my rughooking journey.

Personality coming through

Personality coming through

I selected two award winning designs My Mountain State and Mountain Treeline. The abstract hooked blue/purple skyline reproduces the first and the appliquéd colored tree shapes infer the latter and my favorite season. One more element that describes me is living in a log home here in West Virginia.  I decided to take the right third behind the face to show that structure. Simple horizontal lines of dark texture and natural linen became the logs.

Lesson 4: Simplify but complete the story. I almost forgot a major element in Ruckman Mill Farm’s pattern line is FRAKTUR designs. What motifs could I insert into this natural setting that would read PA German folk art? Of course! The circle from Baptism Certificate which has my birth date, parents and my name was printed and laminated to become a pin on the shirt.  I signed the piece and added one more symbol all in one.

Symbols tell story Susan L. Feller

Symbols tell story Susan L. Feller

Lesson 5: If it is not right, fix it.  All along you will notice I got closer to a recognizable rendition of Susan Feller except for the LIPS. Donna said the lower lip usually is lighter because it protrudes slightly.  She suggested using one size larger cut for the lower lip and both larger than the #3 cuts for the face.  I looked at the photo and convinced myself the reverse would be true in my case.  Extreme light and dark values were chosen, wide cuts, narrower, slightly up turned, straight across all not quite right.  I pulled out Anne-Marie Littenberg’s book Hooked Rug Portraits by Stackpole Books and read through it.  There was one image similar to mine that used several different values to portray the light on lips.  Posted that version on Facebook and received accolades.  But it was not until I asked Roslyn Logsdon to critique the lips that I heard the answer: AGAIN—“the lower lip needs to be lighter!!!!!!”

Lesson 6: Use the right tools from your tool box.  My life has involved textiles since childhood. Hand sewing, embroidery, dying fabric and using found objects often shows up in the wall art I create.  No reason to restrict this historical portrait to just rughooking. I added my favorite linen shirt, sea glass jewelry, embroidery and appliqué to enhance the hooked features and intend to finish the piece with a tramp art frame. What fun!

 

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

 

Nature Lessons in Color Planning

When I wanted to illustrate complementary partners in the book ‘Design Basics for Rug Hookers’, Stackpole Books 2011; I chose PURPLE asters and GOLDENrod along the highway near Albany, NY and ORANGE sassafras and a crystal BLUE sky here in WV.

Late summer brings on the subtle changes we glorify as Fall.  These images are good studies in how amount of color and placement affect the motif . They represent RED with its complement GREEN.

 

This is is a ‘Daily Square’ from late October 2013 depicting a blackberry branch. These photos taken today will inspire several squares.

Look around your environment and select a new color plan.

Blackberry Branch, Susan L. Feller painted linen, hooked, embroidered, quilted

Blackberry Branch, Susan L. Feller painted linen, hooked, embroidered, quilted

December Studies

It was exciting to put out two months of squares and see the variety of techniques, materials, subjects and color/values.  I have found it challenging to keep coming up with new images and then decided I do not have to.  Revisiting a composition and changing some element involves experimenting.  The landscape subjects are especially good to look at again, weather and seasons change the details.  SNOW brings out high contrast and changes shapes along with visual focus.

Not surprising, the December squares are filled with white and neutrals.  Color still abounds, but like spring in the Arizona Desert you need to look closely.  Bluebirds flitting, holly berries, sky blue, the warmth of our wooden buildings are all examples represented this month.  Enjoy a sampling including some subjects photographed but sketched from memory.  First a blank slate staring at me on January first:

January 2014

January 2014

 

Year Long Study

Beginning the study, working outside

Beginning the study, working outside

I have decided to dedicate the year leading up to my 60th birthday to studio work. Each day a sketch and five inch square design will be worked up in techniques I want to explore.  The series began ahead of time on October 18th with a plein air landscape outside of the studio.

This does not mean I won’t  teach and travel, but right now there is a long stretch of time off the road and a routine was necessary.  The short term goal is a sketch for each day.  Several larger works have evolved from these exercises already.  It has been a productive and meditative time.

Lori LaBerge’s Plein Air Hooking Artists concept helped formulate the process.  Although I am religiously sketching my subject into a journal, and working from the image for color and values, most of the subjects are also photographed as documentation.  I am also documenting changes made anticipating compiling a text to accompany an exhibit.

So far skills from a wire jewelry workshop have been incorporated into several pieces; acrylic paints; quilting; embroidery; and coiling have augmented traditional rug hooking.Monthly there will be a progress report showing the seasonal palette; design evolution; and techniques explored.  Below is a gallery of some early subjects and works.

Summer Bouquet in Wool

This design is finally finished in my eyes.  Thanks to several critique sessions this summer.

Summer Bouquet

Summer Bouquet

 The composition came together easily, an odd number of large motifs, connected with organic (curved) lines to a small vase placed within the outside border to anchor the design.  I used templates from ‘Design in a Box-Frakturs’ and the quirky principles of balance the PA German Fraktur artists had in their repetoire.

Then came bringing the lines to life.  I photographed each of the changes and will highlight some lessons.  Click on the first image and then you can see all in larger format by using the arrows.  During one workshop where I used the images as a lesson plan, a student commented in awe at the multitude of changes I had made.  To me that is what makes a project part of my process in learning.  Kits and following directions are for a goal… completed item.  Working on a design to achieve your knowledge of GOOD is growth.

Friends who blog more about art

It is time to spread your reading base with some much more active bloggers than I am.

I look forward to reviewing the artistic approaches to rughooking,  nature, design and life each of these friends share.  Hope you visit and enjoy their tidbits.  Each are active links in the sidebar to your right under Blogroll.

Lori LaBerge sends out a weekly post.  See her site http://www.LoriLaBerge.com

Laura Pierce lives on the West Coast and travels, reporting on her teaching destinations at http://laurawp.wordpress.com

Mary Jane Peabody’s rug graces the cover of my book ‘Design Basics for Rug Hookers’.  She has been posting for over a year now at http://www.maryjanesrugs.com/blog

Working on a Commission

The following series takes you through an exciting design project.  I was contacted in August of 2012 and the rug was delivered on April 5, 2013.  This design reflects the owner’s creativity in building their home and the natural site they chose.  In retrospect I would call the style Arts and Crafts (my mind and creativity are intertwined with the process).  The size is 40″ x 84″ and I used #8 cuts (1/4″ wide hand cut strips of wool) hooked through a primitive linen.

Steps involved contact from client based on a label on previous small mat purchased four years earlier.  We arranged a visit to the home to see surroundings, meet and discuss site in house, size, color, environment.  Three sketches were sent, the selected one was then drawn to scale and brought to the house with wools for color and approval.  At this point an estimated time for completion was established and deposit put down.  Wool prep including dyeing began and the hooking process is illustrated.  On final delivery the owners walked on the rug, and I photographed it at home.

Floral Message of Good Cheer

Caraway Garden Runner created using motifs from Design in a Box-Frakturs

Caraway Garden Runner created using motifs from Design in a Box-Frakturs

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL!

This design completed 2012 with a colorful BANG.  I approached the colorplan selecting my favorite analogous combination warm yellows, oranges and reds which also are traditional to the Frakturs (PA German illuminated manuscripts of 1740-1840’s) the motifs were inspired from.  With a wonderful pile of textured wools and spotted or solid hand dyes available, each flower is a bundle of contrasting values making the entire rug an exciting project.  The full rainbow can be found since blue and yellow greens and a wonderful turquoise just had to creap in along with a plaid with purples and cherry reds.

I hadn’t used the gold recipe which mimics a yellow glaze on redware in awhile and incorporated several different subtle textures and natural wool into the three different dye baths of varying values.  Hooking consistently in small puzzle shapes, the background hopefully sets the mood of a fun summer garden. Do you see the flowers all being thrown into a sunny sky?

The border technique of beading, (hooking contrasting strips in an alternating pattern) pays homage to a typical geometric border on Frakturs if the interior designs are all organic.  Bordering the rug with a full inch wide red plaid set off the riot of color and seems to settle it onto the table top or floor where we will enjoy the glow. 

I extend my wishes you will find beauty in every day and interpret these moods using your talents… in music, words, extending help, or artwork.  Look, see and show us your spirit in 2013.

Hooked designs as Note Cards

Big hit at Sauder and FiberFest were our full color blank notecards of hooked mats with free pattern on white stock and envelopes. Order on www.ruckmanmillfarm.com shop note cards.  Individual cards will be available at MountainMade in Thomas, WV.