Tag Archives: Susan Feller

Finishing up the Study

March 23 I finished the last month in the Year Study.  That is not to mean every single square is completed but I can say there is an end in sight and the twelve panels will be ready for Sauder Village Rug Hooking Week August 11-15 in Archbold, OH.

Visit Year Study – Collection Gallery to see the months and individual squares.  Over time the full project will be uploaded.

August 2014 nine squares

August 2014 nine squares

Lessons learned? Sketch and complete each subject at least within the month.  I jumped around and when busy with teaching stopped working on the pieces until months later.  The creative momentum was lost for a particular design or a techniqueI had suggested did not interest me when it came around to doing that square. So I changed it.

I still procrastinate.  Although deadlines are met, I prioritize the projects and decide whether a commitment is worth pursuing or can be shelved.  This one will be completed because I told many people, it has been accepted as an exhibit, I am happy with the results, the documentation will be useful in future articles, workshops and the direction of my artwork practices.

Color studies

Color studies

Solution:  Independent study with one person as student and advisor means goals or methods can be changed to meet the situation.  Stay positive do not chastise, evolve. I changed some designs from original sketch.  There were days with no sketches which I used to explore a series with pleasure.  I got through by breaking the 365+pieces  down into segments of a each month.

Results: When the project began I thought it would be rewarding to explore new techniques in surface design.  Now 18 months later and counting, that goal was met and I have set another one: to educate. During the year photographs were taken when changes were made to a piece.  I will write a series of articles describing the process, challenges and solutions.  In future posts and the pages on the site under Year Study, mini courses will develop and a dialog with viewers.  I found using social media helpful for encouragement, directed critique and developing an interested audience.

Progress in the Mountains, Susan L. Feller 2014

Progress in the Mountains, Susan L. Feller 2014

There is an urge to work on larger pieces finally.  Abstract, geometric, simplified palettes, and environmental stories are the styles and subjects which will be developed.

 

To be continued. I am glad to be on this creative journey with you.

Virtual Studio Visit – Susan L. Feller

Transfer design to linen backing

Transfer design to linen backing

As a creative person I would love to stay in the studio and work, but no one sees the results unless they visit. These days a virtual visit can be arranged if some of that creative time is put into developing websites, blogs and social media avenues.

Here are ways you can view, learn about, and purchase some of that artwork:

Ruckman Mill Farm color logo  We are revamping the website www.RuckmanMillFarm.com It is back up now. Hope you check it out regularly to see new and favorite rug hooking patterns, supplies, and my teaching schedule.  Use the coupon FaceShip when checking out to receive free shipping until March 31.  And please send me comments on the navigation and order process, we can improve with input. Here in the hills of West Virginia it is loading SLOWLY……

The site you are on now,  www.ArtWools.com serves as my identity as an artist and also acts as a blog. If you are new to it, I invite you to look on the right sidebar and sign up for automatic posts . Search the pages to view Galleries and biographical details.

We are now on Facebook on two pages Ruckman Mill FarmSusan L. Feller, Artwools , LIKE them for news feeds.

And I have several boards on Pinterest at Susan Feller at Artwools

Hoping to hear from you after “visiting” 24-7.

Setting up an Exhibit

Ever wonder how an exhibit comes together for opening day?  Here are some behind the scenes shots as we set up ‘Garden to Table: hooked rugs and art from the collection at the Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center, 105 Seminary Street, Pennsburg, PA.

Delivery of hooked, sculpted and braided pieces

Delivery of hooked, sculpted and braided pieces

Works from Indiana, New Hampshire, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia were collected by me complimenting the theme ‘Garden to Table’.  I brought them into the Fraktur Gallery at the Schwenkfelder on Thursday and the fun began.  The previous exhibit was off the walls but still in the room including a wooden cradle, cases and a cart filled with stuffing.

One exhibit down another going up

One exhibit down another going up

Candace Perry, Curator of Collections showed me items from their archives already on the walls including a flower wreath of feathers in a manner not known to her to be made in the 21st Century.  We discussed adding redware flower pots, hand painted china from early 20th C, an oil painting by Walter Baum, Berlin work and Frakturs representing the 19th and 18th Centuries.  Off she went into the archives and I began to intermingle the fiber work with the objects.

Why did one item end up next to another?  Sometimes it is color, could be shapes, maybe subject perhaps it is traffic flow.  All of these options came into play today.  The following two images show how moving an object slightly to the left and on an angle gives more space to the rug and flower arrangement.

Tomorrow we hang the rest of the work, bring in the large display case with four domed wax fruit compotes!, label the objects, sweep the floor and redirect the lighting just in time for the official opening on Saturday.  This exhibit will be up through March 1.  The Heritage Center is open Tuesday through Sunday visit www.Schwenkfelder.com for directions, exhibit descriptions, and hours.

Thanks to Darlene York Trout, Patsy Jones, Kris McDermet, Mary Jane Peabody, and Carolyn Boutilier for contributing hooked work to the collection.

Reflecting on a Portrait

Seems one is not enough these days. This post is how one portrait lead to another.

Inspired to simplify the design I hooked with such detail, I took one of the sketches and traced the outline, neck, hairline and glasses. Then out came the colored pencils and I played around with value and color.  That exercise was frustrating — wrong values, colors not quite right and I did not like “coloring”. But it did help me realize which values would communicate a face in side profile – (darker cheek behind full face, medium face and light hair); and that using color may not be how I wanted to create this work.

I had just picked up an armload of discontinued fabric samples from Dillon’s Furniture in Romney with intent to incorporate them into my work like the McDonald sisters of Gilmer County, WV who used scraps of fabric in their trapunto, embroidered, faux hooked tapestries circa 1964. (A post for the future).  It felt like I had hit GOLD when I looked at that pile!  Selecting a dark solid, medium texture and white lined fabric, I cut out patterns and began layering these on a MOD FLOWER pattern which said 1970’s to me. To hide the stitches I had to use threads matching the fabric.  These decisions lead me to dwell on my memory of embroidery skills.

It just happened the first layer was as dark as the lines of the pattern fabric. Noticing this, I positioned the next layers to expose the equivalent of the lines.  When in a creative session I try to remember to come out of the eagerness once in awhile and look at possibilities.  Being aware of happenstance and flexible enough to evolve is where artistic growth happens along with fun.

As you can see, the glasses were too important (and too dark), and gradually I trimmed them to just the actual frame which is enough for recognition. This piece will be finished in a thin black metal frame. Size is 14 x 11.

Although both faces are the exact same size, the positioning on background; detail in face; and scale of motifs in background mislead the viewer to think the appliquéd one is smaller.

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!

 

Graphic Realism

I indicated in REALISM INTERPRETED there was a second piece using the same subject. Here is the process and results.  The first work, “Neighbor’s Barn”, used the subject and evokes the natural nuances of 100 year old chestnut boards.  This piece, “Neighboring Barn”, I challenged myself to simplify using straight lines; evoke more drama with higher contrast; and in the end incorporate hardware to emphasize the design origin.

Originally I drew out a runner (18 x54), as you will see the concept morphed into a square.  Why?  As the length increased I began to ask myself what was I trying to say?  When “I do not know” came back to me I re-evaluated.  I took out the light line in lower right, inserted a dark copper wire and ended the composition at the base of the door.  This way with the hardware the viewer probably sees a weathered structure and my piece has a story to tell.

Inspirations Everywhere

Fabric Studies

Fabric Studies in month of February 2014, Susan L. Feller

These four blocks were inspired by fabric.  The embroidered and embellished moody blue green I dyed and spoke of irises.  Next the colors from the piece used as overall background set the palette. I will line the back of this square when finished with the wool as an example.  The center panel of the striped piece is a wide, loose trim which I hooked an aqua and pink line through to anchor the fabric to backing.  Then I hooked through the edges and mimicked the patterning by hooking and braiding.  The last one was designed based on the striped fabric in center square.  I used high contrast to reproduce the stripes.

On to May journaling, the trees are bursting into bud and each migrating bird upon arrival is adding their music to the orchestra.  Sounds, sights and memories emerging as subjects.

What is new in your neighborhood? How can you record, document, or reinterpret these experiences?  Tap into your creative space and show others your thoughts.

February Studies

image The daily square project is moving along slowly visually but the knowledge I have explored is vast.  There are two more squares to be completed for February, one I thought would be a value study in fine cuts since it is made up of “petals” around a center. But as time has progressed I decided to build dimensional shapes using a modified shirred technique.  Fine cut later this year, maybe. Winter lead me to work in the kitchen near to constant free heat from our wood cook stove.  I empathize with people who do not have a dedicated studio space and work within the family living area.  I had to consolidate materials, did not have all the tools available to paint, sew, use wire or sort through the unusual materials for inspiration, and ended up hooking more squares than if in the studio.  Back there this month though.

Red, Green, Purple, Orange

Red, Green, Purple, Orange

Workshops coming up were the topics for several squares.  The session at Green Mountain Hooked Rugs School in June will address color planning with a Mood — happy, sad, in love, sunny.  Red, Yellow, Blue, Orange, Green and Purple are interpreted with lines or motifs and in monochromatic palettes.

Complements, color and value

Complements, color and value

A presentation to With Hands & Hearts Antietam Chapter of ATHA covered relations of colors with values.  Squares address colors on white, black and textured gray backgrounds.

Fabric Studies

Fabric Studies

Just as in home decorating where the drapery fabric or a stunning piece of artwork cues the coloring for a room, I responded to a piece of wool or trim in four squares. March journal entries reflect the studying process.  Nightly a book from the library was reread, notes taken and a design exploring the technique or art style was drawn.

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

 

November Study Finished

I am thrilled to create this post of the studies created in November 2013.  The variety of techniques include painting canvas, beads, hooking, applique’, using found objects (ceramic mug, twist ties, clothesline), alpaca yarns, proddy, wire.  Styles ranged from realistic, dimensional, abstract to geometric.

Inspired a larger piece

Inspired a larger piece

During the month I created three larger pieces inspired by the studies and like the feeling I had while making two random squares.  They too could become runners at least.  The palette is changing to softer, colder, and more subtle as the seasons change.  I am going to bring out the alpaca yarns in a range of neutrals and softness for winter and the bare woods.  Missing the FALL foliage wools already.  Sure the small sparks of color will be much more enjoyable as our birds, the evergreens and wintry sky become subjects.  But that is for December and into 2014.

I began this journal on October 18 and was literally in the studio or outside working each day.  As November’s weather changed and the work space became a warm corner in the kitchen (with wood cook stove going) my work ethic changed.  In the studio all the toys were accessible adding to pieces easily.  Away from those inspirations more of the squares were just hooked.  Those which I envisioned needed different materials awaited a trip downstairs.

So it took until December 13 to complete November’s squares.  That’s ok with me.  For the year each month will remain as you see on the header image, one large piece of linen divided in a calendar grid.  After that I will divide them out and finish in appropriate manner for the piece.  I have photographed changes, documenting the lessons I am learning.  Considering this year to be my Independant Study.  Self issued certificate at end.

December has each square drawn out but I felt completing one month was important in the new discipline.  These pieces are revisiting some of the subjects with the new high contrast which snow adds.  Tree branches, railings, even a chair are different when defined by a blanket of snow.   Enjoy the Gallery of selected pieces.