Cynthia St. Charles Store

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Year of Study Abstract Art - Exercise 8

This is the second exercise on the use of pure color.  Using only black and white, mixing the colors.  It began with a black underpainting. 

Friday, February 27, 2015

Flinging Paint in a Rain Shower

 Most often, the fabrics I use in my art are carefully hand painted in a watercolor style, blending and controlling things to some extent.  By the time I had decided to try a grayed color palette for my Earth Stories piece, I was down to just one month from the deadline!  I had been working a full year on my other (sunset color scheme) idea.  I was waiting for the rain to stop falling so I could paint a large swatch of whole cloth outdoors on the flat driveway.  Alas, it rained for days and days.  Flat on the driveway was just not going to cut it.  Desperate, I cut a 3 yard piece of 60" wide white broadcloth and mixed up some gray, grayed purple and grayed blue Setacolor Pebeo transparent paints.  In a brief lull between rain showers, I hung the fabric on my clothesline and started pouring and brushing the paint on the fabric.  This is not my usual style at all, and there was a bit more running and dripping than I planned on, but I really did not have time to do it again. 

This last picture is a photo of the whole piece - all 100 x 60" of it!  I had no idea whether or not this was a waste of my time or not.  Lacking time or proper weather to try again, I moved ahead with the project, with a plan to try using this piece of fabric as a whole cloth foundation for what would come next......

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Earth Stories, A Change of Plans

 As the deadline for Earth Stories approached and my piece on the wall was not pleasing me, I went to visit my parents in Central Montana.  Montana skies are usually sunny, but this time - there were clouds.  I was thinking deeply about my piece for Earth Stories as I drove through Judith Gap and I started thinking about changing my color scheme.  I knew it would be very challenging to start from scratch, but I was starting to think it was worth a try.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Stymed by Sunset and Wind Turbines

Here is the giant collage on my design wall.  It barely fit and it was blindingly bright.  The deadline was just 6 weeks away and there was still quilting to be done.  I found myself unhappy with the design.  I found myself unhappy with the whole thing.  I was really having a hard time getting through this piece......

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

72" Hand Painted Turbines

 As I moved forward and was getting near the deadline, I painted black wind turbines on the giant sunset collage.  I thought this would be the easiest way to do it.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Fossil Fabric for Earth Stories

 I hand printed black cotton with gold ink and fossil Thermofax screens.  I did several yards of this, too - planning to cut it up and collage it onto the bottom section of my Earth Stories Quilt.  Remember - this piece is to be 72" square, finished.  I needed a lot of this fabric, too.  I love the graphic and striking contrast between the black and metallic gold!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

A Year of Abstract Painting Exercises - Mixing With a Palette Knife

More color blending.  This time - dropping three primary colors on the page and spreading with a knife......

Saturday, February 21, 2015

A Year of Abstract Painting Exercises - Color Blending

I have finished all the exercises exploring shape and have moved on to COLOR.  The instruction for this exercise is to apply large splashes of color - using two primary colors next to each other, and to experiment with blending them.  

Friday, February 20, 2015

Earth Stories 72" Sunset Collage

 I spent many days hand painting fabrics to look like sunsets. I had 10 yards or more for the project.  I ironed fusible web onto the back of the best ones, and collaged them into a 75" wide fabric collage - all fused to a single fabric so I could work with it.  Then, I began screenprinting with gold paint using my grandmother's recipes (below).

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Third Trial Wind Turbines

 This was my third attempt at working through design and construction questions for my Earth Stories piece.  Again, I learned a lot with this piece and then I set it aside.  Recently, it was juried into the Annual Art Auction for Yellowstone Art Museum!  The auction ends on March 7, 2015!  This piece measures 25 x 31".

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Second Trial Piece Complete - Turbines at Sunset

 Here is my second trial piece for Wind Turbines at Sunset (with fossils in the ground).  I am exploring ways of presenting the conflict between fossil fuels and alternative energy sources.  I am trying to decide whether or not to include solar and hydroelectric energy in my concept.  Lots of things to think about. 
I am less than thrilled with this piece, but I learned a lot doing it and have more ideas about what to try next.  This piece measures 19 x 19"

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Wind Turbines Sunset - Beginning

 I have decided perhaps a scene of wind turbines against a sunset might be a more interesting image (than the blue sky I did on my first trial piece), so I have decided to create a smaller piece to try out my ideas and process.  Above, a hand painted sunset fabric has been block printed with a setting sun and the ground.  Below, I have added some swirling prints to the sky.  I am already unhappy with the color transition in the sky - not as gradual as I hoped.
I felt like the block printing on the ground was a bit too strong / graphic / abstract  - I planned to overprint it with fossil screen printing and also - I wanted to balance the darker purple in the sky, so I just painted it in solid with the leftover purple from the sky. Not such a great start, here, but I will persevere. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

First Trial Piece for Earth Stories

 Here are some images of the first piece I created as I began working through my ideas for my Earth Stories piece.  The final piece would have to be 72" square!  This one is only 11 x 14".
 I thought I might be using text for some of the printing, so I used what I had on hand - some Thermofax screens of my own journal plus some other language text pieces I have - I think this may be Arabic or Hindu and possibly also some Native American written language samples.  This piece is not being made with any idea that it will ever leave my studio.  I am just working through my ideas here......

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Painting Spontaneous Shapes - Year of Abstract Painting Exercises

 As I mentioned last week, the guide book, Painting Abstracts by Rolina van Vliet offers suggestions for further study.  The first one I did - I worked from dark to light.  This time, I did the reverse, building the colors on the paper from light to dark.  I used iridescent paints on the underpainting (above), then added darker colors over the top (below) . 
 I was not so thrilled with the result, so I went back in again with lighter colors (iridescent) mixing in with the darker colors of paint.
 It seems a lot more spontaneous with that final reflective layer of paint added.  A final image below:

Saturday, February 14, 2015

This Week's "Year of Abstract" Exercise - Spontaneous Shapes

 This week's exercise in Painting Abstracts by Rolina van Vliet involves painting with spontaneous shapes.  The instruction is to begin with an underpainting (above).  Let it dry, then apply splashes of the next color and repeat, adding more colors as each dries.

Here is my final piece following the instructions for "Spontaneous Shapes".

Friday, February 13, 2015

Ideas for Earth Stories

 I am thinking that my Earth Stories piece will have Wind Turbines for Wind Energy and I think about how to depict the wind.  I remember the wonderful swirls in Van Gogh's Starry Night, and I take some inspiration from this.  I look at his work online and think about how I can represent the motion of the wind.  My first effort involves carving some printing blocks - first prints on paper below:

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Earth Stories - The Evolution of My Subject

I wanted my Earth Stories piece to be about energy sources, including the use of fossil fuels.  Montana is also the scene of extensive fossil fuel mining.  There are many oil wells, and huge coal mining operations scattered across the state.  The vast fracking operation known as the Bakken Oil Field is right along the border between Montana and North Dakota.  I hoped I could portray my mixed feelings about these various ways of obtaining energy. 

My search for a subject/project led me to – a non-profit online pro and con forum that presents intelligent discussions on controversial subjects.  It contains a vast collection of professional writings offering both pro and con arguments for the use of Alternative Energy –vs- Fossil Fuels.  I contacted them and obtained their permission to use text from their website on my piece.  They graciously approved, provided I included the proper citations (which I have done).  Examples:

Jeffrey Sachs, PhD, Special Advisor to the UN Secretary General and
Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, and Klaus Lackner, PhD,
Ewing-Worzel Professor of Geophysics in the Department of Earth and
Environmental Engineering at Columbia University, in their Feb. 2005 paper,
"A Robust Strategy for Sustainable Energy," a Brookings Papers on Economic
Activity available on the Brookings Institution's website, wrote:
"To provide all of current primary energy consumption in the United States from wind energy would require capturing, every day, all the kinetic energy from wind over an area of about 500 km by 500 km [approximately 97,656 square miles--size of Wyoming]. Meeting world energy consumption would require almost four times that area [approximately 1,562,500 square miles--two and a half times the size of Alaska.]." "Is Wind Power an Economical Alternative to Conventional Energy?" 10 Apr. 2009. Web. 7 Jan. 2014.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) wrote in its May 2009 report "Water Resources and Natural Gas Production from the Marcellus Shale" on the USGS website:

"Natural gas is an abundant, domestic energy resource that burns cleanly, and emits the lowest amount of carbon dioxide per calorie of any fossil fuel... [N]atural gas resources in the United States are important components of a national energy program that seeks both greater energy independence and greener sources of energy...

While the technology of drilling directional boreholes, and the use of sophisticated hydraulic fracturing processes to extract gas resources from tight rock have improved over the past few decades, the knowledge of how this extraction might affect water resources has not kept pace. Agencies that manage and protect water resources could benefit from a better understanding of the impacts that drilling and stimulating... wells might have on water supplies, and a clearer idea of the options for wastewater disposal." "Should the US Use Hydraulic Fracturing (Fracking) to Extract Natural Gas?" 23 Apr. 2012. Web. 7 Jan. 2014.

 Here is a link to the website with the pro and con discussion of Fossil Fuels and Alternative Energy at

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Earth Stories - The Beginning

Earth Stories is a SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Association) Exhibition.  The artists were chosen through a call for consideration process.  Artists were asked to submit 3 pieces that were representative of the style for the piece we would be creating for Earth Stories if we were to be chosen.  The artists were also asked to present a proposal identifying a person or project that enhances the planet, makes a significant difference in restoring and/or protecting the environment, increasing sustainability or otherwise improving the earth we occupy.

For my story, I wanted to explore the imagery of wind farms.  I drive through the wind farm at Judith Gap, Montana every time I visit family in Central Montana.  I have long been captivated by the regal, yet alien nature of the gigantic wind turbines juxtaposed against the backdrop of four beautiful mountain ranges in the sparsely populated agricultural valley south of Judith Gap.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Earth Stories Exhibition Shows at UCM Gallery of Art and Design

 I am so thrilled to see my piece: "Alternative Energy -vs- Fossil Fuels" in the UCM Gallery of Art and Design, where it will hang through March.  Below, the postcard for the exhibition.  My piece got a nice spot on that, as well! 
I have not shared this piece on my blog yet.  I was waiting until it had been shown, first.  But now I can tell the story.  Stay tuned!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Trimmed Kimono Collage

 The stitching is finished, so I trimmed the piece, and put it up on the design wall.  Not as happy with it as I thought I would be.....I tried flipping it horizontally to no avail.  Then, I thought it might be better with a few inches removed from the left side, so folded it back (below).  I know it will look a lot better once I do something with the flower petals....whether I paint those by hand or stitch pearls in place as I have done with the others.......It just looks kind of dull to me.  Maybe I have done too many of these to find them interesting.
Perhaps I will put this aside for a while and return to it later......

Sunday, February 8, 2015

A Year of Abstract Exercises - Free Shapes

 One nice thing this book of exercises does is provide suggestions for variations.  This time, I used both black and white oil pastel crayons to make marks on the page before adding the fluid acrylics. 

Below, the finished piece. 
For those who missed it, I am doing a year long / weekly artistic discipline for 2015 - following each of the exercises (one per week) presented in the book Painting Abstracts by Rolina van Vliet.  

Each weekend I am posting the week's project on my blog. 

Saturday, February 7, 2015

2015 Abstract Exercises - Free Shapes

 The instruction for this exercise is to make scrawling movement on the paper with an oil pastel crayon, which will resist the fluid paint.  My first attempt above.  Below, the finished piece.  I outlined the crayon shapes with black marker in the one on the right (my idea).  Better?  I am not sure.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Machine Stitching Over Hand Embroidery

As crazy as this may seem, it is quite effective as a way of adding texture and color to the bark.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Thread Auditions

Now that I have built up the branches with embroidery, I want to add another layer of machine stitching over the top to even everything out and tie it all together.  I hope for those underlying threads to just peek out and give a bark like texture.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Today's the Day! The 100 Fundraiser for American Cancer Society

Instructions for making a contribution and receiving one of the wonderful works of art contributed by 100 artists!