Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Studio Series: Mark-making screen print

Mark-making screen print © Karen Thiessen, 2016
My ongoing 2014 Lenten mark-making practice has been good to me. At times it seems to be going nowhere and then bam! I make new discoveries. Early this year I was playing with an old Sheaffer calligraphy pen and some Sakura micron Graphic pens and I was pleased with the line qualities, so I decided to see how they would look screen printed. During my last printmaking class, I took a shine to printing on brown Kraft paper in off-white and pink inks. Now I have a whack of paper to collage with and I am curious to see how I can push the mark-making, screen printing, and collaging. Where will it go next?

Monday, March 28, 2016

Quotes: Elizabeth Hay

"It seemed to him that spiritual changes come like a gust of wind on a quiet day, blowing a door open or blowing it shut." –– Elizabeth Hay (b. 1951), Canadian novelist and winner of the Giller prize for her novel Late Nights on Air.

Source: Elizabeth Hay. Late Nights on Air. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 2007; p. 88.
* Special thanks to my niece Krista for introducing me to this book!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Studio Series: Two inch collages d

Two inch collages d © Karen Thiessen, 2016
The same week that I made 43 two-inch-square glue stick collages on acid-free bristol, I collaged another 40. I was on a roll. The tiny collages are warm-ups for other work. They allow me to work quickly and not overthink what I'm doing. Rebecca Pidgeon, Beck, Rachel Zeffira, and Charlotte Gainsbourg provide a mellow soundscape that allows me to focus and become one with the work.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Studio Series: Zwieback screen prints

Zwieback screen prints a © Karen Thiessen, 2016
Early this year I set up my ironing table to be a print table. It's only five feet long, so I can only print small runs of textiles. Of my designs that I've printed so far, the Zwieback pattern is my favourite. It's looser and more open than my usual designs. Layering the prints in various colours has been fun. I'm printing on cotton fabrics that I dyed using plant stuffs: black walnut, avocado pits and skins, and honey locust bean pods.
Zwieback screen prints b © Karen Thiessen, 2016
Above is a printed textile in progress. I'm printing with Speedball fabric inks on cotton that was dyed with honey locust bean pods. On its own, the honey locust colour colour is rather bland, but is a nice backdrop to colours like off-white, mocha, and rust. I'm curious to see how the Zwieback prints change once I stitch them into tags or piece them into larger textiles.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Quotes: Pema Chödrön

"Now is the only time. How we relate to it creates the future. In other words, if we're going to be more cheerful in the future, it's because of our aspiration and exertion to be cheerful in the present. What we do accumulates; the future is the result of what we do right now." –– Pema Chödrön (b. 1936), American Buddhist nun and author

Source: Pema Chödrön. When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times. Boston: Shambala, 2002; p. 186.  

Friday, March 18, 2016

Studio Series: 2 inch collages a

Two inch collages a © Karen Thiessen, 2016
I've been quiet here in blogville as I write my various statements. The other day I had a revelation that I'm sure you've all figured out by now: I gave myself a break of about an hour (looking at design magazines) and I came back to my work refreshed and energized. It's such a simple concept, but so very effective. When I returned to the studio I made 43 two inch collages and was in flow during the entire time. A friend has a system of working 52 minutes and then taking 17 minute breaks. She uses a timer to keep on track and finds that this allows her to get a lot done and stay fresh. Do any of you have ways to keep fresh during your work days? If so, feel free to leave a comment.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Quotes: Robert Redford

"All I can say is, look, in terms of diversity, which I really believe in, that's why we started something called the independent film festival. It's about independence and because diversity comes out of independence, I thought all we have to do is just show diversity –– all colours, women... promoting undervoiced people." –– Robert Redford (b. 1936), American actor, director, and founder of the Sundance Film Festival

Monday, March 7, 2016

Quotes: Jodi Picoult

"They say that there are moments that open up your life like a walnut cracked, that change your point of view so that you never look at things the same way again." –– Jodi Picoult (b. 1966), American author. Quote is from Keeping Faith.

Friday, March 4, 2016

writing: getting from Aargh! to Aah!

It's been one of those weeks where I've had to sit my keester on a chair for hours at a time while I bleed out words on scrap paper that may eventually become three coherent artist statements and an updated bio. I don't mind sitting if I'm stitching or collaging, but "writing sitting" is wretched. So, I write a bunch of crappy first drafts (Anne Lamott says it differently) and I do some long proprioceptive writes (I call them pro-writes because I'm too lazy to say it the long way). Then I get up and go to my studio where I stand for a few hours and prepare surfaces for collaging. Or I ride my exercise bike. Taking a shower is a good thing too. Anything to caress my alpha waves, increase my dopamine levels, and expose myself to healing negative ions. All that preliminary pain and then distraction has paid off because words are finally flowing and I'm on my way to coherent sentences and my Mennonite series finally has a proper name. Writing is difficult, but NOT writing is worse. Aah!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Lines in nature

Miscanthus; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2016
Miscanthus sinensis grows in my garden and I like it best in winter when stripped of colour.