Started a new painting using a portrait that is a composite of two different photos. The canvas was painted with gesso and two coats of gold acrylic paint before I used the grid to draw on the subject.
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in
your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on
your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide
where to go...”
I often hear, “Go out and make your mark!” But people are so used to
consuming what others create, they forget they can make their own
Maria and I believe that life is an art form. We also
believe that each person is an artist. However, most forget that
creativity is easy, natural and fun.
Ask students in any 3rd
grade class, "How many here are artists?" and every hand will reach for
the sky. But ask them again in high school and rarely will a hand move.
you take tests throughout years of schooling you learn there are
predetermined right answers. Everything else is wrong. When you solve
crossword or Sudoku puzzles, each has one predetermined solution. Even
coloring books convey the subtle message that someone else is authorized
to create the marks within which you must color.
When you do not use your creativity, it atrophies.
There is an interesting article by water colorist Marc Taro Holmes about his technique, "Tea, milk and honey", on the Artist Network website . He begins with a pencil sketch and works from light to dark. He begins painting with the "tea", a fluid wash that doesn't cover his sketch but adds a lot of color. The second step is the "milk". He uses more paint and color in this step, but is careful to leave the lights. The final step is the "honey". Just as you would not add a lot of honey to a cup of tea, the darks added in this last step are done carefully. As he says in the article, "a little goes a long way".
This is similar to the method I use, even working in acrylic. However, I do try to establish some of my darks in the early steps, not saving them for last. This is easier in acrylic, because I can always paint over an area if I change my mind. I'm still working on the portrait of Sam, but you can see my steps. I build up my image using paint and satin acrylic glazing liquid. Glazing liquid gives you about a half hour working time (depending on humidity and the absorbancy of your base) which allows me to use a variety of techniques both additive or subtractive. Because of the longer drying time, I can remove the glaze in some areas with paper towel or even move the paint around with my finger. It allows for easier wet into wet blending of the acrylic. The glazing liquid and paint have to be used thinly or it will remain tacky for a long time.
For me, using acrylic paint and glazing liquid offers a safer alternative to solvent-based painting and it's easy soap and water clean-up.
Art seems to have been placed on a back burner with the growing season in full force. With the lawns, vegetable garden, and flower gardens, there is much that needs attention, and I'm constantly busy. But I'm feeling a desire to do some painting, so I've begun a new portrait. I'm transferring my subject using a grid and will soon be ready to begin with paint.
Pearl McGown published a written piece in 1946 (Dye Dabbler # 19) that explained experiments that were tried to change the color of wool. She wrote that hookers might not realize the variety of colors that they had at hand because they used their wool "as is". Pearl tried 4 different experiments, some successful, some not.
interested in her use of household ammonia to draw the dye out of the wool. In the experiment, Ms. McGown used one teaspoon of ammonia to a quart of
water and boiled the wool for 20 to 30 minutes. She stated that the
ammonia did not harm the fibers of the wool and it could then be used for
Many hookers use recycled wool (I do), and if you don't over-dye the pieces you reclaim, your color choices are limited. Often times those colors may be drab or too intense for your pattern or purpose.
Using her formula, I tried her experiment. I simmered the wool for 20 minutes, but I found if I poured out the first bath and again simmered the wool in ammonia water, I got a greater color change. The wool was about 6" x 24". The pieces were then washed in the machine and dried.
Starting on the left: The deep green became a blue green (it's a softer color than appears in the photo). Of all the wools tried, the green released the most dye into the water. I should have had other wool presoaked so that I could have taken advantage of the remaining green dye water. (I may try that to see what happens.) The two bright yellows softened to tans. The blues and magenta colors softened, but these last two wools changed the least.
Pearl McGown said that you cannot predict what color you will finally have..."there is no guarantee that the colors of all materials are 'built up' in the same way." I've read that some colored fabric is produced when multiple dyes are used and all the dyes may not react to the ammonia. So... you could have two wools of the same color, heat them in the ammonia solution, and get two different final colors. Surprise!
Choosing colors from the stash is limiting, but I'm determined to use what I have as I hook Edyth O'Neill's pattern. I chose ten colors to use in the lion's mane that are different, moving from dark to light.
However, when I change the photo of the colors to black and white, you can see there are really only four values. The value of a color is its degree of lightness or darkness. When these ten colors are hooked into the rug and you step back to view the mane, you will only see differences between the four values. The colors that are of the same value will blend together from a distance. I need to remember this as I hook.
This is my redraw of the lion's head for the Lion pattern by Edyth O'Neill (2/20/17). I'm using a six cut for the face, but I used a 4 cut to hook the eyes. I started the face by hooking the eyes. Elizabeth Black says "the eyes are the 'soul' of the animal and to give them life they must each have a highlight." (Hooked on the Wild Side, p. 16) The eyes are 3 tones of gold, a dark (not black) pupil and outline, and a
white highlight. The darkest gold is at the top of the iris to show the
shadow from the eyelid. The 3 golds are easier to see in the drawing
below than in the hooking. The wools I have used to this point have come from
Here's the color plan I did with Prismacolor colored pencils on my pattern for the lion's face.
The hooking, quillies, and shirring are done. This rug was inspired by the Rockefeller Quilt (New Project 10/21/16). I've enjoyed the bright colors, the animal motifs, and working in an eight cut.
Now on to The Lion......
The April/May 2017 edition of ATHA magazine has an article, "Fresh Rug Designs Using Apps", by Sharon Smith. (pages 8 - 10) She uses the filters in a free downloadable app called "Dreamscope" to alter her photos and drawings. This photo editor lets you "turn your pictures into paintings". Sharon turns her edited images into new rug hooking patterns. The article is worth reading as she gets some interesting and beautiful results.
Here's an example using the app with a photo I took on Cape Cod. Big improvement....
I think this would make a great painting or rug.
The photo editor is a pleasure to use and has a lot of potential as a design tool.
After watching Sandra Brown casserole dye some beautiful wool in her video, I wanted to give it a try. The wool I used was heavy....my intention is to use these in an applique treatment. The colors are somewhat warmer than they appear in the photos.
The red wool is for flower petals. I started with pieces of creamy white wool soaked in warm water and Dawn detergent. After placing one piece of the soaked wool flat in the dyeing pan, I used a spoon to spread the dye. I dyed about half of the piece and down both sides with Cardinal by Cushing. I then dyed across the top with Cushing's Blue. I layered the next piece on top of the first and repeated the dyeing process. After layering six pieces of wool, I added white vinegar around the edges of the pan (not on the wool), finished processing, and washed and dried the wool. I liked the results, but expected the bottom layers to be much different....much darker.
The six pieces of green are intended for leaves, and I started with a dull gold wool. These pieces were dyed in the same manner, but I had more difficulty getting a color I liked. I dyed across the top and down the sides with Cushing Blue, thinking I'd get a blue green. The result was much too blue. I took the pieces out of the dye pan and redyed them with Dark Green.....still too blue. The final dyeing was done with Cushing Bronze Green and I was satisfied with that....they are a more yellow green than they appear.
To help with color, I've just ordered Pearl McGown's book Color in Hooked Rugs (It's Pearl's 1954 explanation of color theory). A friend showed me her copy and offered to loan it, but after reading a bit I decided this was one of those books that I need to make pencil notes in the margin. On the dust jacket it says, "Here is a book, based on a Correspondence Course on
Color, conducted by Pearl K. McGown, that has been long awaited by
hook-craftsmen all over the world. It will be of equal interest to
anyone who is dealing with color in any phase....Mrs. McGown explains the law and
order of color, in accordance with the Munsell system.... Color
is very important in this craft....The rugs which are made today will become heirlooms for our
children's children. They should, therefore, show progress in color...." I'll let you know what I learn.
You Tube is a wonderful thing! Though I read a lot, I learn better by watching, and best of all by doing. This afternoon I've been watching dyeing videos.
Gene Shepherd has a Wool Dye Session that he's recorded showing his dyeing basics. He covers equipment and supplies and uses 1/8 teaspoon of cherry dye in 2 cups of water to dye 1/2 yard of wool. He demonstrates that by adding the 3 separate wool pieces with a short delay between them, he can get a succession of values. Gene makes the process very easy and non-threatening.
Wanda Kerr has a video explaining spots dyes, The Beet Goes On. Wanda wrote an article on spot dyes in the Jan/Feb 2012 issue of Rug Hooking Magazine ( pages 76 -79) in her column "Colors to Dye For". The article describes the steps for doing a spot dye and offers 10 recipes for some beautiful wool. The piece she dyes in the video is one of the recipes from her article. Wanda dyes a 1/4 yard of wool in a 9" x 13" cake pan with 2/32 t red violet, 2/32 t bottle green, 1/32 t seal brown, and 2/32 t yellow (Magic Carpet dyes). All the dye colors are mixed with 1/32 t of citric acid before she spots the wool. The video covers how to properly place the wool in the pan, mixing the dyes, pouring the colors in a pattern, and finally processing the dyed wool. If you don't use Magic Carpet dye (I use ProChem and Cushing's Perfection dyes), Wanda says that the recipes from her article can be tried with dyes from other companies. "The results will not be the same but they will be interesting and useful." (p.79)
The final video I watched was Casserole Dyeing Wool for Rug Hooking by Sandra L. Brown. Casserole dyeing creates
transitions from one color to another in one piece of material. The dyeing wool can be many layers deep.... adding wool on top of wool
and repeating the dyeing process. Sandra's video is a follow-up to an article she wrote, "From Edge to Edgie", in the 2013 Sept/Oct edition of Rug Hooking Magazine (pages 18 - 25). Sandra says her casserole dyeing is a modification of Edna Flemming's One-Hundred & One Formulas for Casserole Dyeing, Copyright 1965. (Edna used Cushing dyes and adds vinegar to her dye solutions. Sandra uses Pro Chem dye and does not add the mordant to the dye as she thinks the color takes up too fast on the edges of the wool and makes the color more difficult to spread with her spoon.) The video follows Sandra as she dyes wool with grasshopper #719, saffron #228, burgundy, and mahogany #508.
Sandra says that the 49 grape leaves in the "Bonanza" pattern below were dyed using the casserole method.
Though I am still finishing up the Rockefeller rug, I've already started color planning the next project. This pattern was designed by Edyth O'Neill as a gift for her daughter. I purchased the linen pattern from a fellow ATHA member who bought it and then decided not to hook the rug. This is truly a beautiful primitive pattern created and hooked by Edyth, but for my project I've redrawn the lion's head in the pattern, and the colors I've chosen for the rug are cooler. The lion's face will be a little less gentle....a little fiercer.
Using drawing paper and Prismacolor colored pencils, I've worked out the color study for the lion's face and eyes. We'll see how it goes.
This one hour and 38 minute video by Traci Bautista was live filmed during a day long workshop at the Art & Soul Retreat in California. I was able to borrow the DVD through my local library program.
In this, Traci shows the step by step methods for creating mixed media books/journals with pages made from a variety of fabric and papers (paper towel, newsprint, etc.). She decorates and dyes her pages and book covers using paint, inks, markers, colored pencils, stencils, stamps (some artist created from cardboard), iron on transfers (Print n Press), doodling, collage, and stitching. Traci uses water media in coloring her pages. She suggests that artists check out the kids' art supply section at the big box stores, because of the variety of fun materials available at reasonable cost.
Traci follows the process of her bookmaking from creating the pages, making signatures (groups of pages), adding the covers and creating a latch hooked spine to the assembling of the final (very "funky") book. The video is easy to follow and the directions so complete that anyone could make one of her "Retro Rags".
I was thinking this would be a great support to hold a theme based series of drawings or paintings.
....so many ideas....
The March/April/May 2011 Rug Hooking Magazine includes an article "Accepting a Commission" by Maddy Fraioli. (pages 68-73). In her article, Maddy writes about knowing how much time it takes you to complete a rug and the amount of wool you use in each one. This is information I don't have. Most of my hooking is done in the evenings and I use as much wool from my stash as it takes to complete the piece. I don't keep track of either, and by doing so I don't have exact information to calculate the value of my rug.
Maddy suggests hookers measure off 6" x 6" squares and hook each in a different cut (#4, #6, #8, #9, #10) being sure to keep track of the time that it takes to complete each square and the amount of wool needed for the hooking. These time studies will give you an accurate labor time for a square foot of hooking (multiply each recorded time by 4) and a precise measurement of the wool you use. A hooker needs to only run the time studies for the cuts she or he usually uses. Hooking a rug in a wide cut would take less time than a fine cut with intricate shading, therefore, the cost for a primitive rug would be less per square foot.
Maddy says that she does not want to change the costs of her rugs to meet the geographic or economic market. She wants to charge what she feels is a fair price that reflects her skill, experience, and fine materials. She writes that she would want $25 an hour in labor cost. Other hookers may charge a different per hour wage as their needs and expenses may differ.
Ms. Fraioli also provides a pricing worksheet in her article:
Hourly wage per square foot based
on your time studies per cut ______
Type of design:
Original design. Add $16.00 ______
Purchased pattern. Add pattern
cost plus "up charge" ______
Type of Wool:
Custom-dyed wool. Add $29.50 ______
Purchased as-is wool. Add $16.50 ______
Type of shading:
Intricate (75% fine cut) Add $18 ______
Intricate (50% fine cut) Add $10 ______
Medium cut (#5 to #8) Add $8.50 ______
Wide cut (#9, #10) Add $7.50 ______
Add $18 ______
Aesthetic, Quality, and Difficulty:
Add, depending on cut, up to $75 ______
Add $45 _______
Price per Square Foot:
Add all the lines ______
Number of Square Feet:
Inches of width x inches of length
divided by 144 _______
Total Price of Rug:
Multiply the price per square foot
by the number of square feet. _______
Now I need to do the time studies in cuts #3 to #8 as they are the cuts I normally use. Whether or not I choose to ever sell a rug, it's important to have an idea of the market and insurance values.
Taking Ashley Martineau's advice, I checked out some hand hooked rugs for sale on Etsy. I looked at 21 new rugs, being sure they were sold by the artist. Not all the rug sellers list all the details. Some didn't list backing material, or size of wool cut, or how the edges were finished. So this pricing was done on the cost per square foot only.
I multiplied the inches of width by height and then divided by 144 (the number of inches in a square foot). I then divided the cost by the square footage. Prices were very inconsistent: rugs with a burlap backing ranged from $40 per square foot to $125 per square foot. Linen backing costs ranged from $61 to $294 a square foot. None of the rugs I looked at were fine cut or finely shaded. Some had a whipped edge, and some had a twill binding.
To determine a price I averaged all 21 rugs. The final cost came out to be $121 per square foot. It would be interesting to speak with the artists who charged much less or much more to understand their reasoning.
Christine Little writes in her blog, "How to value and price hand hooked rugs...." Christine brings up a common remark made by people viewing hand work, "I can buy the same thing down the street for a fraction of the price." Many folks don't understand the talent, materials, and traditional methods that are a part of hand hooked rugs. They compare them to pieces that come from other countries that may have been made by machine and of materials other than pure wool.
She writes, also, about the disservice done to fellow artisans by people who sell their rugs for only the cost of materials disregarding the labor involved. Christine writes that this pricing "does little to educate the buying market of the true value of our talents."
The Rug Hooking Guild of Nova Scotia developed a chart to help artists price their rugs and mats for sale and for setting a value for insurance purposes:
Amount per square foot
Basic price on burlap, monks cloth and rug warp...$80.00
Basic price on linen..................................................$90.00
Original design, depending on complexity....$12.00-20.00
Dyed new wool, custom dyed by hooker..................$30.00
Dyed new wool, purchased.........................................$6.00
Recycled wool, as is....................................................$6.00
Recycled wool, over dyed.........................................$10.00
Intricate shading, 75% of work.................................$15.00
Intricate shading, 50% of work................................$10.00
Fine cut strips (#3 and 4).........................................$10.00
This is a journal of drawn, painted, and fiber works. I love color, light, and pattern. I am learning all the time. I enjoy exploring different mediums, but most of my work is in pastel, colored pencil, and fiber. The paintings and drawings are part of my collection unless otherwise noted, and may not be reproduced without permission of the artist.