Showing posts with label inspiration. Show all posts
Showing posts with label inspiration. Show all posts


Work in Progress: Raffia Appliqué-Inspired Wall Hanging

I've been on a creative roll; this is the fourth in my series of African textile inspired wall pieces.  This time, my inspiration was the raffia appliqué fabrics created in Zaire, commonly used for men's dance skirts in funeral ceremonies.  The dark shapes on light ground appeal to me, as do the not-quite organic, not-quite geometric nature of those shapes.  I've researched many of my inspiration textiles using Duncan Clarke's outstanding book,  The Art of African Textiles
Gold weights.  They're made of brass,
and used to measure gold.

Following the process I've developed for the series, I primed the MDF with white gesso, then painted the two side panels and the two side bands with acrylics.  For the shapes, I penciled in the overall design, then filled them in with acrylic paint.  Once they were dry, I outlined each with brown Sharpie brush marker.  I used a regular tipped Sharpie marker to outline the small, ochre shapes. 

Creating the central polymer elements came next, and for those, I took as my inspiration the flat gold beads of the Ivory Coast, and the Akan gold weights of West Africa.

Once all the polymer elements were cured and colored, it was time to decide about the central panel and side band colors.  I ultimately chose Prussian Blue for the center, and Permanent Red (I knew that green didn't work!).  The blue really sets off the golden colors in the polymer, and the red is a strong accent.  I'm really happy with the way this wall hanging turned out! 

Gold beads from the Baule
people of the Ivory Coast.


Side panels and bands painted...'not sure
if I like this green, but we'll see.

Uncured polymer clay, stamped, incised, and ready for the oven. 
I did all the incising by hand, with the exception of
the circular pattern.  (I'm good, but not THAT good!)
Cured, colored polymer elements.

Finished wall hanging:  11"x24", mixed media
©2014 Michelle Davis Petelinz

What's next?  I have an idea, so stay tuned.  Or, if you can't wait for these completed posts, you can follow my more frequent postings on Facebook:  Michelle Davis Petelinz Kindred Spirit Studios.  If you stop by, please say hello!


Work in Progress: Kuba-Inspired Wall Hanging

I'm often asked about how I do what I do.  And if you're an artist too, you know the answer to that is often complicated and contains many steps.  For my most recent work, a 20"x24" wall hanging, I documented much of the process and shared it on my Michelle Davis Petelinz Kindred Spirit Studios Facebook page.  I now share it here, complete with photos and a more detailed description of each step. 

An example of Kuba cloth
from the Democratic Republic
of the Congo.
The Preparation
The first image is a detail of the center portion of the piece.  The stages prior to this were:  adding gesso and tissue paper to the surface of the MDF (medium density fiberboard; a recycled wood product), to create a fabric-like texture.  Once that was dry, I painted the left and right sides in a vertical gradation from deep maroon to bright yellow. 

The Inspiration
I knew I wanted to continue the textile-like feel, and looked to my usual source of inspiration:  Africa.  For the center section, I drew in shapes inspired by Kuba cloth from the Congo, then tinted them with acrylic ink. Next, I filled in the background of the center section with acrylic paint.  For the two bands on either side of the center section, I drew another African-inspired black ink design over acrylic paint. 

The Ornamentation and Coloration
Meanwhile, I created polymer tiles which I would place onto the two side panels.  This process involved conditioning the clay (with a new to me technique of using a small food processor to make formerly unusable, hard clay workable--thanks, Pinterest!), cutting shapes, and texturing them.  I used a variety of stamps and tools to accomplish this, including my own hand cut stamps, clay tools, and unmounted rubber stamps.  Once the shapes were cured, I covered them all with micaceous iron oxide, to give a rough, yet sparkly finish, and lightly sanded each.  The next step is one I always enjoy:  adding color to the tiles, using PearlEx powders, oil pastels, acrylic paints, inks and glazes. 

The Culmination
After all tiles were colored, assembly came next; the challenge was to have both sides come out evenly at the bottom without having exactly the same elements in the progression (to me, that's boring!).  After a good deal of adjusting and readjusting, I was able to make it work.  The completed piece now hangs in my studio (above a papier mache mask I did for a class I teach, and a recycled wood sculpture I did on a Play Day with my Mixed Media Art Guild), and I'm so pleased with the way it turned out! 

Painting in the central panel shapes.  You can see the
texture created by the tissue paper + gesso mixture.

Filling in the background with acrylic paint.

Close up of the band between the sections
with black ink over acrylic paint.

Textured polymer tiles just before curing.  I ended up
not using the copper rings seen here. 

Cured tiles with a coating of micaceous iron oxide. 
Note:  the color inside the two tiles with holes
is from the paper below them.

Tiles with their coloring completed.

The completed wall hanging. 


Recent Creative Pursuits: Mud cloth experiment

Malian woman drawing pattern on bogolanfini
When people ask me how I create my work, I often say I follow what inspires me, to see where it leads.  Every year, I'm committed to showing and selling something just a bit different.  I say it's because I'm easily bored (!), but the real reason is twofold:  I'm inspired by many things, and I'm always looking for ways to express them in my work, and I never want to be one of those artists who does the same thing year after year.  In my experience of doing juried art shows, I've seen artists who do this; who display almost exactly the same pieces at show after show after show.  Yes, there's something to be said for having your own, unique style and sticking with it, but if you're boring your customers (how many of almost exactly the same thing does a person need?!), and turning off potential collectors, I'd say it's time to shake things up. 

What's been inspiring me lately is mud cloth.  Created by the Bambaran people of the Republic of Mali, west Africa, it is known as bogolanfini (bogo=mud, lan=with, fini=cloth).  Mud cloth is culturally significant, traditionally created by women, and used in ceremonies as well as for modern day clothing and home accessories.
My first attempt at mud cloth
The colors, patterns and symbols of mud cloth resonate with me, and though I don't often work with cloth, I experiemented with canvas, resist, inks and acrylic paint.  I should say at this point that one of my major impetuses to try this was my friend, and phenomenal artist Sharon DiGuilio.  We had a play date in her studio a couple of weeks ago, exploring all kinds of ways to print and use resists with fabric.  At right, you'll see my first attempt.  I'm not certain at this point how I'll use the fabric, or if I'll incorporate it into my wall hangings, but it sure was fun to play!  So much so, that Sharon and I have scheduled another play date this Friday, so stay tuned for more....


Slowly, but surely

As the title suggests, I'm slowly but surely getting back into the creative swing of things.  I have a full schedule of shows to which I'm applying, and while last year's slow sales mean I have inventory, I  still need to create new work. 

Last weekend's time in the studio produced two Talismans, one of which has yet to be titled.  They both feature one of my favorite polymer techniques:  faux raku. My work in this style confuses many viewers who think the polymer elements are raku fired.  I enjoy the process which involves using iron oxide, iridescent powders, acrylic paints, pastels, and patience to get each piece just the way I want it.  You can see some of my 'tools of the trade' above, as I work on the largest element of the finished Talisman at left. 

The one at right is done with the same technique, and combines polymer beads made by Jeanne Rhea with glass beads and a feather.  This one is called "Urafiki, Talisman of Friendship," in honor of Jeanne, who is a fantastic artist, creative inspiration, and dear friend.

Whose work inspires you?  Is it a 'famous' artist?  A friend? 

Have a wildly creative Wednesday.


Inspirational Weekend: Silver Fox Gallery

From Asheville, on our way home, we stopped in Hendersonville, NC.  Longtime Artventuring readers may recall this was where my last (and worst) gallery experience occurred, but we're not going to dwell on that!  If you care to, you can read the post about it here

The reason we went to Hendersonville was to visit the Silver Fox Gallery again.  On Main Street in the historic district, this fine craft gallery has been in business for over 8 years.  It is a veritable treasure trove, with three floors of exquisite things everywhere you look.  The gracious, friendly owner took the time to tell us about some of the work we admired, and as always, knowing the story "behind the scenes" of the work makes the experience all the richer.  Here's just a glimpse of what we saw:

"Love," by Natalie Blake
I am a longtime fan of Natalie Blake's work. I love her use of sgraffito, the funky shapes of her vessel tops, and her color sense speaks to my own. 

New to me was artist William Martin Jean, who works in painted paper.  I was immediately drawn to two pieces in his Kimono series, recognizing a kindred spirit in his use of pre-painted papers to construct the finished composition.  The image below is from his extensive website, and is similar to the ones I saw.

"Kimono VI," 2006
by William Martin Jean

"Quito," by Ron Artman
Ron Artman (great name for an artist, isn't it?!) works  in clay, and his forms are simple, elegant and evocative.  He also has an extensive website...a visit there is another visual treat. 

Interlocking End Table
by Andrew Muggleton

Silver Fox Gallery has an extensive collection of lighting and artisan furniture, and we saw many, many things we liked.  Andrew Muggleton's tables were fantastic; I could just see one of them in our entryway (just after the NC lottery win, that is!).  When you visit his site, notice his extremely cool monogram...appeals to my font-loving nature!  After viewing all of the  delights to be had at Silver Fox, it was time for us to make our way back home from our inspiring, creative weekend.  Now, back in the studio, I'm still feeling some of that creative energy, which is a good thing, since I'm working to finish pieces which will debut a week from tomorrow at our first show of the season, in Columbia, MD.

We'll be shooting photos of the new work this weekend, and I'll post some before we leave...I promise!


Inspirational Weekend: Asheville, NC

After our tour of the Penland School of Crafts, we went to Asheville.  This western NC city is known for its art galleries, art shows and thriving artist community.  We'd last been there 7 years ago, and were eager to see some favorite sites again and to discover new ones.  Here are some of the places and artists' work we saw:

"One With Nature,"
terra-cotta, 36" tall
by Ed Byers
"Golden Ovoid"
by Steven Forbes-deSoule
Ariel Craft Gallery:  a cooperative gallery, owned and run by the artists who show work there.  We were pleased to see the work of Ed Byers, with whom we did the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in 2008.  New to me was the work of ceramicist Steven Forbes-deSoule.  His sculptural raku pieces are exquisite; I love the surface textures and color palettes in his large vessels. The gallery's tagline is:  'for the well crafted life'...we agreed!

Charles Donaldson

Woolworth Walk: this gallery is housed in the former store, and showcases the work of local artists. We had visited 7 years ago, and looked forward to seeing it again.  Some highlights: 
Glass artist Charles Donaldson's bold colors and swooping curves and slashes,
Una Barrett's "relics of a new age" jewelry, and Cynthia Decker's digital art were standouts. 

"Narcissism" by Cynthia Decker

Una Barrett
New Morning Gallery:  this place has to be seen to be believed.  There are two floors, with multiple nooks and crannies filled with the most beautiful things!  It's a definite 'must see' when you're in Biltmore Village.  The gallery bills itself as having home furnishings by American artisans, and it also carries jewelry and garden art. 
I've long admired Myra Burg's "Quiet Oboes," from advertisements in art magazines, but I'd never seen one in person.  New Morning Gallery had a collection of them.  I was surprised to see the large sizes, and the color combinations are ones which speak to me. 

Because it was Sunday, we didn't get to see Blue Spiral Gallery or Bellagio, but since we'd been to each before, we weren't too disappointed. 

Our trip ended with a quick drive to Hendersonville, but that's yet another post....stay tuned!

Winter Colors Quiet Oboes by Myra Burg


Inspirational weekend: Penland School of Crafts

I loved seeing the old type in the print and letterpress studio
For Christmas last year, we decided to give each other "experience gifts".  Knowing how much I love crafts, and being a mixed media artist, my sister Melanie gave me a 'behind the scenes' tour of the Penland School of Crafts, in Penland, NC.  Stan and I traveled to the western mountains of North Carolina on Saturday, and received that, and so much more.  Our guide was Robin Dreyer, the Communications Director, who also photographs the school's facilities, staff and projects for their brochures, website and blog.  We began our visit at the Penland Gallery, admiring the work of instructors past and present. 

The wild and wondrous fence outside the ironworking workshop
During our tour of the beautiful, 420-acre campus (no, we didn't walk the whole thing, though my feet felt like it later that night), we saw the studio and workshop areas for wood, books and paper, ironwork, photography, textiles, clay, glass, printmaking and metals.  And, because classes were going on, we were able to see and speak to the students and instructors in many of the areas.  We watched students blowing glass and saw some pieces in progress (including orbs blown into old blue jeans!); teachers and students designing wooden lamps with rice paper and strips of LED lights; a workshop full of dried and drying plant material which will be used in handmade paper (you know I loved seeing this!); a student inking a gelatin plate she'd made earlier in the week (and you know I told her about the Gelli Arts Printing Plate!); students in the forging area using giant machines and tools making lots of noise; a wild and wondrous fence outside the iron workshop; a jewelry designer, a student in the metals studio working 'out of her comfort zone' in small-scale sculpture;  the work of an instructor in digital photography, with multi-layered organic images; first-time weaving students who'd produced remarkably beautiful scarves; students in the textile studios creating overdyed fabrics; a collaborative mosaic wall done by two separate clay classes some years ago, and lovely student-created letterpress prints combined with their original poetry.  Our tour lasted two and a half hours, and at the end of it, we felt inspired, invigorated, and fortunate to have been given such a wonderful look at this magically creative place.  I was so entranced that I didn't stop to take very many pictures, and these two don't do it justice, but here they are. 

For more information about the Penland School of Crafts, visit their website, or blog

Our weekend continued, as we explored downtown Asheville and Biltmore Village, but that's the topic for my next post....stay tuned.


Nameless But Not Faceless....

New Work
These are the first three large bamboo bowl (18" diameter) masks in what will be a multi-piece series.  Inspired by fused glass work I've been seeing lately, and actual African masks, they are my take on contemporary Afrocentric design.  Each mask will have the same facial features, to tie the series together.  And, each contains mixed media elements including:  wood, polymer, acrylic paint, metallic inks, PearlEx powders, cowrie shells and my own hand carved stamps. 

Here are some quick shots of them (our photo setup is still packed away, due to our tornado renovations which finally ended late last month). 

I'm in search of titles for each. 

I'm thinking they are yet another part of my Ancestress Series  shadow box masks, but do these feel feminine or masculine to you? 
Please weigh in on comments, and thanks as always for joining me along this creative journey.


Back in the Studio

After what seems like months, I'm back in the studio, creating new work.  This time, I am inspired by glass work I've seen online while searching for a piece for our home.  I've often said that everything inspires me in some way.  Sometimes, I'm not even aware of what the inspiration is until it comes out in my work.  In the glass work I've been seeing, the use of textured glass against smooth and the juxtaposition of colors within abstract pieces has been the jumping-off point for creativity. 

I'm allowing myself to experiment, and to use a variety of techniques within one piece to achieve the look I want.  This isn't as easy as it sounds, and there have been a few wrong turns.  I've almost completed the first in a series, and will show it here as soon as I solve the final 'problem' I see with it.  Until then, here is the work of some of the inspiring glass artists I've been viewing. 

Enjoy, and have a creative week.

Dan Barnes

Rothfuss Designs

Nancy Bonig


Matisse and I

Sorrows of the King
Henri Matisse
Fall of Icarus
Henri Matisse
As an Art History major at Wellesley, I vividly recall the Matisse cut-out collages I saw projected on the lecture hall screen.  To me, Sorrows of the King was a breath of fresh air in the way its colors are juxtaposed, and its playful composition seems to belie the emotion suggested by the title.  In Fall of Icarus, the spareness of line, and use of negative space were highlighted. And of course, we discussed Matisse's use of vibrant, pure colors which evoke an emotional response from the viewer, and seem to jump from the page.
Little did I know back then, those images would stay with me and would inspire, however unconsciously, my current work. 

A word about inspiration:  when I'm asked about what inspires my work, I cite the colors, patterns and symbols of African art, the natural world, and the work of other artists.  These are the things I consciously study or immerse myself in, to generate ideas.  Everything swirls around in my brain, and emerges in various ways.  I could just as easily say that everything I see, or have ever seen inspires me in some way.  I believe all artists are inspired by what we see, every day.  How what we see and internalize gets communicated onto our substrate of choice is the essence of art.   

Matisse making paper cut outs
Last year, I began working with paper cut outs on mirrors and wall hangings, by first painting papers with acrylics, using washes and some texturing, then cutting shapes by hand and positioning them to create collage compositions.  Without being consciously aware of it, (and without the aid of studio assistants!) I was echoing Matisse's way of creating his (even to the messy pile of "scraps" on the floor!):

 "With the aid of his assistants, Matisse invented a systematic approach to the technique of his cut outs. First, his studio assistants brushed Linel gouaches on sheets of white paper. Once dry, a stockpile of colored paper was available to Matisse at any given time. He often quite spontaneously cut out elements and placed them into compositions. As the play between consciously sought-for and the fortuitously-arrived at effects worked into their balances the projects moved toward completion...Matisse generally cut the shapes out freehand, using a small pair of scissors and saving both the item cut out and remaining scraps of paper....he would arrange and rearrange the colored cutouts until he was completely satisfied (with) the results." ~from Paper Cuts Outs (gouaches découpés)
Here are some of my cut paper collage creations, and some by Matisse: 

Small Worlds 8
Michelle Davis Petelinz

Sun Worshipers
Mini Magnet
Michelle Davis Petelinz

The Beasts of the Sea
Henri Matisse

Henri Matisse
Kaleidoscope, Free Spirit Series
Michelle Davis Petelinz
 When I look at them side by side, I'm struck by the similarities in color combinations, and shapes. 

The spiral is a central theme of my work--the unending circle of life. 

And, my adaptation of the Adinkra symbol of  Bi Nka Bi (peace and harmony, literally: no one should bite the other) became the floral shape I use quite often.
Bi Nka Bi
My sources of inspiration, both conscious and unconscious inform, guide and shape my work...

I wonder where they'll take me next? 


Work in Progress

In the studio again, before our trip to New England next weekend.  I'm working on a new 12"x24" mirror with a looser style of painting.  Actually, it was inspired by nothing more exotic than the cardboard I use to cover my drawing table when I'm painting papers for my collage pieces.  I looked at it one day and thought I should try to duplicate its layers of colors on something else.  So, I thought I'd share a work in progress:

Here's the cardboard 'inspiration': 

And here's the mirror frame in progress: 

The mirror does have some of the same loose, painterly feeling of the cardboard, but it doesn't have the same feeling of layers of color...yet. 
Back to work!


Quilt-Inspired Mirror Collection: The Beginnings

If you know me, you know I don't sew.  To be specific, I don't use sewing machines.  I have my mother's old one, and I can, but I don't.  I'm perfectly comfortable sewing on a button, or repairing a torn hem (though these days, I'm more likely to do it with fusible bond than a needle and thread), but I'm definitely sewing machine averse.  Perhaps that's why I've always been intrigued by fiber artists, especially contemporary quilters.  As I've blogged about before, here, one of the best books I've found which highlights the work of 40 quilt artists is: Masters Art Quilts, Major Works by Leading Artists.  I even love the trim size of the book; it's  8"x9", and the interior design is exquisite.  I'm inspired by the work of many of the artists featured inside, including Carol Bryer Fallert, Miriam Nathan-Roberts, and Anne Woringer

I'm also inspired by the work of contemporary African American quilters.  Sonji Hunt's work is a wondrous blend of color, movement and texture, and I'd love to meet her someday (we've been reading each other's blogs for about 3 years now).  And Adrienne Cruz's work is what sparked my current path of work.  I found her on Flickr (while procrastinating...ah, working on collecting sources of inspiration!).  She and 62 other artists are featured in the book Spirits of the Cloth, Contemporary African American Quilts.  In fact, that's Adrienne's piece, entitled Divine Guardian on the cover. She creates lush fields of color, using various fabric patterns and  elements such as metals and shells.  Her quilts tell a story and evoke a response. 

So, all of this visual immersion in quilts got me thinking and creating in my head (isn't that where it all begins?!).  My first quilt-inspired piece is this one, as yet unnamed. It measures 12"x24", and is done with hand painted papers, decoupaged to the MDF substrate.  Yes, it is a mirror--I've covered the actual mirror with black paper, so you can't see the reflection of my very messy studio!   I liked the process of creating this piece, and from it, I went on to do 'Kindred Connections' which incorporates polymer pieces and feathers.  You can see it here.  Soon, it'll be on its way to its new owner, as I blogged about earlier, here

These two pieces were the beginnings.  I'll show you the next two mirrors in the series in another post.  Meanwhile, I'm searching for a name for the feels like it should have one. 

Any ideas?