Sunday, April 19, 2015

spruce street

And now for the reveal! Presenting Spruce Street home portrait... A portrait of a home and a memory. This house was a sweet childhood home... and now it's time to move on, while preserving the memory of a joy-filled home and a wonderful place to grow up.
I had great ephemera to work with, from hand dyed vintage linens, to upholstery fabric and birch bark! I agonized about how to include that birch bark without destroying it. I think I have succeeded. A book page with a tree was perfect for representing a magnolia and a multitude of trees surrounding the house. Vintage linen took to hand-stitching beautifully to become the azalea filled front yard. Plastic mesh made the most perfect grass and the final step was the suggestion of the red maple tree ready to bud. A maple tree with a wonderful long history that started with a young girl and a seedling...



A bit of a surprise from me was the inclusion of mom and dad in the portrait...
Spruce Street © Natalya Aikens
I am honored to have been a part of preserving such lovely memory. Thank you.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

almost

I have one more major step to go before I finish the Spruce Street home portrait. And since I have not been very good with updates, I thought that I'd share a few close ups now before the final reveal.
so happy to have played with vintage hand dyed linen in the flower garden
tree printed in a book transforms into tree in portrait
I do so love birches!
some stitched rocks on the chimney
more azaleas from vintage hankie
I think I will be ready for the final reveal by the end of this week. If you'd like to be first to see it, sign up for my newsletter as that's where it will be seen first. Thanks for following the home portrait updates!

Monday, April 6, 2015

framed

I totally adore the ladies in my local fiber arts group. I don't get to see them regularly due my kids schedules, so I really cherish the meetings that I do get to attend, and the exhibits that we put on together.

And we do have a wonderful new exhibit coming up in May at the Mahopac Public Library in Mahopac NY. We have been exhibiting in their lovely third floor gallery for so many years now that it feels like home. Please join us for the opening reception of "We've Been Framed" on May 10th from 2 to 4PM. Everyone had to create an artwork that would fit into a frame. All frames where painted the same navy color to unify all the artwork. I had a preview at a meeting recently and it is a wonderful variety of styles, techniques and imagery!

Here's my work for this exhibit. I inadvertently seem to have gone back to St. Pete Lace series and created this piece using thermofax screens on color catcher sheets and thread painting. The screen printed imagery is from my photographs of many many wrought iron railings of St. Petersburg, Russia and the eloquent words of Alexander Pushkin. And the thread painted man is an Atlant who holds up the entrance to the Hermitage.
head...
legs...
torso...
Atlant Spb 3 © Natalya Aikens 2015
Hope to see many local friends at the exhibit! Thank you!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

I'm back!

An extended, unintended break happened here. Preparing to teach and then teaching and then spring break are all to blame.... I have been trying to ease myself back into the studio routine despite the school break and now I'm going to try to ease myself back into the blogging routine. And a report on my latest teaching gig is the fodder!

Last week for the very first time I taught a workshop at the Hudson River Valley Art Workshops. It was also the first time I taught a workshop for more than two days! Five whole days actually! I have been teaching a workshop based on my use of Photoshop for art quilts for several years now, so it was a real treat to develop it into a longer version. And lucky me, there were only two students, so I got to tweak everything to their needs and figure out how to space the lesson plan best. Of course it will work differently with more students next time, but I have everything in place now.

Due to the luxury of time and space, my students were able to really spend the time developing their ideas and figuring out how Photoshop will aid them best. Here are a few pictures of our art filled days below...
Alison and her THREE! design walls
she got to play with pictures of Paris and NYC
Alison created a very moody work in sheers from pictures of the World Trade Center Memorial and was working on figuring out how to put together pictures of columns from WTC into an artwork
her work space was very busy!
here she is working tiny tiny hand stitches into her haunting slurry wall from WTC
Jane's design wall was very ethereal and magical, she played with pictures of her CitraSolv experiments and her own pen sketches
She created a mixed media work using metal sheets and sketches manipulated in Photoshop and printed on fabric
Jane even free-motion stitched for the very first time and really put the pedal to the metal! Oh and she hand stitched also.
This another finished artwork of hers that incorporated printed paper, dryer sheets and free motion machine stitching
layers of printed dryer sheets get the free motion treatment on her sketched work that was printed on cotton voile
We had a fabulous five day retreat with our lovely hosts Kim and Mark LaPolla. Oh and the food was delish! Thank you!
I got to do a bit of art too in the teachers sketchbook! and in case you're wondering... it's not easy to machine stitch a page while it's still in the notebook....

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

new work!

I recently finished new art! I'm so excited about it because it feels like it's been a while since I've finished a larger piece. I shared it on Monday with my newsletter subscribers and today I share it with you.

This piece has a long journey. It started with a challenge for my local fiber arts group, and immediately as I got it back from that exhibit, I cut it up. The first large portion of it became this, three small pieces of it became this, this and this. And now the final large portion of it has become Iron Spine 2.

I love making long stitch lines
using negative space to suggest shape

Iron Spine 2 © Natalya Aikens 2015
And now back to stitching Spruce Street and preparing for Hudson River Valley Fiber Art workshop!

Friday, March 6, 2015

friday in the studio

So much going on this week and next..... here's a short and sweet version of what is happening in the studio:
Lots of hand stitching on the companion piece to Iron Spine
Many more X's to go on the roof of the latest home portrait
Playing with TAP for a detail on a piece that I have been stitching on for a long time
Finishing up a few samples for an Easter Egg Felting workshop next Saturday
Preparing for the FIVE day workshop at Hudson River Valley Art workshops
and finally something for moi! I'm nuno felting a piece of snowdyed silk for a sweater...
So as you see I have quite a few balls up in the air, good thing I work well under pressure! Hope to share some finished work soon.

Friday, February 27, 2015

a tiny update

I have started hand stitching on Spruce street, the latest home portrait. This is going to be a long long process. First because hand stitching just takes a long time, and second because I have chosen to do some very specific stitches to cover the entire surface of a certain area and well..... I never seem to accomplish as many as I thought I would in any given time frame. So just please bear with me....

Here are a few close ups of a few things I have done..
the front door has been marked
see those x's on the roof?
I intend to cover the whole roof with those x's....
So you see what I have gotten myself into?? I'll be back after a few 1000 x's...... ooommmmm........

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

thinking.....

I've been preparing for my upcoming workshop at Hudson River Valley Art Workshops. And as I was going down my check list, I decided to take a peek at my page on their website. One of the images that is being used to promote the workshop is right below and is one of my favorite old pieces.
St. Pete Lace 1 © Natalya Aikens
It struck me though, that my ways of using Photoshop for my art has changed dramatically in last couple of years. And come to think of it so has my way of using vintage linens and recycled ephemera. So I took a little tour of my portfolio, and then my research and work in progress files, and pulled out a few things to share here.

Some of you might remember this piece below. It's my pride and joy, especially since it made it into QN'13. I used Photoshop to help create it. Doesn't look anything like the image above, does it?
The City © Natalya Aikens
Yet I used vintage linens, paper and dryer sheets, just like in St. Pete Lace 1. Of course I also added plastic and oil paint sticks to the materials list here. In my archives I found the Photoshopped image of the very beginnings of this piece.
photoshopped collage
I used this image as my guide for constructing the final piece. It'll be one of the things I'll be discussing in the workshop. Collage is such an integral part of what I do and Photoshop is my number one tool in the tool box.

Recently I participated as one the invited artists in The 100 fundraiser organized by Virginia Spiegel. The artwork I created for this event relied heavily on Photoshop too.
Fire Escape Abstraction © Natalya Aikens
No vintage linens here, but just paper and two dryer sheets. No machine stitching either. Yes on the hand stitching though! This one relied on Photoshop in a completely different way than The City. While Photoshop helped me create the guide for The City, in Fire Escape Abstraction, Photoshop helped me create color and line. Of course the printer was important here too. Below is how this piece started.
a plain old NYC fire escape
I am so looking forward to sharing how I use Photoshop in my art. There is just so much to it! And all of it is very intuitive despite looking scary sometimes. 
some vintage linens from my stash
I'm also looking forward to collaging the Photoshopped images with the fabrics, vintage or not, that the workshop participants will bring. Maybe even recycled ephemera too! The best part of teaching a workshop for me, is seeing what my students come up with. I love when they learn how to use a new tool to create their artwork. And how that new tool helps them create in new ways. 

And because this workshop is five full days, we'll get to spend time machine stitching and hand stitching! I've never before had an opportunity to have the time to delve in so deeply into a workshop like this. Can you tell I'm excited? ;)

To sign up for the workshop go here. To read my interview on the InnSane blog go here.

Come play with me!!

Friday, February 20, 2015

ch...ch...changes.....

I had a plan for the next few steps of the Spruce street home portrait. And plans usually...well....they sure do love change...

First I tried different fabrics in many different layouts. Here's one that I sort of stuck with.
the only thing definite in this layout was the mustard fabric for the house
tracing paper overlay to see how it would look
Then I decided that I need to thread sketch the house first and then play with the background fabrics.
here's option number one, and I committed to the tree here
tried playing with lace
switched grass and sky again
I think that I am committed to my layout now. Especially since I added the dark green plastic netting to the grass. How could I resist using it???
final layout for now... only the house and the grass are set in stone. or are they?
cool view eh?
If I am brave enough, I will start adding some hand stitching today and decide on the strength of my commitment.