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.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

spruce street

A new beginning. For a new home portrait. I am honored to be working on this new commission which will attempt to preserve a memory of a childhood home...
as usual I am in love with the ephemera put into my possession
brocade and burlap make me happy
a page from a book and old photos
hand dyed linens? what a treat!
lovely daisies and sturdy upholstery fabric
and birch bark!! yes birch bark! I'm so excited to stitch it!
shall I use the image with the flagpole just like the old photo?
or the one with the lamp post?
what about the glorious red maple?
or the lovely rock wall in the garden?
I have many many decisions ahead of me. Right now I'm fondling the fabrics, petting the birch bark and staring at photos. Something will start jumping out at me soon. Stay tuned!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

street signs

The other day I finished three little artworks. I have been working on them for quite a while... stitching in waiting rooms and even in the car. Parked of course. Little art is good that way, you can work on it almost anywhere.

Each one measures 5"x5" and is mounted on an 8"x8" canvas board which is painted black. They all started life as this. Which then became this. These little guys are from the middle of it all. And they began as an exercise of layering stitches. Why street signs? I don't know, they just appealed to me.
Here they are:
bump.detail
BUMP © Natalya Aikens
crosswalk.detail
Crosswalk © Natalya Aikens
dip.detail
DIP © Natalya Aikens
Re-purposed plastic shopping bags, acrylic paint, machine stitching, hand stitching.

Monday, February 2, 2015

100 ready for action!

My artwork for the FFAC The 100 Fundraiser to benefit the American Cancer Society is ready for sharing!

But first a few how and why's from Virginia Spiegel:

1 Day - 100 Artists - 100 Patrons - $10,000
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Opens 10 a.m. Central

How The Fundraiser Works
1. On February 4, the first 100 people to contact me (Virginia(at)VirginiaSpiegel.com) beginning at 10 a.m. Central will be given a link to donate $100 by credit card directly to the American Cancer Society through Fiberart For A Cause.
To be fair to all, no e-mails time dated before 10 a.m. Central will be opened. I am not responsible for the vagaries of the e-mail system.
Please note your donation to the ACS will be credited through the Forest Lake Area Relay For Life. Why?
2. Each donor will receive an artwork from one of the 100 generous and talented artists. Assignments of artwork will be made using a random number generator by someone other than me. Artwork will not be shared here in advance, but may appear on artists' websites or other social media before the event. See our Pinterest board for previews of many artworks. Thanks to Deborah Boschert for maintaining the board.
3. The artwork may be any size as long as the minimum retail value is $100. Artwork smaller than 8x10" will be mounted to 8x10" or 9x9." The artwork will contain fiber and may or may not be stitched. The artwork may or may not be made specifically for this event.

3. Each artist will receive her/his patron's e-mail address to arrange shipping. Artwork will be shipped directly from the artist. Please note this is an international roster of artists. Please thank the artist for not only donating the artwork, but also shipping it to you.
4. Each artist would love to receive a low res photo of the artwork in situ from the new owner. This is not required, but the best photos may be shared here after the event.
Questions? Contact me at Virginia(at)VirginiaSpiegel.com
or here is a series of Q&A about the event.
If you would like to be sure your Request to Donate does not go in my spam folder on February 4, send a trial message today.
Special Note: Our goal of $10,000 will make Fiberart For A Cause's donations to the American Cancer Society a nice even one-quarter of a million dollars and FFAC will be happily retired.

Thank you in advance for your support!
Spread the word about "The 100"

And now for the artwork that I will be donating:



Fire Escape Abstraction © Natalya Aikens 2015
Image manipulated in Photoshop, printed on geesoed dryer sheets, layered with repurposed florist wrap and lightly hand-stitched. Measures 8"x10". Adhered to Ampersand hardboard, edges painted with acrylic paint.
Please help support this worthy cause! Thank you!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Tale of Tzar Saltan,

...of His Son the Renowned and Mighty Bogatyr Prince Gvidon Saltanovich, and of the Beautiful Princess-Swan.

How's that for a mouthful? That's the full title of Alexander Pushkin's poem that our Russian school put on for our Christmas play this year. Yes Christmas. Russian Orthodox Christmas is celebrated on January 7th, and with all the holiday festivities and the coordination of other Russian schools plays, we got the last possible time slot... But that's ok! Gave us all more time to procrastinate (ahem) and put on a great show!

I am once again honored to work with such dedicated parents, super creative individuals, and professionals who all volunteer their precious time and donate resources, so that our children can learn about their heritage in such a hands on way!

Here are a few pictures...yes only 15... Too many for a blog post? Perhaps. I couldn't take any as I was backstage, so these are all taken by the artist who painted many of the backdrops and stage props. She shared 445 pictures with me (which means she edited out at least 100!) I managed to get down to 15 to share with you, my readers... edited down to show the costumes as best as possible.. enjoy!!!
three sisters singing by the window
The Tsar chose his Tsaritza
the wedding dancing entertainment
more wedding dancers
evil sister plotting
mother in law plotting
the three comic relief characters plotting
the people reading the order
the best shot we could get of the very fast moving bee!
black hawk fighting with the white swan
swan wings in action
swan princess revealed to the prince
the magical squirrel
the bogatyr of the sea and his army
people taking a bow after all is well again...

Phew... and now I'm off to clean my studio....