Blog - Valerie Wilson - Fibre Art. My studio, work process and inspiration.

Creating a Dynamic Fabric Portrait by Focusing on Value Challenge

Image of a fabric portrait of a little girl.

This is a FREE challenge to help quilters learn more about value in colour and how best to use value effectively when creating fabric portraits.

 

Do any (or all) of these describe you?

I want to know how to blend values.

I want to be able to determine value in fabrics.

I want to be able to select fabrics in the right values for a portrait.

I want to be able to to use shading to create dimension

 

Imagine for a moment what it would be like to:

  • easily identify value and choose fabrics effortlessly
  • know how to blend values
  • create depth and shading in a portrait

This can happen!

By putting into practice what I’ll be teaching in this challenge, you’ll see how easy this can be.

Learn what value can do to add dimension, realism and excitement to your art quilts!

Join the Challenge Now!

I look forward to seeing you there!

Val

Valerie Wilson Fibre Artist

P.S. Coming soon  – Facial Expressions workshop!

Starting September 16 so get on the waitlist now for the first chance at registration. 

What is it About Taking that First Step?

The biggest problem with starting something new is taking that first step. 

Often, we get stuck because we don’t know where to start or what that first step should be.

Part of this problem is an underlying unconscious fear. Fear that we will not be good enough, fear of not being able to do it at all, or fear of the unknown. So we procrastinate and “it”, whatever “it” is, is never attempted.

Procrastination comes into play and we never start, often using the excuse that we don’t know where to start. This is fear of the unknown or of making a mistake. Our inner critic warns us not to try as it could have horrible consequences.

I see this with people who want to create fabric portraits. Many yearn to create one but are afraid to start. They worry that the portrait will not accurately enough represent the person, or that “they” will not like it or that they do not have enough skill to create a portrait.

They stop themselves before they even try!

This fear can also generate strong emotions.

Even though I am now aware of the problem, I find that when I want to try something new that is outside my usual experience I get flustered and uptight. Have you ever had that experience?

If you take time out for a few minutes, or maybe for an hour or two, to do something pleasurable you will find that the feeling subsides. The best thing to do is something with physical activity involved.

Recently for me that meant going to Staples for some envelopes I needed, getting a latte at Starbucks (it was yummy!) and buying some embroidery floss at Michael’s.

Let your mind work on the issue in the background and later you will find that you are relaxed and have decided on a first small step.

Great resource

There is an excellent book by Susan Jeffers called Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway. Susan explains that fear is a built-in natural reaction to what is new or strange. 

She explains how we can reeducate our minds to accept the fear as normal and learn how to expand our zone of comfort so that the fear does not control us.

Does researching your topic help?

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

It can!

However, another aspect of this fear of starting and a way of dealing with it is to research your topic. This feels safer and you tell yourself that once you know “how to” you will proceed. This can be an excellent idea if you restrain the impulse to keep on researching looking for that final perfect, definitive answer.

The problem here is that you can get lost in the research and it becomes an end in itself or you get lost in contradictory advice which leads to analysis paralysis. The result is the same – inaction.

My Experience

Taking the first step

This happened to me when creating my first quilt. I had picked out a Kaffe Fassett design that I loved and was excited about making. Here I was taking the first step! Then I started shopping for and collecting fabrics which ultimately became a stalling manoeuver, as I continued to feel like I never had enough different fabrics to start. Sound familiar?

Researching

Eventually, I got past that hurdle. Then I made the mistake of researching. Remember this was my first quilt (so picture me nervous).

I read the debate about prewashing your fabrics, or not, before making a quilt. I was now worried about what would happen if I didn’t prewash the fabrics.

Time passed and I decided that I would wash them. Yes indeed, including the triangles that I had cut out! It was a fast way to find out the quality of the fabric that I was using.  Can you relate?

Then I read about how difficult bias edges are to stitch as they stretch. Now I was terrified to go further. What if I wrecked it! So on the shelf, it went.

Eventually, it came out of the closet and was sewn on a vintage Singer sewing machine. That quilt turned out to be exactly the size it was supposed to be. I was thrilled! That experience gave me a larger comfort zone and a belief in my own skills.

That quilt turned out to be exactly the size it was supposed to be. I was thrilled! That experience gave me a larger comfort zone and a belief in my own skills.

Kaffe Fa

 

Can you see how researching too much and getting information from random sources can lead to never starting or having too many problems along the way?

What to do?

  1. Just start! Decide on a first step and go.

 Take the first step is like a leap into the unknown, but you can do it! 

2. Give your self permission to make mistakes

Mistakes are a part of learning. The best advice that my mother ever gave me (when wallpapering together) was to plan ahead what to do when there was a mistake. It was inevitable that there would be mistakes. It took all the stress out of learning.

Resource: Here is an interesting discussion on the Role of Failure in your Art Practise by some artists on Alyson Stanfield’s blog.

I tell my students that if they don’t like something they are working on they don’t have to show it to anyone. They can just toss it and use it as a learning experience and try again.

On the other hand, sometimes it is great to get feedback on specific issues and find out that it isn’t so bad after all and may actually look really good to others.

We are our own worst critics! 

3. Seek guidance.

A guide can help you figure out those steps and support you along the journey.

Seek out knowledgeable people, take courses or workshops and get support when trying something new, so that you don’t have to struggle to figure it all out by yourself. 

You don’t always have to agree with instructors and may decide to do things your own way in time but you learn the basics and have a solid foundation for future experimentation.

Remember that every time you start something new and then work at it you build up your confidence and expand your comfort zone.

What stops you from starting? How do you deal with it? 

I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject!

 

 

 

Find the Time or Take the Time?

Antique watch

I keep hearing people say “If I could only find the time!”

Do we find the time or do we manage our time?

I have had a slump for a while in terms of creating my art by having allowed the business side of my art to take over.

That is when I came to the realization that to be more productive again, I needed to take control of my time again. Not find the time but take the time. A big difference!

Merriam Webster Dictionary defines “Take the time” as:

: to make an effort (to do something) : to attempt

Finding the time implies that there is a source out there somewhere that one needs to search for and has little control over. Taking the time gives back that control.

When I schedule my time and make my art a priority I get a lot done.

In my schedule, I allot time for my art, my business, relaxation, family and friends.

Once you prioritize your art, you have a clearer path. This has to be a conscious decision.  

If not, you will be busy all day and find out at bedtime that you have not left room for your art.

What to do? 

Schedule your art in the same way that you would schedule any other important task. 

I keep a somewhat loose schedule as I like to be able to take advantage of spontaneous occasions.

But I do now take time for creating my art. This is what fills me up and gives me great satisfaction.

If something comes up that I really think that I would enjoy I see how it fits in terms of everything else that is on my schedule. And determine what is the greater priority at that time.

Also, whether I would need to take time at another point in my day to make up for that change.

What are your thoughts on time? How do you manage your time? 

I would be most interested to know. Please comment!

 

Struggling with Learning a New Technique?

When I started out 9 years ago, I struggled to learn fabric portraits

My problems were identifying values, choosing fabrics and the thought of doing the stitching terrified me! My first portrait stayed in a drawer for a year before I decided I would risk stitching on it. 

I wished that there was someone out there who would give me support and help me with a step by step approach.

I did finally do the stitching on the portrait and was pleased with the result. My husband who was my guinea pig for this venture loved it and has it hanging in his office. 

I look at that portrait now and can see what I would do differently.

This is where the experience of trying new things gets you; whether it be meeting new people or trying a new technique. To a point where you can see what you would do differently and you do it to get better each time.

It is the ability to say to yourself “OK, I am going to try this…..” and then to allow yourself to take the risk that the first time may not be perfect. 

Perfection is over-rated! I have been a perfectionist most of my life. It sucks!  Only in the past few years have I developed an ability to look forward to challenges and trying new things.

This change has transformed my life! I now seek out new opportunities.but also, look for mentors that can help me with any struggles that I may have

Now I have sold my work, done commissions and shown my work in numerous shows.

Woman with art quilt of a man and his vintage motorcycle.

Artist Valerie Wilson and her art quilt – French Wonder.

Are you willing to try something new?

Take the leap! Give your self permission to try creating your first portrait.

The Facial Expressions workshop offers an in-depth look at fabric portraits and walks you through the steps one at a time with lots of feedback for whatever step you are on.

You can access the workshop on your own schedule and receive feedback and support through the private Facebook group where I am active on a daily basis.

The Live question and answer sessions will be scheduled on feedback from the students as to what times/days work best for them.

These Live sessions will be recorded and posted in the group so you can see them later if you have to miss one. 

And just in case you are wondering, you don’t need to know how to draw to take this workshop!

If you have wanted to try creating a fabric portrait there is not a better time than now!

Join us in the Facial Expressions workshop now!

If you haven’t already, join us in the Fabric Faces Facebook group where we have resources for and discuss all things relating to fabric portraits.

I hope to see you there!

Val

Visit me on Facebook 

Creating a Dynamic Fabric Portrait by Focusing on Value

Focusing on value is critical to a good result when creating a portrait, whether in paint, pencil or fabric.

When creating a realistic fabric portrait you need to have a good grasp of shadows and highlights. 

This is what is meant by value.

I have created a Free 5-day challenge on the topic of value and its use in fabric portraits.

Here’s what you will learn:

  • What a gray scale is and how this will help you to identify values.
  •  
  • How to distinguish between values so that you can choose fabrics for maximum effect.
  •  
  • The relativity of value or how one fabric can be several different values.
  •  
  • How a variety of values create depth and interest. 

And more…

 What would it be like to easily identify value and choose fabrics effortlessly?

What if you could create depth and shading in a portrait?

This can happen to you.

By putting in to practice what I’ll be teaching you in this challenge, you’ll see how easy this can be.

The challenge starts on Friday, April 26 so sign up now!

 

 

 

New Year – New projects

In this my new year 2019, I have been working on a variety of new ventures:

1. Finishing Projects:

  • A friend and I started a block of the month quilt called Year in the Garden in 2002. We never finished it and for a number of reasons, it got shelved. We recently dug it out again and are getting to the last bits that need to be done, the applique. This quilt has star blocks in a diamond arrangement with a large open centre that features a large amount of applique. Looking at the design now I find that my tastes have changed and I am opting for a more minimalist approach which means that it might finally get done!

 

  •  There is some progress on my artwork – I am finally finishing the stitching on my latest portrait, affectionately called “the hockey boys”.  I have called it that so often it may even end up being the name of the quilt! It takes a lot of time to sew down all those little pieces of fabric, but I am sticking at it. Even 15 minutes a day helps to make progress.
vintage fabric portrait

The hockey boys in progress

Starting Projects

  • I created a new Facebook group called Fabric Faces as a gathering spot for those interested in creating fabric portraits. We have been having a lot of fun so far!

new year and new group Fabric Faces

Included is some information on posterizing your photographs (in the files) and we recently had a challenge on the effective use of value in a portrait quilt.

The FB Live that I did as a summary of the challenge on value is now posted on my FB page. 

  • Launching Facial Expressions
    the online portrait workshop. Read all the details here.

This workshop starts next Saturday, January 26, 2019, and registration is now open. I am offering a discount of 35% off to those interested, and who contact me by midnight Wednesday, January 23, 2019. 

I will send you a discount coupon that you can use when you sign up for the workshop before midnight January 25, 2019.

Plans for the rest of the year

My plans for this year are:

  • To do more dyeing of fabric in different skin tones
  • Focus on creating more art
  • Have fun in my FB group!
  • Spend more time with my hubby
  • Try screen printing and particularly deconstructed screen printing

What are your plans for the year? COmment and let me know!

Enlarging and Printing a Photo at Home – the MAC Version

Enlarging and Printing a Photo at Home – the MAC Version

 

 

A number of people asked me about enlarging and printing a photo at home with a MAC computer after I posted on this blog about this process on a PC.

 

There are several ways to accomplish this task!

  1. Drag your photo to Safari. Then, open the print dialog box. Use the scale box and add the percentage that you want to scale the photo. It will print it across enough pages to make your image the size that you have requested. There are percentage scale calculators on the internet.
  2. Another way is to use a photo program called Photoscape X which is a free download. I tried the Windows version and assume that the MAC version is very similar. I feel that I can say this having watched several videos on this program (MAC version) on YouTube.

Here is what you need to do to resize a photo in Photoscape X: 

Resizing

  1. Open your photo in Photoscape X in the Editor.
  2. Choose Edit – Resize. Depending on what measurement system you use you may want to change the sizing to inches from the default millimeters.
  3. Change the size of your photo to your desired size. Click Apply.
  4. Save your photo to the original folder. Rename the file if you don’t want to overwrite your original photo!

Printing

There are at least 2 options:

Posterazor 

This is program is a free download. 

It allows you to save your photo as a PDF which can be printed on multiple pages.

Split Print

Go to the MAC App Store and look for Split Print.

The app costs $8.49. It allows you to print an enlarged photo over multiple pages on your home computer.

Comments welcome!  I would love to hear from MAC users about whether this process works for them! 

 

If you would like a copy of this article as a PDF click here.

 

Enlarging a Photo and Printing it at Home (PC)

Resizing your Photo or Drawing and Printing it at Home. A Solution!

Have you wondered about enlarging a picture to print on multiple pages at home?

The Problem – Printing a Large Photo on a Home Printer

One of the big issues when teaching a portraits workshop is finding a way for students to easily resize and print their photos.

I have suggested a variety of options such as Block Poster (not really accurate enough for what we want to do), taking the photo to a printing shop or Staples. Or using a program such as Rapid Resizer.

I resize photos all the time for my portraits and use Rapid Resizer to enlarge and print them.  This is a great program and I will continue to use it. 

But I wanted to find a simpler, cost-effective solution for my students!

The Solution – MS Paint

Recently I was at a Fibre Art Network Conference and had a wonderful time catching up with other members. A big part of the conference is sharing information. 

Terry Aske mentioned that she uses a program called Microsoft Paint for enlarging and printing her patterns. Paint is a program that comes pre-installed on Windows computers.

Eureka! Problem solved!

Terry was kind enough to send me the instructions that she gives to her students. I have taken them and added detail and photos to make it super easy to follow along.

 

Step by Step Instructions – for Enlarging a Photo in Paint and Printing it on your Own Printer

The program Paint is found under:

 Start Menu: All Programs: Accessories in Windows 2007
Windows 2010 – it is under Accessories in 2010
.

The icon looks like this:

Paint palette and paint brush

  1. Open your photo in Paint by clicking on the file icon arrow in the upper left and choosing “Open”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  2. Browse to where your photo is on your computer, select the photo and then click “Open”.

  3. Open “Properties” by clicking on the file icon (in the upper left corner) and selecting “Properties” to see the current size of your photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Click on the circle next to “Inches“. It will be black when you click on it.

5.  Note the size of the photo shown in the boxes. The key measurement for portraits is the height. Changing the height will resize the rest of the photo.

Close Properties.

Paint - properties

Properties screen

 

 

The Process for Resizing your Photo

6. Determine what size you want your full-size photo or drawing and thus how much you need to enlarge the photo (percentage). The current size of your photo is 100%.

So if your photo is now 6” H and you want it 18” H, you would set the percentage increase at 300% (18 divided by 6 =3) and 3 x 100, so the photo would be enlarged by 300%.

 

7. Next, click the file icon again and select “Print” – “Page Setup”. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. Check that you have set the “Orientation” for the direction you want – either Portrait or Landscape.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The orientation for the above photo is “portrait”. Note the box on the left showing the orientation.

9. Find “Scaling” in the lower right and then click on “Adjust to” and enter the percentage for enlarging. Click OK.

Choose “Adjust To”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Printing

10. Click on the file icon and select “Print” – “Print Preview”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11. Look at the enlarged photo or drawing and check that it isn’t too pixelated to use. You can also see how many pages will print by counting the pages that you view (click on the down arrow repeatedly).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12. To print: select “Print” and choose the size of paper that you want to use (letter or legal). You can usually find this setting under “Preferences” and then click on Print.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Assembling the Photo

13. Lay out the printed pages and number them in the order that you want them.

14. Trim the borders, allowing some overlap for the adjacent page(s) and tape them together in order.

I have presented here a simple way to enlarge and print your photos or patterns at home on your own printer. I would love to hear what you think about this idea and what solutions you may have found.  Leave a reply below!

I look forward to hearing from you!

If you would like to get a PDF of these instructions (for a PC) so that you can have it handy when resizing your photos, you can get it here.

New Online Fabric Portraits Workshop

I am very excited to announce the launch of my new fabric portraits online workshop called Facial Expressions.

Me relieved that the end is in sight.

The prep has been crazy! There is a huge amount to learn when setting up an online course. Most of the learning is how to use the technology involved. There were many days when I wanted to pull all my hair out!

But now I am ready for the launch. Finally!! I am looking for people to join my Workshop Launch Team. These special people will take the workshop and offer me feedback on how I can fine tune the content.

If interested, check it out here on my Online Workshops Page.

 

 

Correcting your Mistakes 101 – A Rescue Operation

Mistakes happen! Have you worked on a project for a long time only to find out that there is a major flaw?? This was my experience recently.

The Problem

First of all, I had been letting other aspects of my business take precedence over making art. My wakeup call came when I was talking to my hairdresser the other day. She asked again how I was doing with my hockey boys. I was a little embarrassed to have to say “not much”. I decided right there and then that I would get the last pieces of fabric in place starting that day.  It only took me 2 hours and it was complete! I was elated!! 

With the assistance of my husband, I carefully took my “boys” off the design wall. My experience with having this piece on the design wall for a long time is that humidity and Steam a Seam II Lite don’t go well together. A story for another day! 

As a result, I had to make sure that all the fabric pieces were back in place before I fused all the applique. A long time later it was done. It felt so good!! I had the design complete!

I hung the piece back on the design wall and moved my work table so that I could take a good long look at it. That was when I realized to my horror that one of the 3 boys had a distinct lean to one side!!! One of those “yikes” mistakes. I was devastated. All that work and now it was ruined. 

Three boys in vintage hockey uniforms. Boy on the right is leaning to the side.

The hockey boys. Look at the guy on the right!

Of course, I did the only thing that made sense. I ranted and raved and cried a few tears. I didn’t even want to look at it.  Over the next few days, I kept going back to take a look and see if it was really as awful as I imagined. Some days I almost convinced myself that it was OK. Other days I was more realistic. 

The Solution

A few days ago I decided that it was time to stop thinking about it and to try and do something about fixing it.  It couldn’t remain as it was. I had decided on a rescue plan. 

The decision was to cut from the top of the background right down to the toe of the skate. I was hoping that I could pivot the boy on the right over to the left without distorting anything.  A very deep breath and I started!

I started by cutting the background fabric above and to the right of the boy’s head. I then cut carefully along the line of his hair on the left side, down along the edge of his sleeve and the rest of this clothes and down to the toe of the skate. Managing to loosen the fabric pieces, at the elbow and the hand where the two boys overlapped (see below), made it easier to cut them apart at that point.  I wanted to cut as close to the figure as possible without nicking any of the edges.

Detail of overlap of sleeves and mitt/hand.

Detail of overlap of sleeves and mitt/hand.

Once I had the boy on the right mostly cut out, I pivoted him towards the boy in the middle so that they overlapped more. I had to cut away parts of the mitt to avoid shadowing and decided that the boy in the middle should have his elbow on top, not underneath as originally planned, which entailed more very careful cutting.

Then I had to adjust the shadow at the elbow of the jersey, for the boy in the middle, by adding some lighter fabric, as now his arm was on top. I used white Elmer’s glue applied in tiny dots to hold the repositioned section in its new position.

The Result

It worked!! I am pleased with the result and learned that the hand-dyed fabric that I used for the sky blends beautifully when cut. My hope is that the quilting will help to hide the cut in the fabric.

Here is the after photo. Much improved.

Three boys in hockey uniforms standing straight. Mistake corrected.

Adjustments made!

I am so glad that I got up the courage to correct this piece. As a result, I have learned that making a mistake is not necessarily the end of a piece. If you give yourself time to get some emotional distance from the problem and you open your mind to the possibility of rescue, amazing things can happen. Mistakes can be corrected.

Have you ever made a mistake or mistakes in a piece that you loved? What did you do about it?  I would love to hear about your experiences!