Tuesday, May 7, 2013

April Field Notebook

April Field Journal
Same Time, Same Direction


I wasn't as thrilled with this month's experiment as I'd expected to be. There's an interesting thing happening here; a split between my own intentions and what others are reacting to. I see this piece (as a whole) as data, science... but others have articulated that what they find most compelling is the personal narrative. My instinct is to remove the data from the context and explore it separately. But when I do so, I hear that the pieces aren't as compelling as the photos themselves. (Awesome on one hand- that means way less work for me.) 

I guess it comes down to one of the basic questions artists have to ask themselves: is my own intentionality so important that I have to change to work to better communicate my goals? Or do you let the work portray what it's going to portray and allow it to be it's own entity? Luckily, the parameters of my project don't require me to answer those questions immediately and, while I slog through my feelings about them, I can keep swatching, and I can allow my conundrum to effect how I take my swatches.

The first four months of the year, and the themes that each month represented, were all based on Time. A somewhat scientific parameter. The second quarter of 2013 will move in a more personal direction (all the specifics to be decided as I go.) May's theme is People: each photo will not only include the sky and the swatch but people in my general vicinity. I anticipate that this will stretch my comfort zones about swatching in public. (Haha, guess it's time to give up and just embrace the "that crazy art girl" title.) Let's see where the sky takes me now.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

New Class! Working with Knits: The Perfect T-Shirt

"Without the proper equipment, sewing with knits can be frustrating to say the least. Our newly expanded department is excited to offer a class completely devoted to knits and stretch! During the class students will become familiar with our new sergers and coverstitch machine by making their own custom fit jersey t-shirt. Instruction will also cover sewing with a range of other knit materials, designing for knits and troubleshooting issues as they relate to projects. Sample material provided; students will provide material for their own projects. Prerequisite: First-Time Sewing or basic sewing experience. This class authorizes students to use advanced equipment for open studio use."

10weeks, Saturdays 10am- 1pm, Starts April 6th. Sign up here!

I'm not sure I've done the best job promoting this class... It's going to be awesome! A lot of people think of "knits" as big, chunky sweaters with cables, etc., which, while being accurate, does not fully encompass the nuanced world of "knits." Knit fabrics include:

Jersey (t-shirts, long-sleeve shirts, dresses, skirts, jumpers, underwear)
Sweatshirt fabric (sweatshirts, cozy skirts)
Stretch poly (dance wear, leggings, athletic wear)
Fleece (slankets, snuggies)
Terry Cloth (rompers. ROMPERS.)

The class will start with a t-shirt but we should have plenty of time for students to work on a second project of their choosing. (DID I MENTION ROMPERS?)

Another great thing about sewing with knit is that the fabric is forgiving: it's drapey and a little stretchy (which is what makes it a little bit more difficult to work with) but it also has the tendency to hide mistakes. Hence: it's super rewarding! 

And here's the other thing. I love making real stuff. I know that's maybe a weird thing to say- or maybe just a weird way of saying it... but I love making something that looks professional; like I could have bought it at a store, like something that already exists in the world. The new machines we've got in the studio are magic for making professional stuff. I just want to share that feeling with as many people as possible.

So come take  my class!!! And sign up quickly! If we don't get a few more students enrolled in the next few days we might not have enough to run the class! 


Friday, March 22, 2013


There were so many colors in the sky tonight that taking any one swatch felt like lying. Even two. Even three. There were purples and greens, teals and tourmalines that defied capture. With no clouds to distract/mar/abrupt/disrupt/contrast/contradict the sky, the colors were just indescribably  deep.  There were sideways and diagonal ombres that shifted so subtly I didn't even realize they were gone until I looked away and then back again. And it lasted forever. It followed me all the way home.

I cannot believe I was driving during that sunset. I swatched, I got in the car and I hit the road. This project is turning out to also be about patience: wait for it, work through it, try different colors, angles- how long can it really take in the grand scheme of my day? 

Tonight's sunset deserved to be watched like a movie, sat through like a concert, read like a book. And I gave it as much attention as I give anything these days. Half. Max. 

To which the only thing I can seem to think to say is:

Check yerself, girlfriend.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

February Field Notebook


If I fretted about light in January, it was nothing to the problems I faved trying to swatch at night during February. To swatch in darkness, you need to find a source of light. Streetlights were helpful, although most of the lamps in the city have bulbs that are very yellow/orange which adversely effected the camera's ability to see colors accurately. Gas stations and box-store parking lots were great. I tried to take a bunch from inside, too, with some success.

It wasn't as much the process that frustrated me, but the outcomes. The matches I achieved in the photos, although pleasing and seemingly accurate, produced a somewhat compromised palette when viewed away from the original situation. Because of this, I've started questioning atmosphere. What conditions (in addition to light, which might be the reason I chose the night swatch challenge in the first place,) were causing the divergence between what you see when looking at the swatch on-location and the color of the swatch when viewed independently? What would you have to do - in something like a gallery setting, for example - to be able to "read" in person what camera saw in situ? This is, perhaps, an avenue to explore in subsequent works.

The two factors that effected the color of the night sky most dramatically were weather and proximity to light, most obviously the light of a city. I spent a week of February traveling around the East Coast visiting friends and family. When I told a friend I had to swatch the night sky he said, "Isn't is just black?" Honestly, I was shocked. Even before this project I was pretty aware that the night sky is anything but. City lights, when trapped by cloud cover, are surprisingly, even alarmingly, bright. We're all so used to the strange mauve/purple that it doesn't even seem bizarre any more. But I remember being shocked by it when I first moved to Baltimore for college. The light was ever present and the color just seemed wrong. Out in the country, in Western Mass and the mountains of Vermont, the darkness was glorious. Not black, not quite, not ever... but darn near impossible to photograph. After my trip, the light of the city startled me all over again. It only took 4 nights to forget.

* * * * * 

Looking ahead:

March's challenge is Transition Times: Dusk & Dawn. 

(All of the swatch photos taken to date can be viewed on my flickr.)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Fun-A-Day 2013: Opening this week!

If any of you are in the Chicago area you should come by the opening for the Fun-A-Day Exhibition! This Friday night @ the Threadless store!

Participants in Fun-A-Day do one thing everyday for the month of January. Lots of people make stuff but I've seen others do a specific action or go to a specific place: as long as you can document what it is you choose to do. At the end of the month, a show is organized and everyone who wants to show their work is invited to.

This year I'll be showing all of my sky swatch photos from the month of January. My awesome roommate made tiny wood sculptures every day and she'll be showing those, too.
The show will be up for an entire month... but who doesn't love an opening party! Come by and say hello if you can!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

January Field Notebook


I can already feel my relationship with the sky changing. But that was immediate- maybe not even a change but a a sudden epiphany that started all of this. More surprising, perhaps, is the way I've changed my habits to better serve the project. I began to notice early on how frequently I find myself in the same locations. I now try to find new spots, new views. Some require me to drive miles outside my beaten path; others are only paces from previous shots. I've seen more things from familiar spaces in the last month than cumulatively in the last two years.

As much as "color" and "sky" have been my companions in this endeavor, I find myself more and more aware of my relationship to light. I need enough light to accurately read the swatch. Too much diffused light and the swatch reads too dark. The angle of the sun is important, too. If I try to swatch too early or too late, the slant of the light renders it too yellow, affecting the swatch and preventing a good reading. I do battle with these limitations. I try to cheat my way around them, although it doesn't feel like cheating: we interact with the sky at all times, with all variations, not just during optimal daylight hours.

I wouldn't say I've gotten bored of solid blue sky, (there's something too overwhelmingly gorgeous about the dome of color that surrounds us to ever be "over it,") but as the project continues, I find myself yearning for challenges. Can you swatch at night? What about the colors at sunrise/sunset? The sky is so much more than "blue."

I'm going to need more swatches.


Looking Ahead

 February's challenge is The Night Sky.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The First 16 Days of 2013 in Sky Swatches

small file Sky Swatches first 16 days
(Click image to view larger on flickr.)

Lillstreet is starting to have monthly critiques of personal work. I am so excited! It’s been pretty tough keeping myself in a regular studio practice- especially since I moved to Chicago and have had to spend 36hrs a day making stuff to make money. I’ve been threatening/promising(myself) to go to grad school… but making a new body of work has been a daunting prospect. I’m hoping these meetings can provide some peer support and artistic motivation.

In preparation for our first meeting on Friday, I compiled all of my 2013 sky swatches in the hopes that it would help me gain new perspective on the project and give me some guidance as to where to go next.


The Potluck was a huge success! It was phenomenal to see other people's work! It's funny:you can work beside someone for years and yet getting to see what they make and how they make it allows you to know them so much better.  And it felt soooo good to be talking about my work. That might have been my first real critique in... five years? (Yeeeesh not okay.) I have all these ideas in my head and I want to make them aaalllllll.... I guess we'll see how much I can make time for.

The consensus seems to be, though, that I should definitely do the swatching for the whole year. Even at 5min a day... I have to admit, the prospect seems daunting. I can already see, however, how the act of doing it daily has changed (and is changing) not only my relationship with the sky but also how I plan my day. I keep finding myself scheming a new route to a familiar destination just to get a new swatch location. It could be interesting to see how a whole year of this would change the way I live in the world.

(I haven't been posting the swatches daily here but I have been posting them over at my tumblr.)