Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I've been fabric painting...

So this is gel glue. I was told that it can be used as a resist. Thank you Susan!

I tried drawing little patterns that I am used to.

Here, on that bottom row, I held the glue bottle way up high above the fabric and let it wiggle back and forth in those fascinating lines that honey and gel glue make when gravity or air or something has its silly way with goop.

Sometimes when I sew fabric layers together and my intent is to make a rather stiff quilt, I have used this pattern ... I think that I saw it once called stippling...?

Anyway, these spirals and floweries are all one continuous line. You can imagine how helpful that might be when free machine sewing.

And then,
Because the drawing possibilities of the glue were working out so well,
I tried writing!
Which worked.


The "e" here and there would fill in.

One has to use one's very best cursive writing...

And then I painted!

This fabric is one of those white on white patterns - it looks a little gravelly beneath the blue.

But oh my! It turned out quite nicely.

Check out how the words did...

Hmmm... now where shall they go?

Stay tuned.
I have a plan.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Re: The Guantanamo Portrait Show

Adil's picture doesn't show up all that well on the computer. If you'd like to see the real thing it will be at the Lincoln Street Center, Rockland, Maine at the end of the month. Write to me if you want the specifics.

Amnesty Portrait is done!!

Oh! My!

I feel grateful, as I often do when I finish a piece, but even more so this time as this piece was a big challenge intellectually and in technique, as well as the usual juggling of time, and space, and inclination to get everything done.

All summer the plan for this portrait eluded my conscious thought, and I worried a bit. I also have this habit of coming through under extensive pressure of fiercely immanent deadlines, so I wasn't too, too worried ... still, committing to have a piece of artwork and having no idea what would be in the space above my nameplate on the wall was a bit intimidating.

Well, I started doing research on my ... my guy, my sitter, my Guantanamo detainee, Adil Abdul Hakim, and I learned that, short version: he is a Chinese Muslim, was escaping persecution in China by going to Afghanistan in 2001, when all hell broke loose in New York, and was captured by the United States as he was trying to get out to Pakistan, and brought to Guantanamo. For four years. And then released because the U.S. decided that he and his companions were not actually terrorists after all. (Not like there was a trial or anything.) Anyway, having been persecuted in China, for being a Muslim essentially, he and the other men have now moved to Albania and are trying to make a new home there.

It was the story of his being kicked out, and wrongfully judged, and moving to a new land, a new culture, a new language that finally made me realize why I had picked this man's profile way back in the spring.

Long story, but suffice to say: I can relate.

I sew. I don't know how I decided to paint this portrait ... I had this little fluttering idea about collage and handpainted backgrounds in artist's journals that I had been seeing in art books here and there.

I jumped.

A grid. One of those images that either makes my breath catch or my heart pound. I'd use a grid. An image of a house/home. Images of where Adil had been on his journey. Some of the desert colored ochre that had so fascinated me, and I'd used in the art quilts that I had done about this war back in 2003. XinJiang Province in China is full of desert land. Words. It was clear to me that moving around like that has some desperate questions with panic-y, frantic ears hardly able to hear the answers. The words of the answers came, just as they always do when I remember to pray the questions: quietly, softly, surely. I typed them all out. I half traced, half drew Adil's portrait. I got out my acrylic gel medium and practiced what I had read about in books, techniques that again, either made my breath stop or my heart pound, and I started to paint ... collage ... glue.

And, I believe, it worked.
Hmmm.. the words didn't come through. Starting at the upper left and circling clockwise:

"Where do you go when they kick you out?
Say your prayers so that they have meaning for you.
What if someone gave your spirit a bad name?
We are the God of our understanding.
What if the only home available is in a different language?
Find beauty.
What do you so when you are released?
Have compassion for yourself.
Who are you?"

So. Have a good day.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Amnesty International Portraits Show

Well, it is time to get to work.

Two years ago I participated in our local Amnesty International group's Portrait Show, and this month they are hosting another show. I'm in. The show is about detainees at Guantanamo. My person is Adil Abdul Hakim, who is a Chinese Muslim now living in Albania after four years in Guantanamo. It is a long, fascinating story that Human Rights Watches all over the world have been taking care to note. The thing is the Chinese government is also apparently likely to put him in jail, and so he, and some other Muslim Chinese men with China/Guantanamo histories have moved to Albania.

The thing that strikes me is this man's move from homelessness to home - something that resonates a chord in me.

And so:

(For some reason I am painting this time...)

Here goes:
The piece will be 24" x 24". In this photo I had just painted the canvas. This computer isn't showing the color quite correctly... the blues are soft, the whites are warm. I am enjoying them immensely. I added all the colors at once in preparation for the next step.
In this photo I am in the process of pouncing the wet paint with a rolled and twisted pad of paper towel. The colors blends and mixed perfectly. I was delighted.
Here I am painting the repetitive shapes with primer. They will lay on top of the painting in a grid. You'll see that there is a bit of texture and wrinkle to the "house".
This is the ripped tissue paper squares that I am painting into the surface.Can you see it? All this white on white...I set it all out to dry and in my next post I will show you the houses with some color and collage.