the wait is over

After much postponing, dithering, avoiding, I have launched a new version of my website. I think of it as BJ Parady 2.0.

Right now it's quite simple. No Flash, no music. That's a deliberate decision--I want the site to be about the art, not about how well I can--or cannot--write html. The navigation may be a little cluncky, but you can easily get about in the site.

Except for the front page, I went with a white background--again because of the art. It just looks crisper and better against pure white.

At the moment there are only 16 pieces of art on there--at least 12 of which have never been on my site before. In time, I will be adding more older work. But for now it is simply a portfolio of where I am at this moment in time as an artist.

That is all.


doing the mundane...

Haven't made any art this week. Instead, I've been sitting in front of my laptop, redoing my website. I think of it as version 2.0, a total revamp. Almost from scratch--although I had to go back to the original to jog my memory in regards to html. But I'm back in the swing, should be up in a couple of days--I'll have a big drum roll out here.

I've been rethinking the whole thing--decided I wanted something simpler, more of a portfolio than a catalog of every piece I've ever made. For now it will just have a few of my best pieces. In time, I'll add others.

But it feels good to wipe the slate clean and start anew--maybe it has something to do with the change in seasons. The view out my windows is undergoing its seasonal change--from a completely secluded backyard to one where I can see 13 of my neighbors' houses. This too shall pass.

Everyone talks about spring cleaning. But fall cleaning is a good thing, too.

That is all.


testing, testing

I have now made several panels for a project I have in mind, using the transfer method I've talked about before in this blog. I found a woven polyester that seems to work nicely at JoAnn's; it's not too shiny and has some substance to it.

So the next step would be adding some stitching to the pieces, probably by machine. But before that, I wanted to do a test sample--for once erring on the side of caution. So I did, and here it is:

It's actually a kind of a repeat image for me, I've done the same thing with hand dyed fabric pieced together, and with watercolor on paper. Each one is slightly different, but I do repeat myself.

That's ok, though. The scientist in me knows that it's better to just change one variable at a time in order to truly have meaningful results. The results here are that yes, I can pretty much stitch this as I'm used to, and thus I'm able to predict what the final piece will look like.

If I don't change my mind along the way. This piece, by the way, is for sale for $75, postage paid, unframed. It measures a little under 11x14 inches.

That is all.


disperse away

My work (play) with disperse transfer dyes continues.I've been refining my process, trying to make larger pieces with them by tiling and overlapping images. And making more and more papers:

By the way, turns out this is the perfect use for an old vinyl shower curtain. And I've been using the old sheets I started using in a workshop as table protection; they keep looking better and better.

I'm doing this because I don't know of another way to get this kind of look on fabric:

Or this:

There's depth and interest in the images, the hand of the fabric remains the same, the colors are unmuddied. It's my current favorite technique--until the next one enchants me...

That is all.


Change of Pace

Maybe I'm in an avoidance mode. Avoiding the final big piece of my gall series (final if only because there's only one big piece of the original silk left). But I needed a change of pace.

So back to the transfer dyes I went. One of my goals is to put together enough pieces for a show based only on transfer dyed pieces. To do this, I need more papers--they only make 5-7 prints each on average.

So yesterday I mixed up the thickener--it takes around a day to fully hydrate the powder. This morning I mixed up some dye solutions, and this afternoon I painted papers.

What fun. Not as much fun as doing it with Ann, but fun enough on a dreary cold day. I rolled the dyes on, I brushed them on, I plopped them on with a spoon. The thickener makes them behave kind of like fingerpaint--they move around, hold a line. I got swirls and interesting lines and color blendings. Today I only used yellow, orange, blue, and turquoise. The papers look really promising:

But they need to dry until tomorrow--I've learned the lesson of trying to iron them too soon. Maybe they'll work, maybe they won't. It doesn't matter a lot, because I have enough dye left to play again.

That is all.


repetition with variation

I've taken a lot of watercolor classes over the years--it's where I've gotten most of my 'art' training. One of the multi-day ones covered a lot about the principles of design, principles that I strive to follow in my fiber work.

One is sometimes called variation/alteration. It boils down to repeating a shape, a line, a color throughout the piece--but never in exactly the same way. The size or length varies, the color shifts a bit, the space between the lines varies. All of these tie the work together at the same time they make it more interesting--interesting meaning engaging the viewer for a longer piece of time.

As I mentioned in my last post, I've added some dark lines to a piece I'm currently working on. As I was stitching the last three lines in place, I suddenly discovered that I had mimicked the underlying yellow shapes perfectly--a pattern of 3,1,5,3,3. The lines look different--the yellow ones are fat and short, the dark teal ones are thin and long, so there is variation but there is also repetition. I had done what I was supposed to do unconsciously.

That's a good thing, I think--it means the concepts I have studied have finally started to take root in my brain.

And in other news, I am going to be a part of a show in Decatur, Illinois, in March 2010--details at a later date. Two groups of which I am a part have new stuff on their websites: Fiber Artists Coalition and the Fiber Art Alliance. Check out the group blog of FAC for insights into how fiber artists work. Sometimes I chafe at having to live with group decisions, but all in all it's good to be involved with like minded artists.

That is all.


can't stop stitching....

Now that I've hand quilted the whole piece--all 2 square feet of it or so--I'm finding that it isn't enough. That's right, I need more hand stitching. Most of this decision was made for composition reasons, redirecting the way the viewer's eye travels through the piece, repeating some lines, increasing the tonal contrast range. I'm couching on a dark thread:

Just through the process of making art over and over, I have developed some common symbols in my work. These lines, sometimes shorter, sometimes horizontal, appear over and over in recent pieces. They come in groups of threes or fives or one, or sevens--always odd numbers--unevenly spaced, with disparate spaces between the sets. I started it as a mimic of writing, conveying a human touch without using actual letters or words. Let the viewer write the story, whatever inspired me colors my work but not another's interpretation.

So when I knew that darker lines were needed here, I knew where to go--having a practiced vocabulary to draw from made the decision easy.

That is all.



I came to fiber art via traditional quilting. Made several bed quilts, including a couple of king sized ones. Hand quilted them all--got that hand stitch down to tiny, even lines. Messed up my carpal tunnels doing it, but I got it the 'correct' way.

When I discovered that free motion machine quilting existed, I embraced it enthusiastically. Never looked back. Of course, at the same time, I also started making pieces for the wall, eventually making art (not that there's anything wrong with craft) work. Didn't look back.

But slowly, more rapidly the last few months, I've been drawn back to hand stitches. Admittedly not the teeny even stitches of yore, but the look of hand stitches on the surface has been appearing more and more in my art.

And now, today, there's this:

Not only hand stitches, but they're actually holding 3 layers together, so technically they're quilting stitches. I tried some machine stitching on this piece, hated it and ripped it out. Tried quilting in a straight line, nope. But these random big stitches (we're talking maybe 2 to an inch) are doing the trick. So I'm coming full circle.

Well, almost. I'm sure the quilt police would disagree, but it is three layers held together by thread. A few years ago, not sure I would have thought I would be hand stitching again. But I have to do what the piece needs--listen to the inner artist and jump in.

That is all.