June 18, 2015

New Work – In Dreams I Learned to Swim

In Dreams I Learned to Swim, by Sue Reno
At last, the reveal of my latest work, In Dreams I Learned to SwimIn Dreams I Learned to Swim, by Sue Reno, detail 1
It’s a large quilt, at 60” high x 80” wide, so it has a lot of presence when seen in person.  For anyone living or traveling near Harrisburg, PA this summer, you can see it in a marvelous setting at the State Museum of Pennsylvania.  It’s part of the prestigious Art of the State exhibit, opening on June 28th and running through September 13th.    It’s an all-media show, and I’m very pleased to be a part of it again this year.
In Dreams I Learned to Swim, by Sue Reno, detail 2
This work incorporates needlefelting with silk and wool on a separate, attached panel.In Dreams I Learned to Swim, by Sue Reno, detail 3
I made collagraph plates and printed them in a variety of colorways for the surrounding quilt.In Dreams I Learned to Swim, by Sue Reno, detail 4
The borders are also handpainted, and the entire work is heavily stitched to add texture and movement.In Dreams I Learned to Swim, by Sue Reno, detail 5
I hope you have enjoyed following along as I detailed this work in progress—you can review it by clicking “In Dreams I Learned to Swim” on the right sidebar, or by clicking here.

As always, thank you for reading and commenting.

June 17, 2015

Work in Progress – In Dreams I Learned to Swim, update 4

In Dreams I Learned to Swim, by Sue Reno, Work in Progress, Image 13
After putting together the quilt top, I had some fun making the backing.  I buy white cotton sateen by the bolt, as I like heft and the feel of it.In Dreams I Learned to Swim, by Sue Reno, Work in Progress, Image 14
I seamed a big piece of it, then laid it down on a tarp outside.  I flung paint around in a whirlpool design, then hit it with the hose.In Dreams I Learned to Swim, by Sue Reno, Work in Progress, Image 15
As it dried in the sun, the paint migrated and blended in marvelous patterns.  It’s a small indulgence, as the back will not generally been seen in an art quilt, but it made me happy while I was layering, basting, and quilting it.  It’s a huge quilt, so there was a lot of quilting and it took a considerable amount of time.  I break it down into sections and and work from the inside out to the borders, doing it all on a home sewing machine (as opposed to a larger, longarm machine).  I enjoy the process and find it transformative.

Up next – the big reveal!

June 16, 2015

Work in Progress – In Dreams I Learned to Swim, update 3

In Dreams I Learned to Swim, by Sue Reno, Work in Progress, Image 8
I used my collagraph plates and the large Gelli plate to make prints onto cotton sateen in a variety of colorways.  I hadn’t particularly planned for it to be this vibrant, but that’s how it worked out as I went along.In Dreams I Learned to Swim, by Sue Reno, Work in Progress, Image 9
As I spent time arranging and rearranging the prints on the design wall, I spent a lot of time working out the compositional aspects of it all.   I spent even more time working out my motivation for making this work, as that’s the truly important part.  It’s vital for me to know what it is I’m expressing; it’s not just a design exercise.

In Dreams I Learned to Swim, by Sue Reno, Work in Progress, Image 10

The story goes like this:  when I was a girl, I never learned to swim.  It was a not a particularly valued skill in my family, and was not a part of the cultural expectations and narrative I was being raised to fulfill.  I learned as a young adult, but I am a bit awkward at it, and have to limit myself to swimming in very safe situations.  It’s a minor thing, really, in the grand scheme of life’s rich tapestry, but I suppose on some level I feel the sting of a missed opportunity, for swimming began to enter my dreams about the River.In Dreams I Learned to Swim, by Sue Reno, Work in Progress, Image 11
Swimming in the Susquehanna can be dangerous for the strongest and most experienced of athletes.  Despite its often calm surface appearance, it is riddled with tricky undercurrents.  But in my dreams I a glide powerfully along, riding out the currents and admiring the landscape, the master of all I survey.
In Dreams I Learned to Swim, by Sue Reno, Work in Progress, Image 12
It’s a large concept, and needed a large canvas to fully express it.  After settling on the arrangement of the prints, I hand painted and printed more fabrics, including silk noil, to extend the narrative.

June 15, 2015

Work in Progress – In Dreams I Learned to Swim, Update 2

In Dreams I Learned to Swim, by Sue Reno, Work in Progress, Image 4

While I was working on the needlefelted center panel, I was also devising the prints that would make up the supporting quilt.  I gathered a lot of bits and pieces and glued them onto mat board to make collagraph plates.  In Dreams I Learned to Swim, by Sue Reno, Work in Progress, Image 5

My main focus for the plates was to capture the movement of the Susquehanna River through the surrounding landscape of wooded hills and farmland. In Dreams I Learned to Swim, by Sue Reno, Work in Progress, Image 6

Next I layered the felted panel with batting and a thin backing, and did a lot of freemotion quilting on it, to add further definition and movement.  On top of that I added some wisps of Angelina fiber and felted them down, to add shimmer where appropriate.  In Dreams I Learned to Swim, by Sue Reno, Work in Progress, Image 7 And here is the back at this point.

June 14, 2015

New Work in Progress – In Dreams I Learned to Swim


 In Dreams I Learned to Swim, by Sue Reno, Work in Progress, Image 1
I’ve got a new addition to my River Series.  It began, once again, as an adventure in needlefelting.  The center portion of the panel is comprised of lots of wool roving, along with slivers and scraps of wool and silk.  In Dreams I Learned to Swim, by Sue Reno, Work in Progress, Image 2
Surrounding the river are segments of silk and wool fabrics, some of which I’ve had for a long time.  I was stalled and had this hanging on the design wall for weeks, until I hacked out the pink silk print from an old skirt, and then the whole design came alive. The bits of purple print were cut from a silk scarf I brought back from India in the 70’s.  It felt good to have found just the right moment and project to finally use it.  After the fabrics were laid down and felted to the base, I added more roving and couched threads to add definition.In Dreams I Learned to Swim, by Sue Reno, Work in Progress, Image 3
Above is the view of the back of the panel at this stage, which is always interesting.

More to come.  And as always, thanks for reading and commenting.

Jack in the Pulpit Acceptance at AQS Grand Rapids

SueReno_JackInThePulpit
I am happy to announce that Jack in the Pulpit has been accepted for the AQS Quiltweek exhibit in Grand Rapids, Michigan,  August 12 ‐ 15, 2015, at DeVos Place Convention Center.
SueReno_JackInThePulpitDetail1
This large and intricate art quilt was previously at the AQS Quiltweek in Lancaster, PA, where it won an award.  See my previous blog post here.SueReno_JackInThePulpitDetail3
I’m grateful to the AQS organization and the individuals involved in making my work, and the art form at large, so accessible to the public.

June 11, 2015

Kousa Dogwood – Work in Progress Update 3

Sue Reno, Kousa Dogwood, Work In Progress, Image 9
I’ve been experimenting again with Jacquard Solar Fast as a printmaking medium.  I worked with it last year, making prints of my Kousa dogwood.  (You can read about it here.)  A few months ago I got a new supply of the product (see disclaimer below), and have been waiting until the weather and the garden were both cooperative to try it out.
 
In this set of pictures I’m working with the color Red, which comes out of the bottle as a medium pink tone.  It’s a new formulation, and does not have the ammonia odor of the product I used last year—in fact, it had no discernible odor at all.  I used a sponge brush to spread it on pfd (prepared for dyeing) cotton broadcloth.  I arranged a flowering branch from my Kousa on it, and held it in place with a few strategic small pins.
Sue Reno, Kousa Dogwood, Work In Progress, Image 10
Above is the print as it was being exposed to sunlight, under a sheet of glass.  It was a bright, sunny day, and I used an exposure of about 15 minutes, which worked out well.  I used too much product, probably because I am accustomed to slathering a certain amount of paint when I make heliographic prints, and had a bit of condensation form under the glass.  The resultant minor splotchiness in the solid areas of the print bothers me not a jot, as I feel like the variation adds interest.  As I continued to make more prints I used less product, followed the instructions (ahem) and blotted away any excess.Sue Reno, Kousa Dogwood, Work In Progress, Image 11
Above is the print after exposure, after removing the branch, and before washing.  Solar Fast needs to be washed out completely, so that the areas that were not masked do not develop color later.  Directions for all of this can be found on the Jacquard website.  Below is the finished print.  I’m very happy with it.Sue Reno, Kousa Dogwood, Work In Progress, Image 12
Here is a similar print made with the color Purple.  All of the colors I’ve tried have been just excellent, very rich and vibrant.  The other aspect I really appreciate about Solar Fast is the ability to feather it out around the edges.  I really like the effect and anticipate leaving some of the brush work visible when I later crop and stitch the print.Sue Reno, Kousa Dogwood, Work In Progress, Image 13 I had a fun afternoon of printmaking, and am thinking about other ways to use this process and this product.  I hope to bump this Kousa quilt up a bit further in the queue awaiting my attention.  The prints are wonderful and deserve to be showcased.

Disclaimer:  A Jacquard representative contacted me and generously offered to supply me with some samples of Solar Fast to experiment with.  I accepted the offer, with no strings attached.  Aside from the product I received no compensation, and my experiments and opinions are my own. 

April 17, 2015

In Dreams I Learned to Swim acceptance for Art of the State

I am very happy to announce that my latest work, In Dreams I Learned to Swim, has been accepted for Art of the State: Pennsylvania 2015.

This is a prestigious all media exhibit held at the State Museum of Pennsylvania, in Harrisburg.  There were 128 works accepted from over 1600 entries, an acceptance rate of about 8%.  I've had work in previous exhibits—In 2013 my Silk Mill #3 won the purchase award—but some years my entry has been declined, so I am thrilled to be included this time around.  The quality of the exhibit is always very high.

The opening reception is on June 28th, and the exhibit runs through September 13th.

I’m also delighted because the gallery space in the Museum is excellent; spacious, well designed, and well lit.  This is a very large quilt, so I am limited in finding suitable venues, and the museum is ideal for its display.

As to the quilt itself, unusually for me, I don’t yet have it online.  My personal life has been very full lately—all good!—and this is one of the tasks that slipped through the cracks.  It’s a quilt with a good story, both in its conception and it’s execution.  So rather than reveal it now, I’m going to post it as a work-in-progress as I usually do.  For today I will leave you with this detail shot:

In Dreams I Learned to Swim, detail 2, by Sue Reno

It’s part of my ongoing series The River.

As always, thanks for reading and commenting, and stay tuned for the story behind In Dreams I Learned to Swim.