Wednesday, December 25, 2013

RuPaul X Stitch Animation, Take 2

RuStitch animation frame projection.

Where did the time go?  It's been weeks since the opening night festivities and performances at the Serving Face exhibition in Atlanta. What a beautiful and unique experience. 

RuStitch animation frame, from behind, projected.

At the Barbara Archer Gallery on December 14th, I reconnected with the other artists, viewed new work by Aubrey Longley-Cooke and watched live dance and drag performances. 

The actual RuStitch animation by Aubrey was projected on giant screens in the open gallery space and it is stunning.

Threads dividing the gallery space after the closing performance
by Lavonia Elberton.

Aubrey created two animations from the 35 x stitch frames of the 35 participating artists -- one of the front side of the finished frames and one of the back. Both are wild explosions of color and facial expressions. 

In the gallery. Frame 10 (left) by Tricia Hersey-Patrick,
and Frame 11 (right) by me.  2013.

When Aubrey first explained that each artist would work from his or her own color palette, I wondered about the fluidity of the finished piece. Well, it is so appropriate and perfect for the energy of RuPaul. 

Lavonia Elberton leading dancer in for the final performance.
(Aubrey is the tall man in the background in snakeskin.)

I was particularly moved by the closing performance of Lavonia Elberton, who was featured in her own embroidered animation, a solo piece by Aubrey.

Still from the Lavonia Elberton animation by Aubrey Longley-Cook, 2013.

Lavonia is (at the moment) a bearded drag queen and a textile artist in her own right. She stitched a RuPaul frame and created and wonderful performance art piece to close the evening, leading dancers holding balls of thread/yarn into the space. The dancers flitted about the space, dividing the gallery goers into small, intimate groups made out of triangles of thread. It was a wonderful way to create a stolen moment of intimacy with strangers, pressed as we were into each other, the thread binding us together. 

X stitch animation frames in the gallery.

I am proud to be a part of the project. Insanely proud to be a part of the embroidery as art world. To be included in the boundary-pushing creativity of a project that effortlessly entwined digital animation, live performance and community artwork. 

Me being goofy excited before leaving for the opening.

Aubrey is a special man. A special artist.

With performance artist Tricia Hersey-Patrick in front of our frames.

Now I'm hungry for more opportunities to work with other textile artists in person. Starving.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

RuPaul X Stitch Animation, Take 1

It's finally happening!!

Aubrey Longley-Cook's latest embroidery animation is premiering December 14 at the Service Face exhibition at the Barbara Archer Gallery in Atlanta. And guess who got to be a part of it?

RuStitch Grid, by 35 artists. Aubrey Longley-Cook (2013)

Me!  I stitched Frame 11.

A little background... In February of 2013, Aubrey gathered 35 artists at the Wonderroot studio in Atlanta to participate in an X stitch workshop, where each of us stitched one frame for a new animation he created. I knew it was crazy to join this -- I was in the midst of a terrible flare of pernicious anemia and it involved driving six hours, one way, to Atlanta, three times in three weeks.

Opens 12/14/13

I was so weak that I couldn't drive myself, so I wound up taking a bus for the last trip, which turned out to be a fantastically colorful and fun experience. Jamie Chalmers later told me he thought it was a bit "mental." A six hour drive is basically the length of an entire country in his neck of the woods (UK).

Frame 11, WIP 1, Olisa Corcoran (2013)

But there was no way I could pass up the opportunity to meet and work with Aubrey, an artist whose huge talent and creativity is matched only by his warmth and sense of inclusion.

With Aubrey. I love this photo because I look so
star struck! (And anemic.)

The RuPaul animation is part of his larger exhibition called Serving Face. Here is the description from the Barbara Archer Gallery:

Serving Face investigates and documents Atlanta's drag queens by combining traditional embroidery techniques and animation. Co-presented by Barbara Archer Gallery and Goat Farm's satellite location Erikson Clock, Serving Face will showcase Atlanta artist Aubrey Longley-Cook's portraits of drag queens, paired with work created by his RuPaul Cross Stitch Animation Workshop – a collaboration of 35 artists. 

Frame 11, WIP 2 (2013)

And their explanation of the term "serving face":

The term “serving face” is a drag-community expression used to describe a queen striking an intense pose. Longley-Cook's portraits offer intimate glimpses of his subjects as seen through vanity mirrors.

Frame 11, WIP 3 (2013)

I'll be in Atlanta for the opening. If you're in the area, please join us! And please look for me and introduce yourself. 

I can't wait to see the animation!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Watercolor Backgrounds, Sketches & a Bit of Self Reflection

This birthday-Thanksgiving corridor has been blissfully relaxed. I was spoiled by my family and my squeeze. We made a non-traditional, luxurious holiday dinner of shrimp scampi, rested and chillaxed.

Slanty City. Sketching on tracing paper over a
watercolor background.

In my crazy effort to live this mashed-up life as an artist, writer/blogger and full-time, biotech-industry career woman, I know that I overfill my days. I get up at five am to do CrossFit bootcamp and I jog on my off days. It's like I'm racing to fit it all in.

Painting small watercolor backgrounds for new embroideries.

And I think I know why. I spent so many years at the mercy of my insecurities, unable to take the leap to focus on my artwork. Too unsure of my abilities to attempt to write about art. I feel like I'm making up for lost time. I want more time, more life.

Bull City Xmas. Thinking about how to turn this
Hardscrabble Wondrous image into a holiday card.

But this pace takes its toll on me. I've felt out of gas lately. Part of it is a chronic problem with pernicious anemia that is out of whack at the moment. But part of it is that I've probably taken on too much. That's why this little break has been so restorative. I've slept for 11-12 hours every night. I feel like I'm slowly regaining my energy.

Relaxing painting, with my sketchbook nearby.

I'm very excited about my upcoming Inspired to Stitch column, coming out on Tuesday on Mr X Stitch. Please check into the site to read my interview with an edgy, wildly talented artist from New England.

My monthly artist interview for Mr X Stitch runs on the first Tuesday.

For now, I'm exploring a new piece I'm calling Slanty City, that emerged from my sketchbook. And I'm  luxuriating in rest. So luscious.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Slow WIP & Screw You!

S l o w l y stitching on my Chained Stones piece.

Detail from Chained Stones. Pearl cotton and merino wool
on a watercolor.

Quietly enjoying living my life.

Layering chain stitches.

BUT, I'm not thrilled about getting older. This birthday is bothering me. I'm physically stronger than I have been in years. I have great friends, a wonderful family and a fantastic man in my life. I'm living more fully and with more creativity than I have in years. And people tell me I look reasonably young. So, what's the problem?

With my brother Joe Corcoran, Catskill Game Farm. A long ass time ago.

It's the freaking number. I don't like it! It doesn't feel like me. So, screw the number!

Cooking selfie.

And happy birthday to me, mofos! 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Inspired to Stitch for Nov 2013 -- Personal Geography

If you haven't seen my latest Inspired to Stitch column on Mr X Stitch, please check it out.

I decided to do something a little different for November. I asked several textile artists the same question and collected their responses into a "round-up," with photos of their work. Think of it as a mini gallery of wildly different pieces on the same theme. In this case, "personal geography."

Screen capture of Mark Bieraugel's beautiful work.

The column includes work by Mark Bieraugel, Megham Willis, Annet Spitteler, Jamie Chalmers, Kathryn Simmons and Olisa Corcoran (ahem, me.)

I'm very excited about the Inspired to Stitch column for December. The featured artist is a secret... Look for it on December 3rd!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

WIP: One Stitch at a Time

Experimenting with a single stitch on my current watercolor piece, Chained Stones.

Work in progress.

It's all chain stitch. I'm using size 5 pearl cotton for all of the colors except black, which is Vineyard Merino wool.  Working with the wool is new for me -- it's usually used for crewel work. I love the stretch.

Detail of Chained Stones

Keeping the color palette simple. For me, anyway.

The back looks like fault lines to me.

I may include other stitches in the piece eventually, but for now, it's just the chain.

Lots of stitches to add.
Looping here and there.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

"I still don't understand"

Last weekend, and only because I was asked, I attempted to describe my process of embroidering into watercolor paintings to the white-haired proprietress of a local needlepoint store. 

Honeycomb Rings, 2013.

She just blinked at me, behind a thinly disguised veil of mistrust, and said,"I don't understand."

WIP: Chain Stitch Stones.

Because I'm an idiot, I kept trying to explain what I planned to use the lush wool threads I was purchasing. I even showed her photos of my work on my phone. As if that would help.

Measures 8 x 8 inches, plus matte and frame.

Hand over her mouth, she replied in a lavishly dramatic whisper, "I still don't understand."

Detail, Honeycomb Rings, 2013.

As if it was my problem and I had to solve it.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Art Over the Atlantic, Part 2

Egads, I hit the swapping jackpot in the latest Phat Quarter Swap.

Full Fathom Five, 2013, by Bridgeen Gillespie.

Check out this gorgeous artwork I received from artist Bridgeen Gillespie. The theme for this swap was simply the number five, which I selected to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the Mr X Stitch web site.

A fellow poetry enthusiast, she took inspiration from Ariel's Song from The Tempest.

Side view. Photo by Bridgeen Gillespie.

Full fathom five thy father lies;

Of his bones are coral made;

Those are pearls that were his eyes;

Nothing of him that doth fade,

But doth suffer a sea-change

Into something rich and strange.

An illustrator, fabric designer and all-around creative goddess, Bridgeen lives in Northern Ireland and is the owner/director of the design company Cherry and Cinnamon.

I adore the texture of the layered fabric and the wrapped coral.
Photo by Bridgeen Gillespie.

As you can see, her work is utterly unique. For instance, I've admired the way she creates depth of texture with the layered, raw edged fabric and the rich, wrapped coral. (You can read about her process for the piece here on her blog.)

Images of Ireland by Bridgeen Gillespie.

As a phrase,"full fathom five" means that something below five fathoms of water. That is, drowned. Lost to sea. I see oceanic inspiration in Bridgeen's work, most obviously in this gorgeous post card from her "Images of Ireland" collection that accompanied Full Fathom Five on its journey across the Atlantic to me.

Stitched Selfie by Bridgeen Gillespie, from her website.

Indeed, the sea is "rich and strange." As is so much of Bridgeen's artwork. As is so much that I find beautiful in this world.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Art over the Atlantic, Part 1

Honeycomb Five, 2013. 

Making art and exploring your creativity can be surprising. When 2013 started, I had no idea that I would be so taken with stitching into watercolors on heavy weight paper. Now I'm totally fascinated by this combination and I can see myself exploring and layering the two mediums for a long time to come.

Honeycomb Five recently made its harrowing journey to the U.K. 

Here is the piece I made for the fabulously talented Sophie Tomlinson for the most recent Phat Quarter Swap for Mr X Stitch. The theme of this swap was "five," to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the Mr X Stitch website and community.

Isle of Wight, 2012. Sophie Tomlinson.

I've been hosting the Phat Quarter swaps for about a year. Sophie made on of my all time favorite pieces, the Isle of Wight, which I received as part of the 1970s-themed swap.

WIP, Honeycomb 5.

I'm beyond pleased (and relieved) that Sophie likes the piece I made for her. I so admire her work... it was a little scary to make something for her.

Thank you for all of the encouragement and kind comments and emails when I confessed my blueness last week. I'm not sure what was going on, but things are much improved. Sunshine helps.

Sketching and painting new images to stitch.

Back to my creative life. I would may start adding new textures and imagery onto the watercolor pieces. In particular, I'd like explore layering in image transfers. But for now, more stitching and experimenting with these two elements.

My boyfriend loves apple cider donuts, so I baked him this
apple cider donut cake. Yum! Not art, but creative, edible love.

Next, I'll show you the amazing piece I received from Bridgeen Gillespie (a.k.a. the creative goddess behind Cherry & Cinnamon) that crossed the Atlantic to find me. It's amazing!

Sunday, October 13, 2013


From my back porch. Buh Honeycomb, 2013.

Feeling a little meh these days. A little more isolated and alone than usual. Fighting the blues.

Buh Watercolor, 2013. Watercolor, paper, hand embroidery.

I finished another watercolor and stitching piece. This one with more muted colors. I like the way you can see the texture of the work when there are fewer colors to take in. It's a little more stripped down.

The limited color palette lets me see more of the texture.

The blues slow me down.

Work on progress.

But I'll rally.