So apparently these are the best nine images on my Instagram account for 2016. I guess that’s one way of looking back on the year.
To be perfectly honest though, I’m glad to see the back of 2016. There are so many things that can’t be shared via a pretty picture (or that we choose not to share!). What stands out for me when I look back is an overactive mind frustrated by an ‘under active’ body. Much of my focus this year went to dealing with severe adrenal fatigue and related complications. A major requirement was to relax more and reduce stress. For someone who has always thrived on being busy with many different things, this is challenging!
And yet there where still so many good things in this past year! God carried us all through another year. I am deeply thankful that He gave me a husband who encouraged me through the tough times and helped me to do the things that were good for me. He was patient through all the frustrating moments, as he experienced me fighting against the challenges placed on my path. I was also blessed with many very dear friends who helped to carry me through this year – putting up with my frustrations, providing listening ears and encouraging me along the way.
As far as my artmaking goes, highlights from this year include making botanically inspired art quilts with my daughter Hannah’s class, the annual Armadale Hills Arts Trail, participating in the Illustrating Children’s Books workshop, and creating a very special custom childhood textile portrait.
I have no idea what 2017 will hold. If God allows it, I plan to teach at the Quilt Symposium in Christchurch in October (more details will follow in a separate post. Other than that, I hope that there will be faith and health and quality family time and faith-building relationships and of course, drawing and stitching and creating in between it all! And I especially hope and pray that it can all be done to God’s glory!
Thank you so much to all of you who have shared in my journey here over the past year. The fact that you take the time to read, comment and enjoy means so much to me. May God bless you richly in 2017!
I post more regular little snippets of my art making journey over on Instagram. If you're on Instagram too, come and join me! Here are some posts from July.
“Another little person in the making. I now hand-piece all the faces instead of machine-stitching them. I'm much happier with the results, and the process is also less stressful.”
“A new blossom quilt… (There's a stack of completed childhood quilts waiting to be photographed and shared – after the school holidays – for now, I'm hiding out in the studio while the kids fend for themselves for lunch. “
“Hmmm… A little more psychedelic than I was intending, but I'll refrain from forming a final opinion until it's companion artworks are completed… #ilovestayathomedays “
“Hooray, the show can continue! I ran out of this fabric several weeks ago, and it's been holding up my quilt making progress. #happymailday #cottonlinenblend”
“The final seam.”
“The big school holiday wish from my boys was to go to the skate park. So here we are. Jason is munching on crackers, and I am sorting through my calendar/to-do lists etc, trying no to see all the near-accidents. I see outings like this as the perfect opportunity to regroup and rethink the projects I'm working on at home. #lifeasamother #lifeasanartist “
“Another day, another delivery. So many incoming business-related packages in recent weeks. So blessed to be allowed to undertake this creative adventure that is Ruth de Vos: Textile Art! This time, a set of 50 cards featuring images of my art making process. Thanks @origrami! These will be on display here for the @armadalehillsartstrail coming soon. #littlehelpers “
I'm on Instagram as @ruthdevostextileart. Come and say hello over there!
And stay tuned for some brand new artworks. All being well, I'll post them here tomorrow.
Earlier this year, Hannah's teacher broached the idea of my 'teaching' their year 6 class a textile-based project for Design and Technology. I loved the idea of introducing these young people to the work I love so much, and I also welcome opportunities to spend time in class with my children and their peers. Deciding on a suitable project was a bit of a challenge, though. I was keen to incorporate dyeing, because it's such a fun way to learn more about colour. Learning to use a sewing machine was also going to be very relevant to the Technology component of the subject. And I wanted the project to reflect my work as an artist too, because that's what I know best. So we settle on making little art quilts, inspired by leaves/seeds/branches.
To me, it was important to work through the design process, beginning with sketching the plant material to familiarise ourselves with it.
From there we talked about our compositions. Students had the option of making something more abstract or more realistic, as long as they used their plant drawings as their starting points. We talked about colour choices too. I would have loved to devote more time to working through composition and talking about colour, but it all got rather busy!
Once our compositions were sorted my we spent a lesson dyeing fabric. In groups of three or four, we dyed colour runs around (red to yellow, yellow to blue, blue to red) and across (yellow to purple, red to green, blue to orange) the colour wheel. As the students were busy dyeing, I came around and diluted some colours with water, and darkened others with black dye, so that we could see those effects as well.
The little quilts were made by fusing with vliesofix, so, essentially appliqué. We talked about colour choices, and I encourage the students to select a background fabric and six other colours including the following: a main colour, in light and dark; a light neutral colour and a dark neutral colour, and two other colours, preferably at least one brighter one. In the excitement of selecting colours, these instructions got a little neglected! I ironed vliesofix on to the chosen fabrics at home, so that at the following lesson, each student had a set of six fabrics backed in vliesofix, ready to start cutting.
We worked from our to-scale drawings, tracing elements of the design onto tracing paper, and then cutting them out of fabric. This proved to be quite laborious, and we may have been better off not worrying so much about our 'pattern' and cutting more 'free style'.
We persevered, though, and it was exciting to iron all the pieces into place on the background, and trim the design into shape. Even more exciting was learning how to use the sewing machines. I am super thankful for the other class mum who came and manned the sewing machines through three intense lessons!
The class teacher participated in the project too, making his own artwork, and using a sewing machine (and iron – take note, Mrs B) for the first time. What a great opportunity for the kids to see in action that we can always keep learning! His piece is the wattle quilt at the end of this post, and demonstrates colour selection as I had intended it to happen.
Didn't they all do a great job!?
And I also have to say, hats off to school teachers! This one lesson a week left me exhausted! I don't think I could do this full time!
(c) Ruth de Vos 2016
Here is my second exploration piece (see here for the first one). In this piece I was playing with using paint in the background for an extra splurge of colour. I quite like the painterly effect combined with the piecing.
Oh, and I also experimented with quilting from the back of the artwork, using thick embroidery thread on the sewing machine bobbin (those red flowers). I’d love to do more of this in my larger artworks, but need to play with the process a bit more. I broke six needles sewing these flowers, and I can’t afford that rate of needle consumption on a larger quilt! When I asked about this on Facebook, I received many suggestions (thank you so much!). I’ve tried a few of those, without much improvement. My next step is to try a different thread in the bobbin. I love this red one, but it may be too thick or too ‘something’ for this process.
P.S. No, those edges are not straight or perpendicular – training myself to loosen up a little
(c) Ruth de Vos 2016
My mind has been extra busy over the past couple of months, working through potential new directions for my artwork, and how to get the general feeling and mood that I see in my mind, out into fabric. So I've committed to working on a series of pieces that are purely experimental. They are not for sale, so there is no pressure to make them meet a certain standard. They'll give me the opportunity to try out a few different things in a small scale before committing to a larger, more complex artwork.
This is the first piece in this series. In this one, I painted some simple images over pieced fabric. I've previously screen-printed over pieced fabric, but that can be a bit hit-and-miss, as the paint tends to ooze under the screen a bit, where the seams are. Painting with a brush, like I've done in this piece, avoids that problem, although it doesn't give the same crisp image that you get with screen-printing.