Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Verdict is In

People like it!

Panorama taken February 28th.

I was overjoyed to be surrounded by so much creative energy and excitement last night at the opening.

All the artists except K.C. were there (she had a new grandchild to meet!). Also, the dancers performed twice, and were such a joy to watch. There were 5 listed on the flyer, and 4 who performed, so I'm not sure who didn't make it from the troupe.

Dancers from Off Point - Patrick Russel, Michelle Wilson Davis, Tracy Carboneau, Erica Castro and Scott Trumbo. Artwork at left by KC Madson. Artwork at right by Michelle Allen.

There was constant activity and conversation - never a dull moment for myself, or any of the artists. Many more people than I expected to come, did. I received so much positive feedback from friends, family and strangers. I was really blown away with the response to my art.

"Dancing with Nature" by Sharon Svec

I was also excited about the encouragement people gave me to continue with this style. It is the only thing I've done in a very long time that I could see myself enjoying for a while... and to hear other people as excited about it was affirmation for me to continue. Now, it would be a matter of balancing that with a new baby!

One last note about process: If planning to hang things from sticks - try to use cured wood because fresh wood booooowwwwws.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Opening up the Process

The opening last month was postponed due to weather. This Friday, March 7th is the new and improved opening day of the show! I'll be there from about 5-8 and hope that those of you who can make it will stop in for a variety of local talent and a little snack.

Secondly, a few folks have mentioned how nice it would be to see images of the entire process. I wish had an image of every single step, but there were a few steps that I had to be ever-present with and could not also be photographing. Also, while most of the artists really appreciated the lovely daylight in the VOCA space, I had to work at night for the benefit of the product and of my schedule. That said, there was rarely another soul around to snap a photo when I could not. Regardless, I've included here the images that I do have, and will try to include some descriptive details.

Many months ago, I was inspired by this image. At the same time, I was thinking a lot about fabric, sheets, and oriental wall hangings. I stencil spray painted a bed sheet with table lace and projected this image on top of it. I spent an incredible amount of time trying to figure out how to merge the image with the lace stencil (sans overhead projector). I contacted printers, considered screen-printing, even painting directly on the fabric. I wasn't satisfied with any of the options. Then Karen Madsen turned me on to Inkodye, and invited me to Art Lab.

I would have proceeded with the same concept, except I over-bleached my sheet, and it ended up shredding. I had problems (as noted in earlier posts) of getting a higher resolution of the image and I was feeling like it was time to take a new approach.

If I'm going to stencil lace, it needs to be classy. It doesn't need to be hand made for god's sake, but it needs to be different and interesting. I choose my lace first. Shown here is one of the two lace stencils with the material I would stencil on, cut to size. I tested the Inkodye with multiple materials before settling.

I dropped the lace images into photoshop and indesign. I played around with ideas of colors and of what their complimentary images would be. I couldn't get Ruth St. Denis out of my head (the woman above), so I went back to my first love. I decided to do to dyptychs that would compliment each other. I chose Ruth in a (closed) meditation pose and Ruth in an open exuberating type of pose.

I set up my space and got to work. Here you can see all of my equipment. On the far left is a big blue foam with 8.5 x 11 reverse printed transparencies and a large piece of thin glass.

I would first lay an insoluble material on the foam. Next came the fabric, the glass, and the transparencies on top. The whole unit slid under the table where I hung a double-barrel reptile light for exposure. The iron and other tools on the table were all used for prep. The fabric and lace constantly had to be ironed.

After prepping the exposure, it was time to apply the Inkodye to the hemmed and ironed fabric. This had to be done in low light and I did not get a photo of it. I basically taped the fabric to the table and coated it with an Inkodye : water ratio that I was happy with.

Here you can see the exposure process and set up. The black stuff on the far end of the surface is the image - or rather a negative of the image that has been tiled with 8.5 x 11 transparencies. After my exposure, I immediately submersed the fabric in hot water with Inkodye's special soap. Technically, it should be washed in a machine with hot water, but I had more work to do, and no washing machine handy. I "preserved" it with this technique until I made it home to use the washer.

After the image was exposed and washed, it was time to iron it again, and do the stencil. I found the stenciling to be very difficult, because it was hard to gauge how much paint to use when you couldn't easily reference the product. Flipping a corner or an edge to peek would result in a "double-image" which I did manage a couple of times anyway.

The last step was to iron, trim up any lose ends on the fabric, re-hem any uneven edges, prep the hanging apparatus, and iron again. Here, you can see a mock hanging in the background.

Well, that's the long and the short of it! I hope this little experiment has been as fun and enlightening for you as it has for me. And, I do hope that you can make it First Friday on March 7th. As I mentioned, all of the works are well worth the visit. I encourage you to talk to any of the artists about Art Lab and how it influenced various new approaches to their work.

Thursday, February 6, 2014


I'm done! I'm done! I'm really done!

Even though snow threatens the opening tomorrow, I cannot be troubled. I have so much joy from finishing this project. After the opening, I'll post photos of the finished pieces. I learned a lot from the various processes used. I want to keep doing projects like these, at least until I perfect my technique.

I'm also flattered that a number of people have shared that they plan to attend tomorrow's opening. This community really is filled with folks who are generally positive, encouraging and supportive.

Check back around noon tomorrow to see if we end up postponing the opening!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

So close... yet so far away

At the time of my last post, I thought I only had 9 days left. Turns out I can't read a calendar, and I had about 17 days left. But, NOW we are down to the wire. And really, I don't even have 6 days, because it should be up before Friday.

Showing off my stencil material. Photo by Cara Cottingham. See more of Cara's photos from this day at

So, there are 2 pieces that I am hanging. I just finished one of them today. I am... satisfied??? Honestly, I don't know how most artists go on with this acceptance of their output. I rarely love what I've created. I could go on and pick it apart, but I suppose that's not good juju. Because I don't love it, it's hard for me to hear others say nice things about it. I feel they are just being nice. If someone really did like it, I probably wouldn't believe them. It's a shame. What I would love is if somebody came up and said, "yeah, I don't like my piece either. I know how it feels."

I'll expose the 2nd piece tonight, and hope to do the stencil on Monday or Tuesday. Notes for this 2nd full run: The exposure will not be what you expect. It will be too dark or too light. It's better to spray too little on your stencil than too much. Do not let your paint supply dictate your technique or color choices. Buy more/different paint if needed. It is an experiment. Do not be upset if it's not precisely what you envisioned. You are not an expert.

This is from a couple weeks ago. I was cutting foam so that it lay neatly under the table as part of my exposure unit. Photo by Jennifer Williams.
So, come by VOCA on Friday the 7th, and tell me what you really think! ; P At 6:30 and 8:30, a small dance troupe will perform in response to our art.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Time to JUMP

Well, I've tried on different swimsuits, taken lessons, talked with all the experts, and  I'm finally ready to jump in the water.

The Inkodye is such an interesting medium. There are a variety of ways to achieve tone, resolution and color; a variety of application and exposure methods; and various effects from different in material. I'm going to use a combination of ink density with select lighting and exposure time to try to achieve a light or gradiated exposure.

As far as the 'object of exposure,' I feel that used as an art medium only, the best value for the use of Inkodye is exposure of complex images - otherwise, stenciling would be just as effective. Because I want to do large work, it requires large transparencies - something nearly unavailable in Vancouver, WA. Only one of the 6 vendors I contacted was able to confidently state the ability to print a large transparency and provide me an estimate within 24 hours of my request. Oh, how I would like to utilize their services - just for the fact of their customer service. But, the estimate was out of my budget for this project. I'm going to make the best of tiling 8.5 x 11 transparencies to compose my (2) 54ish" x 60" negatives. My hope is since I will be overlaying images, the lines that may appear from tiling will fade into the composite.

So, TOMORROW, I'll be taking the big dive and exposing my images at the open studio from 5-9.

"JUMP!" says Dad.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

17 days remain

I remember things people tell me... I may not remember exactly who told me, but I try.

I believe it was my mother who brought to my attention that I always (like her) choose to tackle the most difficult projects, and often work right up to deadline. I think it has to do with wanting a challenge, and to exhaust all possibilities in order to come to the most perfect solution.

I had a friend in High School named Nicole. She gave me the most wonderful compliment that I always remember when I am feeling inadequate as an artist. She said something to the effect of, "Sharon, whenever you start something, I think 'what the heck is she even doing?' But when you finish it, it's the coolest thing ever."

friends, jeff and nicole
I see the confusion on people's faces when I try to explain what I'm doing, and when I hear the ideas and suggestions of my peers, I sometimes interpret it as them trying to make sense of their confusion. I can always go back to my mom's notion and Nicole's compliment for reassurance that I'm on the right path. And now, for back-up I can reference Anne and Cameron who both mentioned that "it's all and experiment."

Well, my experiment continues. I'll be at VOCA tomorrow working on the same process but with entirely different imagery. After sending in $6 to the money order claim folks, I received an email today that my image was ready for download from the NY Pub Library. Note: account for at least 1 month when ordering imagery from such a source.

The timing is lovely. As I mentioned, I had moved past the image. The excessive bleaching of the fabric was one strike. Thinking that I'd never see the image was the second. Stress from the deadline was the third. It forced me to develop a new idea, which I'm pretty happy with and am excited to explore tomorrow during our open studio day. I'll be there noon to 6, with the exception of running off to get something I forgot, or grabbing a snack.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

the process of elimination

For the past few days, I have been debating on what direction to take my Art Lab project. My plan was to tackle a piece I have been putting off for about 6 months. I have spent the last 2 weeks trying to purchase the necessary equipment to complete it -- including a high res image that was only available by mailing $50 to the New York Public Library. I mailed the money order on December 29th, and as of Wednesday, they had not yet received the MO. I can't believe how many important things I've lost in the mail. In any case, without a high res. of the image, I'm not confident I'd get the results I want.

Today--my first day at Art Lab--I set up my space. I anxiously addressed the first task I had assigned myself for this project, despite the lack of an image to work with, or a decision on what to do about that. I very casually timed the bleaching of my canvas, and ended up with a canvas that was not only too light, but too frail. The old fabric ripped with the slightest touch. So, my decision was made for me. 6 months of staring at the piece I wanted so badly to finish, ended today.

Timing is everything, and it was very nice timing when just before this somewhat devastating episode, I admitted, "things are going well, but I'm still in my experimental stage." Anne, very quickly noted that aren't we always in an experimental stage... and that, isn't it all an experiment.

Reflecting on that made it easy to drop my 6 mo. goal. Without much effort, I took one step toward a new vision, and tested my colors on a different fabric - a newer material that would not require bleaching. I have some ideas about the direction I'd like to take, but am not as clear in my vision as I'd like to be. I think I can figure it out tomorrow though with a little bit of research.

Art Lab's first open day is this Sunday, January 12th, and I plan to be back on my feet by then. Come by 906 Harney between 12 and 4pm to check it out, meet all the artists and get a special peek into our processes, struggles and successes.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

New Year, New Approach

I was recently asked to take a new approach to my art production by participating in Art Lab. Art Lab is a "month-long creativity incubator" hosted by VOCA in downtown Vancouver, WA. Eight local female artists will work together in a shared space. The space will be open to the public on January 12th, 16th and 23rd. On these days, visitors can observe and meet a majority of artists. Since artists will be working there all month, other days may have open doors but a more limited number of artists.
I'm really excited to work next to these seven talented women! I'll be using Lumi Inkodye on a 60" x 30" surface. The product was introduced to me by Karen Madson and I've been experimenting with it for about 3 weeks. I'm discovering that I need to take a very methodical approach to accomplish my goals with this piece and to do it in within the time frame. So far, I have a good understanding of my ink to water ratio and exposure time. I'm nearly decided on what lights to use for exposure, but think I may do a few further tests  before I come to that decision. The lights alone could be up to a $200 investment, so I want to make sure I'm happy with my decision.

I've outlined a task list for the next 4 weeks, with plans on doing some of the more prominent tasks on the visitor days. It's sort of like a play - where every task is necessary, but only the main characters really get the spotlight.

If you're interested in checking out Art Lab, please come by 906 Harney Street in downtown Vancouver WA on any of the dates listed above. If those dates/times don't work out for you, but you happen to be downtown - just drive by and see if the doors are open. We'll be happy to visit with you!