Reframing Jonathan

I decided to try something different with Jonathan.  I went to Texas Art Supply and purchased stretcher bars one inch bigger than the finished rug.  I put the stretcher bars together and stretched black duck twill canvas over the frame, stapling it to the back.  Then I sewed the rug onto the duck, stretching it tight to the edge as I sewed the binding to the duck fabric. 

I love it because it is stretched tight and flat and looks just like a painting hanging in my living room.

Meet Charlie

I have started a new mat to play with the contrast of light and dark.  My theme with this rug is "where there is light, there is dark."  The subject is a chimpanzee who lives at the Houston Zoo.  His name is Charlie.  I shot a good photo of him a couple of Christmases ago when the exhibit first opened.  I have wanted to hook his face since I took the photo, but haven't been able to get around to it until now.  The piece will be 18" by 24" when complete.  It is called Charlie and is my second mat in the Faces of the Houston Zoo series.  Jonathan was the first.



Three days in progress

Rug in place

We don't often see each other's rugs in situ.  So I thought I would post a picture of Jonathan hanging above my couch.  My living is not well lit, so the photo is darker than I would like.  I sewed the rug onto black foam board so that I could mount it directly on the wall.  Then I sewed up two orange throw pillows for the season.  Now it feels like I am greeting autumn into my home.

By the way, if you live around Houston, High Fashion is the place to go for home decor material.  I bought this gorgeous orange fabric there.  I am blown away by that place.

Wade's comment once we got Jonathan hung.  "April, you need to hook two more animals for either side of Jonathan."  Guess what two of my next projects are going to have to be?

Presenting Jonathan the Lion

What do I like about this piece?  I like the way that it is an abstract while still maintaining a figure.  When it was finished, I was so pleased to see how my abstract work these last two years is now breaking into my figural art.  If I look only at elements of the rug and not the whole piece, I am viewing colors abstractly flowing into each other and tiled against each other.  But when I take in the entire rug, not only is a lion clearly in view, but a very particular lion.  There is no mistaking that this is a picture of Jonathan the lion at the Houston Zoo.

2011.  Jonathan the Lion.  Original.  25" by 30".  Designed, dyed and hooked by April D. DeConick.  Red Jack Palette Wools used: 8-value packs~Hubbard Fig 119; Butterfield 122; Sunkissed Gold 157; Somerset Sunset 104; Goodfellow Yellow 105; Black Orchid 146; Highland Lilac 133; Faune Brown 114; Milkweed 115; Sea Shells 142. Texture packs~Hubbard Fig 119 (value 5 and 8); Sunkissed Gold 157 (value 5); Goodfellow Yellow 105 (value 5); Faune Brown 114 (value 2 and 8).

Returning to Jonathan the Lion

I actually got some work done on Jonathan (2' by 2 1/2") while I was on vacation, especially on the train ride home, which was longer than it should have been. The train didn't leave the station in Chicago until 3 hours late, and then we picked up another 2 hours overnight.  So I was glad to have my rug to work on!

Wade says that the lion roars right at you out of the rug.

Last week, I hooked bits as I worked under his chin.  This weekend I had a lucky couple of hours and got to put in the dark mane at the bottom right.  I have been itching to get to this spot because I love the dark colors most and can't wait to see them go in and pop the picture.  I also replaced the background in the top right corner with a light value purple.  I had hooked a very dark brown texture in that spot and it just didn't satisfy me.  It was too dark once I hooked the dark beard in the bottom.

I was thinking today as I was hooking the beard how I have finally been able to achieve the artistic look I have been seeing all these years in my mind's eye, since I was a teenager trying my hand at watercolors.  Then I moved to acrylic.  But I never could get the look in the paint medium that was haunting me in my head.  Finally - I'm 47 now - I feel that I am starting to express this vision in wool mats.  The key for me was developing a dye process that allowed me to have access to the colors and values I needed.  Then all the play the last two years in hooking techniques and placement of colors and values.  The abstract hooking really pushed me over into the look I wanted.  Pushing myself to work in only color and form, made my return to representational figure different.  I stopped worrying about hooking eyes and ears and teeth and started hooking shapes and colors and values instead.

Anyway, I am really enjoying hooking this piece.  The colors are some of my favorites, so it is a pleasure to work them into the foundation.

The wools I'm using are:

8-value packs: Hubbard Fig 119; Butterfield 122; Sunkissed Gold 157; Somerset Sunset 104; Goodfellow Yellow 105; Black Orchid 146; Highland Lilac 133; Faune Brown 114; Milkweed 115; Sea Shells 142.

Texture packs: Hubbard Fig 119 (value 5 and 8); Sunkissed Gold 157 (value 5); Goodfellow Yellow 105 (value 5); Faune Brown 114 (value 2 and 8).

Loopgram: creating the drawing

I was asked in the last post how I get my picture onto my linen.  My process is simple but time consuming.  It takes about four to five hours from start to finish. 

I work with photos that I take.  I crop them and put them into black and white format.  I play with them on the computer until I have them the way I want them. 

I print it out and take them to a copy place that has a big blueprint enlarger.  I usually blow up the print by 400%, so my pieces are about 3 foot by 3 foot.  It can take a lot of playing around with the enlarger to get the copy I want. 

I go home and lay the copy out on the floor.  I put fiberglass screen over the top and cut out a piece of screen to size.  The screen is laying over top of the copy, functioning as tracing paper.  I take a permanent marker and I transfer the lines of the photo onto the screen the best I can.  I understand these lines to be rough guides for my hooking rather than a fully drawn picture. 

Then I cut a piece of linen foundation to size and serge the edges.  I place the traced picture on the screen over the top of the foundation and then I trace the screen copy onto the linen.

Five hours later I have my next project ready to move to the next step: picking out my colors.

Starting a new project

I took some time to get a project put together for my vacation.  We are heading north to visit our families and attend Sauder Village.  If I don't have a project to work on all those endless hours driving, I go crazy.  I have been wanting to hook a picture of Jonathan the lion at the Houston Zoo from a picture we took a long time ago.  Here is the photo and the rug drawn out.  It is going to be very colorful.