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

Making progress on Alex in Pop Color

I have been working on Alex in Pop Color, although my hooking is a bit slower now that I am dealing with a torn up house.  I just finished the second face in the series of six that make up the center of the rug.  Each face is hooked with a different color plan.  The first one I hooked was done in the primary colors, red, yellow and blue.  The second face I did as a monochromatic study in purple (see photo below).  It demonstrates the importance of hooking by value instead of color.  Here is Alex's face, and it clearly is his face, but it is created by hooking particular values (lighter and darker wool in the same color) of purple (Jack Horner Plum #111) next to each other.  The lighter areas are prominent and the darker areas recede. 

Hooking by value

Some of you know that I am developing a hooking method that I call VIP hooking.  This stands for "value intense palette" hooking.  It is based on a concept in art used by painters that we really see things according to the lightness and darkness of the area painted.  The color itself doesn't really matter as much.  So I have been applying this to my rug hooking, working with four values: light, light-medium, dark-medium, and dark.  I separate my wools into these four groups and then I hook them in to my design accordingly. HERE IS A LINK to my webpage "What is VIP Rug Hooking" and also to "VIP Hooking Primer" where I explain this in more detail.  Both are under the pull down menu: "The Wool Palette."

Tonight I ran across a great website with lessons about painting with values.  What it has to say is totally applicable to rug hooking and I learned a lot going through the pages.  HERE IS THE LINK if you are interested. 

As for rugs and value.   Mediums are nice, but not alone.  They are better when hooked with other values.  If your rug isn't working, try a lighter value or a darker value near the mediums.  It will pop!

Sol Invictus

To say the least, I did not finish Sol Invictus for the Kirby Hook In's Celestial Challenge. So I continue to work on the piece. It is inspired by the angel face mosaic that was recently uncovered in Istanbul, in the famous mosque Hagia Sophia.

I am working the piece from several colors in my Goodfellow color family, the family that is based on the yellow dye formula Goodfellow Yellow 105.

Goodfellow Yellow 105
Sunkissed Gold 157
Ellendale Orange 126
Russet Red Jack 143
Moorland Moss 106
Will 'O Wisp 158
Fincastle Brown 141

I also used some strips of Moorland Moss 106 dapple dyed wool around the eyes to get a variegated effect. I'm out to lunch on the background, although I think it will be dark and some overdyed textures. I'm thinking Fincastle Brown 141 at the moment (the dark color tipping the rays).

I am at the point of tweeking the face, so I just converted my color photograph to black and white so I can see the values better to make sure that they are what I want them to be. If I see something too light or too dark I will pull out the strip and replace it with another value. I hook by thinking about values, where the light and shadow is on the object I'm hooking. I try to cluster my colors at the same time I mix them so I'm using the same value of different colors here an there (like in the forehead). Immediately I see that there are two strips under the right eye that are too dark and one over the right eye that is too dark. So I will replace those with lighter strips.

Progress report on White Tiger Beauty: Evenings 3 and 4

Just a quick post showing progress on White Tiger Beauty. I hooked the side of his face using the same technique of light and dark values (no mediums). When I got to the edge where the black fur meets the white and is longer and fuzzier, I did some pointillism.

The fourth evening I worked on the top of his head (mediums) and his ear which I did completely with pointillism.

When I hook the second ear, I will try to take photos of the process I'm developing to show how I am achieving the pointillism look.

I got the idea to try this in the fuzzy fur areas when I was reading about abstract art this past weekend. Abstract art comes out of a period following the neo-impressionists who used dots of color to create impressions of the objects they were painting like this one painted by Seurat. I figured that if I randomly hooked my values in an area, it might work similarly.

White Tiger Beauty: Second Evening

His face is developing. I continued hooking per my last post description. I moved down into the bridge of the nose with a combination of mediums, including over dyed textures, and a few random lights.

I decided to give pointillism a try after reading about it in an abstract art book. I learned from that reading yesterday that neo-impressionists painted by distributing dots of paint around the canvas and when you stand back from the painting you will see a form emerge.

So I gave it a try on Beauty's nose because I am in an area of coat that is varied in value, like salt and pepper. If I feel it is successful overall and don't reverse hook, I will use pointillism in the cheeks and ears too.

How to do it? I hooked vertically down the bridge of his nose in random descent. I didn't hook a straight or a curved line, but bounced around. This means that the back of the piece looks bad because there are crossovers. But it is the result of the pointillism technique and can't be avoided.

Going Gray with 'White Tiger Beauty'

I have been concentrating on developing a number of neutrals for my wool palette by combining complimentary colors in my palette. These produced three outstanding neutrals pictured here. The procedure and my color theory are all laid out on the PALETTE DYEING rug camp, so I refer you to that discussion in order to track what I'm doing here (left to right: AD 114 Sand Castle; AD 115 Milk Week; AD113 Rosy Cheeks).

I have gone on to produce grays, and yesterday came up with a fantastic gray by combining equal portions of two of my tertiary colors: 8=Green-Blue and 10=Blue-Purple. This produced a cool gray I'm calling Stormy Seas. I need to combine 4=Orange-Yellow and 6=Yellow-Green which should produce a warm gray, but I ran out of some of my dyes so this will have to wait until another weekend. I decided to go ahead and over-dye some plaids with Stormy Seas so that I have some textures in this color to use, and dappled dyed a couple of pieces too.

So what to hook with these neutrals to give them a try? I am inspired to hook a white tiger after going to the Houston Aquarium last weekend with Alexander and his grandparents. They have four white tigers there, and they are stunning.

Where to start? First, I am going to continue my pursuit of value hooking. So I'm not going to hook by trying to match colors to a photo. I'm going to hook by focusing on my light, medium and dark values. I am going to use all my neutrals pictured above.

I went on the web and found several pictures of white tigers, printed them and pasted them in my hooking journal for inspiration. As for design, I will just hook a full face and I will put my own markings on the animal so I can be freer to design as I go. So here is my red dot sketch and my rough pattern transferred.

Since I'm value hooking, I need a black and white image. So I xeroxed an image to use as a guide and made a black and white photo of another image in iphoto. I like to use the xerox and the black and white option in iphoto because it darkens the image and increases the contrast, so I can see really well where my lights and darks are and where my medium values are. In this case, the medium values are running down his forehead and down his nose, so in these areas I am going to use #3-6 values and textures I over dyed. The whiter areas I will hook with #1-2 values of my neutrals. The darker areas will get #7-8 values of my neutrals, and I am going to add in for fun some of the #7 and 8 values of my 10=Blue-Purple, 11=Purple, 12=Purple-Red, since the gray I am using is a cool gray made from my #8 and #10 dyes.

I am going to start with his eyes, which will be blue, so here I will use my 9=Blue. I am choosing to go with #4 cut because I want to increase my detail. But this piece is measuring about 15" by 17" so I could easily have used a #6 cut too. First I hooked the black outlines of his eyelids, using two different darks, one on the top and the other on the bottom. Then I hooked the blue eyes, using several small bits of #1, 2, 3, 4, and 8 values of 9=Blue, with dark black in the center. A loop and two tails (pulled in the same hole) of white finishes the eye by adding the light sparkle.

Next I hooked some of the dark markings with a variety of my #7 and #8 values of my neutrals and my 10=Blue-Purple, 11=Purple, 12=Purple-Red. Then I hooked some of the lightest areas with my #1 and 2 values of my neutrals. This is what 'White Tiger Beauty' looks like after one evening of hooking.

First rug of the New Year

The last few days I have been trying to get a block done on the Monthly Meditation Rug. I have not been able to catch up with September, October or November because I didn't get around to ordering my linen until so late in the season. So I just concentrated on hooking December's block, "Awaiting", and will return to hook the other three autumn months next autumn.

My original vision, to use Celtic images in the blocks didn't work out. I kept wanting to hook geometrics. So I settled on Celtic knots with December as my first try. Also the original color plan wasn't interesting enough, so I changed course on that too. Each block will be a different color on the color wheel, so the rug will be a color wheel geometric sampler.

I'm hooking it this way so that I can practice hooking with values, with lights and darks, with no worry about color. I hope to teach myself more and more about value hooking, and experiment with color intensities by altering the amount of gray and black I add to my palette dye formulas. I am trying to use the less intense hues in my backgrounds (wool dyed with some gray and black in the formulas), although I did throw in a few pure hue strips to keep the background moving. Since the word was "awaiting", I wanted the feel of moving around going toward something.

I learned on this first knot that I am not a precise artist. I thought my knot was centered when I drew it on and hooked it, but realize after hooking it that the knot is shorter on the left side than the right. This means that to do it correctly I should put a grid on each block before transferring the pattern. This way I can square it up as it should be. The problem is that if I do this now on the eleven other blocks, the one I have hooked already is going to be noticeable. So I either have to rehook it or eyeball the rest as I did the first.

Since I hang pictures by standing back and looking at the wall and then plunging in the nail, I probably won't draw grids on the other eleven blocks.

Saint Nicholas 2009: Third Eve

Here is the progress I made last night...mainly worked the beard. I hooked my #1 values plus dorr white and natural and one off white grey texture in the top of his beard. About 2/3rds of the way down the beard I switched to #2 values. What hues did I use? My two neutrals created by mixing half and half of my recipes for 11=PURPLE and 5=YELLOW; and half and half of my recipes for 1=RED and 6=Green. My 9=BLUE; 10=BLUE-PURPLE; 11=PURPLE; 12=PURPLE-RED; 1=RED.

Tonight my plan is to work his coat. Then all I have is the background to go. Now that I see a photo of the beard, I think I will replace a couple of the darker strips with a lighter value.

Saint Nicholas 2009: Second Eve

Last night I worked on Santa's hair and his hat. I concentrated on hooking light, medium and dark values rather than color. I used four different swatches for the hat (10=BLUE-PURPLE; 11=PURPLE; 12=PURPLE-RED; 1=RED), and all the lightest values of these swatches for the hair, plus some natural and textured wools undyed. Tonight I'm going to work on his beard.

Saint Nicholas 2009: First Eve

Santa's face is already emerging after one evening of hooking. I'm using 6-cut, and even with this width I am able to get incredible detail. I am amazed how Palette Dyeing has transformed my rug hooking. I finally have at my hand every color of the rainbow in six values, two tints, two tones, and two shades.

The result is that I can hook anything by studying the values of a black and white photo of my inspiration picture (the lightness and darkness) and hooking accordingly without worry about color since all my colors are created from the same three dye formulas. All my wools automatically look great together! I am so glad that I had that conversation this summer with Sondra when the light bulb went on in my head about needing to create an artist's palette of wool.

Needless to say, I'm having fun! I've hooked his face - I always start with the eyes, and put in the lightest values in the hair and beard.

Saint Nicholas 2009

I am starting Saint Nicholas 2009. My intent is to make a pocket pack out of it. Its outside measurements will be 10" by 15", so a little bigger than those 10" by 10" pocket packs I hooked this summer. I need a bit more room for all the stuff I carry around with me!

Here is the picture that inspired me and the sketch I made of it on my linen backing. Since I will be hooking by value, I made a black and white copy of the color picture so I can watch my lights and darks, hooking lighter values in the light areas and darker values in the darker areas. This will allow me to not worry so much about what colors I am hooking, but concentrate on values which will cause the face to emerge more creatively.

I probably won't hook the same colors because I'm a purple person and Christmas is purple and white for me. So I have to use some shades of purple. I am using the wool palette I dyed this season as I have been teaching the Palette Dyeing rug camp on Rug Hooking Daily (join the group for details). So first the neutrals. These are the two neutrals I am going to use. In lefthand photo: the wool on the left I created by mixing half and half of my recipes for 11=PURPLE and 5=YELLOW; the wool on the right I created by mixing half and half of my recipes for 1=RED and 6=Green. In the righthand photo, these are the other hues I will use (from left to right): my 6=GREEN; my 11=PURPLE; my 12=PURPLE-RED.

Hooking a wide-cut rose as a coaster

The Stash Sisters ATHA guild here in Houston has been talking about doing a coaster and cup exchange for February. When we tossed around this idea, I immediately thought of all the great tea cups and mugs that the British Isles shop in the Village has for sale, and how fun it might be to create a flower mat to match a cup design. Then I started to think about Christmas presents I would like to make...and this led me to go over to the shop and pick up a mug as a gift for a family member (can't say who) and draw out an oversized rose coaster. I took pictures as I progressed since I wanted to show how easy it is to use an 8-gradated swatch in a wide-cut to create more realism in hooking. The key is to use all the 8 values, and to put the lightest value (#1) against the darkest value (#8) on the edge of the petals to make them pop out.

So here is the cup and coaster finished. I'm showing it because I used the rose on the front as my inspiration.

I took a sharpie and drew the petals very roughly on the linen. Just a sketchy outline. Then I went in with my #1 value (#6 cut) and I hooked all the edges of the petals that I thought looked the lightest in the picture of the rose on the cup.

Next, I went in with my #8 value and I hooked all the areas that were the darkest in the picture of the rose on the cup.

Third, I went in with my #4 value. It is a medium value, so I laid it down in between the lines I had hooked with #1 and #8. Just haphazard. Nothing planned. Nothing structured anymore than making sure that the #4 had to be between the #1 and #8.

Fourth, I went in with my #6 value. I placed it between #4 and #8.

Fifth, I went in with my #2 value. I placed it between #1 and #4, and on the edges of those petals I had not already edged with #1.

Sixth, I went in with my #3 value and hooked it between #2 and #4, wherever it would fit.

Seventh, I went in with my #5 value between #4 and #6, wherever it would fit.

Eight, I went in with my #7 value between #6 and #8, wherever it would fit.

That's it. Essentially what this amounts to is staggering values between each other. This process allows for a more free-form structure of the rose than careful planning in fine-cut hooking when each petal is hooked one at a time. It allows for the rose to emerge from a structure of very light (where the light is hitting the flower) and very dark (where the shadows are on the flower). Then all the rest is just hooked in between.

It was easy to do and only took me one evening from start to finish. The binding took another sitting, but not a whole evening.

Look what I got for my birthday!

I turned 46 this past week. I cannot believe how fast the years are advancing. It was only yesterday that I was 26 and my mom was 46. Alexander will turn 6 on December 15th. It was only yesterday that I birthed him and held his warm wet body in my arms for the first time and gazed at him in amazement.

Even my sister Tiffany commented on the passage of time this year, writing to me via e-mail (she lives in Michigan, and I in Texas): "Speaking of birthdays, can you believe you will be 46 years old? Where are the years going?" Keep in mind that she is three years younger than me.

Tiffany sent me a very special package with a rug she hooked to celebrate my birthday. She is a fine-cut hooker and creates wonderful realistic pieces. This particular piece she started in Donna Hrkman's class at Sauder Village. Donna was showing the class how to concentrate on lights and darks in order to create shapes when hooking. And look at the roundness of Tiffany's pears. She was able to capture the shapes perfectly by hooking her lightest values in the areas of the pear where the natural light would hit the skin. The other thing she did was hook a line around the two pears in the foreground slightly lower than the rest of her hooking. This helps to pop the front pears out. These techniques can be used for any cut wool, to create eye-catching rugs.

A fantastic fruit study...and a great rug for my dining room table!