Monday, July 6, 2015

I'm Moving! (My Blog)

It's been eight years since I wrote my first blog post here.  1292 posts later, it's time for a change.  I'm moving my blog to my Wordpress website so that I can keep everything together.

Or you can always get to it from my website ( in the menu bar at the top of the page.  I am still working on setting up the links if you like to subscribe by email or rss feed.
I hope you continue to follow me at my new place.  I'd love to see you there.

p.s.  I'll be keeping this blog here as an archive.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Shibori by Machine

When I was writing about the SAQA conference, I briefly mentioned that I took a workshop with Ana Lisa Hedstrom.  It was how to do Shibori (Japanese tie-dyeing technique) using machine stitching. Since we had only a couple of hours, it was a quick introduction, which was enough to make me want to explore it more.

Here are some of the examples that Ana Lisa had out on a table for us to look at.

I really liked these pieces where she started with a black fabric and discharged them.

Since we had limited time and needed to do some dyeing,  Ana Lisa wanted us to sew right away. After a quick introduction, we sewed pieces of cotton and silk noil (raw silk).

I managed to sew 10 different designs.  I tried a colored fabric to see what would happen.

There were three buckets of dye color into which she just randomly threw everybody's pieces.  I thought it was weird dyeing fabric in one of the meeting rooms of the hotel.  But we had plastic spread out on the floor underneath.  And we had to go back to people's rooms to fill up the large buckets in the tub.

Once the pieces were in the dye, Ana Lisa showed us a slideshow of her work because the pieces needed to sit in the dye for awhile.  After the presentation, we pulled out the pieces and attempted to sort them.

We had all put our initials on the pieces with Sharpie beforehand.  However, it was hard to read after they were dyed.  Even though I had put 10 pieces in, I only got eight back.  So I don't have any idea how those others came out.  Someone else must have gotten them.

Once they were sorted, we had to rip out all of the stitching to see the design.  The job was made easier because we had used a cotton thread and a rayon thread together.

This is how some of mine turned out.

This was some of the cotton fabric.

This one was the light green fabric, which makes the lines pop a little in contrast to the raspberry color.

These are a couple of the raw silk pieces.  I think they are more dynamic because the fabric is a little thicker and the dye didn't penetrate as much in places where the fabric was stitched and folded.

This is my favorite piece from the bunch and I would really like to explore this some more.

Here is another student's piece, which has more contrast.

I need to do more exploring with this.  My cotton pieces didn't turn out very well.  That could be because we rushed through the dyeing process, or that my stitched lines weren't very close together.  The closer together, the less the dye can penetrate.  There are lots of variables to explore (like the fabric type, time in dye, stitching) with this technique and I hope I can get to it sometime this summer.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Pencil vs. Pen Sketching

This past weekend was another outing of the Urban Sketchers.  Three of us met at Kathryn Albertson park.  Usually when I do sketching, I use a mechanical pencil.  The only thing I don't like about it is that it does smear (I use a 2B lead).  

I know lots of people use pens for sketching.  I like to be able to erase and am not that confident with using a pen.  But I decided to give it a go this time, because I will never get confident if I don't do it.

Here is the first sketch I did, which was started with pencil, and then I went back over with pen later (which some other people do, as well).

I had brought my little watercolor set and my Neocolor II water soluble crayons.  I used the crayons to add some color to this one.  And here is what I was looking at.

As you can see, I took some artistic license with what I was drawing.  Since I decided to draw vertically, instead of horizontally, it got squished in a little.

The next sketch I decided to do with pen.  I just jumped in without doing any pencil drawing at all. I used a Sharpie extra fine point pen.

Here is the view I was looking at.

I added a little bit of color with the crayons to distinguish some of the areas.  What I liked about the pen is that it doesn't smear and will be more permanent.  What I didn't like was the quality of the line which was mostly all even.  With a pencil, I can change the pressure to get different types of line.

In addition, I have to figure out different ways to shade with the pen.  It needs to be either more lines, hatching or cross-hatching.   I can't just put more pressure on it.  There is also much more contrast with the black lines against the paper.

I need to experiment more with the pen and different types of pens to make a determination of what I like better (or maybe it's a combination of pencil and pen).  One of the other gals there that day had some fountain pens which would change the line with some pressure.

If you do any kind of sketching, what tools do you like to use?  Do you have a preference?  And if you use pens, I would love to hear what brand/kind you like.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Field Journal Workshop

Earlier this week, I taught a Field Journal workshop for kids at the Boise Watershed.  This is an education facility out by the water treatment plant.

In the summer, the have free classes for kids that combine science with art.  Last year, I taught a Fibonacci & Fabric workshop.  This year I had the kids make field journals.

I found this tutorial online for how to make a simple book without adhesive.  In the tutorial, they used wall paper samples for their cover.  I did not want to use wall paper samples because I wanted the kids to be able to write on the cover.  So I came up with the idea to use manilla file folders.  I cut off all the tabs on the folders.  This worked well for the cover as the folder was stiff enough and already had one nice fold in the center.

We could also stitch together the book without having to use a needle, which was another bonus, as the ages range.  Even though I requested the ages be 8 -12 for one session and 12 and up for the other, the first session had names listed with ages 6, 7 and even 5.  (I'm not sure why they bother putting an age limit if they don't follow it. But I know some people ask if brothers or sisters can come, too, and they probably just say yes.)

The classes are two and a half hours.  My plan was to talk about what a field journal is and why scientists use them, have the kids make their journal, talk about what kinds of information/drawings go into a field journal and different ways to observe their surroundings and then take the kids outside to use their field journal.  We would come back inside and have the small snack that is provided, discuss some ways to draw nature and then do some more drawing inside from nature objects and taxidermy animals.

The morning session was the younger group and there were 22 kids (even though there is supposedly a 20 person limit.  I'm glad I bought extra watercolor pencil sets.).  It took a lot longer than I thought for them to get the actual book made.  So I didn't get around to giving them hints about drawing, but I don't think that mattered too much.

The afternoon class was the older group and much smaller with only about 10 kids.  They had no trouble getting the journal together and they had lots more time to draw and I could discuss the information more in depth and give them the drawing hints.

It all went well and I was exhausted by the end of the day.

This last picture is someone's drawing of a sage grouse.  We did not see one outside, the class coordinator had borrowed a taxidermy one to draw inside.

Monday, June 15, 2015

The Significance of Wheels

Can you imagine our lives without wheels?  Bike wheels, car wheels, train wheels, wheels on our luggage, wheel barrows, mechanical wheels inside of things.  Wheels just make things so much easier to move around!

I have wheels on my sewing machine cabinet and on my cutting table.  It makes it so much easier for me to wheel them out of the studio when that needs to become the guest bedroom, which it has been for about the last month now and will be for another couple of weeks.

The sewing machine cabinet and cutting table are currently in our downstairs living room.  I'm fortunate to have a large enough area there to be able to do this.  It's not ideal but I can still work (although I haven't done much of that lately).

In my studio, I can set a piece of foam core on my sewing cabinet and another little cabinet to create a "bridge" to support larger pieces when I am working on them.  In the living room area, I didn't really have that.  Until now!  I figured out that our new windows we installed this winter have a small ledge the perfect height for my foam core.

Voila! A new "bridge" to support my work.  Now, if I could just get to work!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Form, Not Function

I was looking back through my posts and realized that I have not shared with you the news that I had an artwork accepted into the exhibition, Form, Not Function.

I did share the news and the following story with my newsletter subscribers.  If you are a subscriber and have already read this, thank you for being a subscriber!  If you would like to subscribe so you don't miss anything I might miss putting on this blog, I invite you to sign up here.

My artwork, Foliaris VIII, was juried into the Form, Not Function exhibition which is held at the Carnegie Center for Art & History in New Albany, Indiana.  This is the second year I have had my artwork accepted.  The exhibition will be open through July 11th.

Foliaris VIII
hand dyed fabrics, machine pieced, free-motion stitching
37" x 38"
©Lisa Flowers Ross

After I found out this piece was accepted, they sent an email asking for a high resolution image for publicity materials.  I sent off an image.  Quite some time later, I received an email that said I had sent the wrong image.  Oops!  The email also stated that even though I had sent the wrong image, it had been chosen to be used on the postcard they printed.  So I shouldn't be surprised when I saw it. 

I wonder how many people that go to the exhibition will notice that my artwork on the postcard is not there.

Here's the front of the postcard with my piece, Field Study (K1) on the right.

It was very exciting to find out that my good friend, Kathleen Probst, also had an artwork accepted into the exhibition as well.  I also know Bonnie Bucknam and recently met Betty Busby who also have work in the exhibition.  You can read the full list of artists here.

This is a photo from the Carnegie Center for Art & History's Facebook page during the opening reception.  You can see my piece on the right, Kathleen's in the middle and Bonnie's on the left.

Don't forget, if you want to get more news from me, please sign up for my monthly newsletter.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015


The Boise City Department of Arts & History has been posting interviews with local artists on their blog.  Karl LeClair came to my studio to interview me. Here is the posted interview. (You'll also get a peek of the latest artwork I'm working on.)

They started the series, in part, to help local artists gain exposure, but also in response to a survey that the Boise State University students did about the art culture in Boise, specifically, exploring how/if artists can make a living here.  The survey included visual, as well as performing arts. I participated in the survey.

This is a pie chart of the results when asked whether artists could make a living here in Boise. Almost half said no.

Only 27 percent of artists said Boise has all the resources they need.  You can read more about the results here.

In my interview with the city, they asked me questions related to this and you can read them there. Basically, I agree that visual artists struggle to make a living here.  There are not many opportunities for emerging artists to show their artwork.  I think things have improved over the years, especially with programs and encouragement from the City Arts & History Department.  But much more improvement could be made.

I hope the survey prompts the city and other organizations to create more support for local artists.

If you would like to read more interviews about our local artists, here is the general link for the City's blog.  Just scroll down for more interviews.

Do you feel your city is a place artists can make a living with their art and be supported?

Monday, June 8, 2015

Thought of the Day

"There is much to use of nature's way. It is with you always, available to you always.
Take time to hear and see that which is close at hand."
- John & Lyn St. Clair-Thomas

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Lines Series

I've completed another artwork in the Lines series.  Work on this series comes intermittently, usually when I have fused fabrics out for another piece.  Thus far, all the pieces in the series are 12" x12" or smaller and they are all fused.

12" x 12"
©2015 Lisa Flowers Ross

This artwork was created using some of the same fabrics I had used in my SAQA Benefit Auction piece (which I posted about here).  I really like the combination of lime green and teal blue.

I envision working on larger pieces for this series, someday.  I have so many ideas to work on, it is hard to get to them all.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Urban Sketchers

The local Urban Sketchers had a special session this past Saturday.  I haven't been able to join them for a while.  And even though we have visitors, I went to draw with them at a private residence here in town.

Melissa Frazier was kind enough to let us roam and sketch in her beautiful yard and gardens, where she also had goats, chickens and a dog wandering around.  The weather was perfect in the morning and, despite being located in the city, it felt like being in the country.

Charlie sketching on the right with the dog, goat behind the gate, Pam sketching on the right.
 More of the Urban Sketchers.

A handsome resident.

(Photo by Pam McKnight)

My sketches.

It was just what I needed.

Friday, May 29, 2015


The graduation ceremony for Anna's High School was this past Tuesday.  Both sets of grandparents and a great uncle were here to witness the event.  Of course, lots of pictures were in order!

 Anna and Grandma Peggy

Frank, Uncle Bob, Grandpa Flowers, Grandma Flowers, me, Anna, Grandma Ross, Grandpa Ross

The ceremony went smoothly.  Frank and I were discussing what we remember about our own high school graduation.  I don't remember much about it.  How about you?  Do you remember your high school graduation?

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Graduate

Today is the day and it is time to get out the embarrassing pictures!  Anna, our little sweetie (who is now a lovely young lady), is graduating from high school today!  We are so very proud of her and relieved the high school days are over.

She will be attending Northern Arizona University in the fall and plans to study Astro-biology.  I know we will miss her but I am also excited for her in this next adventure in her life.  I know I have not prepared her well in the art of picking up after herself and other domestic duties that she will have to deal with at college (as I am not a good role model for that).  But I hope I have prepared her with the knowledge that she can always speak her mind, ask for help when she needs it and will always be loved.

1999 - Getting a head start


2004 - Look! No hands in France.

2005 - Cheese!

2007 - Belgium


2012 - Scotland

2014 - Idaho Scholar and Aerospace program

2015 - Prom

Congratulations, Anna!
Photo credit: Anne Cirillo