Tools of the Trade

I took a class last year with Skip Lawrence , a wonderful painter and an excellent teacher. I decided a couple of years ago to learn how to paint, although my progress is slow because the demands of running my own medical practice impinge on my painting time.

The class was a 5 day session down in beautiful Boone, NC, at Cheap Joe’s Joe Miller has built a wonderful classroom space next to his art supply warehouse, and he brings in fantastic teachers from across the nation. Taking a class like this is a wonderful way for me to vacation: a little structure, a little art, a whole lotta fun!

I do feel out of my element in a painting class, though. It’s challenging to make the brush and paint do what I want them to. After a disappointing first day with my rudimentary skills, Skip gave us our assignment for the rest of the week: paint one thing 20 times! He showed us how he started his own series with a scissors, as a demo for another class. He has since done many lovely paintings of scissors, then moved on to some of his father’s tools.

People in the class chose eyeglasses, lipstick, lots of interesting things… what should I choose? I decided on my plastic spoon from lunch. I traced around it, just as Skip had with his scissors, then I went to work. I have managed to finish seven in the SpoonWorks series!

Around the same time, Jill Jensen asked if I’d like to be included in a show she was curating for the Virginia Quilt Museum that would include quilts using photographs and/or printmakings. I said yes, without a clear idea of what I would make for the show. Finally, as the deadline was approaching, I settled on monoprints of my reflex hammer. I figured most people would recognize it and the shape of the handle had some nice lines.

I used my gel plate and acrylic paint (not textile paint, as I didn’t care about the stiffness of the fabric). I cut stencils of my reflex hammer and printed away, and selected a few of the prints to incorporate into the quilt. I love to print on the gel plate! Its surface is yielding and it’s easy to churn out dozens of prints at a time. Of course, some are better than others, but you can keep layering or paint over something if you don’t like it. When I showed it to my quilt guild, someone gave the piece its title, “Knee Knockers”. The show, “P’s and Q’s”, will be on display from February 21-May 20, 2017.