Saturday, November 30, 2013


"Abundant Color"  12 X 12  Lori LaBerge  2013

The holiday season is upon us and "Abundant Color" was completed just before Thanksgiving Day.  The bulky yarn for the tree was found in a bin in the studio and overdyed to give it depth.  The color pops against the blue sky, making it the focus and the grayed greens in the background do not pull attention from the tree.  This is one I may find difficulty parting with.  Next will be framing decisions.  I have been framing the 4 X 6 landscapes in modern gallery 8 X 10 black frames.  This piece has the feel of needing a more formal landscape frame.

Since working in the outdoors, the colors of the landscape have been on my mind.  I found a great book written for painters.


Color Mixing Recipes for Landscapes has over 500 color ideas.  The index is set up according to subject.  Need a color for the foliage on an Aspen tree, its there.  Yes, its that specific.  Colors for soil, wheat, tree trunks, the sea, skies, rocks, etc. are included. 

Though it is a book specifically for mixing paint, experienced dyers should be able to get an idea of what color dyes to mix to achieve similar results.  I cannot wait to hit the dye pot. The book is available through Amazon here where you can take a look inside of it.  There is also one for portraits which I have not seen but which can be found here.

We had our first ice storm this week.  I have never hooked snow and this year will be my chance to tackle it.

I put together a partial winter palette of wool.  Winter colors are beautiful.  They are so much more that just white.  Look closely and there will be blues, grays, lavenders, pinks and off-whites in addition to other colors.  The skies may contain subtle shades of yellow, pink and even the appearance of green.  The dark colors of evergreens and tree trunks contrast with lighter hues.  


This grouping would not complete the palette, but it is a good start.  I would like to add one or two warmer colors, depending on the scene created.  It is a good grouping of values as can be seen in the black and white photo below.

Take a walk on a sunny winter afternoon, enjoy the colors that surround you and have a great day.     

Saturday, November 23, 2013


The hooking section of  "Blue Collar" was completed this week and the time has come to start some serious thinking about finishing options.

"Blue Collar" in progress, Lori LaBerge  2013

An old pulley found at an antique shop was spray painted a darker color to show up against the yellow and blue.

I then set the piece on the studio table to work on the design process.

A piece of wood from which the pulley will hang was placed above the hooked work. I still need to find a metal part that it will hang from.  Since silver was the only color chain in the studio, it was used to get an idea of how the planned black chain will look.  

I'm thinking the sides will be framed, but I have a few other ideas.  A piece of wood will be placed on the bottom with a cutout for the excess chain to lay in.  The chain will be stitched onto the piece randomly to prevent it from sliding over the pulley.  Since my husband and I are still working on building the studio and workshop, the finishing of this project may be on hold for a while. Mainly due to this:

A start on packing up the old studio.  Proof that sometimes things get worse before they get better.  If I need anything specific before the first of the year, I may be in trouble.

I also started work on a 12 X 12 studio piece inspired by a smaller plein air work.  It will be a combination of hand-dyed yarn and wool cloth.

"Abundant Color"  in progress,  Lori LaBerge  2013

My husband and I are spending our evenings working on the studio. Here is an update on this week's construction:

Siding was placed on the peak of the porch, I started painting the entry door and Pete started placing the stone tiles on the porch floor.

More insulation was installed on the interior wall of the studio.  If you need insulation installed, I'm your girl as I am quite experienced right now.

Tile was placed part way up the bathroom wall.  This is a messy job and we found it helped to placed nails between the tiles to keep them from shifting down the wall before they dried in place.  

Pete placed more electrical work for the vent which will go over the stove/oven. 

 A closer look at the stone tiles being laid on the front porch entry.

So often, I feel as if a week went by and nothing was done.  I can see from the above that I really did get something accomplished this week.  Write down or photograph your accomplishments during the week, look them over at week's end, realize how much you really did get done and have a great day.

Saturday, November 16, 2013


Lately, I have been thinking about my work in abstract as compared to my more representative work in plein air.  What draws me to each of them and what am I learning from each one?

"Coastal Route" and "Birch Memories"  Lori LaBerge  2013

Abstract, usually of the geometric variety, has always attracted me.  I tend to see abstract as:
          -- emphasizing color, line and shape
          -- creating from the mind, with ideas not visually seen in the real world
          -- veering more toward design, pattern and geometry than plein air work
          -- being less comfortable for the viewer, requiring more thought to understand
          -- tending to be distorted, simplified or exaggerated
          -- relaxing the need to have things proportional or in correct perspective

"Speed Bumps" and "Fall's Beginning"  Lori LaBerge  2013

Plein air or representative landscape work I see more as:
          -- emphasizing light , shadow, and depth
          -- allowing for sense of place or "wanting to be there"
          -- lending itself to a recognizeable subject, more comfortable for viewer
          -- being based on what the eye actually sees
          -- lending itself to more accurate colors
          -- tending to have accurate perspective and proportion
          -- creating an illusion of reality

"Night Ride" and "Blue Ridge Shed"  Lori LaBerge  2013

In general, if asked, I would say abstract is the more creative of the two, while representational is the more technical, though both creativity and technical ability are required for each style.  This is where I find why I enjoy working with both.  I love creating pieces in my mind and looking at things a different way for abstract and learning more about drawing and other core art skills with representational plein air.

Abstract grew with the creation of the camera.  If a camera could capture reality, why paint it?  Abstract artists sought to capture that which the camera could not.  Plein air does not have to be representative as more artists are exploring abstract aspects of this type of work and redefining their art.

"Time to Go"  and "Autumn's Start"  Lori LaBerge  2013

There are many exercises I have experienced that can help an artist grow and learn. Here are just a few:

          -- from my college studio art class -- breakdown a representative painting or photo into squares and notice the abstract concepts of each individual square, which when all squares are placed together form the whole picture.
          -- from a graphic arts class -- play with letters to form various patterns.  Example: Place multiple "A's" upside down, on their side, written as large and small.  Fill a square or other shape with them.  Work with both symmetry and asymmetry.
          -- from self-study -- create a self-portrait, either abstract or representative from a list of five words you would use to describe yourself.
          -- from self-study -- choose a descriptive sentence from a book and create a work from it.  I love old gothic novels and the atmospheric descriptions would lend themselves nicely to this activity.  Song titles or lyrics also work as inspiration.

Enjoy various styles of art, explore your favorites and have a great day.

Sunday, November 10, 2013


Another mixed up week of cold, rain, wind, and even sleet.  More hooking was done on "Blue Collar" throughout it all.

"Blue Collar" in progress,  Lori LaBerge  2013

I was curious to see how the light turquoise blue would work on the bottom section, so I skipped to that rather than continue on the top section.  It works nicely, brightening up the piece and adding contrast.   

The stripe from left to right just below center is hooked horizontally, portraying a rail that stretches across the silos at the quartz plant.  The addition of the pulley when the hooking and whipping process is finished will give the piece a more industrial feel. 

While creating the piece I am thinking about what I want to portray.  This work is not meant to be pretty, it is meant to make people think about the jobs blue collar workers do. The thought of meaning brought me to thinking about titles of artwork. Do we need to title our work?  Does it help the viewer?  What if we don't title it?

I like titles.  I think they bring the viewer into the artist's thought process.  After all, if you created something, you must have had a main idea going on.  There must have been something about the scene or abstract concept in your head that attracted you enough to create an artwork of it.  There should be a reason for the creation of the piece.

"Fall Barn Shadows"  Lori LaBerge  2009  
The title lets the viewer know that my interest in creating this piece was the shadows in the snow, on the barn and inside the doorway.

I like to look at a title and figure out if I'm seeing things the same way the artist did. Did the artist make the title quite clear or did they leave some ambiguity?  This is especially important with abstract work which forces the viewer to think creatively. Some viewers like things spelled out and for the most part abstract just doesn't work that way.  A title can help lead the viewer to the artists thoughts.

 "Midstream"  Lori LaBerge  2006
This title gives a clear indication of water running through the center of the work.  From there the work is open to viewer interpretation.

Untitled works have always bothered me.  Untitled 1, Untitled 2, Untitled 3, etc.  I know artists are not writers, but this says something to me.  Does the artist think his or her work is so self-explanatory it does not need a title?  If so, and the viewer doesn't understand the piece would the artist simply dismiss the viewer as "not getting it"?  If the artist couldn't title it, could they even tell me what the piece is about?
"X Marks the Spot"  Lori LaBerge  2008
This is a simple geometric and does not really need a title that explains it.  It is clear that I focused on the shape of the x's while hooking this work.  I was interested in shape and color.  The title is not overly cutesy, which I always try to avoid.  

Every single buyer of my larger work has asked me to tell them about the work and a title is the start of that story.  Titles also help an artist to catalog their work and be able to find pieces more easily. 

    "House Hunting"  Lori LaBerge  2010
The planned title for this piece was "Crow in the City".  As the piece was being completed, I thought there was more to this.  What was the crow doing in the city?  This title is more specific and tells more of a story. 

My experience is that people who visit exhibitions like titles.  It gives them a connection to the artist.  Buyers, especially collectors, like to know the artist, whether meeting them personally or through understanding the meaning or method of their work. 

Notice the titles on the artwork you view, think about whether you relate to or understand that title and have a great day.

Saturday, November 2, 2013


Work continued on "Blue Collar" this week:
"Blue Collar" in progress,  Lori LaBerge  2013

So far, the blues in my stash bin have been enough to work with.  I decided on a 4-cut instead of 6-cut for this piece to contrast with the roughness of the pulley that will be placed on top, so the hooking is taking a little longer than planned. 

The lighter stripe on the right will need to be changed as the break between the blues within it is too abrupt.  I'm going to try staggering the lighter blue down further into the medium blue to see if that will work.  The piece as a whole will come together better once the aqua color is added to the bottom section.      

In a previous blog I had talked about thoughts on finishing this piece with pulley attached and am still contemplating what type and size of wood to use on top, the type of adhesive for placing the time cards on the wood, how it will hang and other matters. 

The Plein Air Hooking Artists website is up and running at We have a wonderful group of artists who are interested in the study of light, color and nature.  Susan Feller, Patricia Winans, Michele Phillips and Laura Pierce are kicking off this group working in the plein air tradition.  We would love to have you become a part of this, so please check out our Join Us page on the site.  I know winter is headed our way, but we have special winter rules for the group so no one freezes out there.

Working outside with a scrap bin has led me to becoming a bit more organized for plein air work. 

My messy scrap bin is quite pretty to look at, but needs some organizing.

My new organized bin.

I recently purchased a tool bin for screws and am using it to hold a variety of shades of green needed to hook nature.  Drawers were filled according to shade with olives, pure greens, yellow greens, etc. separated out.  The bottom drawers hold dark spotted greens needed for shadows, emphasis and background.  Another bin will be purchased later to hold various sky colors.

Heading out into the field to hook this morning I had the chance to enjoy a bright sunny day with a few clouds.  The piece still needs to be cleaned up and steamed, but I took a quick photo of it.  

 "Birch Memories"  Lori LaBerge  2013

Enjoy the beautiful fall weather before winter arrives and have a great day.