Saturday, March 29, 2014


As the month of April will be spent mostly on the road, I am getting an early start on preparations for the Toe River Studio Tour in June.  Since everything has been moved from the old studio, the new studio is in a bit of disarray with boxes everywhere.  I did, however, manage a bit of organization this week.

Monday was spent on more finishing work.

"Ocean Surf"  10 X 10 framed size,  Lori LaBerge  2014

The edges were whipped with three shades of blue.  A dark fabric was used for the background as it showed off the colors in this work better than the light gray background I used on a piece shown in last week's post.  

I purchased a small sideboard for display purposes and storage.  Since red is my accent color in the studio, this was perfect.

Tuesday was spent starting display.  I'm working one wall at a time.  This area will show some of the smaller items that will be for sale.  I'm looking at various types of blinds and curtains to protect the fiber work from the sun.  When working, I will use the bar on the right for hanging wool, wall hangings, etc.  I am also deciding which type of hanging system to put in the studio so I do not have to keep patching nail holes.

Wednesday and Thursday were spent unpacking some boxes and hooking a little more on "Red Light in the City".  Yes, this piece will be done the hooking process next week.  It has taken a little longer than normal to finish this piece due to work on the new studio and preparations for April trips.

Friday was spent on paperwork.  I also decided it was time to redo my portfolio, which had photos of quite a bit of older work in it.  I replaced all the sheets with the "Road Series", some of the "Stripe Series" and newer figurative work.

Since at least two of the galleries where I had work have closed this past year, I will be looking for new ones as I increase my inventory.  Everything is cohesive.  This portfolio, for example , includes geometric abstract and figurative abstract.  It does not include any of my plein air or landscape works as they are different from my abstract work and would create confusion for the gallery as to whether I was an abstract or landscape artist. 

A portfolio is a way for gallery owners to quickly look through work to see if it is of interest of them.  Photos of work come first.  Think about where you click first on an artist's website.  I would bet it is their gallery of work.

I include a photo of the work, the title, my name, the size and whether mounted or framed, the technique and the price.  It is important to make it as easy as possible for the gallery to see information.  I put the price up front as I remember finding it annoying to look through portfolios with a price list at the back.  Looking back and forth wastes time.  Some disagree with me on this and like to be more discreet with pricing.

Sample page from portfolio.  

I sometimes create a separate portfolio for visitors to the studio which may have a price list at the back.  If they are interested in purchasing a piece, they can find the price, but it is not up front preventing them from focusing on the work.  I place my resume, artist statement and bio at the back of the portfolio.  If you like, you can include clips on your work from newspapers or magazine articles.

If you are not selling, it is still important to keep a record of your work.  You may want to do yearly portfolios or simply one large one for personal use.  Include any information you think you or others may find of interest.  For a personal portfolio, you may want to include your inspiration for a piece, why you did it, any difficulties you encountered in creating the work, etc.  It is a wonderful feeling to look through it years later or have it for family members to browse through. 

Create a photo record of your work, enjoying browsing through it and have a great day.   

Saturday, March 22, 2014


I always find it interesting when something unexpected happens in the studio.  I was painting art boards for framing when I placed the hooked work to the side and changed my whole framing idea.

 "Time To Go"  18 X 18, Lori LaBerge  2013 

When I had placed the pieces I was getting ready to frame to the side, they landed on top of a piece of gray and white herringbone wool.  The combination looked great.  The decision was made immediately to drop the paint idea and cover the board with the herringbone pattern. Little things can make a big difference and this seemed to upscale the work tremendously. 

"Night Ride", framing in progress

The one thing I will have to deal with is the increase in price I will have to place on the pieces.  This method requires more work.  I had to label the work, paint the art board (to protect fabric from acid), label the art board, and hand stitch the work to the herringbone and cover the art board with the herringbone (which is more expensive than painting the board).  I still have to hand stitch a cover to the back of the work and place yet another label on this for a professional finish. 

Why so many labels?  If someone removes the actual hooked work, it is labelled.  If they remove the work with the herringbone wool attached, it is labelled, and if they leave as is, it is labelled.  It is interesting how I do all this, yet rarely sign my name on the front of a piece.  Somehow, for me, it detracts from the work and I only do it if a gallery requires it. Believe it or not, when I worked in a gallery we had painters who signed their name so large you noticed the name before the actual artwork.

I use printable fabric for labels on work.  They are ironed and stitched for staying power.

Different things attract people to art, but a lazy finishing job can immediately halt any interest.  If you can sit back , honestly critique your work and still enjoy looking at it for a period of time, you can be sure others will enjoy it also.  After a while you begin to know when to frame or when to hang a piece.  The piece will tell you and, often, buyers will tell you.  It pays to listen to them.

Close-up of finishing work on art board corner.  Covering the board took time as I was trying to avoid any bump from doubled fabric in the herringbone when the corner was rounded.

And look what came in the mail this week:

If you do not have a subscription to Fiber Art Now, you are missing out on some excellent coverage of the fiber art world.  The latest issue has an article on contemporary rug hooking featuring some of the best in their field.  The article is inspiring to those who have a respect for the art form and love seeing the direction it is taking.

Since this post discussed finishing, I thought I would refer people to " Finishing Hooked Rugs".  This is full of great techniques and could lead to new ideas for your work.

Experiment, strive to give your work the finish it deserves and have a great day.

Saturday, March 15, 2014


Sunday of last week, at the ocean, was spent studying waves and hooking plein air on the beach.

"Ocean Surf"  7"X7", plein air, Lori LaBerge  2014

This was a new experience.  Sitting in front of a moving subject and hooking is totally different than hooking a mountain, barn or tree which stands still or hooking in the studio. I had to rely on memory as wave after wave crashed onto the shore. Notes were jotted down on where the light was hitting the waves and rough drawings were made of basic wave shapes.

Values were important in noting the darkness in the curve of the wave and the lighter edge of the crest.  As I tend to do quite a bit of geometric work with hard edges, I enjoyed the randomness of waves with each one creating its own individual shape and varying in size from the one before or after it.

In working plein air landscapes it is best to chose the shadow position you want and stick with it.  Similarly, one can choose from various wave positions when deciding which to depict.

A smaller, calm swell approaching with foam left on the shore from the wave in front of it.

A wave starting to crash onto shore.

One half already crashed and the other half with the wall of the wave showing.

After crashing with water returning to the ocean and patches of foam in the water behind.

A dramatic wave with the splash reaching high into the air.

When I returned home, a group of art videos along with a book I had ordered arrived. 

Ian Roberts' composition package through the Artist's Network.

I had some time to start listening and chose the plein air video first.  I find this method to be a great way to learn about specific aspects of art as it allows me to work at my own pace with the only deadlines being those I impose on myself.  After listening to part of the video and skimming through the book, I'm finding this grouping to be really informative and Ian Roberts to be extremely knowledgeable about his subject while able to express himself well.

Next time you are near the water take time to really watch its movement, think about how you would depict it and have a great day.

Saturday, March 8, 2014


"Red Light in the City"  in progress, Lori LaBerge  2014

I've been working my way up the design of "Red Light in the City".  There will be one more yellow-green section to hook in.  I will change some of the position of the light and dark yellow-green in the upper left square as it is making some odd looking shapes right now. I'm contemplating using two shades of gray for the whipped edges instead of just a dark gray.  

The large hooking was left at home and I am now at the coast with a beautiful view of the ocean.  Bits and pieces of wool were packed and I'll see if I get anything done with it or simply decide to relax.  There is wonderful inspiration here and I'm having fun with the camera.

When we walked in the door we were greeted by a hooked rug.  Nice start!

Waves crashing and splashing.  So many shades of blue, white, green and beige and the sound is just magical.

I just love the hollow of this wave.  Dark olive greens really create depth when the water rolls.

Sitting on the deck, I was surprised to see this.  A pod of dolphins jumping and playing.

This dog was having a grand old time putting its paws in the water then backing away from the waves as they rolled ashore.

Fencing right off the deck will probably lead to a hooked piece.  Love the lines and shadows.

Surfboards leaning on the wall of our neighbor's rental.

This guy looked like he meant business, so I backed out of his way as he headed up the shore.

A much friendlier fellow enjoying the light breeze and morning sunshine.

Vacations can bring so much inspiration without even realizing it.  Enjoy yours and have a great day.

Saturday, March 1, 2014


"Red Light in the City"  in progress,  27 X 36 Lori LaBerge  2014

Work continued on the latest geometric work this week.  I had a few problems with the color of the larger square and decided on two values of a strong yellow-green. The duller yellow-green that was first placed in the piece had a value that was too close to the grays and tended to disappear, adding nothing to the design as a whole.  

When working on a piece, I always look forward to seeing how it will change from the original idea.  The yellow will triangulate around the work.  A black line will be placed across the whole piece above the purple.  The black line, along with the triangulated yellow will help draw the eye to the red.

I started some design work on my figurative abstract series.  These will be 30" X 30" hanging works.  Here is how the process on one piece is going so far:

I looked through my collection of photos and this one grabbed my eye.  I'm looking for scenes that will make a good backdrop for a figure.  This photo was taken while I was waiting at a traffic light.  The reflection was what caught my eye.

I cropped the photo to focus on the reflection.

The photo was flipped horizontally as I felt the traffic lights in the original pulled one's eye out of the picture.

This was the time to see how a figure would look with the background.  The arched section to the left of the traffic lights from the earlier photo was eliminated as it detracted from the figure.  The photo as a whole was simplified.

I squared out the format.  This gives the design more breathing room, creating slightly more space between the figure and the objects around it.

I changed the design to black and white to check value.  This helps to find where things don't look right or need changes.  The design itself is good, but the figure doesn't stand out as much as I would like and the values look a little off balance with the darker traffic light drawing the eye to the upper right.

The eye is naturally drawn to any figure that is in an artwork, but  darkening the value of the head of the figure makes all the difference in this piece.  The largest value contrast  is in this area, the darkest against the lightest, lessening the pull from the dark traffic light.

Here is where I am with the design right now.  There will be more work with color.

The start of an idea and current design side by side.

You never know what you may find in your photo collection.  Look through photos both as a whole and in sections searching for design ideas and have a great day.