Saturday, March 28, 2015


There was quite a bit of activity in the studio this week.

"Missing Glass" in progress,  Lori LaBerge  2015  

A while back I had found a small swatch of green on the shelves that I wanted to use to replace the teal green in "Missing Glass".  The teal green is too close in value to the blue. The swatch was not enough to replace it so I decided to dye some extra this week.  The darker shade, shown above, will provide a better contrast against the blue and give a better overall balance to the piece.


I decided on a tentative color plan for another design.  You can see the colors above being used in the design below.

"Detour", Lori LaBerge  2015

Wednesday and Thursday morning:

Hand therapy is going well and I can now use a traditional hook for short periods.  I decided to start on a piece I have not yet titled.  It was originally based on orange barrels on the roads, but I did not want to be so literal and changed the barrels to a lilac color. The upper lilac against the light gray will in all likelihood need to be darkened a bit. The bottom half of the piece will be a mix of dark grays. Metal will be added later.

I noticed the use of hit and miss in the last design "Mountain Reflections" did not seem to fit in with the "Road Series" work.  It seemed separated from the other work due to the mix of wool colors.  This has led to a new series called "Parkway". These pieces will all have a hit and miss use of wool in them.  This is a good example of how one thing leads to another and is basically a series within a series.

Thursday afternoon:

A color plan was developed for another "Parkway" work.  The black and white photo shows the variety of mediums, lights and darks chosen.  I'm finding the "Parkway" series pieces more difficult than the "Road" series as I am placing lights on the top and darks on the bottom leading to problems with other colors showing up on both of these. This is leading to a new focus on using various values of the same color on either the light or dark background areas.  I'm interested in seeing where this takes me.


I worked on plans for the class "A Creative Approach to Working in a Series" that I will be teaching at Sauder Village in August.  There will be lots of activities and discussion to enhance the understanding of series work. You can find information on the class here.  I encourage everyone to think about joining us or taking another of the many classes that will be offered at Sauder this year.

As mentioned, I am facing the dilemma of values with both a light and dark being used as a background. Think about the dilemmas you face in your art, welcome the challenge of working with them and have a great day.

Saturday, March 21, 2015


"Mountain Reflections", 20 x 20  Lori LaBerge  2015

"Mountain Reflections" was completed this week.  It was done totally left-handed and though I can now pick up a hook with my right hand, I can't quite bend the hand enough for the proper movement yet.  Soon!

A question artists are asked quite often is how they get their ideas.  There are times even I don't know where an idea suddenly comes from, but most of them come from continuing to enjoy the world around me.  

Everyone works differently.  Here are eight things that work for me.

1.  I tend to work whether I have good idea or not.  There are tons of scribbles and x'd out design plans in my sketchbook.  I find the way to reach an idea is to start with something, anything, and go from there to improve upon it.  There is no need to try to create the final work right off the bat.

2.  A large variety of ideas seem to come at night when it is quiet and I'm not interrupted by phones, e-mails, the nagging laundry needing to be done or other things.  I keep note cards on my nightstand.  I sift through these ideas at various times.  Some work out, others don't.

A Penland class totally open to a variety of ideas.

3.  I create better when I am alone.  While I enjoy classes and learn from them, I often find myself holding back on ideas I would normally go crazy with in the studio. I take what I learn in classes and bring the knowledge and work created there back to the studio to recreate from it.  An environment totally open to odd ideas works best for me, but is not always easy to find.

4.  Some artists I know adhere to strict working hours.  I find I tend to work between noon and 8 p.m., but I'm not a rule stickler about it.  I am definitely not a morning person and find I rarely have good ideas in the morning.  Knowing what hours you function best at can lead to better work production.

Costumes from Downton Abbey on display at Biltmore in North Carolina through May 25, 2015.

5.  I find myself exploring settings and color in movies along with the clothing the characters wear.  I look at the use of texture, horizontals and verticals and the way atmosphere and time period is achieved.  I do the same with books which veer toward heavy description.

"Without, a midwinter twilight, where wandering snowflakes eddied in 
     the bitter wind  between a leaden sky and frost-bound earth.
       Within, a garret; gloom, bare, and cold as the bleak night coming down."

The above quote from Louisa May Alcott's "A Modern Mephistopheles" compares the outdoors and indoors.  It gives a sense of color with the sky and earth.  How could we portray some of these descriptions through our artwork?

 One of my  favorite spots, the sitting area of the bedroom.

6.  A seemingly endless supply of magazines are found around our home.  Interior design, fashion and art.  I love spending a couple of hours jotting down ideas I've seen.  There are color combinations, various use of materials, and special effects achieved by the placement of objects in ads and features.  Don't have magazines, check out the local library.

7.  I often take off to the studio at odd hours to draw out a design idea.  If you have an idea in your head, work on it rather than waiting till later.  It is easy to forget.  I often need to redesign later, but the general idea is there.

"Timeless Travels"  SOLD,  Lori LaBerge,  2013

8.  Mixing ideas from different sources can lead to interesting ideas.  "Timeless Travels" developed from thoughts of traveling on the road and a night spent stargazing with my son.  You never know what your mind may be able to connect.

There are many ways in which artists work.  Accept the ways that work for you and have a great day.

Saturday, March 14, 2015


 "Mountain Reflections"  in progress,  20 X 20, Lori LaBerge  2015

This week led to the completion of the light gray background.  The dark triangles show up nicely and the white lines still show on the light grays.  I am contemplating changing out some colors on the top section of the large triangle.  It is funny how color reacts and the oranges on the edge sections seem to be giving the visual effect of the triangle leaning to the right a bit  in the upper peak.  Or maybe it is the darker line on the left side of the peak causing this. 

I've been reading about the use of line in art this week.  It is one of the basic elements of drawing and sometimes we forget how important it is in our work.

Line performs many functions.  It can define a shape, divide or separate out areas, be used to create a look of texture, create depth (think of looking down a railroad track and how the lines seem to come closer together as the track disappears into the distance) and depict movement.

The apple above has a specific shape, yet it has no definitive lines around it in reality.  It is not outlined as in a coloring book.  The apple is round, a 3-D shape. We look at the shape and create lines to define it when we draw the apple.

A good way to study the use of line is to draw the human figure.  It can be intimidating. The human form is complex.  There are many lines.  Curves, angles, hard and soft lines. Vertical lines are used to find the center line of a figure.  There is the line of the torso section where the body bends.  Basic lines are used to give a general form to the body position before creating a finished figure.

These are some drawings I did a few years ago following instructions in a figure drawing book.  Curved lines define muscular areas while sharper angles define the elbow. Textured lines define indentations in the skin.  Darker lines define depth under the arm while lighter, softer lines give less depth.

Line has direction.  Vertical lines tend to be strong, leading one's eye upward.  I always think of cathedrals when I see vertical lines as architecture also uses the vertical to impart strength.  

Horizontal lines give a sense of calmness.  In "Mountain Reflections" at the top of this post I used wide horizontal lines in the background.  Vertical lines would have been too overpowering behind the triangle shapes, detracting from the strength of the triangle itself. 

Diagonal lines are active.  In "Mountain Reflections", they depict the curve of the mountain roads.  In a human figure the diagonal shows movement such as dancing or stretching.

Lines can change the appearance of things.  Horizontal lines on a building will make it look shorter while vertical will make it appear taller.  We can all relate to this with clothing. Wearing a horizontal stripe at the hip or at the shoulder can make those areas appear wider than they actually are, whereas wearing a vertical stripe gives the appearance of us being taller or thinner.

Drapery has always fascinated me.  Standing still, one's clothing may have few wrinkles and fall fairly straight, but sit down and cross your legs and everything changes.  There are more folds and more angles.  And what happens to clothes when they get wet?  They cling forming smooth areas along with strong creases.  

View the lines of the human form along with how the fabric of clothing changes according to your movements.  Try drawing some of these lines (no need to be perfect, just get an idea of how line defines shapes) and have a great day.

Saturday, March 7, 2015


"Mountain Reflections" in progress, 20" x 20", Lori LaBerge  2015

"Mountain Reflections" is progressing slowly as my right hand heals.  I am constantly changing the way I work according to my hand's ability or inability to maneuver each day.  

Working on proportion and balance in this piece has led me to think about how closely geometry and art are related. Lines, perspective, angles, symmetry, shape and proportion are some of the basics studied in both.  A November trip to the North Carolina Museum of Art led to some good examples.

"Tide", Kenneth Noland, North Carolina Museum of Art

In studying circular shapes the artist may work with radius, circumference and diameter. Sometimes we do not even realize we are working with these aspects of geometry.  We know a circle is symmetrical in shape.  We may deviate with the use of imperfect circles, but they are based on our sense of what a circle is.   

"Matisse Window", George Bireline, North Carolina Museum of Art

Lines, squares and rectangles can be used as the start of a drawing to give shape to something more complex, as when drawing a figure.  They can also be strong shapes on their own in geometric designs as in the color-field work pictured above.

Cubism is often thought of mathematically when viewed due to the cube shapes used in creating that style of work.  Cubist works tend to look sharp and jagged with a strong use of angles.  Picasso and Braque created well-known cubist works.   

Portion of "Raqqa II", Frank Stella, North Carolina Museum of Art

The protractor is a math tool  familiar to anyone who has taken a geometry class. Though I was never much interested in geometry in school, I have often wondered if things would have been different if teachers had related it to art.  Frank Stella created a whole series based on protractors.  He divided protractor shapes, added stripes to them, overlapped them and gave them bright colors.  He pushed away from a singular protractor shape to multiple shapes used together.

"Untitled", Joel Shapiro, North Carolina Museum of Art

Cezanne lived with the belief that simple geometric shapes could be used to portray everything in nature.  It is amazing how the brain can reduce things we see.  The sculpture above gives the feeling of a human figure walking along with the use of four rectangular shapes.

"Gyre", Thomas Sayre, North Carolina Museum of Art

The elliptical shapes in the sculpture pictured above give a sense of movement, similar to a vortex,  as you walk through it.  Many optical illusions are based on mathematical principles.  Op art uses geometric shapes to play with the viewers sense of perception. 

Look at the things around you, break them down into geometric shapes, study artworks to look for use of geometry and have a great day.