Saturday, May 30, 2015


"Coleus II" in progress  8" x 25", Lori LaBerge  2015

This week I started the hooking process on a piece created from an outdoor sketch. Notes were taken on weather conditions, temperature, light and shadow, color and other aspects of the surrounding area.  When studying the notes in the studio, the decision was made to take some liberties with the colors to give the work a more dramatic feel.  Maroon and burgundy hues were changed to brighter pinks and a light green leaf was changed to an off-white mix.

There is an overall planned composition to this work, which was done in the sketching phase and transferred onto the linen backing.  I decided to do this after reviewing the composition practices of some of the master painters.  They used quite a lot of geometry in planning out their works and took time doing this before starting the painting process.

There is a diagonal line that follows vertically through the piece.  The line starts in the upper left touching the top of the larger leaf.  It than continues down to where the center of the large vein ends.  The line then touches the edge of  the bright pink leaf on the left hand side.  It continues down past the left bottom edge of the white leaf toward the bottom of the right hand side.  The diagonal line gives movement to the work as the eye looks through it.

The piece is divided into thirds vertically.  The left vertical line touches the edge of a leaf not hooked yet, follows to the top edge of the larger colorful leaf, touches the left edge of the white leaf and the edge of part of the greenery below.

The right line again touched the edge of part of the work not hooked yet, hits the edge of part of the vein of the larger leaf continuing toward the edge of the right dark vein in the white leaf and on toward the edge of one of the green sections below.

The piece is also divided into five sections horizontally.  The top of the colorful leaf hits on the first line.  The bottom of the right hand side of the colorful leaf and the edge of the dark green/black on the left side hit on the second line.  The third line hits on the bottom of the purple section on the left and the bottom of the white section on the right.  The final line hits on the bottom of a section of the purple on the right and the bottom of the white leaf.

Study the composition of artwork you see, take time to think about placement of objects in the design phase of work and have a great day.

Saturday, May 23, 2015


"Mountain Reflections"  24" x 24" , Lori LaBerge  2015

This week "Mountain Reflections" was juried into the Geometric Madi Museum in Dallas, Texas.  It will be in their Biennial: Origins in Geometry exhibit along with work by other artists working with geometric forms.  The exhibit will run from July 10- October 5.

The Geometric Madi Museum contains works which include geometric form and innovation in design.  I was drawn to applying for this show as they have supported the fiber art community in the past with quilt shows by the quilt fields top artists. You can visit their site here.

Recently, someone asked me about composition problems they were having.  I learned the basics quite a few years ago and continue to use that information.  I decided to revisit when problems occur in compositions.

These are the three vases I chose for the study.  The line up of the vases here makes it a bit boring.  They are standing on their own with no clear relationship between them.  The small vase simply looks lost, lonely and overwhelmed by the other two vases.  I do like the "V" shape formed by the order of the vases, but I feel as if I'm looking at three different vases rather than a composition.

This has major problems.  The two vases on the  right as you view the photo are touching on their edges leaving one to wonder which is in front of the other.  This is called a tangent problem.  Also, there is not enough space between the tall vase and the edge of the picture.  There is a nice diagonal formed by the order of vases .  This composition could be vastly improved by simply placing some overlap between them.

Why bother with the two shorter vases if you are going to hide them.  The small vase is almost cut directly in half.  The tall vase sticks out like a sore thumb and the centering of the three vases within the photo space does not add any drama to the work.  The shadow is a bit disrupting to the viewer.

 There may be a need for more space above the tall vase.  Also, the line separating the table from the wall needs to be straightened out.  Otherwise, this is a nice composition if you can ignore my poor Photoshop skills on the far left.  The vases are well placed in relationship to each other.  There is a nice layer of the smallest vase going slightly over the left vase and more so over the tall vase.  The large empty space to the left gives a sense of serenity and relaxation to the work. 

Here is another nice piece.  The fallen vase adds a bit of the unexpected to the work and is well placed next to the other two.  The tall vase falls on an area 1/3 across the width of the photo, lending itself to the rule of thirds.  There is a nice horizontal from the line delineating table from wall and a vertical from the tall vase.  The extra space on the right hand side adds some breathing room so the vases don't feel constricted.  Some may argue the fallen vase leads ones eye out of the picture frame, though I find my eye going from the opening of the small vase around to the rounded vase and up to the tall vase then circling around again.

This composition gives plenty of room above the tall bottle and has a beautiful diagonal leading the eye from left to right.  The group of vases are placed slightly closer to the left side than the right creating interest with the slight asymmetry.  Spacing and overlap are a bit consistent, but shows off each vase nicely.

Though there are rules to composition, it can also be a subjective thing.  Play around with some items in your home, try placing them in differing ways to form a composition and have a great day.

Saturday, May 16, 2015


"The Climb"  14" x 14"  (18" x 18" mounted and framed) Lori LaBerge  2015

Table Rock and Wiseman's View are two of our favorite spots here in North Carolina and we packed a picnic and headed out to Table Rock this week.  We ran into a couple who were preparing their equipment for rock climbing and that led to designing "The Climb" as part of the Parkway Series.  I kept an eye out for the various colors around us as we walked the trails.  There were purples, yellows, oranges and a large variety of greens.  We had a wonderful day and I got some work done at the same time!

When I moved into the new studio a while back, I had misplaced a few items.  I was quite happy to find my container full of vintage Putnam Dyes.

  Look at that price tag on the lower left of the front of the dye packet.  15 cents.

Back of dye packet

I think about the Biltmore Estate here in North Carolina every time I see these as there is a Putnam Dye cabinet used to hold the dye packets in the laundry room area.  Putnam Fadeless Dyes started as Monroe Drug Company.  The company hired a pharmacist who was interested in creating a dye for a variety of fabrics and the company converted to a dye company.  You can read about the fascinating history of the company here.  There is a guide to the Biltmore house you can scroll through at Romantic Asheville.

I received the book above from my daughter for Mother's Day.  There are wonderful quotes from Plato, Joseph Campbell and many others.  The photos are great inspiration for dyeing.  The book speaks of shapes and patterns and how they connect us to the world. 

Notice all the patterns around you, both natural and man-made, and have a great day.

Saturday, May 9, 2015


"Missing Windows" in progress  36" x 60", Lori LaBerge  2015

The majority of the week was filled with paperwork.  There was writing up information for the Plein Air group exhibit at Sauder, accounting, filling out forms, keeping up with inventory, preparing photos, continuing to prepare for classes, ordering supplies and class items, etc.

As a result of this, I did not complete as much as I would have liked on "Missing Windows". I added some bright blues in with the lighter blue and will be making some small tweaks on some of the green sections later on.    

I like to be ahead of myself with projects and made a trip to the local yarn store for when I'm ready to start whipping the edges.  Unfortunately, some of the colors I used were not readily available.  I thought about dyeing yarn for the whipped edges, but don' t want a perfect match.  I will be writing some yarn companies for samples this coming week.

A look inside the studio.

A larger work is hard to see while you are working on it.  I decided to place a carpet strip on the wall to place the work on and get a better view.  Love it!  This really allows me to step back and look at the pieces overall effect. 

I also thought that since I am working on the windows of abandoned buildings, I would start working on some smaller pieces related to abandoned items in buildings.  These works are still in progress.  All will be on black fabric and later be screwed down through the linen onto a backing board.  I'm contemplating hooking around the edges of these.

This is an old single-gang cable outlet cover found at an architectural salvage shop. I am using the edges of cut linen that are often left after bigger projects.  I hooked a small square, spray painted it and placed the cover on top so part of the hooking shows behind it.   I love the way the paint has been scraped off of this over the years.

 An old door chain latch was used on this piece.  

The aged patina is great on this double gang cable outlet cover. 

Consider setting up a place where you can more easily view your larger work as it progresses ( a carpet strip can be attached to most any wall and a canvased artwork could easily cover it when not in use if need be) and have a great day.

Saturday, May 2, 2015


"Coleus I"  8" x 8", Lori LaBerge  2015

We saw snow, wind and a couple of beautiful days while up in Vermont.  I took advantage of the nice days to sift through my stash of wool I had brought with me. The coleus were out at the garden center and I couldn't resist.  I always carry plenty of greens for plein air work, browns, black and white for neutrals and, luckily, had some pinks with me.  

The piece was done over a two day period.  I worked about 5 hours each day.  The most time seemed to be spent finding the right colors to use.  This seems to be the most difficult part of plein air.  It is very different from color planning in the studio and being ready to hook away.  It is more a process of having the basics available and color planning as you hook.

"Coleus I" framed , Lori LaBerge  2015

This piece will go to Sauder Village Rug Hooking Week in a special exhibit by the Plein Air Hooking Artists.  Artists represented in the exhibit will include Laura Pierce, Susan Feller, Patricia Winans, Jo Franco, Michele Phillips, Jean Ottosen and myself.  All have been busy exploring the process of plein air as we will each be creating two pieces.  If you are near Sauder Village from August 12-15, please check out our exhibit along with all the other rug work on display.  Our website can be seen here.

Work was started on a second piece which will be done in the studio.  

A plan for the piece was sketched out.  The work will be 8" x 25".

The sketch was placed into Photoshop to be color planned.  The printout of the colors can be seen on the right in the photo above.  I then drew out the sketch on linen.

Some colors were chosen off the shelf.  A stronger pink along with a few other hues will need to be dyed. 

  "Missing Windows" in progress,  36" x 60",  Lori LaBerge  2015

Work is also continuing on "Missing Windows" with more dark green strips of wool being added for more contrast and more light blue hooked in.    

Enjoy the spring weather, try working plein air or sketching out some ideas from nature and have a great day.