Monday, August 30, 2010

What Lies Beneath

Leslie Brier, Brier Design Studio

I go to the Old Town area of Fredericksburg several times a year to take photographs. Usually, I am there to get beautiful shots of Old Town, such as the church spires, the Rappahannock River, Civil War-era graveyards, or one of the beautifully restored historic sites. The items that invariably draw my attention away from those things are the rusty, grungy underpinnings of the town  that I see on the side streets, or in alleyways.

Most people associate cities with sleek modernity, but when you get down to it, cities are really, really old. And when their ancient roots are showing, I have to stop and marvel. And sometimes, I even take a little piece of it home with me.

This is an assemblage that started with photographs that I've taken of bits and pieces of Fredericksburg that I love. I printed the images on canvas and attached them to a wooden base. Then, I attached some of the treasures that I've aquired on my walks through the 'burg. For me, this is the graphic equivalent of comfort food. It sums up the things I love about my adopted home town.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Pumpkin Palooza!

by Leslie Brier, Brier Design Studio

My September/October 2010 issue of Cloth, Paper, Scissors arrived on Friday. I always look forward to receiving this magazine in the mail, but this month was really special for me, because I have an article in this issue: Paper or Plaster? A Plastic Pumpkin Makeover.

The articles details my technique for repurposing those little plastic halloween jack-o-lanterns that kids bring home from parties, as well as the big ones that they carry while trick-or-treating. (The photos in the article are much nicer than these.)

I spent a lot of time during last year's snowstorms working on these guys. They were all over my house. I had to remember to explain to visitors why my house was full of Halloween decorations! (There's nothing like a little creative anachronism to make the neighbors think you've lost your mind.)

If you'd like to make some of these with me, I'll be teaching a workshop on October 23, 2010 at Artistic Artifacts  in Alexandria,Virginia. Details coming soon.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

She Waits

Several weeks ago I set out to create a piece for the Uniquely Fredericksburg show. I thought I was going to do a horizontal piece with three of these windows. However, the piece had other plans.

I laid down several layers of background paint, and when I looked at the picture vertically, I could see the form of a woman, so I decided to use water-soluble pastels to sketch in her head and neck. Once I got that in, I could see there would only be room for one window, with a lot of blank space at the bottom. I decided that the woman was waiting for her husband to come home from war. I sifted through some old family letters and came across one that told of a father dying in a civil war hospital. It said that he was buried a few weeks before the family knew he had died.

The next day, I went to the Confederate Cemetery on Amelia Street to take some photos. Then, for the next three nights, I pushed and pulled and struggled with the piece. I kept telling myself that I didn't need to make this deadline; there would be other shows.

I put a man inside the window, and realized it wasn't working for me. The panes in the window cut his face up in a strange way. Plus, the man was gone... he wouldn't be looking out the window. The family would be looking for him. I quit working on the piece.

Two days later, at an estate sale,  I found  a photo of a girl. On a whim, I put her behind the window, and
she fit perfectly. By this time it was the night before the deadline.
While I was rummaging in my studio for a tool, I found a second photo. The woman in the photo looked to me like the woman I had painted. The piece was completed and I hadn't missed the deadline. I got up early the next morning to hammer the frame pieces onto the finished piece.

Tonight, at the Uniquely Fredericksburg Show, She Waits won a second place ribbon in the mixed media category.