Posts Tagged ‘Gloria Hansen’

Gloria Hansen’s New Book – A Surprising and Beautiful Journey

I have followed the career of Gloria Hansen for a long time and thought I knew her as an artist. Apparently not! Her new book, Gloria Hansen:  An Evolution in Stitches, Paint, & Pixels reveals an artistic journey full of unexpected influences and is an amazing catalog of her art-making career.  It reveals Gloria as a true renaissance woman, skilled in many artistic media and inspired by the world around her.

I love to see other artists’ studios and Gloria’s book opens with an introduction featuring several pages of her work spaces and materials.  It’s glorious to see the sheer amount of stuff she has crammed in to her workspace; it’s reassuring that someone who makes such pristine artwork works in such a material-heavy environment.

Here was the first of many surprises about Gloria.  She works in many media; her sample of a dog sketch in one of her journals was a revelation to me.  You can see she really works in her journals and sketchbooks.  The stack of books is huge and many of the books are lumpy with mixed media. Everywhere you look in the photos, you can see color and experimentation.

But, of course, Gloria is best known for her use of digital images printed on fabric and used in art quilts.  The book begins with artwork from 2002 –  present, including many of her awards, special exhibits, and her previous book, Digital Essentials. Gloria’s editorial voice is lively and she shares many photos taken at exhibits and events.  It’s a personal book in the very best sense.

Gloria wisely devotes fifty-four pages to her newer artwork before turning to artwork and publications from three time periods 2000 – 2001, 1992 – 1999, 1986 – 1991, followed by a section on her embroidery work.  Gloria’s talents as a writer were utilized early in her career and she also began winning awards for her innovative designs and beautiful stitching very early in her artistic career.

Surprise #2.  I honestly didn’t know beautiful and integrated the stitching is on Gloria’s artwork.  I appreciated the detail photos of the artworks featured as full-page photos and the frequent appearance of a small blurb about the artwork’s inspiration.

I appreciate how hard it is to sustain and grow a career, but Gloria has succeeded by working toward her strengths and evolving the complexity of her designs through her computer skills.  The story of how those computer skills developed is also integral to the book.

The biggest surprise for me was the section about her embroidery work. Who knew? You can see the same attention to details and color that later appear in her art quilts.

Her “Closing Stories and Thoughts” begin, “I struggle . . . ”  This typifies the tone of the entire book.  It shows that great careers are made by experimenting, never giving up, being true to one’s skill base, and working, working, working. Kudos to Gloria for having the courage to share the entire journey of her career to date, rather than just the highlights.

The book is available as a PDF download directly from Gloria for only $15 or from Blurb book for $60 with standard paper or $67 with premium paper.

I read it as the PDF file and it took me awhile to grasp the structure of the book; I kept going back to the Table of Contents to see where I was in Gloria’s journey.  But if you are use to reading books on various tablets, I don’t think this would be a problem.  Once I read the book, I read it again backwards.  I agree with Gloria’s strategy in starting with the present and working backwards in time, but it was fun once I knew the whole story to see the growth and evolution of her artwork from the very beginning.

This book is not only inspiring, but it also a fine record of the career to date of one of our most well-known artists working with art quilts.  If only mainstream publishers realized how important it is to record the history and development of pioneers in our field, such as Gloria.  I’m thankful that Gloria made the time to create this record of a 30-year career and shared it so generously with us.



09 2012

Gloria Hansen: The Diva of Digital

Gloria Hansen is one of those people who just overwhelms me with her talent, her generosity, and her ability to multi-task.  In addition to winning over 200 (yes, 200!) awards for her artwork, she has written the definitive work for artists seeking to understand the whole image, pixel, Photoshop thing that is so important for entering exhibits.  Her book, Digital Essentials:  The Quilt Maker’s Must-Have Guide to Images, Files, and More! published by Electric Quilt Company, was a USA Book News “Best Books 2009” finalist. Two notable current shows include Visions 2010: No Boundaries, on display from Oct. 2010 – March 2011, at Oceanside Museum of Art in California, and Form, Not Function: Quilt Art at the Carnegie, on display January 7 – March 5, 2011 at the Carnegie Center for Art & History in New Albany, Indiana.

1.  Why are you participating in the ONE fundraiser for the American Cancer Society?
Several reasons:   I am very happy to be involved in this cause.  While my contribution is small, I recognize that the culmination of every contribution can continue the flow of money to help develop the research that will make a positive difference in the lives of those now fighting cancer and to help prevent others from ever experiencing it  Sadly, I’ve had people very close to me die of cancer.  My father-in-law died of colon cancer. My dear aunt had breast cancer in her 30s and then died of it after getting it again in her 70s.  Happily, however, there are others in my life that made it through treatment and are now cancer free.  The differing outcomes hammer on the desperate need for research dollars to encourage screenings, find better treatments, and to ultimately find a cure for all cancer.

Three Birds by Gloria Hansen.  This is one of Gloria’s artworks that will be available during the ONE fundraiser on February 16.

2.  Tell us about your collages for ONE.
I used a variety of techniques that I’m fond of.  I worked with digital prints on fabrics, thin metals, spun polys, and other subtrates. I also included fabric and papers that I painted with dyes and/or acrylic paints.  I used different types of finishing methods such as black gesso to seal the edges of the work.  My goal was to create a range of looks to hopefully appeal to a wider range of tastes.

3.  What are you working on in the studio now?
My main fiber work is a series based on a digital collage of photographs taken over a period of several years.   It’s my “Journey” series.  The imagery is very personal, yet obsured and heavily layered.  The first in the series is called “The Journey.” I also have smaller, experimental work going on which is mainly based on digital designs and prints on different substrates.  I’m printing on thin metal and experimenting with ways of working the metal into my fiber work.  I am also experimenting with printing the same image on mulitple types of surfaces – from sheers and poly spuns to papers and fibers, distressing layers to reveal layers underneath and so on.

While I love digital design and printing, I also enjoy painting and combining digital with layers of paint, and I’m also combining digital with some traditional hand embroidery, something I once did a lot of (in my early 20s, I earned a Master Craftsman in embroidery from the Embroiderers Guild of Ameria).   Oh, I’m also  about to stitch together a journal made of watercolor papers that I first painted and dyed and then digitally printed on.

The Journey by Gloria Hansen.  See more of Gloria’s artwork on her website and stop by her blog for an interesting blend of art and technology news.

4.  Where do you find inspiration?
Everywhere.  I generally tend to look, really look, at nearly everything around me.  I fixate on the color, line, shape, the compostion, angle of light, and so on.   I’ve enjoyed photography from a young age and jumped into digital photography early on.  As a result, I have thousands and thousands of digital images that I’ve taken over the years stored on many external drives.  I’m constantly adding to those images.  I’m also big on journals, sketchbooks, and idea books, which I’ll often refer to for inspiration.  I’m fortunate in that I started with computer drawing and painting programs early on, and I’ve been working with Photoshop for nearly two decades. While there is always something to learn with that massive program, it’s second nature  for me to experiment with ideas and images digitally.  An afternoon in a book store or museum works, too.

5.  What advice do you have for artists who are seeking their unique voice or direction in their own artwork?
First you have to develop your technical skills, including color and design.  Then, when it’s time to seek your unique voice, you need to take the time to hear it.  Stop taking popular classes for the sake of taking popular classes. Stop reading books and magazine on the latest craze.  Stop concerning yourself with what everyone else is doing and making.  Such things can become overwhelming and create a lot of confusing noise that will block your voice.  Instead, give yourself daily solitary time to focus on your work.  When you hit on something that excites you, immerse yourself in it. Explore it every which way. Take notes on what you are doing.  Create small experimental pieces.

When you hit a wall, keep on working.  Look at a few art magazines or visit a museum to charge up your creative juices.  If you know some like- minded artists whose opinions you trust and whose work you admire, consider getting together to talk about what you are doing.  Once a month or so can be and helpful.  Most important, however, is the work. At times it will feel exhilerating, everything will click, and your voice will be clear; other times it will feel painful, nothing will come together, and you voice will seem silent. Regardless of where you fall on the scale, you must show up at your designated work area and do the work, especially when you do not want to.  The goal should be every day, if even to sit for a while in your workroom and ponder. If you stay focused and consistently do the work, you will hear your voice and with it you will find your direction.


02 2011

Digital Essentials – A Tool Box for Artists

It’s very seldom (make that never) that a computer book arrives at my house and makes my heart go pitter-patter.  But I was genuinely excited when Gloria Hansen’s Digital Essentials arrived.

The book is subtitled, “The quilt makers’ must-have guide to images, files, and more!”  That just about says it all, except that I would delete quilt. All artists can use this book because if you are an artist today, you must know about printing, scanning, photography, and using the web.  

So many of us use these tools without a good grasp of their capabilities and limitations and thus do not present the images of our artwork as well as we could.

Gloria Hansen, co-founder of GloDerWorks (a full service Web company with offices in the US and UK), is an expert in the easiest and most efficient ways to use digital tools in making and presenting our art.  

Gloria has always been uber generous in sharing that knowledge. If you subscribe to any online groups of which Gloria is a member, you probably have a file like mine marked “Info from Gloria.”

Well, delete that file because now we have the one-stop book. Have I ever calibrated my monitor?  Nope. Knew or understood the “canvas” part of an image?  Oh, oh, no.  Have I ever removed a piece of art from its background?  Big no.  Understood exactly what it was those entry forms were asking? Sort of.  Now you know why my heart went pitter-patter.

The book starts with the basics (files, resolution, color) and builds from there.  Step-by-step directions and screen views are given for all procedures for both PCs and Macs. “Working with images” and “Saving for the web” are the following chapters.  

The Reference section includes a clever guide based on questions. For example:  How can I size images and make thumbnails for them in sections? Following are a discussion of the various image-editing programs available, how to put a pdf on your web site, a glossary of terms, and an index.  

I’m very seldom so effusive about a book, but a book has so very seldom seen a need and met it in such a cogent and useful way.

Digital Essentials is available directly from Gloria’s website as well as the usual book outlets.


10 2008