Sunday, January 3, 2010

reflection, the quilt

Moving right along in my search for my own style, if one exists...Exhibit 2 is what I consider my very first art quilt, Reflection. I started it in a Leslie Gabrielse class -- he is known for using acrylic paint and large embroidery stitches to define his figures and objects. As well, he likes to use negative space in clever ways.

I went to class with a naive sketch of a naked lady -- the formal study of life drawing and painting was yet a twinkle in my eye at that time. I was bound and determined to work large. This piece is about 40" square.

Here is my first rendering:

When the workshop was over, I had painted the derriere definition and the curve of the back. I had done some stitching, but most of the time there was spent planning and experimenting with fabrics.

Once home, I concentrated on her face:

I was a novice at embroidery, and I consider myself lucky to have ended up with what I consider a smile of reflection --thus the title of the piece -- and a feeling that this is indeed a gentle soul.  I cut out part of her hair and inserted some highlights, stitched,  and then painted some errant strands falling about her ear. Reflective indeed. (Ha, I even painted a faint little blush on her cheek!)

Where does your eye go first? That black arrow-shaped piece so highly visible in my first rendering -- well, that was designed to be the negative space around her breast, but it wasn't supposed to be the first place your eye went! One task was to fashion that negative space so that it didn't look like a black hole that sucked the viewer's eye into it.

Defining the breast posed many decisions -- at this point, what level of detail did I want in the piece?  I decided on a "less is more" approach:

The two styles of stitches would define the breast, while the blanket stitch would follow the rest of the negative space surrounding that part of the body. To minimize the "blackness" of that negative space, I used materials that also contained some lighter colors, and even worked in a piece of red.

A smashing piece of silk was used to create her leg. As I slapped it down almost improvisationally, the area that was supposed to be her knee  jutted out.  I loved it! I used some black acrylic paint to define the knee, and slapped down more silk to define her calf muscle and leg.  All I needed to do then was to use stitching to define the areas:  Well, in my beads and buttons piece (posts last week, and first image, above), I had used warm/cool color contrasts to bring my major image forward. Here, the image is principally warm, save the edge of her back.  Any warm colors adjacent to her are in analogous hues -- the orange-ish hair next to a red, her orange-ish arm sits next to other red hues.

Let's consider other art and design elements.  In comparing the circles, buttons and beads piece with this, something hits me on top of the head -- color -- swaths of soft shades are pretty much absent. Even the figure's face has splashes of polka dots.

Where the curvy lines and shapes created movement in the first piece, here the movement seems to be created by juxtapositions of texture -- varieties of thread, paint, fabric type move the eye through the piece.

Threads that defined borders of the figure were stitched in colors that contrasted to their adjacent fabric. The variety of these elements and their repetition created unity.The piece is symetrically balanced - my reflective woman is fairly centered -- emphasis is achieved through color and texture contrasts, as well as the use of negative space.

If someone spied these two pieces that I have shared next to each other, I don't know if  that person would say, "Hey, this person has a definable style!"  None leaps out.

Here's Reflection. It remains one of my favorite pieces.

1 comment:

Rayna said...

I think the hardest thing is trying to find the common threads that run through our pieces, to give us an idea of our own "voice" or style or whatever you want to call it.

Lay out a bunch of your work on the floor and take a look, Pam. There has to be something there that is common to all of them -- or at least to a lot of them. What is it? A viewpoint? A palette? The fact that you extract the essence of an image and convey it without being photorealistic? Take a few pieces to your next crit group meeting and see what other people say.

I understand. I don't think my work is identifiable as mine - but evidently other people do.
I wish I knew what they saw.

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