Tuesday, August 07, 2007
Backgrounds, Week Two
I've been creating "backgrounds" or "complex cloth" for a second week. I'm trying hard to enter my studio with an open mind, approach the task from new angles, and experiment with my threads, material, and machines in ways I've not explored. I am trying not to "make" anything or even "do" things the way I ordinarily do. I've also been trying to think of a new body of work...something to "say" with fibers.
Creating the "backgrounds" in "new" ways is going very well. "Thinking" isn't. Perhaps, I'm just too preoccupied by all the wonderful moments that come with Mathias being home. Perhaps, I'm preoccupied by my Dad's health. Yet, I have been thinking.
The color wheel is part of these thoughts...it all started with a visit from one of my "fiber goddesses", Lee Malerich. Lee has used embroidery as a form of self-expression, a way in which she could document her battles with cancer, and has been included in Fiberarts Magazine, Craft Magazine, and won our state's fellowship three times (after which, the Arts Commission limited the award to twice...with a ten year period between awards.) Lee Malerich is amazing and will be one of three juror's for the EGA (USA) 19th National Exhibition. She is also part of a group that will be exhibiting at Gallery 80808...where my studio is located. The group had a meeting; Lee saw my embellisher (had never heard of such a machine); and Lee arranged to return last Monday in order to have a better look at the embellisher. (I wouldn't be surprised if she owns one now too!) Of course, I was totally honored.
I was also surprised. Okay, I've put Lee Malerich up on a pedestal...so, I likely linger on her every word more than I ought and was looking for "approval" more than I ought and was quietly too nervous just having her in the studio. So, I found some of her comments confusing.
She picked up one of my "backgrounds" several times. She really liked it. I hadn't included an image of it last week; it wasn't particularly interesting to me. She was impressed with the color choices...yellow and purple...compliments. She said she'd like to see "more of that" and less of the monochromatic pieces that were less interesting...and she held up one of the pieces with which I'd been absolutely elated. She likened bold, complimentary color schemes as better design choices. She said that using colors next to one another on the color wheel was "safe". She said I could learn a lot by finding out how I best work with color.
Instantly, I was both confused and confident....conflicting emotions. I've always thought I had a natural sense of color. I still think this. I've been told so by many people and after twenty years of selecting mat boards for custom picture-framing, I'm pretty sure I AM NATURALLY GOOD WITH COLOR! I also know that I gravitate to secondary colors: purple, orange, and green...especially blue-purple, rust, and olive...but that I can use just about any color...and often do. I also rather like a limited palette...and colors that are closer together on the color wheel. I never considered this "easier" or "safer". In truth, I've never actually THOUGHT ABOUT the color wheel when stitching. Having never studied art formally, I've never initially looked at my work or anyone else's from this point of view.
So, although I didn't say anything, I was confident about my use of color. Yet, I was also confused by the conversation. Would my artwork improve if I did pay closer attention to how I used color? Why I selected my colors? Was this really how more "professional" or "academically trained" artists evaluated art? If so, how does my work "rank"?
Well, this did present a challenge. Consciously working with bold, complimentary colors would certainly be a "new" way in which to "experiment". I printed the color wheel above and took it to my studio. (I also learned that I don't have any "true" yellow at all there!) So....here's red-violet and yellow-green
Here's blue-green and red-orange
Here's red and green
Here's blue and orange
Here's yellow-orange and blue-violet (I'll have to do yellow and violet later!)
The final two images are of printed material. I embellished felt through from the reverse and added stitching.
This picture shows three pieces of material. The one in the center has nothing done to it. On the left, ocher colored felt was embellished through from the back. On the left, light blue felt was used. I'm thrilled with how the embellisher can subtly change an ordinary printed material into something unique. All these images can be "clicked" on for closer inspection.
Posted by Susan Lenz at 10:47 AM