Tuesday, 14 November 2017

A CONTEMPLATION ON THE VALUE OF A WAP!

I've been reflecting on the 52 week art project that has become such an important part of my art practice over this past year. 

Although I was initially inspired to give it a go by Brenda Gael Smith (Textile Artist), who had already started hers & was encouraging others to join her...  it didn't take long for me to realize that I didn't need the 'group' dynamic to keep me motivated.  

At the outset, my major concerns about making a committment to this project were ...that I could actually KEEP the committment, and... that it wouldn't interfere with the production of my 'other' work.  I didn't want it to become a noose around my neck. Thankfully, it didn't... most of the time.

So I set myself some rules, both for my practice and for my mindset.  These rules WORKED for me! 

*Setting only one day aside for this project...specifically Monday, so that I started the week with this practice...WORKED.

*Having a size limit & sticking to contemporary reverse applique...whilst very challenging at times...WORKED.

*Having a restricted 'theme'...my garden...WORKED.

*Telling myself that it was just an EXERCISE & that it didn't have to be perfect... WORKED.  In fact, this was the most important rule of all & released me from so much in terms of pressure & anxiety.

*Publicly sharing my WAPs, first on my facebook artist page & then in Blog posts...thereby making myself answerable & accountable to this commitment...WORKED.

Having these rules actually liberated me to explore the possibilities & gave me a much clearer perspective of realistic expectations.

Along the way, there have been some unexpected outcomes that I hadn't anticipated.  One of those has been thanks to the blog.

Using the blog as a platform on which to write, not only about the process of my technique, but the inspirations, thoughts and feelings that led to & occurred during that weekly project... actually helped to clarify & complete the process itself. At times I have felt somewhat vulnerable, so in sharing the exercises that were not so successful, I have had to become a little more brave.

It has also reaffirmed how much I enjoy writing.



The photography of my subjects has  become more important.  I find myself trying to compose shots   & when I don't manage to get a well composed one to put on the blog... I'm aware of it.  It niggles!  My standards have risen!

These pieces were produced as exercises/samples, they were not MEANT to be anything more.  However, some of my results have excited me so much, that I DO want to return to some, develop them a little further and produce them as exhibition quality pieces of art.  My two favourites that I particularly look forward to working on are #22 'Succulent Flower' & #38 Pansy Poetics.  I'm even tempted to have a go at patchwork to reproduce #8 Nasturtiums!

I certainly didn't expect to enjoy the process of this discipline so much.

With that in mind, I have decided to continue doing weekly art projects from January 2018.  There will, however, be a couple of changes.

I'm not going to commit to 52 projects.  This is partly because I know that I am going to be travelling for at least 2 months of next year, & being away from the routine really throws the whole discipline out of sync.  I've also noticed that during the past couple of months whilst I've been participating in a course & fitting the remaining WAP's in when I could....this has been something that DIDN'T work!  It DID become a noose around my neck.  If I hadn't have had that #52 as my deadline, I would have felt better about finishing before the course started.

Therefore, I am going to calculate how many weeks I have before a trip away & set THAT number as the deadline.

My theme will also change.  I have had SEVERAL ideas of what I could use to inspire me through the next year or so.  All of them worthy & exciting inspirations, but my husband definitely came up with the RIGHT one... for me.

Soooooo...in 2018 I will be doing Weekly Art Travels! 

WAT...you might ask??! Well, over the past few years, I have been exceedingly fortunate to travel to a number of countries.  With the introduction of digital photography to the realm of travel... I have taken THOUSANDS of photos.  A large proportion of those were with the specific purpose that 'one day' they would inspire my art making.  Alas...that has very seldom happened!  Soooo...my upcoming weekly projects will return me to delightful adventures in Istanbul, Egypt, Jordan, Spain, Morocco & possibly France, and I will finally have a dedicated time to work with the visual notes my camera has taken, and create something new from those references.

What about between now & then, then?  Well, tonight I nip off to King Island for a short break & when I return, I'll be writing up blog posts of the WAPs I produced earlier in the 52 weeks.  The purpose of this is to then create a book from the blog, to keep as a reference.  I also plan to sort & tidy all the fabrics in my stash.  That will be quite a chore...believe me!

Between now & then, there is also Christmas to celebrate & with that in mind...may I get in early & wish ALL of you, my heartfelt thanks for following this blog, and my very best wishes for a happy Christmas  & an excellent start to a good & happy new year!

See you then!

Cheers!



Monday, 13 November 2017

RED BLOBS OF BEAUTY

It is actually here!
The last of my 52 weekly art projects!

You would not believe how difficult it has been to choose which inspiration from my garden would be my muse for this final project.  As I have looked around my garden areas, I have been made very aware that it would be easy to continue using these plants, birds, animals & trees as a source of inspiration for another year of weekly art projects...but I wont.

As summer has made itself known, and many of my plants have shriveled under it's glare, there is one that has stood defiant, looked the heat in the eye & dared to bloom in pure brilliance.  Red geraniums are dotted throughout my garden areas not only because they are hardy, but because they are beautiful.  As we can no longer avoid the fact that Christmas is just around the corner, I thought this flower the perfect subject to explore for this art adventure!

Drawing, drawing, drawing...all part of the exploring of line & shape & working out how best to place them within the frame!

Once a design was settled upon, it was time to consult the stash.  I knew that I had the PERFECT fabric for the flower section of my geranium, but wasn't sure what else would work alongside it.  After much huffing & puffing...this was my chosen line up.

You'd think that, it being the last of this series of 52, I'd be more diligent about photographing each & every stage...but alas, I wasn't!  Never the less, this was how it looked when my two 'outline' layers had been cut back.  Already I was very pleased with my fabric choices.

More cutting back & a black shadow adds depth to the stems & my lovely dotty fabric is revealed.  It is so tempting to leave it all there, but...

...back it was cut!

Finally, the finished Geranium was revealed.

I am quite delighted with this end result.  The colours & fabric choices all work well together & that floral fabric is as perfect as I thought it would be.  The bright green doesnt distract too much, but adds energy & interest.

What a way to end this series.

What next?  Well, I will be doing another weekly art project next year & I will tell you all about that in my next blog post!  Until then...happy art making!








Tuesday, 31 October 2017

WRESTLING WITH THE ENEMY

This week's art project is dual in purpose.  Not only is it an ongoing and valueable practise in art making, but...in this case...it is also an endeavour to make something positive out of a negative.

There is one aspect of garden life that is predestined to transform me into a raging-ball-of-fury & that is a hose that keeps kinking and WILL NOT straighten out when asked & allow water to smoothly travel from tap to plant.

Having several garden areas, we also have a variety of watering methods & believe me, if I could do without a hose, I would, but there are times when the hose is the best tool for the job.

For most of my garden owning life, we have had the common 'green' hose that is found in every hardware store from here to kingdom come.  However, last year, when my exasperation got too much, we took extreme measures & bought three expensive, allegedly 'non-kinking' hoses.

Alas, they were a complete & utter waste of money.  I wrestle with them as much as I wrestled with the cheaper versions!  My poor neighbours have to contend with the sound of wailing & gnashing of teeth as I wriggle & writhe the  beast into submission. Sigh! It's all quite traumatic.

Soooo, let's see what happened when I gave it the WAP treatment!!

My intention, initially, was just to map the line of the hose & see where each part of that knotted mess connected.  However, I liked the free & loose look of the initial line sketch & wondered how it would look if I went over the same drawing as loosely.  As you can see I built up an interesting tangle of lines, which may not perfectly represent the photographic image above, but certainly catches the essence of what I view wrestling the hose as being!

Quite coincidently, just a few hours before doing these sketches, I'd been reading about the artist Brice Marden, whose work looks like an overlay of similarly shaped lines.  This inspired me to keep going with this idea & see what transpired.  I began to play with a variation of line thicknesses & a design began to emerge.

Although those lovely curvaceous lines look great on a flat white background, I wanted to try giving MY background a bit more depth & association with the original source.  Using the above photo as a light & shade guide, I created a quick patchwork for the background and then did this...

I like the textural qualities that painters get into their canvases when they paint over other colours, so I thought I'd try it with fabric. Using just a teensy weensy bit of black to take the glare off the white, I painted over the squares to create this as my background.  This photo was taken when it was still wet & I was really pleased with it.  I like the way there are tonal & colour hints that peek through the white, but they are not too distracting.

In my eagerness to 'see what happens', I failed to photograph the steps that come before this.  However, those of you who are regular followers will know the routine by now!

This is obviously just one layer of fabric that I have cut back & I really like the flow of the lines so much, it was tempting not to stop right here!  However...more layering up & cutting back was calling me.

This time I had two layers to cut back, which would be tricky, given I had already cut back the first set of lines below.  I would have to be extremely careful with the scissors!  Before I got to that though, I took a moment to just enjoy the beautiful flow of THIS line & the anticipation as to what it would look like once I had cut it all back!

Wow that red is bright!

My next task was to add thin stitched lines & it didn't take me long to realise that I would have been wiser to have done this part of the process FIRST!!  Consequently there were a few technical hiccups traversing those cut back lines & there were a couple of not quite perfect curves.  Unfortunately one of those not-quite-perfect curves does tend to distract me. 

This is the value of a project like this...to learn lessons!  Of course, if this was just fabric in the background, I could unpick & try again.  However, when paint is applied, the surface is quite different & although I could easily unpick...I wouldn't be able to get rid of the needle holes left behind!!

The final inclusion was added & cut back to reveal this.

Even though there are a couple of lines that I would REALLY like to correct, I am actually quite pleased with this little exercise.  It retains the essence of what I experience when wrestling with the hose.  I am disappointed that the background dried more grey than the white I was aiming for, but it could have been remedied with time & further application of paint before I applied the design.

There was just one more thing that I wanted to try.

I turned it around & I'm not sure...it's a close call...but I think I like it better!  In this orientation I notice different aspects of the piece, which I find very exciting.

This weeks art project is #51 of the 52 & coincides with the conclusion of an Abstraction course I have been taking with Lisa Call.  The course has been overwhelmingly brilliant & one of the things I have gained from it, is the understanding that in my art making, if I choose to abstract from reality I'm not obligated to be a slave to that original source.  This has been a liberating realisation.  It means that in producing this piece today, I'm not anxious or upset that it doesn't look enough like the original photo of a hose & I'm not so worried about what you or anyone else might think. ;-)

I am , however, quite anxious about what I will choose as my final Weekly Art Project!  There are way too many options.  We'll just have to wait...and see!









Thursday, 19 October 2017

PATCHES OF YELLOW

Around my garden at the moment are triangular & sometimes diamond shaped patches of an almost fluorescent yellow.  One of our succulents is flowering!! 
Because this succulent is very easy to grow, I have, over the years, sunk branches of it into the ground all around my house.  Therefore, it currently looks as if the garden areas are glowing with radiance.

One of the things I noticed, with one of the larger areas of this plant, was that the flowers seemed to line up in rows, forming a loose patchwork of flower & leaf.  It was this occurrence that led me to 'play' with the idea further in this weeks art project.

As per usual, I began with pen & paper, mapping quickly what I could see & changing that first study into more solid shapes. 

Once settled upon a design, I rummaged through the fabric stash until I had a reasonable selection that I hoped would produce an interesting composition.

My first task was to add some stitch to the background fabric.  I had really liked the roughly painted terracotta coloured background in my preliminary work, but didn't have any fabric in the right tone.  Therefore, I thought I'd add not only the colour, but  texture through the randomly added lines of stitch to fabric.

After layering up my fabrics & then stitching the design through the whole lot, it was time to let the cutting back begin!




At this point it was time to think about how I was going to represent the flowers, because as you can see...I hadn't included any yellow fabric in my sandwich of layers!

I remembered that I had a flower stamp in my collection, so with a bit of paint & a scrap of fabric, I rustled up a stamp pad & started stamping!!

This was my final result...and I was going to leave it at that.  However, when I went to type up my blog, life leapt out in front of me & interrupted my plans!!  I was therefore, left contemplating this piece for another 12 hours. 

I was thinking about how much I disliked it! 
I recognised that, actually, that background colour just wasn't working for me & it may have been better...in hindsight NOT to add the sewn lines! 
Most of all...those flowers did NOTHING for me at all, they were insipid  & certainly did not express the vibrant energy of the initial source of inspiration!

So, when I got up this morning, I went into my workroom & did this;
Now, the first thing the eye is drawn to is the yellow flowers, and that is an improvement on the stamped version. 
Because the eye is focused more strongly there, the background fabric does actually fade back, as it is supposed to. 

All in all a fun little experiment & I'm glad I was delayed in writing this blog!
Timing is often... everything!!







Monday, 9 October 2017

GRIDIFYING NATURE

For the past few weeks I've been working through an online art course with Lisa Call.  The subject we've been looking at is abstract art & Lisa has been taking us on a fascinating journey through the history of this particular art genre. 

This week I've been particularly focused on the work of Mondrian, whose grid paintings are his most famous.  Mondrian's grid paintings were non-objective, which means they weren't inspired by or meant to represent anything in particular.  

Because I LIKE referring to something real in my own art creating, and because grids have been on my mind... I wondered whether I could try developing a grid pattern inspired by a plant?

There's no reason why not!


There have been a lot of interesting flowers emerging in my garden, especially from the succulents, this being one.  It's flower is particularly interesting & inspired me to try the grid idea for this week's art project.



By already knowing the style I wanted to attempt, I leapt straight into exploring with pens, paper & paint.  Only minor changes were varied from drawing to drawing, but even so, lots of thought accompanied each one.

Composition was important, as was proportion...then there was the balance of colour!



Using a simple colour palette, I set to work tracing my final design onto the uppermost layer before...



....sewing the design through all of the layers.


The first lot of cutting back revealed the orange flower segments. A good start I thought!!

The next cutting back revealed the strappy succulent leaves... well, rectangles that represent them!!

The third layer cut back revealed the white background.  I'd chosen a white fabric with a small floral pattern (also in white), which adds texture, even if the camera wasn't able to pick it up in this photo!  At this point I had to make some decisions.  Art is all about decision making!!

The one I needed to make was whether to leave the heavier black lines in situ, or whether to cut them back creating more pockets of white.

I opted to cut them back, leaving just the one very strong black line marking a vertical third!
The piece could have been left at this point, but I felt it needed a little more movement & variety of line.


So I added some stitched lines, which make it look far more interesting.
Looking at it now, having completed it a few hours ago, I think those thin lines need a little more weight to them, as they are just a bit too spindly looking.  Never the less, I'm very pleased with this outcome and I certainly enjoyed the challenge of it.

One thing I've learnt both from my course work and from this little exercise is that, just because something LOOKS simple, doesn't mean that it has been simple to complete as a resolved composition!