Saturday, March 27, 2010

Tessellation Row

I mentioned recently that my local art quilt group has a challenge going, to create a mosaic quilt with small pieces of fabric. And you know I've been doing dye samples with all those extra samples of dyed raw silk, I created this mosaic quilt. I'm calling it East/West of Purple.

I really love this piece. Color charts and color wheels have always turned me on, so this piece was a gas to make. The background fabric is hand dyed muslin. I found a really cool commercial batik fabric to use for the backing and binding, photo just below.

This piece certainly wasn't difficult to do, but I did try several versions of stitching the squares to the backing. I had an additional 30 swatches so I did a test piece with different thread colors, different square patterns around the samples, etc. In the end, I stabilized the whole top, basted the top/batting/backing together, then quilted each square individually with my embroidery foot. I like the irregularity of the stitched squares, enhancing the irregularity of the sample sizes.

Trying techniques and methods on for size is a good thing for me to do. I usually want to just put a piece together and hope for the best. The quilts I've been producing the Fiberactions' challenges have gotten me into this testing mode. Having two months to do each quilt is a good amount of time to try different things to see what works best, and/or to take a piece one step at a time and resolve design dilemmas as they come up.

I'm working now on our third piece -- the theme is Convergence -- and I'm making several small pieces with the main idea I want to articulate, trying different color media, different ways of achieving what I see in my mind's eye, to see how close I can come to what I imagine the finished piece will look like. This is good. It really is a challenge!

About my process -- I'm really not a sketchbook kind of artist. Or I should say I don't draw everything out on paper beforehand, work out all the details on paper first, etc. I create in my mind. I may jot down a few notes in my daytimer when an idea first comes to me. But then I imagine how it will look, I walk through possible steps, different alternatives in my mind, I visualize how things will fit together or not, until I know what I want to do. And then I'll do it.

I think artists' sketchbooks are very cool and I love looking at them. But every time I set about doing one for myself, THAT becomes just another thing to work out visually before committing anything to the paper! Instead of sketchbooks, per se, I keep grid paper spiral notebooks to record process and technique notes, dyeing recipes and procedures, more mechanical and mathematical information, stuff like that. And rough ideas. When I'm ready to proceed on a project, my mind's eye takes over.

About finding my voice -- Right now I feel that finding my creative voice is about having the courage to keep moving forward to whatever's next, without stopping at any certain point so that I can say, "Okay, THIS is the kind of work I do." I think I'd rather be known as an artist who tries a lot of different things, than be known for doing one particular kind of work. Yes, recognition is a good thing. But there are a number of well known art quilters who's work, although I like it, has become redundant. They just keep doing the same thing over and over and over again.

My modus operandi is, Do it until it's not satisfying anymore, then move on. I don't need to pidgeonhole myself. There are too many cool things to try, and I'm just getting started. It's an evolving process, not a destination. Like life, eh?


Sandra Rude said...

"my creative voice is about having the courage to keep moving forward to whatever's next..." Hey, I can certainly relate to that! It's how I work. Whatever is next is likely to be somewhere I want to go. Happy trails!

Gerrie said...

I could have written this post!! And, I love the silk mosaic piece. Very nice.

Emma said...

I can relate too, only you say it so well! I'm learning to make visual notes tho as if I don't I forget, whish I had a reliable mind's eye :)

Love the rainbow of colors & the batik is lovely, too.

maggi said...

The mosaic is very effective and as it is silk I suspect it also has a beautiful sheen.
I found your comments about people doing the same thing over and over refreshing as I had recently read a piece where the art quilter was encouraging people to make sure that their work was immediately identifiable as theirs in order to be able to sell it. Seems to me that you stagnate as an artist unless you stretch your boundaries and keep yourself and your work fresh.

Karen M said...

The mosaic is beautiful. So different from your collage pieces, but still with all the richness that we see in your other work. A great way to use your leftovers.

I appreciate your comments about working in a particular style. Even some series work goes on so long that it seems like growth has stopped. There has been alot said on the blogs lately about this, and it almost seems as if your (our!) viewpoint is unmetionable. We are apparently not supposed to say that we find some of these things to be stale.

I think people should be growing and learning throughout their lives, and it only makes sense that their work change as their experience and knowledge grow. New ways of looking at things often necessitate new ways of working.

Your work and your blog are both beautiful, and thoughtful. Thanks for posting.

Terry Jarrard-Dimond said...

I appreciate your exploration and your desire to learn. I agree with many of the previous comments about series work and about exploration. Art is a very personal exploration and whether your efforts suit anyone else or not, my feeling is you have to do your way or no way. I know artists who have investigated ideas for 30 years and maintain a fresh outlook and others who are in constant flux but are vital and focused via that change. It's all good as long as you keep working and follow your inner voice.

Karen S said...

I love that little quilt. I think that it's important as an artist to keep trying new things. I think I would be very sad if someone could look at a piece and know it was mine because it looks like all my other work.

I started doing sketchbooks last year after a class with an art teacher my artist's group held. I am not a great illustrator, but it's a good place to try out patterns and colors without any commitment. I sometimes glue cool pictures onto the pages and play from there. I come from a writer's journaling background, so it's a logical step for me. It's just another way to play.

Approachable Art said...

Guh. Connie, this is your best quilt yet, I think, I LOVE it.

I think your process and mine are very similar... I do NOT want to get stuck making the same quilt again and again just so I will be recognizable. I know the convention wisdom is that you need to brand yourself so everyone knows when they look at a piece of art that it's yours, and it's a philosophy I can agree with without feeling the desire to employ, myself.

For a long time, I created what I wanted and hoped it would sell. It made me REALLY happy. Then I started worrying about making art that WOULD sell and it got to be less fun. Now I'm back to doing what I want to do, when I want to do it, and if that means I don't produce as much as everyone else, or that others consider me to be an art dilettante, so be it.

Diane Wright said...

Ditto. Ditto. Ditto. At the risk of being redundant ;^) I think your post rang true to a whole chorus of us.

Jan said...

Love your post and all the comments!

I adore this quilt because I am so fond of bright's BEAUTIFUL and fun!

Wish I had time right now to weigh in on the content, but I'm stealing time from packing and moving my parents...maybe some art of some sort will come of it.

Vicki W said...

I love the idea of keeping sketchbooks but I have never been able to do it myself. My ideas seem to form and morph in my head. Sometimes I do a really rough sketch of a step or process but I can never seem to fully develop any ideas on paper.

frazzledsugarplummum said...

Wonderful piece. The colours are stunning as is the way you have put them together. I especially like the stitching and the placement of the separated colours. All something explored in your collages. Im no artist but I enjoy seeing how other artists explore and develop their creations. It is all an evolving journey. Thanks for sharing.

Judy said...

Really a nice piece Connie. I keep coming back to your blog and looking at it over and over again! I also like what you have to say about your 'style'. I keep telling people I can't decide what to be when I grow up, and you have said why so eloquently: so many cool techniques, and doing what particular style over and over again would be so boring. Loved your QA article too!
Thanks for being here for so much inspiration!


carolyn said...

This is a really neat piece. Simple yet complex too. I was just thinking about some of the same things that you expressed in your post about finding our style and direction as artists. As so many others have said, I think it is important that we are always exploring. We are, afterall, creating, not producing art.