Monthly Archives: November 2015

Still / Storm – getting started

Dunure 7

Dunure 7

In previous posts I’ve documented the development of my Dunure colour family and my experiments in printing a palette of fabrics that might represent the idea of ‘stillness’ (remember all those ugly ducklings!). I’ve collaged and stitched enough samples to tell me that Still, and now Storm as well, will grow to be a series of pieces. So how to get started?

First things first – throw away the fabrics that don’t work. And the collaged samples that never even made it to the sewing machine. And I don’t mean put them away somewhere just in case. I mean throw them away. This is an anathema to many quilters but has been an important shift in behaviour for me and one that is wonderfully liberating.

Next, start printing lots of fabric. Because I know that this is going to be a series of works I aim to print 15 – 20 square metres of fabric over the next few weeks. Having spent time experimenting and sampling I know to use 4 techniques: breakdown printing using ‘barcode’ like screens, screenprinting using soya wax screens, monoprinting using glassine and, for the darker fabrics, scrapping through with thickened dyes. I know that this colour family has a tendency to give muddy results when the individual colours blend together so I need to take my time and allow one layer of colour to dry before applying a second layer. And for the paler fabrics I know that I need a very delicate touch.

And to fill in around printing I will continue to sample compositions but also different methods of construction. This increases the likelihood that the first full scale pieces are successful. After all, I am totally OK with throwing pieces of fabric and small samples in the bin but larger scale pieces?? Maybe not.

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Thinking ahead

I made a decision several years ago to stop making art specifically to fit themed calls for entry or challenges. Instead I decided to make the art that I wanted to make and to make it to my own timescale. That said, I am not adverse to entering pieces into juried or curated exhibitions if I have a piece that I think ‘fits’. I try to keep track of interesting calls and it looks like 2016 is going to be rich with opportunities. Especially as my ‘Still’ series might turn out to be a ‘Still / Storm’ series.

So I have been thinking ahead and figuring out what I need to work on and when. First I listed all the possible deadlines in chronological order along with the pieces (finished, in progress or still in my head) that would fit each of the calls. I also listed future Etcetera exhibitions (two booked for 2016 already!) and what I needed to do for these. And I realised that if I worked 100% on the Still / Storm series for the next 3 months I could have pieces ready to enter 3 SAQA calls. And that I would have time afterwards to complete work on large Ruins pieces for open calls later in the year.  All done with pen and paper over a cup of good coffee! A second cup of coffee was need to turn this realisation into a simple sheet with activities listed in blocks of four weeks for the next 6 months. I thought about planning by the week but figured that my other lives (family and day job) might not want to cooperate and decided to avoid the stress. This level of planning feels ‘comfortable’ but time will tell if my expectations of what I can achieve are realistic.

And as an aside – one person who has mastered planning is my fellow Etcetera member, Helen Conway. Helen is the QUEEN of time management! She has written extensively on her blog about the various (free apps) she uses to track pretty much her whole life (or so it seems to me!). And now she is reaping the dividends as she needs to create a significant body of new work for her first solo exhibition next March.  Go Helen!

This isn’t failure, it is a new beginning!

Following on from my post about creativity and failure I thought I would share this. You may remember those ugly ducklings and how some of the paler ones have turned into really interesting compositions. Well there were also a few really, really ugly ducklings that were much darker and muddier than I had expected. Not to be defeated I have played with composition using those fabrics and have been very surprised by the results and where it has sent my mind wondering.

Dunure 8

Dunure 8

At first I thought this was a failure – it doesn’t embody the idea of stillness. Instead the darker colours and linear marks reminded of the rocks on Dunure beach on a stormy day. I had been trying to capture the feelings of calm, tranquility, stillness that I felt when I sat on the beach. That feeling of being able to shed all my worries. But here I have a piece that, is somewhat representative of all the anguish, confusion and grief that I have felt this year dealing with my son’s mental ill health. Could I create a body of work that represents two divergent emotional states?

I think that maybe I can. Maybe I should be working on Still and Storm?

Dunure 9

Dunure 9

 

 

Virtual Studio day with the Etcetera group

One of the ways members of my exhibiting group, Etcetera, support each other is to hold occasional virtual study days. We always have a great time when we meet in person but busy schedules limit how often we can do this. So we set up days where we each work in our own studios and ‘talk’ with each other through the day. Ideally they are days when we can shut out the world and really focus on making art. We share our thoughts, our successes and our failures. In the past we have ‘talked’ to each other through a yahoo discussion group. This time we decided to use a private Facebook group.

Which, for me, meant getting a Facebook account! I had one years ago for keeping in touch with family but got feed up of seeing photos of my teenage kids and their friends getting up to stuff that parents wouldn’t normally (pre-social media) see. This time around I’ve decided to keep it ‘art’ focussed. I set up the account on Friday evening, ‘friended’ my Etcetera colleagues and wrote my first post yesterday lunchtime. And then kept nipping back to my computer to see if anybody had commented on my post …. I commented on other peoples posts then kept nipping back to my computer to see if they had replied! My goodness Facebook is distracting!!!

So I am not quite sure if it is something I’m ready to go ‘public’ with just yet. But watch this space!

I did manage to complete 2 more Dunure samples between visits to my computer. I like both of them, especially Dunure 6. Although it taught me that I should maybe have stitched with parallel lines prior to adding the circles rather than having to stitch around them. But that is the whole point behind sampling.

Dunure 6

Dunure 6

Dunure 5

Dunure 5

Dunure Studies

Dunure 3

I really like this one and think it has great potential to scale up. I like the little flashes of yellow in the strips and the linear pattern in the circles. My idea is to represent ‘stillness’ so maybe there is just a little too much movement in how the circles are placed. On a larger piece I could maybe try to use the circles in a gentle, undulating curve across the piece.

Dunure 4

Dunure 4

This definitely doesn’t say ‘stillness’ to me but it is interesting. I like the flashes of golden yellow against the monochromatic background. It doesn’t show very clearly but some of the detail in the pale grey areas is lovely and would work well in a ‘Dunure 3’ type composition. More to follow soon!