Archive for the ‘underlying themes’ Category

Planning -My Way

Saturday, April 17th, 2010

Quilters talk a lot about how they plan – and planning comes in different styles and levels of intensity, if that’s a phrase I can use here.  Many now use computer programs that manipulate photos,  draw lines and shapes, insert colour or fabrics,  putting together images to produce prints on fabric via home printers or printers in the university departments where they study/work  then do more processes (print, paint, machine and hand stitch, applique, cutting  holes, whatever) on top of that.  Others draw up large cartoons, cut each piece out and use these as patterns for areas in the piece they’re working on – an ancient, low tech, but tried and true way of developing a design.   Some keep photos, drawings, writings  and quotations all organised together in a visial diary, and I’ve seen some incredible albums that are themselves works of art.    And plenty of others keep little bits of paper floating around, backs of envelopes, paper serviettes, or tiny notebooks that tuck into their purses alongside the little digital camera.    This is more me – I always have at least a pencil and a scrap of paper if not an actual note book or camera with me.  Photos I download regularly, but the bits of paper… well, sometimes they turn up months later in a pocket or handbag I haven’t used in a while. 

Many years ago after recognising this weak link in the ideas chain, my son gave me for christmas or my birthday – they’re the same week – a fabric covered blank paged book about A4 size, urging me to keep my design ideas in it.  I have fairly consistently done so and now  it’s about 2/3 used, always in pencil so I can erase if necessary, which I don’t often do, as I think ideas should stand even if they aren’t quite ‘right’ in their form.  Occasionally I look back, finding the original ideas that led to particular quilts that sometimes I didn’t visualise as such at the time; so for example for each time I have been in Quilt National I can find the germs of those ideas there though the quilt doesn’t look like the original pencil ‘sketch’.   There are ideas I didn’t use at the time I noted them, but what I have diagrammed and written is enough to build on later.   Sometimes I go back and write a note on a page/diagram like “this led to Mission Beach , april 1995”   

Anyway, I thought I’d share something of the early design process as I know it, with these  two unrelated pages being fairly typical:

Hmm - it's been a while - this page goes back over 4 years.... and perhaps I didn't make quite enough notation to help me remember what the heck I was thinking about when I made these jottings! However, I did do them and one small piece did come from part of this page, and I think there are interesting ideas whether they bring back what was originally on my mind, or not! They're sort of short hand I understand. Diagrams and lists.

This work doesn't actually exist, but the notes are part of the shorthand about a lot of my recent work. My textile art is often designed on a grid base - that structure common to tradtional and non-traditional quiltanking, the zone if you like that I like to explore. My materieals are often anything but traditional - for example the Tracks series.

In another post some time I’ll relate a couple of diagrams to actual works, such as “Ora Banda” and “Mission Beach”  I’ll posssibly even show you the one wonderful drawing that I just cannot work out how on earth to put together!  I’m pretty good with piecing, even if I do say so myself – a line in my design book  is a seam waiting to happen – but this one has defeated me.  Stay tuned.

Ancient Expressions Series

Friday, December 19th, 2008


Recently on one of the lists I belong to there was a discussion on series. This topic bobs up once or twice a year, usually covering the exact same ground – as people new to quiltart wonder about the business of working in a series. But this time an interesting comment came from someone who wondered out loud if she should take the ‘risk’ of working in one, and what was the opint anyway of ‘doing the same thing over and over again’

I don’t actually see any ‘risk’, to exploring the same thing over and over again – consider Jorge Rodrigue’s Blue Dog paintings, hugely commercially successful, and quite intriguing to many, wish I had one or two…. or what about Turner’s clouds, or Monet’s haystacks and lily ponds. And then again, ‘doing the same thing over and over again’ might refer to technique, colour palette, raw materials, processes, subject matter – there are many possible unifying elements on wqhich to base a series.

Rather than pontificate about series in abstract, I thought I’d offer this selection from the first series of work I made, ” Ancient Expressions” being from UL to LR, nos. I, VI, X and XII, dating from 1988 to 1992. As suggested by the title, the group/series has a general theme, which I didn’t foresee as ongoing while working with what eventuallybecame “Ancient Expressions”. At the time I regarded myself as an embroiderer, and was only just beginning to learn about traditional patchwork, almost on the side. Hence the paint plus hand stitch and in this case quilting through layers, I thought of as an embroidery, a wall hanging. I had used ‘quilting’ as a needlework technique often. However as an art quilt, AE was juried into a very prestigious exhibition and sold. That was encouraging, and this whole area being of great interest to me, I renamed it “Ancient Expressions I” and continued on with the theme of man-made marks in and on the Landscape reflecting human activity in a region, and forming a link back to ancient peoples. I don’t know anyone who isn’t moved by this.

As the series develops the landscape element becomes more abstract but is always still present somewhere in the quilt. The markings form patterns and are less pictorial, but are based on real shapes or linear patterns I observed either on rocks or artefacts in museums and books. The series also reflects my expanding technical skills. The last work was “Ancient Expressions XIV”, and although that was 1993, I don’t consider this series is ‘closed” which is another way of saying I think I sitll have something more to say or explore on this theme. Not procrastinating though, I am wondering about exactly what it is I want to say and how I want to say/analyse it.

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