Posts Tagged ‘creativity’

From Visual Diary To Material Form

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

Commenting today on the SAQA list on an issue we’ve been covering there, Laura Wasilowski’s comments reminded me I hadn’t dropped in on her blog in a while, and while I was diverted I found a thought provoking recent post on why an artist should have a sketchbook with her at all times.  Laura’s work is characterized by lots of lovely simple repeated shapes with crisp clean lines, and always in her signature wide-ranging colour palette of modern clear bright colours.  The few open pages of the sketchbook she photographed to illustrate her post show the firm decisive hand that graphically captures her favoured organic shapes and patterns.    Laura is a busy teacher across the USA, and commented that when she travels from home these days she regrets having to leave so much of her materials for creativity at home – we can no longer pack the kitchen sink to take with us on a plane!  However, creativity never really rests for an artist – despite what we might seem to be doing at any time, there’s always something going on up top, even if we are away from our own tools of trade.    Laura finds travel provides valuable time for sketching ideas in her book which she always has with her.

It set me thinking about my own process.  I thought I’d write a little about it, since I am always interested in what other artists do to get their ideas from brain to paper or fabric.  Lots of my ideas get to some note form on paper, a list, a sketch, an important word perhaps, and the majority of these jottings wait in limbo there for days, weeks,  months, years even, before taking on some form in fabric and thread.  As examples, take this collage of several pages from a blank page notebook I’ve been using on and off since my son gave it to me c. 1992    I  still use it sometimes – pencil diagrams are augmented with words, lists, quotations or a phrase of an idea, also in pencil – I keep my eraser handy but ideas no matter how inconsequential they seem at the time once jotted down tend to stay – its only diagrams that might be amended.

Collaged sketch book pages

All from typical pages, each group sums up the ideas in my head at the time. In the UL image, for example are diagrams exploring my ideas, and words suggesting approaches or possibilities which shortly after I put them on paper became the working diagram for ‘Ora Banda’ (1992)  my first quilt in Quilt National, 1993.  These diagrams are really as far as I ever go in making a’pattern’.  At that time I was using the ruler to cut shapes and precise 1/2″ strip inserts.  Some time I will explore the development of the curved wandering strips that appearted in much of my work 1993- 2002, when my strips became freehand, too.

Ora Banda

The LL photo was one called “Waterweave” which I think I only have on a slide back in Australia (note to self – get it scanned next time you’re there)   See the K1P1 annotation?  I don’t really need reminding of the image that set this one off, but in a very large ad across the bottom of the newspaper page there was a line drawing of one of our famous Antarctic explorers, Douglas Mawson I think, pictured wearing a really thick sweater with folded over ribbed collar/neck,  fisherman style – Knit 1, Pearl 1 ….  have I ever mentioned that to me a line means a potential seam?  These days that process also happens in digital form on my computer screen.  I don’t currently doodle with a Wacom tablet or anything – but I do manipulate photos I take, for even a ‘bad’ photo can be useful as an aide memoire – and I do a lot of deleting, too, once I have thought about what a pic actually says when I see it on screen.  Many saved ideas wait at that point, page or screen,  for some time, perhaps years,  before taking some form in fabric and thread.

Last year I blogged about a group of quilts based on the patterns of sand ripples.  It was for an exhibition for which entry was by proposal – my proposal included a couple of collages to show how the surface textures translated to image in  previous works:

Earth textures - golden textures submision, blog

I was proposing designs based on sand ripples – so here I collaged some of my photos

SAND-001

and then that collage was manipulated with an editing program to give the appearance of being pencil sketches:

sand-web pencil sketch

My point is that my visual diary, my sketch book in effect,  is in two parts – or perhaps it’s in transition from paper to digital form.  It really doesn’t matter – because as I wrote in a blog post last year  “Writing about photos I’ve taken….. helps ideas crystallise in my mind as well as provide a record, and so blogging regularly is probably the closest I’ll ever come to journalling.  Some artists put almost as much time into journalling as they do into their art and living itself.”    You can read that post in full  here .

 

 

 

 

 

Having a Go

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

The monthly newsletter from the Contemporary Quilt Group, CQG, a subgroup of the West Australian Quilters’ Association WAQA, just arrived in my inbox.  I am a very remote member of both,  (still hoping to resume residence in Aus)- and these e-letters keep me abreast with what’s happening back there.  Recently  a group of The Modern Quilt Guild  http://themodernquiltguild.com/ formed in Perth, and apparently at a recent CQG meeting someone suggested that the CQG should to ” have a go” at that style of quiltmaking, and quoting from the newsletter this was  “received entusiastically. Many members wish to try modern quilt techniques that include using traditional blocks, but in a contemporary way”  which they’ll be exploring at a future meeting.  Excuse me CQG girls – absolutely nothing has ever stopped any of you from experimenting with irregular piecing or using traditional  design characteristics including blocks in a ‘new’ way – and nothing has stopped you taking a fresh look at colour, using whatever fabrics you wish, modern or not – and nothing’s prevented you from personally focusing on the more functional bed covering role of what we all do.

What is happening is that this movement is attracting attention from many younger and some older people who have not previously been involved making quilts, and who would prefer generally to make quilts for practical purposes. These people are not phased by style and organisational customs or rules that have grown up around the whole craft of quilting over the past 2-3 decades.  The dreaded ‘quilt police’ have been sidelined, and the emphasis is on practicality plus fun, networking and pleasure in accomplishment.  The time taken to make a functional attractive bed quilt is being slashed as modern designs requiring less piecing and more plain non-patterned areas are favoured.

If you go through this link you’ll find a very fresh looking website, and scrolling down you find a description of the guild’s objectives and the characterisics of their aproach.  It’s  centred on using modern communications – you’ll find them on facebook and twitter etc – and there are lots of online tutorials.  Next year the first modern quilt guild festival/conference will be held, and it sounds remarkably like the giant Houston quilt festival; and in fact, the whole movement is starting to sound like a parallel world of The Quilting Industry as many of us now know it.  Books, tutorials and classes, dedicated magazines, particular styles of fabrics that are favoured in their popular designs… the list goes on.  Like many who have been quiltmaking for eons I applaud this fresh approach, and know that new exponents of the craft will (a) lower the average age of quiltmakers generally and (b) bring fresh ideas to the craft.  At the same time I’m a bit bemused at the breathless ‘we’re different!”  tone here,  even as I count myself as one of them.

 

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.

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