Every now and then I mention how browsing on Pinterest led me to discover an artist whose work I really like. Pinterest is a wonderful way to access new ideas and trends previously only accessible through gallery visits or catalogues and books. Of course, designs themselves are the intellectual property of the artist and therefore copyrighted. What is most exciting to see are media and techniques other artists are using to explore shapes, lines and textures, which might be far removed from the textile medium I’m engaged in. Every time we visit a gallery or or look through a book or catalogue, we absorb something we might not even be aware of, but whether subtle or bold, it becomes an influence and brings something new to our own art…. which is I why I browse on Pinterest and occasionally pin something exciting or interesting to me. To see what I collect go here
Having a concept or idea about a proposed artwork is one thing; executing it is another. It is more than 40 years since a wonderful teacher, Cynthia Sparks, introduced me to some low tech ways to apply paint to fabric and add stitch. Cynthia was a leading Australian embroidery teacher and inspiration to many textile artists there in the 70’s and 80’s, and she became a personal friend. Some other wonderful people followed, all contributing to the textile art creativity she encouraged me to develop.
Having stitched by hand and machine most of my life, and having learned additional different surface design techniques along the way, I do have a wide range of techniques from which to choose. However, like most artists, I tend to work in a group of favourite, go-to techniques. It’s interesting how I can number these on one hand: improvisational machine pieced constructions aka freehand patchwork, free machine embroidery, freestyle hand stitchery, simple hand printed or painted design elements … pretty well everything I do belongs in one of those groups. My approach has always been very low tech, for multiple reasons that I won’t dwell on here, except to say that my peripatetic life has played a big part in this.
If I’m considering using straight stitch in a work, for example, I look through my Pinterest pin boards, and copy several selected images of its usage that seem particularly inspiring, even though these may be mark making rather than actual stitches. I insert these few special images into a word document, 3-6 / page, leaving space around them for notes and lists – and call them ideas sheets. Here’s an example using some of my own images – I don’t want to break anyone’s copyright here!
Once I’ve compiled the document, scanned it and printed it off, I use the surrounding space to add lists and annotations on possibilities. At this stage if a quote or potential title comes to mind, I note that, too. I generally sketch out very simple little pencil line diagrams of a plan / layout in my sketch book; and most often this is some form of grid, as my brief traditional patchwork background still exerts a strong influence. I love grids 🙂
Once I’ve started to sew the work I almost never look at it again. The searching, selecting and compiling are the important part of the process which pushes me along to pick up fabric, needle and thread and start creating what I have in mind. This morning I spent a little time compiling an ideas sheet for the next project – that theme of ‘girt by sea’ is still rolling around in my mind…