In the last few weeks I’ve prepared a set of 20 power point slides on my own work spanning 40+ years. It’s for the upcoming online SAQA conference, from April 15th to 25th. This exercise reminded me again that with a few notable exceptions, my own colour palette is based on the natural and earthy colours of landscapes.
In the previous post, I commented “Some favourite mixed media stitch artists pinned there include Helen Terry, Roberta Wagner and Debbie Lyddon.” to which I would add Dorothy Caldwell, Rieko Koga, Penny Blevins and Christine Mauersberger. I’ve been thinking about this list, and realise that what I particularly like about all of these hand stitchers’s textile art comes down to two things – (2) a small repertoire of favourite stitches appears in most of their works, and (2) usually each artist uses a very limited range of colours. It might be my aging eyes, the effects of the pandemic, or nothing in particular, but I’m finding I easily lose interest in works of the currently popular 100% unrelieved hectic, saturated, full rainbow spectrum colour schemes unless plenty of black, cream, white or other neutral predominates.
In 1978, I was highly privileged to be in a 4-day embroidery workshop taught by the late Constance Howard, the legendary British embroiderer, at Mt Isa in the far north west of Queensland, Australia. When her teaching tour to all Australian state capital cities sponsored by the Crafts Council of Australia was announced, the sharp-eyed secretary of our local embroiderers group, Ailsa, spotted a six day gap in the itinerary between Brisbane and Darwin. She immediately contacted the organisers, pointing out ‘The Isa’ is really remote, but half way along the flight route between those cities, with two flights in and out per day. She pleaded our case on it being a remote mining town yet having a strong embroiderers group in it; and we were thrilled when they agreed. The class filled immediately on word of mouth, with couple of out of towners travelling nearly 1000 kms by road to join in. It was fabulous, intense, and we soaked it up. One thing we learned was how to devise colour schemes from close observation of natural objects. Looking at a found object like a shell or a leaf, like little kids we cut out snippets from old colour magaziness to match every minute varation of our object’s colour changes. We sorted and glued them to A4 sheets of heavy white and black paper. In Nature, there is really no such thing as a ‘green’ leaf, or a ‘brown’ stone’.
This is the kind of idea behind the hugely popular online colours scheme resource www.design-seeds.com Another interesting website is an interactive colour wheel http://colorschemedesigner.com with colour schemes presented as balanced with major and minor colours in different proportions – especially useful if not working from Nature itself.
From recent posts, my followers already know my recent art is in response to the deadly pandemic we’re living through. In nature, some creatures use colour on their bodies as a warning of danger to their predators, a phenomenon known as aposematism In my 2020-21 works I’m using neon threads in the hand stitching as a ‘warning’ or statement of the danger Covid-91 brings to all of us.