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How Do You Work?

What is your thought process when you begin to work on a piece of art?  I have been thinking about mine, particularly as it relates to my piece about “Words”.  I think I work backwards.  I will share how I went about putting “Words” together.  I started with a yard sized piece of rust dyed fabric.  I had a fat quarter of a screened design in turquoise/black that I loved and I loved it with the rusted fabric.  So I started with color.  I love color.  I laid the turquoise/black fat quarter on the rusted piece, then added a discharged black cotton sateen fabric.  I laid out a composition, then left the fabrics there to “study” for about 3 weeks!

I had no real concept in mind, except the colors.  I like to work abstractly and intuitively.  It may not happen that way all the time, but I think most of the time, I just go to my room and start “playing” with cloth, and something happens.  I really don’t know if this is a very “artistic” way to work, but I do get inspiration just playing.

I wanted to see if rusted fabric would discharge so I took a round stencil brush and stamped  with automatic dishwasher detergent and that made little circles on the bottom edge, which I figured I would cut off anyway. It was just an experiment.

After deciding I liked the composition and the colors together, I thought about how can I make these parts relate more to each other?  I used construction fence as a stencil to add a few of those areas on the rusted cotton.  The turquoise/black fat quarter was made by laying construction fence beneath the cloth and rolling dye paint over it.  I had used a soy wax screen with x and o on it to discharge the black sateen, so I decided to screen some more of that design onto the rusted fabric.  Probably somewhere about this time, the idea of the theme came to me, along with the other things to do to it.  Sticks and stones…and words became the theme. (See prior posts)  I stamped “sticks” with a bamboo skewer and left the discharged circles as “stones”; I did use ink to outline them.  To unify it, I wrote  across the whole thing all the way down to the area of the “sticks”.

This seems like a backward way to do it, to me.  I guess I think it should be more “planned”. I like how Linda and Laura Kemshall plan and shared in their book, The Painted Quilt. But everything I do turns out to be a surprise to me, because I don’t plan like that.  I am really curious how others work through their process, so please share!  I am very interested in this subject.  I think because I like color and collage, that is why I don’t really start with a “theme” or subject in mind.  Sometimes an image or an idea to unify it around a theme for me comes later.  Is that normal or unusual?

How I’m Working These Days…

Today I would like to share a little bit about how I have been working in the last 8 or so months. I can put colors together, but since I have no formal art education, I like to purchase any aids I feel will help me. One of the tools that helps me with color is Joen Wolfrom’s 3-in-1 Color Tool. This portable tool has color swatches of tints, pure colors, shades and tones of colors. It also shows all the color schemes for each color…monochromatic, complementary, analogous, split-complementary, and triadic. I find the triadic color schemes to be the most interesting, using both warm and cool colors. This tool has helped put sparkle in my color schemes, so much so, I get compliments on them.

One of the intimidating things for me about starting a piece is choosing a color scheme. It also can put me off from starting a piece; it takes time. I work fairly intuitively, so thinking of focal point, color, etc. ends up being a lot of thinking for me! So I have come up with a way to do some of that work ahead of time. I spent some time this past year choosing triadic schemes (using my favorite colors) and then matching up piles of fabric to that scheme. And because it was interesting to see and learn about the different triadic schemes, it was also fun! The fabric piles also include painted dryer sheets, dyed scrim, dyed cheesecloth, and any other item that matches that scheme. Then, when I am ready to start a piece, I simply choose a color scheme and the fabrics I need are already sorted and bagged together, ready for me to start. I can add to these bags anytime I want. I was reminded of how easy this made it when I went to work on the postcard for Susan Lenz a couple of days ago. All I had to do was pull a bag out and get right to work.

So here are some of my “piles” of coordinated fabrics ready to work whenever I am. Notice that most, (ok, all)  of the fabrics are hand dyed, hand painted, etc. I rarely use commercial fabrics anymore. I keep my stamps and paints on hand, ready to transform any piece of cloth I need to fit the theme I am working with.

orange yellow, aqua green, purple

golden yellow, aqua blue, fuchsia

chartreuse, blue-red, cerulean blue

orange, violet, green

yellow green, blue, red

Call Me Color Crazy…

I think I am in love with color. After dyeing 15 yards last week, some days I just sit and stare at the colors in the stack. Sometimes I stroke them to feel the softness. Am I obsessed? Maybe. I am enjoying the intensely rich colors. (I also tend to stick my nose in the freshly opened coffee can and take a deep breath, too…these are a few of MY favorite things…remember that song?)

I have also been playing a bit with soy wax. Isn’t this luscious? I applied the wax in a random abstract pattern.

It’s a clean-the-brush cloth that I screened over with Lumiere and Textile paints by Jacquard. It’s very impressionistic. Now put it with this aqua blue hand dye…

Yummm….I think I would wear clothes in these colors. When I got out my 3-In-1 color tool, I found that the scarlet red color is the complement of the aqua blue. No wonder I like it.

I have also been dabbling with breakdown printing. I will post some pictures later.