Friday, March 17, 2017
I'm starting another Abstract Art class next Friday (description below) and I'm wondering if that is a good idea!!
I've been surprised recently by people responding to abstract art in a clearly quite visceral way in both online classes, and in presentations to groups of retired intelligentsia!!
Now, I myself certainly don't respond to ALL abstract art, but I would say there's nothing that gets under my skin so much that I would say I hate it!!
It's always fascinating when people's reactions to something are quite different...not just paintings of course, but textile art, music, plays, books and so on. How can you hate something that is not attacking you? (as you can see I'm excluding politics here - actually the big three forbidden subjects for dinner parties: money, religion, politics! - no, I'm not talking about them - plenty there to feel visceral, or as they say in the UK, "gutted" about).
What is a painting doing that you can't bear to look at it? How can somebody look at the work of well respected artists that have stood the test of time, and say "that's really awful, it makes me cold and angry" - it's almost as if they feel they have been conned by the artist.
And this is a common response - the old "my five year old could have done it" that even the most intelligent open minded people sometimes comment when I give them a presentation of abstract art!
No, your five year old couldn't!! well perhaps a little genius like Picasso or Mozart or Fanny Mendelssohn could produce an abstract work of art that would stand forever .....but these folk are pretty rare.
So, as is my wont, I cogitated about this very negative reaction many have towards abstract art and wondered if it's really because they don't understand it. We do like to understand our world - especially the intelligentsia!!! so...if you don't understand what all the fuss is about, AND that bothers you (I'm leaving myself a get out clause here because I don't understand many sports !!! 4 hours of watching people chase the same ball around a pitch, EVERY day, somehow doesn't do much for me!)...so if you feel really strongly about something...then the answer is to find out more about it!! It seems so simple to me...I'm a great believer in understand WHY...hence all the cogitating!!
I must admit that initially I wasn't that keen on abstract art either. (and there's a lot of poor abstract art out there in the same way that's there's poor representational art) (yes there are Thomas Kinkaid-type abstract artists too!!) , and I certainly couldn't figure out Scriabin's music when I first heard it....but I am intrigued. I respect the fact that very knowledgeable people find these advances in art and music and literature to be absolutely wonderful, challenging yes...but in the best possible way. So I legged it out onto the internet and the local museum and the library....and the more I looked, the more I became quite enthralled by these artists. AND, inspired to think about possible quilt designs!! oh yes! there's is so much we can snitch, folks!! Not that I've made a Scriabin quilt yet...but you never know.....
So...what d'you think? is abstract art, "modern" classic music etc all an elaborate con? or is there maybe something in it? Comment!
And, if you have been, thanks for reading. Elizabeth
an interesting quote from Robert Weirich - he's talking about music, but there are significant parallels with our discussion:
Introduction to my next (More) Abstract Art for Quiltmakers class with the academy.
"Over the next five lessons, we’re going to explore more aspects of abstract art. In my first Abstract art for Quiltmakers class we looked at the lives and work, ideas and processes, of female abstract artists, artists often overlooked. In this class, More Abstract Art for Quiltmakers, I’d like to focus on the best known and most influential abstract artists, regardless of whether they are male or female, though (in the way of things!) most of them will be male.
I’m going to give some definitions of abstract art – there are many (just the main ones), because there are several different kinds of abstraction. The idea of abstracting means different things to different people and artists have exploited and explored many different avenues. You probably won’t like them all! I don’t either…but it’s useful to have a broad idea of the field as a whole.
In the first lesson, we’ll look at the history of abstract art beginning in Europe – as a particular kind of painting, it’s relatively young, only a little over a hundred years.
Each subsequent week I’ll focus on a different area: Abstract art in New York City, the benefits and meaning of abstract work, the abstract art form we know as music, and the abstract art of the 21st century.
Each of the lessons will also include several exercises which you can follow in order to create your own abstract art designs that you can use to make art quilts. You will be able to post your design sketches, and I can help you evaluate them, and make them stronger.
Towards the end of the course, we’ll discuss the steps necessary in working from the sketch to create the quilt. I’ll be always available to help you make the designs and the quilts more interesting and more beautiful.
Each lesson I will suggest some homework! Research on a topic that is very relevant to the class and to you. In this way we’ll all learn a great deal from each other too.
At the end of each lesson, I’ll also give you the name of a book, or a url (website address) where you can go to find out more and really broaden your knowledge and experience of abstract art."
Sunday, March 12, 2017
The show started yesterday March 11th and goes through next Sunday, March 19th.
I was lucky enough to be asked to show about a dozen of my quilts and quite a few paintings too!!
It's the first time I've had the opportunity to show the two together and I really appreciate it.
Here is a nice little row of paintings....
They look so sweet all rowed up...and - by golly! - they're on a grand piano!! now how appropriate is that!! two of my newest pleasures!!! And I must admit to a total love affair with my piano...I doubt they'll let me try this one out, though I can see they have reserved a seat for me with a white ribbon!!!
I love giving a curator total control and just weeing what they come up with.
Look at the little grouping below.....I love what Holly Anderson did here with the sequence going from all black and white to nearly all red. And don't they look wonderful together?
I'm sure you all feel the same way...that it's so sad that the art you slaved over for weeks and months spends most of its time rolled up , covered up, disregarded.....and so lovely when it gets its 8 days of fame! I'm really thrilled to see them hanging so beautifully!
I'm going to be at the show next Sunday March 19th - I'd love for you to come and say hi if you're anywhere in the area..Roswell, Atlanta.....
I'm looking forward to seeing the main quilt show too - it's in all the other rooms in the house...and there's a wonderful raffle quilt: I've never won one, but my fingers are crossed that mine will be the winning ticket on this beauty:
|I'||hope to see you at the quilt show!!!||If you have been, thanks for reading!!! And all comments will be read and replied to!! So please, have at it!!! Elizabeth|
Thursday, March 2, 2017
I start a new online class this Friday (March 3) ...with the academy.
It's called Inspired to Design (basically it follows the same path as my book of the same name - well, actually, the class came first and then the publishers asked me to make a book of it...)...but you get hands on suggestions from me - if you want!
This class/book is about getting from the "inspiration" - usually, but not always, a photo - to a design or rough blueprint... which you then follow in order to make your quilt. In other classes I suggest other ways to get from other sources of inspiration, e.g. observations about the structure of some existing art object whether it be a painting, sculpture or poem etc. Or (in the Mod meets Improv class for example) show how the definition of the object itself will give you a lot of clues as to how you might make your designs. But this class follows a pretty direction pattern : from inspiration to quilt VIA a SKETCH.
However, these sketches really don't need to be very detailed;
they should indicate no more than:
1. the basic structure i.e. the shape (square, portrait or landscape rectangle, or other less used forms, e.g. scrolls or small serial pieces like pages....),
2. the big shapes and
3. how they will be organized,
4. the main value pattern and how it will be organized,
5. that which you most want to communicate, capturing the feeling of that moment, that scene, the "meaning".
Just an aside.......
Isn't it weird...then you look at the sketch below, and then look at the one on the right you feel as if the one on the right is upside down...!! just for a moment...
Details: Don't bother about the details till you've got the main idea down; Little details are unnecessary; if you think about blue prints for a house - even the most detailed blueprints won't include what kind of door handles you have, what colors you'll paint the rooms etc.
practicality: you want to make several sketches at the outset: it's always good to cast your eye over several designs before choosing THE one. Think about a wedding photographer: She will try several different arrangements of bride and groom with/without family and friends in various positions, doing various things with various backgrounds at various angles etc etc......
No photographer only takes one picture!!! (yes, well, maybe in the OLD days!!)
And when you get all those photos back you look through and choose the ones that best capture the feeling of the day....or even The Perfect One. And that's what we're doing when we create several sketches for a quilt....the quilt will take AGES to make, so I think it's a good idea to get the main decisions made before I start cutting out fabric and pacing back and forth to the design wall taking endless photos!! oh which is the right one? !! oh me, oh my!
Never lock yourself into details right at the beginning of an idea for a quilt....for then you would get totally stuck when you can't find the right color of fabric etc etc. Also, you might find that when you've got the quilt all together you simply don't need that detail - you've already said it all!
Or, you might find the opposite, that when it's a reality, there's just one little touch you need to make it perfect.....
If you put all the details in all the sketches, it will take you forever!
Okay....so then you have your sketch...and it's your map, your guide....you don't have to go up and down every street to find the party! you know the address right from the start!
So...how closely should you follow the sketch? I would say just as closely as you follow the map to the party....what's the point in deviating? if you've spent some time working out where the main shapes go, where the values are, what balance of big/small, light/dark etc etc looks good...then why change it?
I will tell you a secret! When I teach a class...and go round and look at the quilt staking place on the wall, being blocked out and something looks majorly wrong...and the artist is standing there saying "it doesn't look right, what's wrong?" I say, "Hmm, let's look at your sketch..." and guess what ? The piece on the wall is significantly different from the sketch!!! "Well," I remark, "I loved your sketch and it looked really good there....let's just see if using the actual values (or whatever was changed) that are in your sketch make a difference.".....and we change it out....and ...nine times out of ten it works! And works great!!! So should you follow the sketch? Well...of course! But don't make the sketch so detailed that it becomes a nightmare to realise....
hmmm time for a cup of tea and a little practice on the ivories!!!
If you have been, thanks for reading!!!! And oh yes! do please comment!!! I will respond to every comment - unless you're trying to sell me a new credit card of course!!! Elizabeth
PS. If you live anywhere near me (north east Georgia) and are interested in buying some large screens for printing on textiles, I have some I'd love to sell.
Saturday, February 18, 2017
|the piano arrives.....some people get a Long Arm machine, I got 88 short ones!|
Never pass up an opportunity! I heard that there was going to be someone at the university today who wants to try to train people's ears!! Now my ears have long wanted to be trained....so I have volunteered!!
What always interests me are the numerous parallels between various art forms however different the media appear to be at first. For example, there is an absolutely wonderful, (I couldn't recommend it more) website called Living the Classical Life where great musicians talk about the lives, their struggles, their triumphs, fears and hopes. The interviewer is Zsolt Bognár, a fine pianist in his own right.
We all hope that our next quilt will be perfect... listening to these musicians talk about taking months (yes months!) to get just one musical technique right, or to be able to play a piece with great authority, integrity and passion, I just am amazed at the time and dedication that goes into great art. How can we possibly hope to get there with an hour here or there? It is evident, of course, that the really great art quilters of our time spend just about all day, every day on perfecting their art. It all takes a lot of time, and a lot of knowledge and experience.
I do think a lot of the knowledge relates to composition and design. Knowledge of how one goes about creating a strong design, quite possibly making numerous attempts to do so. While the Very Famous Quilters never show us their lesser works, or even their horrors (!), I am sure they do exist - at least for a short while!!
In a way we are just scratching the surface of the art....we may never hit pay dirt!! never reveal the gold, but (as my pedagogue tells me (repeatedly!) when I moan at my failures!) we sure can "enjoy the ride". And, gradually, we'll learn to incorporate those techniques and that knowledge of how things work together whether shapes and values or notes. We will continue to improve our efforts, not just dashing off the first idea and then spending weeks trying to correct the problems. We'll learn to vary the shapes and the edges of those shapes, letting some stand out sharp and bold, and others softly meld into the background. We’ll learn to make music with our shapes and values!
We'll also learn to avoid the most popular subjects, or, at least, if we do use them as inspiration, we'll try to bring something fresh to the work. I have a good friend who paints very competently but who never gets into any art show. Why? Because we've seen the work before....one way to catch a juror's eye is to show them something fresh. And that takes time to figure out...when we first look at our inspiration source, the more trite, the more commonplace ideas come first. You've got to keep pushing, give yourself time ...think about the violinist who only gradually over months and month learns to play a decent staccato.
We also have to learn to use color...oh the mistakes we make when first we leap into a great palette of colors !!! I always start my yearlong masterclass with a monochromatic assignment....and so often those are some of the best pieces!!
It does take time....so be sure to relax and enjoy the time that it takes!!
Less angst, more pleasure!
Unfortunately so many of us these days have been taught over and over to be goal oriented, rather than process oriented. But, in anything that has a slow process, like learning a piece of music or making a quilt (so many parallels!), it's much healthier to be process oriented, otherwise we miss out on all the pleasure and joy to be gained from just working towards that goal.
Sadly so often we come to see the process as a nuisance! Something we have to endure to reach the goal. But if you think about it in terms of one's life??!! who wants to reach the end goal of life? and how awful if you just went careering on and didn't enjoy the journey. So, let's take our time...enjoy thinking of different design possibilities, different value patterns, different colors schemes and so on....Relish the time you spend doing this and be sure to enjoy the ride!
I'd love to hear your thoughts.......please comment!
And, if you have been, thanks for reading! Elizabeth
Thursday, February 9, 2017
To the left is a monumental Beverly Pepper sculpture....this is about 15' high and Beverley Pepper is her 90th decade (yes there is hope for us all!!)
this is outside our local art museum...(on the right in the photo)
I'm seriously into abstract art!! I started looking at it when I wrote my first Abstract Art for Quiltmakers class, and then got even more into it with the second class: More Abstract Art for Quiltmakers (by the way the first one is just about to start again this Friday; if you're interested go to this link)
When I started researching abstract artists I realised just how many of the Big Famous Names actually had wives who were doing work equally as good, and sometimes even before their husbands had "got the abstract message". Of course, as in music and politics and so many other fields, the ladies were overlooked. And that led me to use mainly their work for inspiration for my two classes...and also to put together a (now very lengthy!) Power Point Presentation on female abstract art.
And then Denver Art Museum got in on the act with their big show of Female Abstract Expressionists last year.....and now our local museum has a very good show of the Irascibles - abstract artists from the 1940s in america.
I'm so lucky to have such a lovely museum just 10 minutes away, no crowds, easy parking, free, extremely pleasant attendants! So I thought I'd share a few pictures from their current show with you...and encourage you to really seek out good abstract art - it is SO incredibly inspiring for us quilters....you'll come away with a million ideas!
apologies for my shadow on all the framed under glass pieces...why oh why don't museums use non reflective glass???!!! And more apologies too for not giving artists' names....that's due to lack of time at present, each photo has to be resized etc.....but if you are really interested put a note in the comments and on a much quieter day I'll look up the painter for you.
What struck me about each of these, is what a fabulous design for a quilt...and...I think a lot of them would be quite stunning as a quilt!!! A large quilt, instead of a measly bit of paper under reflective glass!!! that yellow/blue quarter circles would make a great mod quilt!!! I might design a few riffs on that to add to my Mod meets Improv class!!
well.....dashing off to a concert to which I've been looking forward...piano...or should I say Pianos!! 5 steinway grands with 25 pianists!!! I reckon they're going to break the sound barrier. I do hope they're recording this for Performance Today (a popular public radio show in the USA).....they often do as the hall has good acoustics.....
hmm first though, I think, a nice cuppa tea...wouldn't you agree? !!
if you have been, thanks for reading!!! Be inspired by abstract art!!
ps...don't forget to comment!!!!
Thursday, January 26, 2017
|Finding the right direction!|
We're all trying to find the right direction....and, as a result, in my classes (especially the online ones), I do a lot critiquing. I seem to see the same mistakes made over and over..hmm.. perhaps mistakes is the wrong word! Rather - I feel that some of the designs and compositions just don't work as well as they might.
One of the most obvious problems is that of dividing the Picture plane–(I know that is art speak but it is a useful term so let's use it!) The Picture plane is simply the whole area of your quilt top. It is that two-dimensional space upon which you are creating the design.
Having a horizon in the exact middle of the Picture plane or a vertical line (such as the edge of a building) divides the area precisely into two equal amounts. Two equal areas that are similar are not as interesting as Unequal divisions. We like a little variety or novelty...we're hard wired that way! We pay more attention if things aren't quite predictable.
|Split into two horizontally - Boring! and a bit confusing...what is the quilt about?|
|High Horizon - much more interesting!|
So put your dividing line/horizon line or edge of building line...whatever it is...slightly off center. Some text books recommend dividing the picture plane into thirds, other recommend fifths. I think either can work depending on what you want to emphasize. In the image above I've shown the horizon line just 1/5th from the top of the picture plane.
If it's about an amazing sky pattern...then don't have the horizon in the middle: sky and land equally important - give the sky more space. Or if the sky isn't important but it's the landscape ...then give it more space...maybe 2/3 of the picture plane, or even 4/5.
I have a high horizon line in the quilt below, this time it was about 1/3 down from the top.
Another problem with dividing the space up equally is then you can end up with two quilts! The right hand one and the left hand one, each side being equally important....because you (the artist) have not indicated which is more important. Now occasionally you can use this device if you have a message you want to convey: e.g. something like War and Peace...the quilt divided into two equally with one side representing one thing, the other the other....showing that these alternatives are equally possible. But we are rarely wanting to communicate that. so think!! Just what are you trying to tell people about?
In the quilt below, I was actually trying to communicate hard vs soft, industry vs nature or man:
|Double exposure: spire|
But more generally: an unequal division will work better
|A summer Day, long ago...|
So.....keep your divisions unequal and you'll be just fine!!
And now for a nice cuppa tea.....and perhaps a little piano practice - gotta prevent the pedagogue from tearing his hair out over me!!
If you have been, thanks for reading.....
PS...please do let me know about your experiences with splitting the picture plane......
Friday, January 13, 2017
You don't have to leave home, or at least not go very far, to find inspiration. Keep your eyes open! When I got up yesterday and looked out of the window I saw a wonderful misty morning - I hurriedly grabbed up my camera and dashed outside. As you can see no neighbours were around to accost me in my deshabillé (!) and I was able to get some very inspiring photos.
Always keep your eyes open for an expected beauty and be prepared to act on the moment - and you'll find things that other people overlook or simply don't bother to take the time to see.
From the picture above I might make a quilt design with all the beautiful curves of the roads and the trees intersecting with each other. Or, I might simply use the colours - the browns and greys in very different values. Or I might take a good look at how the shadows of the trees appear on a wet road.
In the photo below, I was intrigued by this strange effect of the double horizon, the illusion of the floating row of bushes; it's something I might try in a quilt at some point. I have made a quilt little bit like this before as you can see in the photo below this one.
I've was able to captures some of the atmosphere in the photograph but not all of it. Interestingly the shibori fabric turned out to be perfect for both the foreground and for the pond reflections. But I think I would also like to try capturing some of the grace of those slender trees.
Isn't this photo so evocative? Can't you just feel the coolness on your face and the promise of the day to come? See how the values become paler as the objects received into the distance. Notice how the texture and the sharpness of the edges also becomes much much softer into the distance. There is so much to be learned from chasing the evanescent moment!
And it was evanescent too, in about 10 minutes all this beauty was gone and we were back to an everyday view. But I saw it and I captured it and I have it in my memory and I will use it for work in the future. Perhaps not tomorrow, But sometime…
And now I think it's time to get dressed! And, of course, time to make a nice cup of tea. If you have been, thanks for reading. And do please comment and tell me about your evanescent moments! Elizabeth