Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Strengthening compositions: size and shape

Well, having just watched the acceptance speech yet again, it’s hard to settle down to thinking about how to make compositions better!! I don’t ever remember being so moved by a politician – well moved in a positive sense that is – I have been moved many times to hit the “off” button, if not throw a brick at the telly!! Here in Georgia though it’s not yet all over – we have a major run off battle ahead of us…so for us – that fat lady hasn’t sung yet! But the big contest is over….

So here it is, back to normality…..Strengthening compositions!!

One of the old saws in art is “the first four lines of your composition are the outside edges”. In my workshops I always get people to decide early on the right size and shape of the piece. I’ve so often seen pieces in shows that were the wrong scale. Some subjects need to be BIG – I have been very impressed by Barbara Watler’s tree quilts - if those were average size pieces they wouldn’t have anything like the impact – but a whole wall of trees? That is sooooooooo magnificent. This piece is 240" wide, 107 " high.

Getting the right scale is so crucial to the success of a piece – those first four edges should relate to the theme - in fact force you to relate to it. I once saw a little black and white weaving (sadly I’ve no picture of it) of a corner of a room with a lamp – it was small, you had to go near to see it and you were part of that small intimate close cozy space.

Tom Thompson painted wonderful paintings of the Canadian woods – full of light and shadow, but they were small (yes probably partly for practical reasons – he was out there tramping in the woods, without assistants) ….but they’re perfectly scaled: small jewels with facets of brilliant sun and cool depths….

It’s important too to get the right shape..while on holiday in England recently, in a less than stellar gallery, I saw some landscape paintings that the artist had painted vertically – it just didn’t work. They weren’t about the height of the trees or the sky scrapers, that would have been appropriate…make us look up and admire the stretch of them. No, they were mundane landscapes that just looked wrong because the shape didn’t fit.

As quilt makers we have a real advantage over painters on canvas – we can cut our batting and backing any size we want!!! We don’t have to accept sizes dictated by the blanks that Michael or Dick or Jo stocks!…so let us make our choices thoughtfully – size and shape! You know it counts!!

And, if you have been, thanks for reading – and in honour of the day – have a drink on me!!


1 comment:

frazzledsugarplummum said...

Thanks again for another informative blog....about something I know nothing about. Certainly food for thought.
Shirley in Oz