It’s a wet, cold, grey day here in sunny (?) Georgia and my thoughts are turning to colour! I was reading Charles Hawthorne, an early 20th century painter who founded the Cape Cod school of art. When he first went to Provincetown it was a small fishing village – imagine! – he was so impressed by the light and space that he began painting and teaching painting there. Often he had classes of upto 100 painters spread around him on the beach figure painting from a model! Sadly, I have no photographs of these events! His constant aim was help his students see their task as one of getting spots of colour in the right relationship with each other. He wanted them to forget about details, and focus on the large masses of colour: “Simplify the big notes of color: ralize that the notes of color make the object ..reproducing the relation between color values recreates the object.”
Some of the art quilters whose work I admire most do exactly this. They are not afraid of big pieces, but these are not flat colours they’re full of depth and gradation. The relationships between the positive and negative spaces and the light and dark values are balanced close to perfection – but not so close that the composition is static, just a little off to give some tension to the piece.
This is Terry Jarrard-Dimond’s quilt: Behind the Veil.
And this is Dominie Nash’s Stills from a Life #25.
Nancy Crow also has made some amazing pieces where large “spots” of colour are balanced one against another e.g. her piece Constructions #25.
I don’t know Nancy so can’t ask her permission to show an image, but you can see them on her web page.
Hawthorne wrote: “ it is virility of colour that makes truth” and you can certainly see strength, boldness and a great creative force in each of the above quiltmakers.
There are so many bon mots in Hawthorne’s little book (Hawthorne on Painting) that I’ll just give you one more and then I must go and seek spots of colour!: “don’t be the one who knows how to do it, but be the one who recognizes beauty when it comes – then stops…when you get it, be intelligent enough to stop”.
and, if you have been, thanks for reading! Elizabeth
PS the piece at the top is a small stitched piece I made a couple of years ago called “All At Sea”, which I often am!