One of the things I like to do is to photocopy pieces I really really love and then look at them all lined up and think what it is about them that grasps my attention so intensely. If I want my work to have that effect, then I want to know how others did it to me! How’d they do that?
I realize I’m drawn to work with a strong clear message, this is just my personal taste but it would be nuts for me to want to make work that wasn’t My Personal Taste, right? Clarity of message mean that there should be no doubt about what I’m trying to convey.
Every time I’ve made crap (and believe me this has definitely happened! How else would I know about “extreme doggie makeovers”!!) I’ve tried to analyse why the piece was such rubbish. And, nearly always, its because I’ve had too much going on and I’ve just launched into something without thinking ahead of time what I wanted to say. Without knowing what I want to say, I won’t know what words (elements) to choose. Some people can speak in tongues but not I!
So, for me, I should always make Thinking my first step. Whatever the inspiration, I should determine what I want to say and how I want to say it and that will help me choose my language. Actually deliberately putting my message into words always helps me to be clearer in my own mind. And if I’m not clear to myself, how could I hope to be to anyone else? (This is something I’ve started asking people to do in workshops too, by the way, and they have told me it really helped them as well). I should know myself what is so special and significant about the inspiration (photo, place, imagination, feeling, concept etc) if I want to share it. If I say too much, my piece could get scattered and confusing. If, looking at the inspiration, several things really interest me then I should plan on a series which each piece in the series addressing just ONE of those things.
Take a look at these pictures:
There are several interesting things here. The first thing that strikes me is the pattern of shadows on the lattice, so if I wanted to make a piece from this photo, I’d blur down the plant and really emphasize shadows and lattice, I might even eliminate the plant and the shelf altogether. However, if you saw the plant first, the beautiful contrast of the red against the several shade of green then that should be the focus of your piece.
Or, perhaps one could convey the sense of a cool place on a hot day? This was a small corner of a very hot garden on a very hot day in August…in which case a third possible Idea comes to mind. Three different quilts!
In the picture on the right (Kendal) are many different interesting things. What inspired me to take the picture was the outline of the chimneys against the sky…if I made a quilt about that I would eliminate a LOT of the other detail, the street light, the houses nearest to me (you can just see a wall on either side), the people, the road, the cars, the windows and wall details, and probably the depth…because none of that would be about those chimneys.
On the other hand, I could look at this picture and see all those different levels of depth, from the bushes and people in the foreground, then the nearer houses, then the distant one, and then the distant hills of the Lake District. A quilt about all these depths would be very different.
Or….I could make a piece about the angles and shapes of that conglomerate of houses – see how they are all joined together in a fascinating pattern?
Or, I could make a piece about the colours…I love the way the green sort of flows through the piece like a river, getting gradually bluer as it goes back into space…
Once I’ve got my Single clear message, then I should think about how I can portray that. And again, this is where a possible series might come in. For there are many ways to convey, say, “the greenness of it”! some more literal, some more abstract, some relying more on shape, others more on line, or on texture…and I can explore them all – but not in the same piece! (I hope!)
And now for a clear clean simple cup of tea! And if you have been, thanks for reading…Elizabeth
PS do please comment! Then I know you’re out there!! In the great void!