Monday, August 31, 2015

Abstracting Design and Designing Abstraction

Abstract Art: some find it really exciting, others come out with a trite phrase about their 5 year old and think that they're being smart!!!  (Oh my pet hate is the overuse of trite idioms!! please...never EVER tell me I stepped upto the plate and nailed it!  Those things break when nailed!)

I love the variety of abstract art, and how it all came about, and all the different kinds of ingenuity that abstract artists have devised...and I'm starting a new Abstract Art for Quiltmakers class this Friday with  the Academy of Quilting  (AQ)  - please check it out if you're interested.

One of the things that I do in the class is show how one can be inspired by a great artist, without copying from them.  I had an email recently from someone who is very inspired by a certain artist but hesitates to use any of that artist's techniques or ideas, lest she be accused of copying.

I think we can be strongly drawn to someone's work and then, by carefully analyzing exactly what it is that inspires us, take just that element and then incorporate it into our own work.
For example you might say "oh I love Elizabeth Barton's Red Shift series of quilts"....
then, ask yourself what is it about them I really like?  is it the color?  Then...go for Red.
Is it the shapes and lines?  just make a line drawing of one of the quilts and see how those elements are used.  Or is it the high value contrasts?  Can I use such contrasts in my work?

Is is the different textures that are utilized?  or the overall way of organizing the work?   Or the complexities of depth and devices such as lost edges??  (if you're interesting in those concepts, by the way, and not familiar with them, those are the types of design strategies I cover in my online master class, a yearlong commitment...write me privately if you're interested in more details of that.  There's an email link on the sidebar.)

Every artist has always been influenced by art that has gone before, even if it's negatively: "The Famous Quilter (FQ) doesn't believe in straight lines therefore I shall only use straight lines."
"The FQ eschews all pastel colors, therefore I shall see what I can do with pastels"  etc...

If you look at early developments in abstract art, you can see how the ideas and imagination flowed from one artist to another...each one taking (abstracting) a particular idea and then changing it, amplifying upon it, being intrigued by it and then creating their own work.
In the AQ class, we look at the work of women abstract artists - I fervently believe many of their menfolk took their wives' ideas and enlarged upon them!!

We can abstract elements from the work of artists whom we find totally inspiring, then use them and make them our own.  It used to be a vital part of art school training that one copy the work of the Late and Great in order to learn their technique, to benefit from their ideas.  Now such copies are not to be used as original art, of course, but they are a great way to learn "how" to do it.   You can't expect to make a masterpiece at your very first go, nor should you be expected to!  But you can learn.......

You can also learn how to make a decent cup of tea!!!  I've shown quite a few!!  And now to enjoy, if you have been, thanks for reading!   Elizabeth

PS   I'm having a lot of trouble hand stitching these days...and you can machine stitch just about everything, except that nowhere does anyone talk about doing anything but hand stitching on the quilt sleeves...I'm wondering (as a non I don't really know its strength)...could you FUSE a sleeve onto the back of a quilt?  Is anybody doing this???   


Heather Dubreuil said...

I would love to take this class with you, Elizabeth, but I will be traveling during this period. Please post again if this class is scheduled in the future and I will be there for sure!

Elle said...

I face all of my quilts with a full sized facing. This allows me to sew BY MACHINE the label and sleeve in place before attaching the facing/backing onto the quilt. There's a tutorial on my website:

Elizabeth Barton said...

It would be great fun to have you in class again Heather! I usually do try to mention an upcoming class in the blog...and the classes cycle around about every 6 months.

Thank you Elle, I will take a look - I have tried this once or twice but wasn't happy with the way I did it...but maybe your method will be the answer!

Anonymous said...

Elizabeth, would there be any objection to machine sewing the sleeve to the backing before you back the quilt? You would have to flip the sleeve up .out of the way before you quilt. Jean Munro

Helen Howes said...

Elizabeth Barton said...

Thank you f or your suggestions - unfortunately I don't bind the quilt in the usual way = when I did , I did include the sleeve in the binding stitching.
I could put a whole extra back on with the sleeve in place though, that might work as long as it didn't pull away from the quilt.
I was lucky this time, a friend came round and we traded something I had available for some stitching!! A nice solution to the problem for us both!

And yes, I will repost when Abstract Art for Q - and any of the other classes, will be available.