Thursday, April 30, 2015

Working in a Series class is open for enrollment

My Working in a Series class is open for enrollment at the Academy of Quilting.
The Academy is a great website with all kinds of really affordable classes - plus you don't have to leave home to take them!  And you meet people from all over the world - one of the really great things about online teaching.

I have 5 different courses on the website and each one runs twice a year...once a year I think up a new class and it's added to the roster!  So you can tell I've been doing  this at least 5 years....

The next class coming up is Working in Series.  In the very first lesson, these topics are covered:

  • what it means to work in a series
  • why you should do it
  • inspirations
  • using past work to chart your course
  • motivation, practice and managing your time 
  • ways of working in a series
  • how to develop a series
  • choosing your theme 
  • how long a series should be

There are four lessons in all and each one moves you further towards making the right serial plan for you - by the fourth week you're all set to begin and you have a rough outline of your next year's work!

The class is similar to the first part of my book Working in Series - though the book goes on to cover some other design issues.  The benefit of taking a class on line is that you get individual help with working through the exercises - also since everyone else is doing that too it really motivates you to get moving!!  Sometimes very hard to do...there's always some shopping or cleaning or correspondence  that seems to need  to be addressed!    But Making a series of quilts helps you in so many ways...and if you want to be a serious artist and develop your own style and voice, this IS the way to do it.

I hope to see you in class!
If you have been, thanks for reading!
and...feel free to ask me any questions about this or any other of my classes, in the Comments section.  I apologize for the security stuff, but believe me the one time I lifted it the site was Deluged with Spam, great whopping droves of it!!!

and thank you very much for all your comments on the two Athens quilts!!!  


Friday, April 24, 2015

Bits and Pieces

Two New Quilts

Just finished a second small quilt featuring Athens, Georgia - a small college town with a lot of trees!

Here's the first one I made:

I liked this idea a lot, so I tried it again with a very different value pattern - changing the value pattern  (i.e. the arrangement of darks and lights) can convert a very different mood to a quilt.

So here's the second version:

Not only are the values different, the light is much warmer...a few details have been added and a few taken away but I worked from the exact same sketch.  Tell me which one you like best - and why!!!

Both are around 30" by 20" in size....not very large.

My next  piece is going to be another landscape; I just redid the landscape page on my website

and I really liked the look of the landscape pieces all together like that, so I thought I'd try another!

And after that...I have a different sketch of Athens - with even more trees - that I'd like to have a  go at.

Show in England

Meanwhile I'm in a show in Bilston, UK (or rather one of my quilts is).  I sure wish I could be there because they are having special lectures by some of the artists, and even a Clare Smith dye as you watch it drip quilt!!  I remember that one of the contestants on Project Runway did that and it was spectacular.  Of course they used Rit dye...the model walked onto the runway in a white dress...and when it rained (not a common occurrence on a runway!) the dye was activated.  In Clare Smith's pieces I don't think they actually cause rain in the gallery, probably a more local source of water!

 Here's the announcement about the show from Through Our Hands. Apologies for the extra spaces which are totally resistant to deletion! Note that you can sign up for this excellent free online quilting magazine.

All the artists here at Through Our Hands are delighted to let you know that our 3rd major exhibition opens at Bilston, UK, on 16th May.  It will feature new work by 24 of the world's most innovative textile artists who seek to push the boundaries of quiltmaking.

And, as a special treat, Through Our Hands, The Magazine, will be publishing an exhibition special, featuring all the work in the show.

The work of all 24 artists, can be seen in beautiful full colour illustrations, along with their insirations, methods of work, and artists statements.

Don't forget to tell your friends so they can sign up to read it online.  Simply complete the newsletter form on the front of the website and we'll send them a direct link.

Live Master Class 
And finally....I'm going to be teaching a LIVE master class focussing on design - lots of different aspects with different assignments in June in Massachusetts.  email me at: elizabethyork100 at yahoo dot com  for any details, there are one or two places available.

I look forward to hearing from you about the quilts at the top!
And, if you have been, thanks for reading.....Elizabeth

Thursday, April 16, 2015

To be Equal or not to be Equal....

Just read a charming little children's book about design that says a great deal quite succinctly.
it's called A Book about Design: complicated doesn't make it good   by Mark Gonyea.

He states that good design rests on how we perceive relative shapes, sizes and colors (amongst other things).

In Chapter 1, he begins a little narrative of two shapes, let's say two squares, equal in size and while different in color, the colors are both mid value and equal levels of saturation.  Wherever you might put those shapes in your design, neither is really dominant.  They're equals - and like the two players on a tennis court, you look first at one, and then at the other.  BUT if one of those tennis players is a LOT bigger, or in human terms a much Bigger Name, then that one will stand out.

But...the story continues....the second lesser named player develops an attribute that makes us want to look at her.  It could be anything, a funny wiggle, an unexpected tremendous backhand, or perhaps she has a bright orange dress and the Big Name wears a plain grey one.  Any change in one person's shape (the wiggle), the color (bright saturated orange) or ability (stature of her playing) will now make her the dominant one:  the one we want to watch.     She has drawn attention to herself.

But then....the Big Name develops the same attribute, when Lesser Namw wiggles, she wiggles - since they're now both wiggling (just imagine!), neither is dominant.

But then, the Lesser Name, changes her racquet and suddenly her game improves immensely - now we start watching everything she does again.

So you can see how, when you have two or more squares in your quilt, any changes you make to one square will affect the other.  They might begin as equals, but if you do anything Interesting to one, then we'll see that one as dominant - it will dominate our attention.  This is human nature, we're hard wired to do this.  Interestingly even if it's negative.  So we all paid a lot more attention to a certain ex-governor of Alaska because she was different - even though she was different in largely negative ways.  She made the other candidates look somewhat boring!  Until of course, another candidate with a Different Quality came along, and then our attention went to that one.

So two clear points  to remember:
1. Make it a bit different and it will stand out, and it will also make the other one look less interesting.
This works with all the shapes in a quilt design, it works with athletes, comedians, politicians, products in the super market etc etc.

2. When things are in close proximity, they affect each other.

Well that's just Chapter 1!  This is a kid's book with profound implications for life!!!    Definitely succinct to the nth degree!!  Strangely enough, my kids thought the book boring - and I, the designing grandma, though it fascinating.....hmm is second childhood on its way already?

If you have been, thanks for reading.
  Now to go and play with shapes....     Elizabeth

Friday, April 10, 2015

Developing a Style


A lot of people worry about "developing" a style.  Style is something reviewers like to write about.   But what is said about the topic is getting to be a little predictable and doesn't show any real imagination on the part of the reviewer.    They probably like to write about it because if an artist has a particular "style" it means that you as the viewer or Reviewer (one who looks again - if you think about it!) can appear very knowledgeable and say aha yes that's a so-and-so!!  Humans do like things to be recognizable - we like to be able to predict our world! We especially like to be One Up on those predictions!

Reviewers urge artists to develop a style and consequently many art quilt makers feel this is an important step on their journey...I've learned to piece and appliqué, I've learned about values...oh what's next ?  Aha ...develop a style!  And then one must make a Body of Work.  When I hear the phrase a Body of Work I always think about a human body endlessly (though not,alas, tirelessly) working and working and working...  I actually don't understand why the collective term for art work has become a "body".  It's nothing like as imaginative as a Murder of Crows, or a pride of lions, or a shrewdness of apes!  Or how about this: "an ostentation of peacocks" - isn't that wonderful?
and then us artists are down to a plain old Body.  A busy body usually - if one wants to develop that body.  It does sound rather muscular doesn't it?  I think maybe they want to put us off by making it sound hard.  Of course to develop the body, one needs a trainer!  So I think maybe in future i should style myself as a trainer.  Now I wonder if that would be called developing a style?
However, enough of these linguistic fantasies!    A Batting of Quiltmakers?

But apart from plumping up the egos of the know-it-alls, are there any reasons why one should Develop a Style?  And should this be done Deliberately?   Can  it actually be done deliberately?  Or should one just sit back, wait and hope that it will come like  the Tooth Fairy and that if we lie very still with eyes tight shut we might feel the firkling hand beneath the pillow?

As to the HOW one might deliberately develop a style...I think that's actually fairly straight forward.  Look at the art you like...narrow it down, print out your top 20 favorite quilts every - no matter who made them.  Pin them up on the wall and look at them.  What are the commonalities?  Once you know that, then deliberately build those commonalities into your work.  Yes it will feel weird and cumbersome at first, like developing a new tennis playing style, or a new hair style, or a new kind of handwriting, but soon it will become a part of you.  OR, you will realize, no I'm just not the kind of person who only works in black and white - or whatever it is - and you'll drop that aspect of style out.
So it's definitely Doable...and this will also happen gradually (as long as you don't take TOO many workshops in different techniques!) by itself as you narrow down your interests and fall into similar ways of working.

But WHY should you develop it?   Well "they" say it's because people (those d...d reviewers again!) like to be able to recognize your style.  That in the famous gallery in which you'll now be invited to show - having got your Style, visitors can recognize your work.  That everybody who wants something covered in Red Dots (or whatever is part of your style) knows to look through your portfolio.  But are these good things for you?  Do you want to be "classified"?  I've read about the problems in the popular singing world, that if you can't be classified as Rock or Reggae, Soft or Hard, Metal or techno, you're not attractive to the labels and the outlets. But is that really also true of art? of quilts???  Well perhaps so - in some ways.  I read that it's still the case in some quilt shows that one has to say whether or not one's work is pictorial, or abstract, figurative or landscape etc and that they will change you into another category - or reject you - if you don't fall into a specific type. But that's hardly a reason to limit yourself.

Now I do think there's a lot to be said for working in a series, and in fact devoted several pages to the why and how of doing that in my second (and probably last!) book:  Working in a Series.  And it's very likely that working in a series will lead to you developing commonalities in your own work - but wanting to Develop a Style Before you've made a lot of work, before you've worked in a series, etc might well be putting the cart before the horse.  Which makes it an uphill battle for that poor old nag!

So, since I don't want to continue beating the poor old nag of a topic!  I think I'll make a nice cup of tea and just not worry about style...I'm going to leave that up to the reviewers!
If you have been, thanks for reading!   Elizabeth