Saturday, February 20, 2016

Abstract aspirations and inspirations

Some say that art quilts are overlooked by the "real" art world because they are mostly made by women...and it's true that the few male quilters there are do seem to benefit from "men only" shows which for some reason tickle the fancy of the curators!

It's likely that there is something in the belief, for it certainly was true of female abstract painters - the first abstract painting (not including petroglyphs and so on!) was probably by Hilda af Klimt, however a few years later Kandinsky proudly announced that he was the first abstract artist! And people believed him!

When I started to look at the work of female abstract artists, I was amazed by the variety and wealth and beauty of the much inspiration for one's own work!   Most artists are inspired by other artists - a few work from a theoretical background of course, and some are inspired by visions.
Well I"m not advocating visions (or the means of inducing them!).

Working from a theoretical background sounds a little dry..though interestingly some of the really Big Names have worked in this way e.g. how many variations can I create with shapes of randomly strip pieced fabric?  And now there's a whole school of art quilters following that particular abstract path...

But visions and theory apart, the abstract art itself can trigger so many creative thoughts.
  For example:

"Hmm...I see they tried to show a face from two angles at the same time, what if I looked at a building in that way....or what if I thought about showing 3 or more angles at the same time?"


"This artist took one shape and arranged it in 17 different ways, let me see what I could do with a similar shape?"

You see how the inspiration can trigger a multitude of "what ifs?"  Well, perhaps not for everyone, but I always find myself thinking, hmm what if I took that and just changed this bit here to fit what I personally really feel when I see/hear/touch/experience this, what would it be like?

It's the same with music - the composer wrote the notes, but each pianist plays them a little differently, more than that, each pianist will play them a little differently every time they play them!

My study of female abstract artists lead me to write a class for  the academy of quilting called Abstract Art for Quiltmakers - lots and lots of different ways to design abstract quilts.  I've also taught this class "in real life"  (as opposed to my virtual life!) in a number of different places and been thrilled by the variety of designs that people create.  

In fact I got into abstract art so much, I've actually written a second class for the academy called "More Abstract Art for Quiltmakers"!!   You can take the classes in any order, but the first one is coming up next week.

And delve into more abstract thought myself, with the aid (of course) of a nice cup of tea...not visions, perhaps, but certainly refreshing!

And, if you have been, thanks for the comments!  what a great time we had with them last week!!  More please!     Elizabeth


Mary Ritter said...

Do you know when your Abstract II class will be offered at AOQ?

Elizabeth Barton said...

I think it's late spring...but you could email the dean:
and almost certainly sign up pretty soon, if not right away. thanks!

amyfibre said...

Hi -- I'm a weaver who stumbled on your blog a long time ago and have stuck around because it's always thought-provoking.

Even though I don't quilt, when you write about design, I perk up my ears. There really aren't "design" classes out there for weavers, but so many of the principles from quilting apply since both weaving and quilting are 2D.

I'm wondering about taking your Abstract I class. Looks very intriguing to me. I'm perfectly willing to stumble about with fabric to do exercises for a class although ultimately I would be designing weaving drafts. What do you think?

Chris said...

I took the class last spring and we did not have to sew anything. We created designs. I think one student made a quilt during the class. I just finished making a quilt from one of the designs I created in the class. I would think that you should be able to create abstract designs that you can use in your weaving. So you would not have to make a quilt.