Thursday, June 9, 2016
Problem solving for the artist....
The fiber artist at work: There's a flurry of cutting and pinning up on the design board...there's sewing and unpicking and cursing, and jubilation and despair and discarded shards of fabric all over the studio floor.........
and then you come back the next day and look at the wall and the awful truth is revealed:
It's not working.....
We've all been there..so what is the next step?
Alas, sewing it all together while saying "the quilting will help"....or "I might add some beads"...or lace...or, in dire circumstances, both(!!) does not work.
Does not work, even though sometimes the quilt with the most junk affixed to it wins the show!!! A tour de force of fixology!
By the way: Just because a quilt gets into a quilt show doesn't mean it's actually any good! Quilts get into shows for a variety of reasons...yes, reason #1 is because it's a very good and striking design and beautifully made. But also they get in because many shows are judged by photographs....and so what got in was actually the photograph, rather than the quilt. Sometimes the jurors are told: you've picked the best...and they'll fill up half the gallery, now pick the next best, and the next and the next.
Also, jurors are human!! (yes, it's true!) Some really hate a certain color, really love another color. They all have prejudices and biases - no matter what they say. Psychological experiments have shown for years that even if we truly believe we're not acting on our prejudices...we are. The teacher unknowingly spends a little more time explaining something to the pretty child, than to the ugly one.
So don't add "stuff" just because the prize winner at the local show had added stuff.....
It's very hard to solve a problem when you don't know what it is! That's why it's good to get an actual diagnosis when you go to the doctor's!! (of course sometimes you don't get a diagnosis, but rather the equivalent of extra quilting, or beads or lace !! but that's another issue).
What is the actual problem? Why is this quilt "not working"? And, by the way, what does "not working" actually mean? I must admit I really dislike this phrase...and the slightly upmarket version of it "it's not well resolved" !! Both are very vague and not in the least bit helpful.
The function of most art work is
1. to attract your attention and
2. keep it.
Diagnosis 1: it might not attract your attention, because it's plain boring!
Diagnosis 2: it might not keep your attention, because it's in some way distasteful for you.
To fix problem 1:
If it's boring, almost certainly you don't have enough contrast: contrast of any one or more of the elements that go to make up a design: line, shape, value, color, texture. It's helpful to work through these one at a time (and the most likely culprit, by the way, is value) to find the what's missing.
Contrast creates tension - tension keeps our interest.
To fix problem 2:
If it attracted your attention but then you really didn't want to keep looking at it, it's probably because it has no unity, no harmony, it's a chaotic mishmash of stuff with no clear message.
You don't have a basic structure, you don't have a focus, you have too many different elements.
Think of these 2 problems in musical terms:
problem 1 would be suggested by a piece of music that was one repeated note: the same note at the same speed and the same volume and the same degree of resonance.
problem 2 is the piece of music that's just a cacophony of sound - the piano piece composed by a computer that included every one of the 88 notes on a piano keyboard, in random order, each just once!
So...what d'you think? What d'you feel is the function of art work? The most likely problems, and the clear solutions to those problems??? Do they fit into the format I suggest...or are there other difficulties? do let me know!! After all, I'm going to have a nice cuppa tea......
And, if you have been, thanks for reading! Elizabeth