Friday, December 19, 2008

Quilts that never die

Good art lasts, it stays forever fresh and young –every time you look at it, you feel renewed.

Have you ever had the experience of buying a piece of art and just a few months later it’s sooooooo boring you just have to relegate it to the guest room – or even the guest bathroom!!?? I know I have, just come and visit my guest bathroom – art work wall to wall!!

A good art work will have something to say every time you look at it, and every year you keep it on the wall, it won’t date. Look at some of the quilts in the catalogues published in the 80s…some are just dreadful – oh so 80s!! others look fresh and new and could appear in the next Quilt National or Fiberart International and look completely right. Michael Kimmelman, the art critic, says the best art never dies, “ [it] holds death at bay”!

I think it’s a very helpful exercise to pull out all those old catalogues from the major art quilt exhibitions and find a dozen or so pieces that still look fresh and beautiful. Copy them, put them up on the wall and look at them everyday to see what you can learn from them. What is it about them that is so intriguing? It might be also educational to copy some of the corpses (!) and see what the difference is….obviously, some of what you see is going to be your own personal taste – but that’s fine, that’s what you’re developing.

Looking through my files I found 3 examples of quilts by other people that I love every time I see them:

Sondra Dorn

Dorothy Caldwell

Pauline Burbidge

Looking at these piece I can see that I'm drawn to squares!!! I didn't realise that before - two are fairly large, but the Dorn is quite small. I also like pieces that are very coherent - not chopped up into segments...and a lot of stitching - whether by hand or machine. Looks like I prefer a fairly limited palette and a sense of space, immense space. I could go onto list several more things, and each time it helps me to see what I should be focussing on. Not copying other people, but knowing my own taste well, so I can improve my critiqueing ability when I look at my pieces in process.

And three of my own pieces (there were more, but I couldn’t put them all up!!) that I like to continue looking at:

Looking at these 3 - which I've chosen because they're all older and still interest me after several years - I can see that I'm still at the stage of trying different things...I do like to convey a sense of place, I do limit my palette - but employ a large range of values and I also try to show light and space. but I could definitely be more focussed.......

Try this exercise!!! and see where it leads you!
And, if you have been, thanks for looking!


Deb Lacativa said...

Wonderful post - it's an excersize that might help me out of the creative hole I've dug myself recently.Thanks!

Deb Lacativa said...

please forgive the creative

('lest we commiserate)

Elizabeth Barton said...

Deb - be sure your commiserations are commensurate with your experience!

Nathan Fowkes said...

Fantastic designs! I particularly like the "in the garden" series.