I'm blogging from Arrowmont School of Arts and crafts on the edge of the Smoky Mountain national park in Gatlingburg, TN. It's the 3rd day of class and so much has already been done!
On Monday everyone had to create 3 potential quilt designs from a variety of different inspirational sources - and amazingly at leat 3 beautiful designs appeared on everyone's design wall. We critiqued them as a group, examing how well they portrayed the theme or main idea, how harmonious they were, whether or not they were interesting and well balanced. It's iimportant too to show rhythms and echoes - in all the different elements that we play with in 2D work: viz: shape, line, value, colour and texture.
We then had a quick whiz round colour theory, a description of different colour schemes. I'm a cruel witch in class! and force people to choose a particular colour scheme, and a dominant colour - no cor blimey spilled paintboxes!!! Of course colour is so seductive, you want a little bit of everything - but nearly always a piece is stronger if you are a little bit restrained. After all who would want to eat a plate of bacon, chocolate, curry, peaches and lettuce?
Yesterday was dyeing day. This is always so much fun as it's mainly physical after the intellectual vigours of designing day!!! Everyone dyed a gradation sequence in their dominant colour, and a slightly shorter series in their secondary colours. Then little bits of accent colours. Some did larger pieces for background fabric, some immersion dyed, some dye painted and we ended up with arashi shibori - then you can really let the colours fly!
Today is blocking out. First we'll choose which composition is to be made, then grid it - I think that works better than blowing up to life size as it allows more room for adjustment as the paint goes onto the canvas - as it were. It's important to keep things fresh and lively, and if you follow a pattern too rigidly (and who wants to do that anyway?) things get tightened up.
After gridding, we'll pin up the most background piece and work forwards. I'll explain more about this in a later post.
One more thing about Arrowmont. It is a marvelously exciting place to come for a class because of the great mix of disciplines - plus many of the teachers are the leaders in their medium. This week we have Akira Blount here whose wonderful doll sculptures are in many museums and the White House. I am over dyeing a shirt for her - I just hope she likes the mottled look! We have Mary Todd Beam who has taken the Gold Medal at the AWS show several times, we have Fred Fenster, a master metalsmith. Arrowmont has been organizing workshops for many many years, beginning nearly hundred years ago with craft training for local people and gradually becoming national and then international in its scope. Sadly last year they were threatened by a proposal that the land be sold out from underneath them - to develop condos and a waterpark to increase the local tourist base - to compete with theme parks like Dollywood. This particular sale fell through, but the possibility is still there. They hope to renew the lease on the land next year for a few more years but really need to come up with a long term plan so that they are still providing great teaching and excitement in another hundred years. The options appear to lie between raising enough money to actually buy the land (currently leased from the fraternity Pi Beta Phi) or to raise enough money to move the school to another site - several other communities both in Eastern Tennessee and across the nation are immensely eager to obain such a jewel in their crowns.
And now, back to the textile studio to torture those poor students some more!! If you have been, thanks for reading. Elizabeth