Monday, December 28, 2009

Strengthening exercises

a new day                       A New Day  (55”w, 26”h)
it’s the New year’s Resolutions time of year…in the few days before I have all these wonderful ideas about the amazing changes I’m going to make!!!  well…it’s lovely to think about anyway…

The way to succeed in many pursuits is by practice and by doing strengthening exercises: most athletes these days work out to increase their skills, so do dancers, musicians, mountain climbers and truck drivers.  So what strengthening exercises might we as fiber artists do?  I want this to be a very collaborative blog...I have a few ideas, but need input from every one! Including the reader in my 106th country - the Isle of Man!  ( I do love the widget that tells me how many countries are represented by readers of this blog - even if some of them got here by accident!).

barton jaunty ladies                       Jaunty Ladies (those are the ones that exercise!) (45”w, 27”h)

So back to some possible exercises. In no particular order…
1.What would make our critical eyes stronger?  Maybe a  half hour of looking at art each day...being inspired by it, then by thinking about what it was that really touched us and made a connection.

2.  Lie back and imagine how you could make a quilt based on one of those images.

3.Look at pictures and squint up your eyes to see the values...go for a walk, every 10 minutes stop! and squint up your eyes...observe the value pattern.

4.What would make our compositional skills stronger?  maybe looking at  possible inspirational photographs each day and deriving a quick value sketch.   What would you need to move, add or subtract to improve the composition?

5.Every other day...we could take the best of  those value sketches and quickly cut out a small piece of no more than 5 elements...just following the value pattern..

6.Twice a week take one of the elements that you cut out and place it on a plain background and then add 4 more shapes ....  think about harmony - the shapes should be from the same family...but with their own distinctive characteristics, however one should be dominant.
distant lights from slide

on the left: Distant Lights (38”w, 56”h) – don’t let the lights be too distant!

7.Every day drink a cuppa tea and gradually read all those books you've been buying!! figure out which will be helpful and which not.  Learn to discard unhelpful practices.

8.  challenge yourself to come up with new and interesting colour schemes...try to notice one each day - on your daily walk, while reading a magazine, or surfing the 'net....pull out fabrics to match and cut snippets to make a sample page to keep in a notebook.

okay! now it's your turn!!! what exercises would you recommend?  the Olympics are just around the corner! Let’s all be stronger in the New Year!

And, if you have been, thanks for reading!   Elizabeth

PS All the above quilts are available for purchase, prices between $1600 and $2500 depending on size.


Margaret McDonald said...

I like your train of thought. like athletes who learn how to correctly control their muscles and breathing so they become second nature, I am learning to listen to my gut. I have been strenghtening my use of colour. when I select a fabric I ask myself 'why?' this is as valid for pieces that are kept to use or are discarded. my 'gut reaction' has developed at the same time.
I've been doing this for years but only recently identified it as a practice.

karenviser said...

When I took a design class our instructor made us go to the local gallery and write critiques. We had to pick the piece that we liked the best or pick which one best demonstrated a design element. It was a difficult and painful process to put into words what you saw with your eyes but it did get easier with practice. It helped me look at art beyond the "I think it's pretty" stage.

Jackie said...

I'm with you! If you want a response, I can respond even if I didn't master a skill. I will be able to tell you what didn't happen and that might lead you or another reader to pipe in and help me across the hard part. I'm ready to begin some of your suggestions, but I need to pick and choose. Too many and I'll end up with discouragement and failure and do nothing. So I will choose and I'll keep track plus I'll let you know.

I've been working a lot with color and value. I've set myself some tasks that I haven't entirely enjoyed but I learned LOTS! The main goal I have is working every single day--not on exercises or practice--on my own work! I'm busy a lot, but not focused.

Anonymous said...

Something we could learn from athletes is that they spend many hours in training, even when their event is the 100 metre sprint. Perhaps we should spend many hours doing the mundane practice pieces so that when the time comes we are at the peak of readiness to work on a masterpiece.
So, lots of excercises to improve our design skills, our use of colour, our technical skills ......... then when we put them together for the main event magic will happen.
Judy B

Shelly said...

This is a very relevant topic to me. I have been reading Lyric Kinard's new book, Art + Quilt: Design Principles and Creative Exercises. I've found it to be very helpful to the starting-out art quilter with no background in art principles.

I would suggest doing some research on the basic art principles, and then focusing on some exercises to build your strength in that area. I've also found that reviewing a finished piece and writing down some critical analysis notes on it very useful.

Jackie said...

I am also curious about making the blog collaborative. I imagine that could be tricky, but I'm reading and willing! Thank you for all the guidance you give freely.

Karen Hamrick said...

In response to your 'Strengthening exercises' I am ready to state that I will try to ride my bike or walk everyday in the new year. When I am on my bike and away from my work area and the computer, I can really focus my thoughts on what I need to do for the day. Then, when I walk in the house, I quickly write down those goals before I get side-tracked again. Our lives are so busy, we have to develop our own tactics for organization and self-discipline in our work. Karen

Unknown said...

I like this idea. My New Year choice is to take an hour every other day to sew. I'd love to take an hour every day, and I'm going to aim for that, but now I'm on my own with the Adorable Child and working full time, there's just not that much time in the day lol!

Linda B. said...

Last year I made several postcard pieces based on details from paintings I liked - the brush strokes from a Van Gogh (So many colours!), the curves from a Matisse etc.
They were made in fabric and took too long so this year I'm planning to work in paper and paint. I know that my quilts do not contain a lot of contrast so this will be my initial focus as I try to re-create the compositition of some art work that I like.

California Fiber artist and composer said...

How about adding sketching an object each day for those who are afraid of drawing.