Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Jack Sprat could eat no fat, his wife could eat no lean!

My friend hates diagonals, she loves rounded shapes...
I adore diagonals - the movement the excitement and the dynamism!  I'm probably not keen on very skinny prickly shapes...but you never know..hedgehogs are kinda sweet.
But unlike Jack and his poor wife, we should not stick to an exclusive diet!
Shapes are how we "speak" about things visually.  We can speak Shape, or Line or Colour, or Value or Texture or Direction etc....we can't use words - well we could of course but that, I think, would defeat the object of making a visual piece.  Though I do believe that words can play a part in a piece - if their visual language is considered.

So what do different shapes mean to us?  in our quilts we want to communicate our ideas or feelings etc visually.   So it's important for us to be able to speak our own language.

Think about a tree.  I want to tell you my feelings about this is home to birds, it provides a sheltered spot for reading (or other activity!)  (actually not here in the South USA too blinking hot), it flowers with soft and lovely blossoms in the spring.  My feelings about this tree suggest shelter, gradual organic growth, soft shade that can I convey this with just the shape of the tree?

Another tree:  a blasted heath (funny how heaths are so often blasted!), winter, cold, stormy, a tree that struggles to survive despite difficult circumstances - how would my shape vocabulary describe this tree?

And yet another:  living in a city, helping people to look up and think about air and sky and not just trudge along the pavements....what shape would that tree be?

A lively growing tree putting out shoots in all directions, full of vigour and energy...what shape should it be?

They're all trees, but by the shape alone we have conveyed all those extra meanings. We've conveyed more than
the treeness of the object.

And that's just using the shape language!   Now to our tree we can add the line language...the colour language and so on.  It's actually much richer than words because each object is portrayed in so many different dimensions (not literal, but figurative - as in the value dimension, the texture dimension etc).   Each visual image can be "read" simultaneously on at least 5 levels.

Think about a can you use visual language to convey the human emotions associated with what is in that box?  
I'd love your comments to be just shapes and colours....but alas! mere words will have to convey your thoughts.
And, if you have been, thanks for reading!  I hope to post once more before leaving for Festival of Quilts in the UK plus a painting class plus visits to relatives and old friends including Damien Hirst's first art teacher! Only 2 degrees!  Not that I'm anticipating talking in cadaver anytime soon...Elizabeth


Nina Marie said...

I love series that explore simple shape, especially where you can see that shape evolve - its truly fascinating.

As for your statement about not using words to convey the meaning of a piece- don't you hate when an artist says more verbally about a piece than the piece is conveying visually. We've seen it in "Work of Art" but I've seen it outside of reality tv. It makes me just want to go up to the person and slap them and say - "Hey shut up and go back into the studio and make this piece stronger."
Not that I feel strongly about it or anything LOL!!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Having lurked around your blog drinking in the fabulous images I would just like to wish you great success at FoQ. I am so looking forward to being able to see your work in all its natural glory.

Sandra Wyman said...

Looking forward to seeing your work - and hopefully meeting you at FOQ. Torn between your workshop and Rayna's, the choice ended up being easy: by the time I got to the computer (about ten minutes after the opening time) yours was already booked up! Mainly, as far as I can gather, by friends in the UK's Contemporary Quilt group.

I am naturally (or something) drawn to diagonals and asymmetry but have just managed a long thin symmetrical vertical composition piece - definitely a first for me and loved the idea of the relatively static symmetric composition containing an energetic moving shape. Though all this thinking and verbiage is after the event you understand!

Elizabeth Barton said...

Contrast is all!! your energetic shape will look even stronger against a calm background - see you at FOQ

Anonymous said...

君子立恆志,小人恆立志。................. ................................................