Just got back from a lovely week spent mainly gazing in awe across distant ancient mountains!! This is one of the many views to be had at Wildacres Retreat in North Carolina, up in the Smoky Mountains (some of the oldest mountains in the world) just off the Blue Ridge Parkway. A great place to contemplate nature in all her majesty. Sitting sketching and trying to think of ways of simplifying all this into a few basic shapes and values, I didn’t do much painting but instead concentrated on trying to get down thumbnail sketches that I could later use in compositions for quilts. I wanted to learn a way to capture the essential shapes of a landscape so that I could come up with ideas like the one I used for my Iona quilt (below).
Landscapes like these are reduceable into long skinny 3 or 4 sided shapes, alas the sunset is not!
Simple and rich at the same time…perhaps some stitching??? Cogitations are required!
Looking at these landscapes each day and trying to sketch them, it became apparent that the first sketches need to be done very lightly! An eraser in one hand and a pencil in the other, not worrying about texture or value at first. As fiber artists we are often seduced by texture and color but these really are not the first concerns in developing strong compositions. Look and see, find the big shapes! Then go for the values. I like to try the actual (local) values first, and then play with varying them and see which rendition best suits the mood I’m trying to convey. And sometimes you have to move a mountain or two as well!
One of the chief benefits of such a retreat is, I think, learning to take one’s time. All too often we are in a hurry to finish the sketch, cut the fabric, make the piece, hurry to enter it in the show…..but better work comes with a much more thoughtful approach, gradually taking in the depths, the mood and the meaning that we want to convey.
Next up: installing my largest pieces at the XLG show at the Town 220 Gallery in Madison, GA. Opening is Thursday Aug 2, 6-8 pm if you’re anywhere near! Love to see you!
And then, a trip up to Canada, more landscapes to peruse……
If you have been, thanks for reading and don’t forget to watch the sun go down….
PS My Inspired to Design workshop starts up again at quiltuniversity.com this week; there’s still time to register if you’re interested. It’s one class a week for 4 weeks (4 classes in all), then 3 weeks beyond that with as much support, critique and helpful suggestions from me as you care to ask for! You can also read what I suggest to other folk so that lots of vicarious (as well as actual) learning is possible. I always do much better with the vicarious stuff myself! The class covers choosing an inspiration (usually visual, but could be music or a poem, or even a dish of raspberries and cream!), developing designs, evaluating them for their compositional strengths, choosing color scheme, picking out your fabrics, cutting out and assembly. Do join us! If you have any questions about it, feel free to email me.