Saturday, July 28, 2012

Watching the sun go down

wild 003

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). 

landscape, iona You can see some of the same types of lines.  Of course Scotland has water where the Smokies have mist!!

Landscapes like these are reduceable into long skinny 3 or 4 sided shapes, alas the sunset is not!

wild 006 How could one copy that soft glow in fabric?  And it changes every minute….

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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 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.


Beth said...

This has nothing to do with your post. I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your blog. I took your QU series workshop and just loved it. I always find your blog posts very to the point and enjoyable to read. Just FYI.
Thank you for being there.

Elizabeth Barton said...

Thank you, Beth! such a comment gives one a real boost - appreciate it! Elizabeth

MulticoloredPieces said...

Hi, Elizabeth. I just happened upon your very interesting blog and will mark it so that I can read your articles with care. Your thoughtful and artistic approach is marvelous. Yours is a substantial blog!
best from Tunisia,

Anonymous said...

Thanks, I spent 2 weeks on the coast, watching the waves roll in,
photographing, sketching, thumb embroideries...
I had trouble just containing my eyes to one spot. So hard to marrow the field.

Jackie said...

Taking one's time--why is that so difficult? I begin a 6 week drawing class on Monday, just to get some discipline. I love the different 'seeing' drawing gives me all, I think, because it takes time! Thank you for beautiful photos, and enjoy yourself in Canada!