Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Translation across the senses.....

Boring!  Don't worry I gave it to Goodwill for somebody's cat!

I'm sure you've all heard about synaesthesia - those people who feel/taste or hear in color...
apparently this phenomenon is probably the result of a little wiring glitch so that there is spillover from one sense to another.
But cogitating upon synaesthesia set me thinking that cross over from one medium or sense to another is very helpful in design and especially helpful in solving design problems.

One of the biggest problems with many quilts (and paintings too for that matter) is that they are just plain boring - maybe I'm jaded of course having seen mediocre work! Something not being interesting enough is quite an issue.  The remark: "Okay, but doesn't grab me" made by the viewer.

  The Big Name was always talking about wanting to have her socks knocked off...don't know why it was socks in particular, don't recall that I ever even saw her in socks (maybe they had been knocked off!)...but clearly what she sought and valued was a quilt that was exciting, fascinating, compelling.
Compare this to a piece of music, that just drones on and on, never really seems to get anywhere, no high points no low points, no changes in volume, rhythm or speed.   Or think about a meal that is mashed potato (without stuff added!), boiled cod and overcooked may laugh but I'm sure we had this at least once a week when I was at school.      Or, what about that stuffy stale air  cleaner (so-called) smell you get in motel rooms?  It suffuses everywhere, it's bland and choking.
Or the living room all in beige.....or the overly matched outfit?  It surprises me how many people I see dressed in dreary droopy greyed clothing.....even in the mirror some days!!!

So we have an idea how we could fix the music, the meal, the smell and the outfit, right?   So, if you feel the same way about the piece you're working on pinned onto the design wall....then consider a similar solution?  Add some changes to the rhythms, throw in some spice, throw open the windows and peel and orange, take a bright scarf and a pot of rouge!

Color, variety in value, different shapes, movement and rhythm!
Do your quilts need a little spice?  A little syncopation?  A dab of rouge here and there?
Take a look......tell me some stories......!  the Comments box is open........

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


Melanie McNeil said...

I have a half-written post on this in my drafts, which I started sometime last year (or the year before.) The two main things that lead to boring, IMO, is to have nothing unexpected, and to have a static composition without movement. Above your interesting example gives me reasons to continue looking at it. The smoke specifically adds a sense of movement, because smoke moves. But even the tower on the left, which isn't going anywhere, gives me reason to continue looking. There is gradation in the cross pieces on the way up, and the tower extends off the top edge, directing me to keep looking up. In the midst of the industry there is the small peaked-roof house at the lower edge. This is not static, and there is the unexpected house. The asymmetries of position of color, value, and shape all provide the unexpected elements, too.

I made a medallion quilt that I started badly, with a center block all of squares and rectangles, all about the same size. The colors were coral, teal, and red, which were all the same value. The prints were small without obvious added colors. Same size same shape same value. Boring. I really had to work to find ways to make that interesting and fun to look at. I did! But it was more work than I want to do again, and I learned some big lessons from it.

Oh back to that blog post... In my draft I have someone else's post linked. That blogger said that for a starting point to design interesting quilts, "Look for pictures that have good interesting shapes, that are fairly clear ... , and where the relationships between those shapes is an interesting one."

Elizabeth Barton said...

Thanks Melanie!1 I had to laugh at your last line!!! yes I believe her blogs are quite informative...I should take a look!
and thank you for the added comments re "Oh What Lovely Smoke" - I do like ironic titles!!

Jo Vandermey said...

Not able to give a critique as I am jus learning the lingo but do the work , keep creating, make mistakes, work in a series, push the boundaries, ask questions seem to be the things that I am gathering from the wise. Love you blog and books. My small group Fabrigos have used your questions to critique our own work. Now we always ask the question what don't you feel comfortable with? We do this first because intuitively if the artist is feeling un happy with the work they can usually pin point the reason or area they are uncomfortable with. That then leads to our discussion of who to make the work better or sing! It is also a nicer way to introduce your own thoughts instead of some people who just blurt out why they don't like something. Again wise words are analyze what is working and what may not be.
Still going to take a class from you...

The Idaho Beauty said...

I have several quilts that have always bothered me & I could never figure out why. One I like quite a bit and yet. . . Not too long ago (or maybe longer than I think) you wrote a post on abstract designing and noted that even abstracts needed a focal point - maybe more than one. Now, I have read countless times about the importance of having a focal point but this time it set off a lightbulb in my brain - this is what those quilts of mine were lacking! I had made a lovely wallpaper with a pleasing overall design, not a piece of "fine " art. Revelation!

After more pondering I decided it might be my traditional quilting background that makes it more natural to design without a focal point. It's the rare bed quilt that needs one where an overall design works well and use of color may be a larger concern. When we move to placing our work on the wall, I think it is somewhat natural to stay with this format and if creating a focal point it may more naturally end up smack dab in the middle ala a medallion quilt. As we play more we may move into asymmetry in our arrangements and eventually abandon block settings altogether. But at least for me, I think it is difficult to break out of that initial ingrained traditional bedquilt design aesthetic.

But now that the lightbulb is on and I can see in these quilts that have never seemed quite right that it is a focal point they lack, I can more easily move from designing pleasant wallpaper to a knock your socks off piece of fiber art.

tongfengdemao said...

One of my personal preferences in determining a "knock-my-socks-off" anything, is busyness. Of course, it needs some (a lot of) order. I think of baroque music, which is often simple lines woven together to sound complex. I love it. As a result, I am really drawn to mixed media and crazy quilts. When well done, they have something new every time I look at them. Badly done, they are worse than boring. I don't know how well I do. I'm still learning to balance and focus, but I don't think I quite have it yet. I'm waiting for the lightbulb to turn on the way it did when I finally understood what "show, don't tell" means in writing. I hope it doesn't take as long!

When I first saw your "boring" quilt above, my first thought was that it was unfinished. I can easily see it as a background for a crazy or mixed media quilt, maybe something frilly and feminine with one thing very not frilly or feminine. It could be the focal point if it's not obviously not feminine at first glance, or something the focal point keeps one from seeing at first glance. Or, with cats added. I can also see it embellished as a landscape. It's more potential than boring, looking at it that way. (If it's very large, I'm not as sure about any of this, but possibly.)

Airy Nothing