Friday, March 17, 2017

Why do people love or hate abstract art?

 I'm starting another Abstract Art class next Friday (description below) and I'm wondering if that is a good  idea!!
I've been surprised recently by people responding to abstract art in a  clearly quite visceral way in both online classes, and in  presentations to groups of retired intelligentsia!!
Now, I myself certainly don't respond to ALL abstract art, but I would say there's nothing that gets under my skin so much that I would say I hate it!!

It's always fascinating when  people's reactions to something are quite different...not just paintings of course, but textile art, music, plays, books and so on.  How can you hate something that is not attacking you? (as you can see I'm excluding politics here - actually the big three forbidden subjects for dinner parties: money, religion, politics! - no, I'm not talking about them - plenty there to feel visceral, or as they say in the UK, "gutted" about).

What is a painting doing that you can't bear to look at it?  How can somebody look at the work of well respected artists that have stood the test of time, and say "that's really awful, it makes me cold and angry" - it's almost as if they feel they have been conned by the artist.
And this is a common response - the old "my five year old could have done it" that even the most intelligent open minded people sometimes comment when I give them a presentation of abstract art!
No, your five year old couldn't!!   well perhaps a little genius like Picasso or Mozart or Fanny Mendelssohn could produce an abstract work of art that would stand forever .....but these folk are pretty rare.

So, as is my wont, I cogitated about this very negative reaction many have towards abstract art and wondered if it's really because they don't understand it.  We do like to understand our world - especially the intelligentsia!!!  so...if you don't understand what all the fuss is about, AND that bothers you (I'm leaving myself a get out clause here because I don't understand many sports !!!  4 hours of watching people chase the same ball around a pitch, EVERY day, somehow doesn't do much for me!) if you feel really strongly about something...then the answer is to find out more about it!! It seems so simple to me...I'm a great believer in understand WHY...hence all the cogitating!!

 I must admit that initially I wasn't that keen on abstract art either. (and there's a lot of poor abstract art out there in the same way that's there's poor representational art) (yes there are Thomas Kinkaid-type abstract artists too!!) , and I certainly couldn't figure out Scriabin's music when I first heard it....but I am intrigued.  I respect the fact that very knowledgeable people find these advances in art and music and literature to be absolutely wonderful, challenging yes...but in the best possible way. So I legged it out onto the internet and the local museum and the library....and the more I looked, the more I became quite enthralled by these artists.  AND, inspired to think about possible quilt designs!! oh yes! there's is so much we can snitch, folks!!  Not that I've made a Scriabin quilt yet...but you never know.....

So...what d'you think?  is abstract art, "modern" classic music etc  all an elaborate con?  or is there maybe something in it?  Comment!

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

an interesting quote from Robert Weirich - he's talking about music, but there are significant parallels with our discussion:

Introduction to my next (More) Abstract Art for Quiltmakers class with the academy.
"Over the next five lessons, we’re going to explore more aspects of abstract art. In my first Abstract art for Quiltmakers class we looked at the lives and work, ideas and processes, of female abstract artists, artists often overlooked. In this class,  More Abstract Art for Quiltmakers, I’d like to focus on the best known and most influential abstract artists, regardless of whether they are male or female, though (in the way of things!) most of them will be male.
I’m going to give some definitions of abstract art – there are many (just the main ones), because there are several different kinds of abstraction. The idea of abstracting means different things to different people and artists have exploited and explored many different avenues. You probably won’t like them all! I don’t either…but it’s useful to have a broad idea of the field as a whole.
In the first lesson, we’ll look at the history of abstract art beginning in Europe – as a particular kind of painting, it’s relatively young, only a little over a hundred years.
Each subsequent week I’ll focus on a different area: Abstract art in New York City, the benefits and meaning of abstract work, the abstract art form we know as music, and the abstract art of the 21st century.
Each of the lessons will also include several exercises which you can follow in order to create your own abstract art designs that you can use to make art quilts. You will be able to post your design sketches, and I can help you evaluate them, and make them stronger.
Towards the end of the course, we’ll discuss the steps necessary in working from the sketch to create the quilt.  I’ll be always available to help you make the designs and the quilts more interesting and more beautiful.
Research (optional!)
Each lesson I will suggest some homework! Research on a topic that is very relevant to the class and to you. In this way we’ll all learn a great deal from each other too.
Reading (optional)
At the end of each lesson, I’ll also give you the name of a book, or a url (website address) where you can go to find out more and really broaden your knowledge and experience of abstract art."

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Display at the Bulloch Hall Quilt Guild show

The show started yesterday March 11th and goes through next Sunday, March 19th.
I was lucky enough to be asked to show about a dozen of my quilts and quite a few paintings too!!
It's the first time I've had the opportunity to show the two together and I really appreciate it.

Here is a nice little row of paintings....

 They look so sweet all rowed up...and - by golly! - they're on a grand piano!! now how appropriate is that!!  two of my newest pleasures!!! And I must admit to a total love affair with my piano...I doubt they'll let me try this one out, though I can see they have reserved a seat for me with a white ribbon!!!

 It's always so interesting when someone else chooses out the pieces to display...and how they put them together...I have never put these  two Pond quilts together but they make so much sense like this!   I wish I had a place at home where I could hang them like that.
I love giving a curator total control and just weeing what they come up with.
Look at the little grouping below.....I love what Holly Anderson did here with the sequence going from all black and white to nearly all red.  And don't they look wonderful together?

I'm sure you all feel the same way...that it's so sad that the art you slaved over for weeks and months spends most of its time rolled up , covered up, disregarded.....and so lovely when it gets its 8 days of fame!  I'm really thrilled to see them hanging so beautifully!

I'm going to be at the show next Sunday March 19th - I'd love for you to come and say hi if you're anywhere in the area..Roswell, Atlanta.....

I'm looking forward to seeing the main quilt show too - it's in all the other rooms in the house...and there's a wonderful raffle quilt:  I've never won one, but my fingers are crossed that mine will be the winning ticket on this beauty:
I'hope to see you at the quilt show!!!

If you have been, thanks for reading!!!  And all comments will be read and replied to!! So please, have at it!!!   Elizabeth

Thursday, March 2, 2017

From Inspiration to sketch to quilt.....


I start a new online class this Friday (March 3) ...with the academy.
It's called Inspired to Design (basically it follows the same path as my book of  the same name - well, actually, the class came first and then the publishers asked me to make a book of it...)...but you get hands on suggestions from me - if you want!

This class/book is about getting from the "inspiration" - usually, but not always, a photo - to a design or rough blueprint... which you then follow in order to make your quilt.  In other classes I suggest other ways to get from other sources of inspiration, e.g. observations about the structure of some existing art object whether it be a painting, sculpture or poem etc.  Or  (in the Mod meets Improv class for example) show how the definition of the object itself will give you a lot of clues as to how you might make your designs.  But this class follows a pretty direction pattern : from inspiration to quilt VIA a SKETCH.

However, these sketches really don't need to be very detailed;
 they should indicate no more than:

1. the basic structure i.e. the shape (square, portrait or landscape rectangle, or other less used forms, e.g. scrolls or small serial pieces like pages....),
2.  the big shapes and
3.  how they will be organized,
4. the main value pattern and how it will be organized,
5. that which you most want to communicate, capturing the feeling of that moment, that scene, the "meaning".

 Just an aside.......

  Isn't it weird...then you look at the sketch below, and then look at the one on the right you feel as if the one on the right is upside down...!!  just for a moment... 

Details:  Don't bother about the details till you've got the main idea down; Little details are unnecessary; if you think about blue prints for a house - even the most detailed blueprints won't include what kind of door handles you have, what colors you'll paint the rooms etc.
And I think details are unnecessary for a number of reasons:

practicality: you want to make several sketches at the outset: it's always good to cast your eye over several designs before choosing THE one.  Think about a wedding photographer:  She will try several different arrangements of bride and groom with/without family and friends in various positions, doing various things with various backgrounds at various angles etc etc......
No photographer only  takes one picture!!!  (yes, well, maybe in the OLD days!!)
And when you get all those photos back you look through and choose the ones  that best capture the feeling of  the day....or even The Perfect One.  And that's what we're doing when we create several sketches for a quilt....the quilt will take AGES to make, so I think it's a good idea to get the main decisions made before I start cutting out fabric and pacing back and forth to the design wall taking endless photos!! oh which is the right one?  !! oh me, oh my!

  Never lock yourself into details  right at the beginning of an idea for a quilt....for then you would get totally stuck when you can't find  the right color of fabric etc etc.  Also,  you might find that when you've got the quilt all together you simply don't need that detail - you've already said it all!

   Or, you might find the opposite, that when it's a reality, there's just one little touch you need to make it perfect.....

  If you put all the details in all the sketches, it will take you forever! then you have your sketch...and it's your map, your don't have to go up and down every street to find the party!  you know the address right from the start! closely should you follow the sketch?  I would say just as closely as you follow the map to the party....what's  the point in deviating?  if you've spent some time working out where the main shapes go, where the values are, what balance of big/small, light/dark etc etc looks good...then why change it?

I will tell you a secret!  When I teach a class...and go round and look at the quilt staking place on the wall, being blocked out and something looks majorly wrong...and the artist is standing  there saying "it doesn't look right, what's wrong?"  I say, "Hmm, let's look at your sketch..."  and guess what ?  The piece on the wall is significantly different from the sketch!!!   "Well," I remark, "I loved your sketch and it looked really good there....let's just see if using the actual values (or whatever was changed) that are in your sketch make a difference.".....and we change it out....and ...nine times out of ten it works!  And works great!!!    So should you follow the sketch?  Well...of course!     But don't make the sketch so detailed that it becomes a nightmare to realise....

hmmm time for a cup of tea and a little practice on the ivories!!!
If you have been, thanks for reading!!!!  And oh yes! do please comment!!!   I will respond to every comment - unless you're trying to sell me a new credit card of course!!!   Elizabeth

 PS.  If you live anywhere near me (north east Georgia) and are interested in buying some large screens for printing on textiles, I have some I'd love to sell.