Sunday, April 30, 2017

No words necessary


 I've always been puzzled by the way some show entries require one to complete an artist statement especially as they don't require this for a mixed media art show.  Who wants it?
I doubt it's at the juror's request:  the couple of times I've been a juror, I didn't  look at the statements - or the title.  I did, however, consider the size of the piece...but that's a whole other matter!

What is the point of the words?  if the work cannot speak for itself in order to convey the artist's intent, then it is ipso facto a failure surely?  (hopefully the quilt above looks chilly enough without me having to go on and on about it in a statement!)

 We don't turn over a Picasso painting to see what he wrote on the back:  "Dear Viewer in this painting I was endeavouring to show the many sides of woman since I've had trouble with women all my life".  Actually, though, thinking about it - that might be kinda of fun to read!!!  Michelangelo : "oops...just couldn't quite get those two fingers to connect, but you get the general idea".....Matisse -  I mean Monet (where is my head?  thank you Renate!)  "I did wonder if I was seeing things a little blurry, and then I found out I had cataracts...I wonder how that will affect my painting? My intention was a botanical representation of those water lilies...but it seemed like they floated out of focus". Stuart Davis: "well it all seems like a jungle to me".  Mondrian: "Actually, it was a map to show where we were meeting tonight".

But, back to the words? if we do NEED them, then it suggests that either the work isn't in itself successful....or that perhaps a quilt was the wrong medium for the idea.  I have sometimes wondered "why cloth?"  at times when I saw people trying to recreate a photograph in cloth, desperately trying to match up exact colors and include all details.....

If the work is valid and true: No words are necessary!

Can you imagine a sign in a gallery?


fSince I became interested in Abstract Art and have give talks about it - particularly about those long forgotten female artists (thankfully museums are beginning to catch up there) - people have often asked me to Explain a painting to them. 
But I begin to think that good art shouldn't need an explanation. The subject is either quite clear: a portrait of a person, scene or event etc...or, being abstract - then it's just that: Abstract!
 i.e. Addressing concepts, ideas, emotions for which we have no words.  Consider music.  Do you feel that the composer should give you a "composer's statement" before you hear a piece?
I was fascinated to read that the brilliant British pianist Stephen Hough said one of the reasons he loved music was because it did NOT need words....

So, what d'you think?  do we need the words?  The laborious explanations? Or should we just let the art and the music speak for itself...opening our eyes (or ears) and just absorbing......

If  you have been, thanks for reading!!!!  and thank you so much for commenting....

Sunday, April 23, 2017

It's all about learning.

Sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits...
WE all hate waste!  I'm as bad as anyone else. I really don't like cutting into special fabric I've saving for ages,  the piece of fabric I just take out and stroke once in awhile. I'm so afraid I'm going to waste it; And so , it might sit there for years And  even start to get that thrift store smell!

And then, when my heirs are dealing with my estate, they will think "why on earth did mother  hang onto this all these years and never use it"?

I see this frequently in workshops, people will use the cheapest fabric. And I will say "why? when you have this beautiful bit of burnt orange in your stash, that would be perfect".
But, they say,  I would hate to waste it!  I'm saving my good stuff."
And  yet they have spent a lot of money coming to the workshop! And Will probably be going out to dinner that night, maybe even having a couple of glasses of water to recover!

Something else  I see:  a design blocked out on the wall..but the pieces aren't cut out rather they are folded up bits of fabric, sometimes the whole yard folded it up into  lumpy wodge... and we're trying to decide if it looks right! I don't know about you, but I don't really like lumpy wodges in my quilts!

How do I know all of this??   I've done it myself, a thousand times!

Do not disturb: I'm fixing to think about learning.....

Another situation that happens:  you have a design  - it is not quite right but you plough on any way, and you try a lot of different fabrics. You sew it all together, and then pull it apart again, you rearrange every section, you're cut out a big big chunk, you add a great deal of black in the hopes that somehow that will put it altogether ...and still its not working. Now many designs can be fixed and improved and this is usually best done at the design stage. But there are some that are just hopeless from the beginning.....  so have you wasted your time?  No! Not if you think about it in terms of learning.  You probably learned more from from that unfixable piece then you ever did from the one that went smoothly from start to finish. It's a case of altering our mindset so that we're not product orientated but rather learning oriented. It's better  to think it's not about what I can fix, rather it's about what I can learn.

Learning new skills is one of the most wonderful things that we can do-but it does come at a cost. We must use some of those precious pieces of fabric, we must use our time and our energy -  but aren't they worth it. Isn't it the amount of time and money and effort  expended worth the new skill and the new knowledge that we have required?

There are times when I feel I'm looking at things the wrong way...

Think about it which would you rather have?
A pile of the dozen quilts Nice but not special - they that all went together very easily without much effort on your part… or, perhaps only a few samples, but the knowledge  of how to manipulate colours and shapes and pieces of fabric in the way that creates something new and wonderful and allows you to express how you feel about some special experience? And, of course, what not to do!

Waiting...for it all to come together.....
Ask yourself which Really feels better: making something without thinking about it and not really learning anything new but having a finished product.. or  developing new skills and knowledge,  feeling yourself growing, becoming more "talented" (ha! yes! talent is perspiration expended not luck!!) and more knowledgeable.

It's important to look at things a little differently, and consider what is really important.  Material goods, or personal growth.   It really is all about the learning.

If you have been, thanks for reading!  and do please write in the Comments and tell me your learning stories.....

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

At the beach, looking for compositions!

I am at the beach with a few friends for  a few days...and thinking about my upcoming

In the class, I show many different ways to create modern quilt designs from an abstract point of view...but as I look around the landscape here, I'm seeing loads of modern quilt design possibilities....

Modern quilts are lovely (well, the best ones!) because of all the negative space they include.   And with our very busy lives these days, I think negative space is a must for all of us!!!

There is so much information, "fake" of course!, coming at us, so much consternation, stimulation, hurry and flurry that we need to create quiet, calm and peace.  And, what better place than art work?

As I look through my photos, I can see that space and clarity, light and air with perhaps a small focal area or strip of color is exactly what I'm needing right now.

In this age of extreme busyness, let us create art that gives us time and space to breathe and contemplate....

WE really don't need to overcomplicate things!   I must admit that I cringe when I see quilts with everything, including the kitchen sink, added, embellished, stitched, pieced, appliqued, glued over the top... receiving awards and "Best of Show" ribbons!!!!  More is not more, we really do all need time to think!

Am I on the wrong track here, d'you think?
  Is my reaction to the chaos around us inappropriate?  Or is it part of a necessary balancing act?

let me know!!!  Meanwhile...I'm off for a walk on the beach...and then, I think,
  a nice simple cup of tea!!  
If you have been, thanks for reading!  Elizabeth