Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Abstract Art for Quilters!

Anybody taking a look at the current   Quilt National exhibition will see that abstract art works very well indeed in a quilt format. And, while I love representational  quilts and have made many representational ones myself, or at least impressionistic, I do think that the medium is superb when it comes to abstract work.

I love abstract painting! I recently went to several shows in New York including the Whitney biennial and saw some wonderful work.
Any of these ideas could be "stolen" and developed! (I'm not talking about copying here  - that is not a very good idea  for very many reasons; I'm talking more about being inspired by a certain way that painter's structures work or a particular colour scheme, or a way that they have arranged particular shapes and so on)  Don't worry about "stealing" like this. As the piano teacher said to the student who was afraid to listen to Rubenstein playing Chopin because she didn't want to sound too much like Rubenstein, there is no fear of that! There is no fear that any of  us quilt makers will ever end up hanging on wall next to Rauschenberg or Diebenkorn or Clyfford Still or next to any of the great female abstract painters: af Klimt, Joan Mitchell, Bridget Riley, Elaine deKooning, Helen Frankenthaler, Lee Krasner, Alma Thomas.... just to name a few.

What??! You tell me you don't know anything about these painters! Well, now is your chance!
I have written two courses each of five lessons for Academy of quilting on abstract art: abstract art for quilt makers and more abstract art for quilt makers. The first course, abstract art for quiltmakers, deals only with women abstract painters  - and there are a lot of them  - and they are quite wonderful...... In my course I tell you little bit about each painter and at the same time I have developed a number of different exercises that will help you learn how to create abstract designs.   This course starts this Friday and if you're interested just go to the Academy of quilting website.

Meanwhile here are some goodies that I saw in New York a couple of weeks ago:  

 I think that all of Georgia O'Keefe's works can be viewed as being abstract.....she abstracts to the nth degree!!she takes the essence of the city or land scape...or the flower....and plays with the shapes and colors and their interactions to make a truly beautiful composition that also indicates such a sense of place.  I had not seen this particular city scape before....
this is from a fascinating exhibit in the Brooklyn museum of many paintings but also the clothes she made herself - all in black and/or white...incredibly fine and neat pin tucking and little architectural details:

she wasn't the only one to paint city scapes of is an almost abstract by Ault:

Lee Krasner.....imagine this in a fine wool...or silk!!
 Picasso and a real sense of fun.....and gosh it would be so easy to cut up lots of little scraps and create images.....
 One of the Biennal "new" artists....acutally a collaberation called Kaya....more below.  These were free hanging, different painting on the back....and they were so rich....
but also...wouldn't that wrought iron make a super quilt hanging?   Away with stodgy old rods and sleeves!!!

 I hadn't heard of Jo Baer before, but I really love the way she extracts landscape elements  and makes wonderfully spacious compositions, rich with tranquillity.

And this last one is Carrie Moyer who often begins with a simple paper collage to work out her ideas.

I hope you're inspired and want to have a go yourselves!!  I know I am.....

And, if you have been, thanks for reading....
also I love your comments...and I'll do my best to respond...thank you!  Elizabeth


Précille said...

Thank you for sharing your New York trip discoveries with the rest of us who live far away from NYC. Georgia O'Keeffe does not cease to amaze me with her skills. If art quilts had been more part of the mainstream art world back in her days, we may have seen wonderful quilt works from her. I so agree with you that she has a wonderful way to abstract the essence of objects or places in her paintings. I saw some work of hers (in a book) of her Hawaii trip in 1939 (she was contracted to paint in Hawaii), and it took my breath away. How could she capture what it feels to live in Hawaii, or even more to the point, what it feels like to turn the corner on your walks and be surprised with a glimpse of tropical flowers hiding in the bush or depicting the grandiose cliffs and rain mountains in all their lush glory? Thank you also for sharing Joan Baer's painting: it is simply stunning, blending a gorgeous landscape and Picasso like people and scenery. I really like the different planes she uses on her painting, like windows on the world. Such gorgeous and peaceful colors. We have much to learn from abstract art, and I look forward to taking your Abstract Art class in the near future. I ended up with MANY designs for inspiration in your More Abstract Art for Quilters class.

Unknown said...

Hello: Am going to post my uneducated impressions on abstract art. I have tried so hard to understand this art but cannot begin to comprehend meaning in an abstract painting.
I went back to read the comments and your post on "love or hate abstract art" Maybe not the correct title but believe you will remember it. I guess I can only relate to representational art but even in these paintings I do not see any other meaning than the picture shown.
I would like very much to take a design class from you as I so enjoyed some of the art created in this class and now follow the blogs of several of the classmates.
Thank you for posting such interesting questions. I wish I could post a more educational comment.

Elizabeth Barton said...

thank you for your comments Précille...I look forward to seeing you in class!!
Thank you for writing Ruth - a lot of people dont like abstract art because they feel they don't understand it...I think the best thing is to begin with some of the work that is easier to "get" Mondrian or Klee's arrangements of squares and lines...and just think: are they attractive?
or look at some of Picasso's work where he is trying to show you two sides of a person's face at the same, begin at the beginning...and take your time. It's the same with new music, or new literature or avant garde movies....some will never appeal...but with time and exposure to the more accessible ones you'll begin to see what they're trying to do.

Unknown said...

Thank you Elizabeth for your comments. I did like Carries work but believe it was the color that caused me to look at it closer. I have looked at Mondrian and Klee but they don';t appeal to me.
I wonder if you aren't correct however. I was first attracted to art nouveu and did not like art deco. I have since decided I like both equally which did surprise me.
I will keep looking for parts I like and just maybe I will learn to like it better.