Friday, June 19, 2020

Errors with color

"I'm terrible with color!"

How often have you heard someone  say that?  And you can see when you look at their work, whether it be an art quilt aka a fiber painting aka fiber collage....or a watercolor....

And yet, following a few simple guidelines, color is probably the easiest thing to fix!!
And there is so much that we CANNOT you can feel really good about finding something you CAN fix!!

Here are some of the major errors I see with color:

Problem:  Too many different colors! oh my!!  In Yorkshire (from whence come I many moons ago!) we call such work "cor blimey" pieces!!!  Literally "cor blimey" means God Blind Me!!!  and frequently those mixes of colors do.  I'd love to go surfing on the 'net and find examples but with my luck it would be a piece by somebody really famous and litigious that I would pick! BUT I would encourage you to go and look!

Solution: choose a color scheme at the outset! There are several different ways to choose a color scheme and it's always best to do these BEFORE you begin making your art in color - I'm presuming of course you have a value sketch to follow!!!

Problem: art looks drab and mousy.
Solution: Almost certainly you don't have a good range of values...check to see if everything is medium value.  Much commercial cloth is mid value.  Best way to check is to take a photo and then convert to grey scale....

Problem: Art looks messy and confusing, no real direction.
Solution: Again it's most likely you've got too many different colors and there's no real color theme to the work.  It's really helpful to have one basic color and then build on that.  count up how many different colors you have!!!

Problem: colors don't look good together.
Solution:   Colors, like people!, interact and have an effect upon each other.  Adjacent colors can dim or brighten the partnership!

Problem: Everything appears to be of equal importance, no focal point.
Solution: If all the fabrics are equally saturated in color, then nothing will stand out - whether the level of intensity is great or minor...
The best way to indicate focal areas is by the use of contrast - of one or more of the properties of color: hue, value, saturation and temperature.

Problem: no sense of ambience or atmosphere.
Solution: Two things will help with this:  one is having a dominant color, i.e. one that there is more of than any other color...doesn't have to Dominate!....but does have to have a significant presence.
The other thing would be  to choose an analogous color scheme, or a monochromatic one,  rather than a complementary one.

You're probably wondering - why no pictures!!!!

Well - while I'd love to explore and find all kinds of egregious wouldn't be too polite!!!
But if you want to contact me about coaching etc...I'm happy to look at your color issues....

okay! here's a picture too....
I wanted to show the feeling of coolness and greenness as you come down our heavily forested and twisting driveway...

And, if you have been, Thanks for reading!!!

PS: There's an interesting selection of fiber art blogs to be found here:

Saturday, June 6, 2020

When is it Real Art?

When is it real ART? 
and not just decoration?
not just "ahhhhh"  which is probably what you cat lovers said to the above watercolor!

Well, Renoir said  real art was "inimitable and ineffable".
Since those are words rarely heard today, (alas, our language is often reduced to "whatever"!), I'll expand a little.  Inimitable means something that is so good or so unusual that it's impossible to copy it, it has its own unique presence.   Which of course cannot be said of yet another cat painting!

And ineffable means it's something that is so striking it's hard to find the right words to describe it.

I think many emotions are ineffable, words can't describe the feelings...maybe if one could sing and or dance marvelously, or play an could "describe" the feeling in that way.  In fact that's probably why people who are very skilled at those activities can do that.  But it does take a certain amount of skill I think - awkward clunky movements, off key whining and disconnected unrhythmic notes don't really convey anything much!!

And this is probably why so many people reply (when asked what kind of art they like) that they can't describe it but they know it when they see it.  And I think that's because, they primarily FEEL it when they see it...they feel the emotion - love, anger, desire, torment - that the artist put into the work.

Can you learn to produce work that is inimitable and ineffable?  There's some considerable argument about this - certainly some very famous artists/musicians etc showed immense talent from a very early age...Picasso for example, or Menuhin. And you cannot determine your genes!
But also it's important to have a solid knowledge of your craft...
Goethe: "The artist who is not also a craftsman is no good; but, alas, most of our artists are nothing else".

A good beginning, therefore, is to know your craft...know your techniques, know the art that is already "out there", learn to distinguish the Real from the decoration.  Then undertake the long slow but increasingly fascinating journey that is being an artist.

With a little nod to the odd cat painting here and there along the way of course!!
And, if you have been, thanks for reading!
And....please comment and tell me what YOU think!!   Elizabeth