Thursday, July 26, 2012

Colors on the Radio

Perhaps it is the geek side of me, but I have always loved Radiolab, an NPR program that features hosts Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich who pick a topic and then start asking How? and Why? and What if?--sort of the way I work on a quilt except I am asking those questions of myself when I am fairly clueless and often have to figure out the answers with some experimentation and they are asking experts who actually have some knowledge on which to base their answers. But they do their fair share of experimenting as well.

Anyway, when looking for something to entertain me while I did some hand stitching, I discovered a
Radiolab show I had not heard that was indeed entertaining and informative and quilt-related as well. Its title and subject was Colors (and you can click on that title and listen to the program and ignore the rest of what I have to say).

But I have decided that if I ever have the opportunity, I would like to spend some time as a mantis shrimp, which can see many more colors than we can. I am finding it hard to imagine what the world looks like to these not-so-small creatures, but I certainly would like to experience it.  And it was heartening to hear that the more one focuses on color, as an artist--or a quilter--might, the more colors one can see--not a total surprise, because I have felt that my color sense has sharpened a bit over the years, but it is nice to have some outside verification of that.  There was also a fascinating discussion of the colors--and lack thereof--in Homer's epics, but you can discover that for yourself if you want to listen.

And, if you are still with me--and not off looking at the gorgeous colors of the mantis shrimp, thanks for the company!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Value of Feedback

The end of the busy month of June marked a deadline for my Art 1016 challenge group. The theme word this round was "light," which had inspired so many images in my head that it had been hard to choose. I started sketching one possibility out and then decided to go more abstract.  I wanted to work with the idea that dark colors make light colors even lighter, but I was a good way into my first attempt when I had to finally admit that as grand as my vision of this piece was, the fabric version was a disaster.

And so I started over.  I once again gathered some of my darkest hand-dyes, as well as some commercial black, and began to build unfocused rectangles of varying sizes.  The horizontal/vertical directions became too predictable and static so I pieced in a couple of diagonals at angles that felt right. The original square of light I had envisioned became a narrow fused rectangle. 

I added some machine quilting and some hand stitching with perle cotton in the black verticals that may or may not show up if you click on the image to enlarge it, faced it--and it was done!  It is, of course, 10 x 16 inches.

But, for me, the best was yet to come.  When I put the photo up on the blog (where you can see how everyone else interpreted the theme), one of the members of the group commented that it reminded her of being in a dark barn. We have a wonderful old barn that has been the scene of two weddings, as well as some quilt classes.  And I love the feel of standing in the quiet of that place. A couple of years ago I decided to use the barn as inspiration for a quilt and spent a long time standing and looking, taking pictures, doing a bit of sketching, but nothing emerged from all that conscious endeavor that I felt captured the essence of what I was feeling.  Sometimes you have to look at things out of the corner of your eye to see them, and that's what happened here. It is the interplay of light and dark that is part of the magic of the barn. I'm thinking I need to try a bigger barn piece.

And, if you are still with me, thanks for the company.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Maine-ly Stitching

Earlier in the month--oops, I guess that was last month--we spent a week in Maine, where the wet, cold, windy weather meant we did not do all the hikes I had dreamed of and the long walks exploring the rocky beaches did not happen, but I did spend time exploring the art galleries in Rockland, just 10 minutes from the house we were renting, had great visits with all three of our kids and their families, had some memorable meals, including fresh caught Maine lobsters we cooked ourselves, and saw a lot of ocean that was just a few yards from the back of the house.

Before we left I had finished my 65 project of stitching every day and just at the end of that project had stumbled upon (almost literally--it was on the floor of my studio under a couple of other books) Drawn to Stitch by Gwen Hedley, a book I had bought a while ago and had never gotten around to looking at.
It was a real serendipity moment since its emphasis on creating and recreating texture with thread was just what I needed to take my stitching a step further. So as I packed up for Maine I included another book I had bought years ago and never used--
along with a couple of pieces of fabric and lots of pearl cotton of varying thicknesses and colors and some other heavy threads. 

And during some of those long, rainy, windy evenings I sat and stitched. In the spirit of Drawn to Stitch, I let the land/seascape in front of me be my inspiration,
although I was also just trying out some different stitches and seeing where each kind of stitch would take me so this was never meant to be an accurate facsimile of that ever changing scene.
This is very small, but, of course, I was doing many other things that week besides stitching.

And, if you are still with me, thanks for the company!