Friday, March 25, 2011

How I Work

It seems as if I had a million deadlines March 15th including producing and submitting new work. I thought I would add to my plate by documenting my creative process. I made a conscious decision to show the process in chronological order, beginning to end; I couldn’t post at each step, or, unless someone stopped by every day, they would see the end before the beginning. I enjoy many of the tutorials of other artists, but I usually come late to the party so I have to find the first post and work forward, which I do not like. All this is to say, this is going to be one long post. We’ll start with the view out my studio window

Cool, huh? BTW, some of the text has been taken from pieces I’ve written for the March 15 submissions, so, if any of this sounds familiar, PICK ME PICK ME PICK ME!

I see my process in three stages:

     Concept and Design
     Preparation and gathering of Materials
     Actual production

A piece can start with almost anything; a thought, a feeling, a smell, a sight. Often for me it is one of these that leads to another. Most often, I stand on my deck in the dark when most of the world around me sleeps. I close my eyes, turn my face to the sky and breathe. A peace always fills me if I am willing to surrender to it (not so easy in a cold rain). I spread my arms wide and let thoughts drift in and out. I see a beginning.

   I take that beginning (be it a word or image) to my design wall.  I pin an appropriately-sized piece of black or white paper to the wall, step back, and visualize what I can. 

   I then add to it; perhaps I write the word(s) on another piece of paper and add that.  I may add fabric in the general shapes and colors I see when I close my eyes.  I step back again.
  I move, add, remove and change the image for as long as it takes to make a grin spread across my face and my feet start a happy dance.  It may take quite a while (hours-days-weeks-months!) for that grin/dance to erupt, but when it does, I know it’s time to think about actualizing the concept. 

    I then enter hunter-gatherer mode.  I open my cabinet of many colors and textures and pull one possibility at a time.  I don’t put any away until I’ve found as many pieces of the puzzle as I can. 

As I’m doing this, I see how each piece fits with the others. The color may be right, but the texture wrong. I visualize embellishment. I don’t start until I have most of what I need.

    I take each part from the wall, one at a time, use it as a pattern to cut the puzzle part it represents, and replace it on the wall with the fabric I have chosen.  It is a fluid process, some things work, some don’t.  It’s never done until it’s done, and then the wonderful thing about fiber is it can be undone!  It’s tedious to undo, but if it’s not right, it’s wrong.
I appliqué most of my work, and utilizing a variety of other methods including, but not limited to, fusing, basting, trapunto, beading, embroidering and quilting.  This is my thimble:
Yes, it's painters' tape.  I cannot work with a regular thimble.  Once in a while I can use a "rubber finger" we all used to page thru paper to file (ugh; the VERY BEST THING about computers is, if you can stand to allow it, the computer will file for you!!!).  The first workshop I attended as an "adult" was at Arrowmont in Tennessee.  I thought I was so creative to use the blue tape, but nooooooo; three other attendees had the handy stuff in their stash!

     So, this is really getting long and I'm almost out of words, so I'll let my pictures say thos thousands of words they're supposed to:

Yes, it's a different piece; I told you I had a lot to do!  It is, however, my sewing area.  Don't you just love the chair upholstery?u just love the chair upholstery?

And the OFFICIAL photograph of the finished piece:

And, for fun, some oth my other new work:
The last piece is a version of one of my first pieces; I have always felt the need to re-visit it with more practices skills.  Same silk screen, tho.  I'm afraid the screen is done for good because I didn't clean it well enough 2 years ago.

So, that's it.  I hope you enjoyed my first attempt at documentation.  It, like my textile skills, will get better with practice, right?  If it were warmer, this is how I'd celebrate:

And, leave my studio as it was March 16:

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