Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Landscapes -- what I see (and hear) and what I sew........... pillow textile in progress

I think a lot about what I see around me every day and how it shows up, intentionally or not, in my art. This is a picture of the pastures behind our house, taken from the back steps. Above that are photos of a textile I'm working on-- one a mock-up of fabrics showing my initial idea, and the other of how it's developed over the last week. When I began putting it together, I was thinking of the strong horizontals I see every day here in central Texas-- the fence rails, the gray treeline in the pasture, the light and dark strips in the grass.

When I'm outside or driving on the highway, I often have  the sensation of lines and objects floating in space--  the way I see the fence posts in this picture. The act of arranging pieces of fabrics on a surface evokes that same feeling when I'm working, layers of things overlapping, moving forward and backward and slipping around each other in space like ideas do when I'm thinking; the result is as much an evolving psychological landscape as a depiction of the natural and constructed world around me.

... and since music is also a large part of my environment....

....there's also a connection to the jazz I've been listening to lately, and how the instruments, textures, patterns, rhythms and sounds interweave and move around each other in space, as well as ideas about contained compositions, structure and improvisation. I've had Artie Shaw and the Gramercy Five on quite a lot recently -- this is a cut of  "Hop, skip and jump"-- can't help but think that the vibes have permeated and shaped my work.

If I turn the textile so that the strips are vertical, it's more like the tall pecan trees which grow around here-- love the tangle of bare winter branches. I started working on the textile from a horizontal viewpoint but finished it up vertically.... an interesting note on creative process....

... always trying to be aware about what and how I see, just like Tillycat,  here perched on a bird bath.


I found this red fabric scrap as is, cut and frayed in this shape, and liked it immediately.   It wasn't until later, when I was walking around out back that I made the connection with the gable of the old red barn behind our house.

Note the strips of siding and the roof-- there are strips of stuff everywhere I look-- boards, clapboard siding, roofing, fences-- everything overlapping in layers, surfaces marred, sun-bleached, and scratched into.

 I had fun experimenting with stitching into the weaves, textures, and patterns of the fabrics.

Adjustments were made as I went along, like deciding the left piece of the circle above popped out too hard against the black, so I shaded it in with black stitching.

The natural-colored arced hand-stitching above was an attempt (which ultimately didn't have much impact) to sculpt the fabric into something like a land form, an idea to file away that could be developed in the future.

Endnote: It was extremely windy today, so to keep the fabric from blowing away while I was taking pictures, I grabbed the top four books off a stack on top of my bookcase-- Somerset Maugham, Graham Greene, Vargas-Llosa, Edna St.Vincent Millay-- a random literary collage as diverse as the fabrics on the textile:
velvet, burlap, Woolrich wool, tea-dyed 1920's bedspread, 1960's cotton curtains, Thai silk-- to name just a few.

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