When Series Collide, aka Post #150

I tend to work in a series for several pieces, one leading to the next, with occasional side trips. Sometimes I make a radical leap into another direction, and never look back. Other times I go back where I left off and keep going down the old path.

And sometimes this happens:

Now I was plodding down the path of making some disperse transfer pieces for our Fine Line show in January (details about the opening later). It seemed that what the piece needed was this big blue circle just above center. Suddenly, my new moon series had collided with the disperse one...

Now the problem is that what I call a series isn't necessarily obvious to the dispassionate observer. In my mind, I have several pieces made in the new moon series. The thing is, the only thing they have in common is a large dark circle. Some are small, some are larger. Some are silk, some are linen, some are disperse transfer pieces. So maybe the problem is I'm thinking too linearly--I need to think of my work as more of a web of intersecting threads...

Remember this piece from an entry or two ago?

I realized the other day that I like the backside better:

The difference is subtle, but this version is more painterly or something...more ambiance as it were.

That is all.


happy accidents, taking advantage of

Before I visited the Shedd Aquarium last March, I didn't know that leafy seahorses (or sea dragons) even existed. Of course, since then, I have encountered them in several articles and TV shows. But they are fascinating to watch.

So when I hung the following transfer piece on the wall, I was predisposed to seeing the leafy seahorse in it:

I'll be the first to admit that he doesn't show up well. Yet. With some thread sketching, he will, maybe along with a fuzzier brother farther down the piece.

But doing this brings to mind a conundrum that keeps occupying my brain. Does taking advantage of happy accidents like this make me less of an artist? In other words, am I cheating? Or is it because of my art training and experience that I recognize such things and take advantage of them? I tend to think it's the latter--although I have been known to be so enthralled with a piece of fabric that I am afraid to do anything to it. One such piece hangs framed on my living room wall--I was unable to move on with it for fear of 'ruining' it.

I try to abide with the Doritos principle I expouse here occasionally (use it--I'll make more). But sometimes it's hard. I get a happy accident that I have no real way of repeating, and I'll be timid about using it. I need to work on that.

And sometimes I get good results by acting deliberately to cause those accidents, as here (sorry for the poor picture:

Here I was using up excess dye while playing with screen printing. I knew I was striving for a landscape here, but it came out better than I expected. Never disregard the things you paint casually--the artist within might be guiding your hand.

That is all.


endings and postponements

Part of this process called art is knowing when to stop. It's a hard lesson that I learned doing watercolor--things can be going swimmingly, and then you go back into the painting with just one more stroke, and it's over. In watercolor, there's not much going back. At least in fabric, you can often unstitch and recover--but if you're using paints or dyes, not so much. Time to use the only real solution I ever found in watercolor--cropping down to the best picture you can get out of the paper.

But sometimes, you realize just in time and stop yourself--pull back, set the piece aside so you can think about it, wait for another day. That's what I've done with this piece. Ann and I discussed it on Skype (me making her dizzy by swinging the laptop built-in camera around so she could see all the details), came up with some ideas. The next day I tried one of the ideas, kind of liked it, but in the end decided to fold it up and put it away for awhile. It's just not going in a good direction, and I want to think about how to correct the course before I go to far. I think it may be too late for unsewing--cropping may be the only answer. But I need distance and time to decide that.

Distance and time are the only ways I can objectively critique my art. Too soon, and the amount of work I've put into a piece or the adoration I have for a particular piece of cloth cloud my vision. Or sometimes I've tried so hard and failed that I just hate the piece. Given some time, I usually come back around to it, and often I find a way to make it better. Not always, but often enough.

And sometimes I get it right the first time:

That is all.


I get around!

My work is now being featured on the Jacquard Products gallery, thanks to my work with their discharge paste. I'm quite pleased.

I started discharging with bleach, but found that it was hard to get fabrics that didn't go to orange, and it was difficult to neutralize the fabric after. Discharge paste also works on silk, which bleach destroys.


on not making art....

Life keeps getting in the way of making art. If it's not fighting off a virus, it's raking leaves. If it's not looking for a comforter that actually fits our bed, it's moving furniture from one room to another. If it's not rewriting a website, it's taking photos for said website.

In the meantime, autumn is drawing to a close here in northern Illinois. The above picture is a couple of weeks old; that tree is now bare. Its leaves are chopped up and mulched. DST has ended, it's already dark at 5:30pm.

None of this means I'm not thinking about art, figuring out what I want to do with some pieces I have started. After the first of the year, I have two shows coming up fairly soon; that means time will have to be spent sewing on sleeves and cutting mats.

But somewhere in the midst of all of this, I'll find a way to make some art--it's what I do. I'm an artist.

That is all.