Chalk upland. Mix of arable and pasture, characterised by steep, dry valleys, scattered with small, isolated villages.
Never told me about the nosey cows. The wind. Wild flowers and small, high speed, unidentified squeaky things.
What was a little walk became 8 miles and took forever! Loved it.
I have been struggling with a piece over the last few weeks based on this landscape, still trying to redefine how I work and use colour for these very different hills.
Trouble is I have got so used to the Moors and Dales, the sparse often gnarly hills, the subdued colour, the spaces. I saw these hills in bright flat sunshine, there was no depth in the shadows, I was half way up one side of a tight dry valley, couldn’t see the bottom and even the tops were rolling away from me. I sat for ages just soaking it up until I stopped looking analytically and just absorbed. It became patterns, the linear qualities dissolved. The movement of the wind through the barley on the hill tops became more important than the shape of the trees. It waved and rippled and then broke into squares and diamonds and back again. The light was so unforgiving that the barley shone as brightly as the sky and the whole sparkled with reflected colour.
In this piece I set up a flat perspective, tried creating definition and depth with blocks of fabric before stitching. The grand stitching plan was little down to lots, again trying to push the tops away and bring out the foreground with denser stitch patterns . And again with the colour – lighter and subtle down to brighter, mixed and contrasting. Having made friends with purple, now it may be time to work on orange.
It all made sense but it was the result was flat and as unexciting as an elderly Jaffa cake ( found some in the cupboard – very disappointing). Too safe and too considered, where was the personal narrative, the fun, the unexpected elements?
Since finishing (1st time) the piece has been attacked with the demon tweezers, the horizon has been broken up, sections of land turned into sky and the land pattern quilted up into the sky trying to blur that boundary. The diagonal of the path up the face of the hill was too strong, a lot of fabric has been pulled out and re coloured to soften that. The trees are upside down, colour stitched onto roughly dyed green fabric, spot the orange. Rather than tone the stitch patterns show the differences in the hedgerow. The darkest tone was a deep blue/green put on the second bank of trees and worked as a single colour. The foreground is stitched vertically with small inclusions to break it up.
Since finishing (2nd time) This has been festering, on the wall, under the table, at work, in a bag. Working in perspective lines would have been so easy, but so predictable, so safe. So…. demon tweezers – the rematch, soften the horizon even more. Draw the attention away – bright yellow stalks crossing foreground/middle ground boundary, contrast detail colour shouting about that same boundary – red on green was the loudest option.
Has it worked? Does the piece have more life? Does the simplistic composition give rather than take? Has the colour and pattern compensated for the narrower tonal range? Do I want to make the trees to the right more distinct- or is that old thinking?
And this is now finish 3. This has been difficult, but happier now. Not entirely convinced still….. time to move on.
Okay may be give it a day before the really official declaration of Finishedness.
Don’t forget – Summer Salon exhibition in Knaresborough from next weekend and there opportunities still available this month to come and join a Stitchy Day workshop.