Perseverance, sticking to a task, dogged determination or just plain stubborn. Either way it can pay off, or it is the biggest waste of time, emotional energy and effort.
I do suffer from this, but this time it has worked well. This piece was conceived years ago, sliced and diced when it didn’t work out and then has lived in the bottom of one of the stash hide aways – it came back out a few months ago, lived in full sight since, and then last week it met the scissors again. The same people who apparently have never seen it before ( been on the main wall in the work room!) suddenly went Wow! so I guess it was an improvement.
And the After – still needs de-whiskering and framing.
Considering this- looking at the working methods it seems I do go round in circles while travelling forward. I use materials differently now – far less fusible and fibres, more lumps and rawness, less precious, but the colours, contrasts, ideas of line are so familiar. Even putting it along side the landscape stones there is the same thinking, the same perceptions evident, but these new quiet monochrome daft pieces are far braver and far more challenging.
Yep, it is a woodland view. Honest! Can’t you see it? Arching canopy, meandering path, tree trunks, sunlight? It is a leap of faith and an act of will. Even at this stage the thinking about stitch patterns is apparent – directional to describe surfaces, and more random for textures. Spent ages on the detailed study – went round the corner and preferred that composition! Typical. Only had time for quick sketches to record the general idea. The sketch with the arrows is the stitching plan. Flat lines, some zigzag, lots of little happy squirms for the canopy. On the whole the machine stitches follow the basic patterns set by the hand work, but in some areas an under strata of filling stitch were put in to increase the density or to surpress the bulk of the wools. And this is what it became. Looks a bit 18th century to me. The frame is the same as used for the rest of this series but without a mount – it was just too stark, the mauvey colour is the fabric colour.
This may be last of these for a while – I want to get back to the happy anarchy of lots more texture and building as I go rather than in predetermined layers. They are soothing and relatively swift but a bit like white bread – great in small doses, bland if over indulged in.
And the whole series?
This is a record of this way of working with colour in its most simple form.
- Select subject – clear shapes and lots of tonal contrasts. Colour palette is restricted, so is the texture. Should have photographed without the front stuff and before the sun went down!
- hand stitch. This is the main source of colour, but can not be too dense or the machine will grumble. Use direction to give ideas of form and textures.
- Threads – muted range, chosen more for tonal value and warm/cool values than hue. (the purples were far more brown and dull, the end colour is dark olive!)Aviod plain grey – too stark, use more sophisicated colours. One or two stronger colours for get out jail free cards, but to be used sparingly.
- First layer- establish main tonal zones, vary stitch patterns to create more separation.
- Second layer – highlights and shadows, working in a variety of ways to build surfaces.Spot the vertical lines, cross hatching, wriggly squirms and zigzags.
- Top dressing – final tweaks, adding details, evaluating and finishing. This style has to be at a distance- pin up, make coffee and walk towards it to make sure the contrasts and values work.
- Drink coffee. Still need to press it. Later will do.
These method at this scale is relatively quick and surprisingly effective. This mini series is part of the Falling Light family of woodland studies so this style which encourages me to emphasise tone works well. This little beastie was done in a morning – or would have been if I remained focussed (blame Wimbledon and the Tour de France). I find it quite limiting so the selection has to be strong enough but without too much fuss. The limited palette range could be expanded at will though I like the simplicity of focussing on tone – been doing a lot of pencil drawing at the moment so I guess the two disciplines are cross pollinating again. Scale is a problem – bigger means more time hand stitching and the need for more complex stitch patterns.
These landscape stones are becoming a bit of a fixation. Sewing them became welcome relief from the weight of sewing the robes (fingers still sore). The second one is painted, dry and ready to peel. This should be easy – would be if I didn’t paint it first. I literally smear base coat all over it, rubbing it into the fabric, it changes the nature of the surface, blending and pooling around the stitches and pulled details. It also stiffens the fabric and unfortunately glues it to the stone. Oops. Does make the peel difficult and destructive.
Post Peel- It took 3 hours this morning of creative sunbathing to get it free. The peeling has lost all pretence of being precise or new, the fabric is distorted and torn, the paint has been disrupted in places and flaked in others. Flattening it caused even more damage and the whole effect is aged and worn. So much better. It does have a history now, a character, a story to tell. It has the shifts of texture, shapes, I associate with landscape, those sudden details and concentrations in the midst of big spaces, on the down side, it does make me think of roadkill.
I have been a little more experimental with this one. There are a wider range of stitches, the old favourites of chain, french knots, back, whip, seed and of course running. Some I imagined would trap more paint, others give more emphasis or surface. Totally right but not as expected, the bold stitches have become claggy and lost definition and pattern. I think there was too much stitch, there is a lumpiness rather than a lightness.
I think I will mount this on more of the orginal cotton lawn and present it as something fragile and ephemeral, unless of course another idea occurs.
A strange month. Trying to be busy but not really feeling that smug glow of achievement at all.
Done list –
Finally finished cutting privet hedge, in time to start again at the other end.( much like Forth Road Bridge but it grows faster)
Completed repairs to Merchant Taylors ceremonial robes. Look smarter but to get them perfect would need major reconstructive surgery. (V sore fingers)
Finished quilting previously ‘finished’ works. Can’t do anything more to them. Still not framed, so haven’t made decent photos to make submissions for exhibitions.
Arranged to share venue at Staithes Festival in September.
Hosted some classes at home.
Enjoyed front garden, flunked the back garden- now invaded by triffids and hedgehogs. (Discovered reason for lethergy and dislocation – took 2 of these pics this morning – but the download registered as taken in 2008. My house is in a time warp – time travel must be very tiring.)
Been doing more landscape stones and rust/tea staining.
STILL to be done list.
Everything else, and more of the above. And then some.
June means ‘ get over yourself and get on’ or ‘Help! it’s mother’s birthday!’.
Fun to do, Multi coloured layers of spirals in top of blue, and then variegated green on the leaves.
In response to the second – I ‘ve been playing with simplified and stylised flower forms – this is her card, loosely based on hollyhocks. Couldn’t deny the need for bright with the leaf stitch round the edge. Pink and yellow always makes me think of fruit salad chewy sweets from my childhood, but the Mother likes bright.
The stones progress, and to counter balance all of that ethereal stitching this has been developing –
It is based on sunlight light through trees, not quite done – the bottom section isn’t quite strong enough yet. May be a bit of quilting? Not as defined as I want yet, the rich blue swallows colour as soon as tones get similiar. There is deep red, purple, deep navy, brown and green in those shadows! But it is all stitch…. a lot of stitch, but I like the areas left open in contrst to the density of the light. Must remember that I don’t want to do needle painting.
I still really don’t know what this is about, haven’t got close to the bottom of the ideas, etc, but I like it! A rare occurance. I think it has legs and depth and a purpose and its own aesthetic and story and. It has the marks and patterns of a landscape but yet looks like a delicate, worn scrap of clothing.
All hand stitched and with a new layer of paint.
How has the writing of words on images and clothing has morphed into this ? I know there is a thread of an idea running through them all and each could not have happened without the others before it. I think this is a direct response about materials and processes to the theme, deliberately sidestepping ‘concept’, and I like it for it. This has that fragment, scraps of things feel that I like, glimpses of the nearly recognisable, and it is all about textile, surfaces, manipulation, pattern, texture. ( I am going to regret burbling like this, next week I will see all the flaws and awkwardness( but at the moment I just don’t care!))
I have to decide on presentation – Some of the details- the frays and breaks are vulnerable so glazing may be a must, that means frame, I like the raised elements so that means box frame, PAH. It will look so different shut away and enclosed – it may look more precious…. ooo err sums it up. Need to find a friendly framer who will let me play……white?