Thursday, March 31, 2011

Ruminations on Style

I have been struggling to find a unique voice in my artwork.  Do I have a unique style?   What does wikipedia have to say on this topic?

" refers to the aspects of the visual appearance of a work of art that relate it to other works by the same artist or one from the same period, training, location, "school" or art movement. This may involve all the elements and principles of art, and other factors, often very difficult to analyse precisely.

By changing the way they paint, apply colour, texture, perspective, or the way they see shapes and ideas, the artist establishes a certain set of "rules"..."

Hmmm, when I read this definition I think that I don't have a definite "style".  Although as I start to think of the art that I have made over the years, it pretty much has one thing in common, with the exception of two pieces done for art classes, it all represents something in nature.  No matter how hard I try to do something else, I have not produced any pieces that represent the "made" landscape of humans.  I have a few pieces that are fairly abstract, but again they are abstracted from nature and not from anything in the "made" environment.

However, it seems to me there is no defining way that I apply thread or yarn or weave.  There seems to be no unifying color scheme, I guess the only defining way I see things is often to see the little things in a big way.  I tend to overscale my views of nature.  I paint (just one piece really, and I don't really paint paintings anymore), quilt, embroider or weave things that are either the same scale or oversized so that you see details that you don't normally see.  I love to look at the inside of flowers for their defined structure, I like to look at the patterns that the waves form, I like to look closely at fauna.  Is this a style?  Who knows.  Could someone recognize my hand if I put all my somewhat disparate pieces in the same room?  Just my musings as I drive from the orthodontist to ballet to soccer back to ballet back to soccer home to feed animals back to the kitchen to cook dinner....

Does an artist have to have a style?  Is it something that is an unspoken requirement?  Will I develop more of a style as I spend more time at the loom?  I guess only time will tell.

Finally "framed"

I wove this flower tapestry last year for the open small tapestry exhibit for the ATA biennial.  It was an experiment in combining the use of a regular weave with one in which I used two warps under and two warps over.  What I found was although the weaving went faster, it of course pulled in more.  Then, I found that I didn't pack the weft tight enough and a third of the way through the tapestry when I decided it needed to be packed tighter it changed my composition completely.  I couldn't go back and reweave it since I didn't have time to finish it to get it to Albuquerque in time, so I had to improvise a change so that the composition was more balanced.  I have to admit that when I cut it off the loom I was not very happy with it, and have not been happy with it since. 

I have been trying to get it mounted on some type of frame or canvas since.  I tried painting a canvas for it, but it looked really flat.  I went through my stash of fabric and found a piece that worked perfectly, but wouldn't you know it--I didn't have enough fabric to cover the canvas.   I went to the quilting store where I bought the fabric but it was long gone. Since then, I have been letting the tapestry sit with the fabric for the last couple of months on my studio table, looking at it when I enter my studio and letting it percolate through my brain.  I finally came up with the idea of quilting a piece for the tapestry to be mounted on.  So I cut the fabric in strips.  I cut out two large pieces of muslin, one as backing and the other to sew the green fabric strips to and I sandwiched cotton batting in between.  Once I sewed the strips together leaving a big square of exposed muslin which the tapestry would hide, I quilted the piece.  Next, I sewed the tapestry to the quilted piece. I wrapped the piece on the canvas I had sized everything to, and found that I it was too small for the look I wanted.  I happened to have a larger canvas that I had just purchased and so I layed the piece on top and liked the look.  BUT, now the quilted piece was too small for the larger tapestry so improvising yet again, I had to piece more strips to cover the sides of the canvas.  I finally stapled it to the canvas yesterday afternoon.  I liked the look, but to pull it together a bit more I decided to embroider more seeds flying out of the flower head and across the quilted backing piece.  I really like the whole effect now.  With it mounted in this way, I have decided I actually like the tapestry.  The overall size is 13x13 inches with the tapestry being 8 3/4 x 8".

Now I need to get back to my studio to get some more pieces mounted.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Update and Question

The last three weeks have been very busy.  Between recovering from bugs with the kids (why does the start of spring always seem the worst for catching yukky stuff?) and other commitments, I have not been able to weave at all.  In fact, my studio is covered in dust, dog hair is rolling in tumbleweeds down the hall amidst the leaves and dirt the kids track in from outside.  Oh well!  Onto other stuff...I finally submitted the National Endowment for the Arts grant for the American Tapestry Alliance.  I did it two years ago, so I had all the text more or less together, but it still took much more than the two days I thought it would take.  They changed some of the format and things they wanted documented, and I had to update all of our information.  I happily submitted it last Thursday. 

I recently had my fiber arts group meeting.  I showed my new pieces and their was a bit of discussion.  There has been quite a bit of feedback on the way I mounted the piece I showed in the last post, not just from the fiber arts group, but from other friends and family.  Overwhelmingly, I got a negative response from the tapestry being mounted on the white, however, I did have two people who liked the overall look, but here are the comments that I have gathered in the last few weeks...

How about mounting it on red?
How about mounting it on red or lime green?
The painted canvas is much too small, make the background canvas at least 2 - 3 inches larger in each direction.
How about leaving the white, but putting another layer of an intermediate color in it between the white and the painted canvas?

Does anyone else have any suggestions?  I am going to try and get back to work on the mounting soon.  Would love to hear any other suggestions.  The tapestry piece is 4 3/4 X 4 3/4 inches, and the outside canvas is 8x8".  I have tried to find a blue or grey fabric to use, but all the ones that I have or found look too dull and lifeless. 

Any suggestions are welcome.