Saturday, 20 August 2011

Stepping Out

Hi Diane,

I am writing from "our" seats at Cedar Farm coffee shop and it seems odd that you are not here!

It does not suprise me that we took similar things fron Festival. One if the most inspirational things for me was combining the lectures by Linda and Laura Kemshall, Fiona Wilson and looking at the printed cloth from the virtual studio. I love to look at the sketcbooks by the Kemshalls but at the same time they almost put me off actually using a sketchbook as a repository for exploratory art work because I never feel that I can master the art materials well enough to produce anything that is not dispiritingly childish. Because I have limited time I choose to work straight to fabric whilst at the same time hankering after being 'able' to do the sketchbook approach because see benefit in it. i think if I thought more about my art before I leapt into making it I'd produce more mature stuff.

But Fiona Wilson's books seemed much more accessible to me and that combined with Laura's statement that it is not so much about producing an image as about working out your feelings for the subject matter encouraged me to have a go. I liked that Fiona didn't try to replicate the item that inspired her but the emotions it engendered in her. Plus when you look at the cloth from Committed to Cloth I realise that its beauty often comes from the layering and repetition of very simple symbols and rough marks not precisely painted images. I think I can do that!!

Well, sometimes I think I can, then other times I wonder....!!!
I am so happily working with words but I find it very hard to express concepts and emotions visually.

So what I take from Festival is that I am going to give myself a chance to learn and suprise myself. I am going to push myself and I am going to rigorously test this way of working and what it can bring to me. Since it is clear that my main studio is going to take some weeks to be ready it is an ideal opportunity for me to focus on design ideas so that I have something to work with when I get the studio to sew in. I also have two weeks holiday in October in the flat in Bath when it is easier to take art supplies out with me to our favourite cafes than to take textile work.

So I am going to take a step beyond my comfort zone and I hope you are going to be behind me pushing me to keep walking when I start to whinge that the track is too steep, or the view too boring or the cliff edge I might fall over too scary! As you know I like to set myself goals and projects so that I can procrastinate by organsing them all in my ipad productivity apps. So I have decided to work with two themes : the african ladies that seem to insinuate themselves into much of my work and a vaguer ' crossings and boundaries'. I am going to do the exercises in the Committed to Cloth Finding Your Own Visual Language book which I have read twice and never actually used as a tool. And, because the art that is in my head requires the ability to draw figures ( which is why it remains in my head) I am going to try to learn to draw. And I am going to try and find my own style. All of which I am simultaneously excited about and scared and sceptical about!

At the very least it wil be a justfication for all those pencils you made me buy at the Pencil Museum shop! The photo above is my first attempt using the Aquatone sticks I bought. The picture itself is pretty rubbish but I will say that the doing of it did spark all kinds of ideas for stitch.

Oh and by the way I found today that you can get digital copies of American Artist Magazine via Interweave including a basic guide to drawing techniques. AND digital editions of American Artist Studios magazine. More Cupboard porn!

So, did you think more about the themes you were talking about when we were together?



Kristin L said...

I too have the Finding Your Own Visual Language book. You have inspired me to do more than leaf through it. I may be following along on the exercises from the adjacent table. Or not. I have good intentions, but don't always follow through.

Deborah Boschert said...

I'm not familiar with this book. I must look it up.

Deborah Boschert said...

The idea of working on themes can be very useful. I especially like the concept of borders and crossings, Helen. Can't wait to see where you go with that.

Fiona Wilson said...

Thank you for such lovely comments, your work is looking really exciting and I am so glad that my talk encouraged you to feel able to tackle the idea of a sketchbook. I will follow with interest - Fiona