The relaxing, fun part of working with an embellisher is the "frolicking in the fabrics" mode that naturally occurs. This is not the 'Sewing' that I learned in 8th grade home ec. It is instead a very left-brained smooshing fabric and fiber around just for the fun of experimenting. But, after awhile, my art history background and fascination with figurative work starts to creep in. The Embellisher seems very painterly, and I am wanting to see how that can be translated into fibers being pounded together.
This piece is a work in progress.. send thoughts, ideas and inspirations.
When I have a spare moment, I have been playing with my Babylock Embellisher. This is not a sewing machine, but rather a needle felting machine that literally pummels the fibers together. My current favorite technique is to 'felt' silk fabric and silk thread scraps onto a stiffer dark wool background. The contrast of these colors and texture is so rich and enticing. An added plus, I find the rhythm of the felting to be a restful tmeditation. I am not wrestling with seams or edges, freeing my mind to wander over color and aesthetics.
The landscape pictured to the right (large image here) began as a fabric-crayon sketch on black twill. There are layers of silk, rayon, and silk fibers 'felted' on top of the sketch and then free motion embroidery. This is still a work in progress. Actual size is about 17" X 26".
Now that I can sustain a creative thought for a few minutes, I am making headway on a kimono quilt that I began months ago. The inception of the design was influenced by kimono paintings by Miriam Schapiro. This also began, in a way, by echoing Magritte's The Treason of Images series of a pipe investigating the imagery of an object instead of the actual object: "This is not a pipe". This was a fiber construction of a painting of a garment; this is not a kimono.
That entry path was soon re-directed. The embroidery that is the focus of the main top panel began to build on more subtle associations in my mind. The landscape of the embroidery is Tuscany. Once I had the great fortune to have one of the brothers at the St Francis church at Assist Italy open the tiny back window that frames an incredible view of the Tuscan landscape. It truly was like looking into paradise. That line led me into thinking of icons and reliquaries
One of my favorite paintings from the National Gallery in Washington DC, Gerard David's 'Rest on the Flight into Egypt' found it's way into the work, along with lots of velvet, silk and sequins. This is turning into a statement about everyday saints though, so I am hearing my button collection crying out to be included. There also really is a scarlet background cloth coming - possibly with some rebuses.
Wow! It feels great to have a moment for art again!
I think that I am going to die of envy. Sharon Boggon has posted her collection of embroidery threads. I had always thought that I possessed an embarrassment of riches in threads (see photo), but now I realize that I have not even scratched the surface of thread ownership. Can one ever own too many art supplies?
I have discovered the fun of the self portrait. It all began with my hometown's exhibit of residents' self portraits. I had only done one self portrait and that was almost 20 years ago. Since I have my tongue sticking out, I guess that was some foreshadow of the fun of the self portrait.
Artists have often done self portraits and some of their most memorable works may be this art of reflection. A short, illustrated paper by Jeanne Ivy The Exploration of Self; What artists find when they search in the mirror offers this insight: "Self-portraits, we have found, can be carefully staged to show the audience only what the artist wishes to project, or deeply revealing, inadvertently displaying feelings of anguish and pain. Self-portraits have been used to test new techniques, make a signature mark, launch into self-study, remember the past, and as a way to release emotion. Whichever way artists choose to construct their images, they are each forced to study their own personas both physically and emotionally"
Some collections & resources to reflect upon:
Self-portrait U.K. - Making a self-portrait
Rembrandt's self portraits
VanGogh's self portraits
Self portraits of famous artists through the ages
image: Serena Fenton, self portrait
Right now I am working on a series of landscapes using thread painting. That's from my sketchbook (left). I'm trying to extend a painterly vision into a new realm. This has me struggling with the basics: how to create a realistic landscape within a hard-edged medium. To be specific: how to get the distant hills to move into the background and stay there (where they belong!) and at the same time, how to create some crisp edges (my piece is looking a bit mushy)
The Smithsonian has two resources:
first - a tutorial on landscape painting that they created for use in the classroom. (see below)
second - a virtual tour through American landscapes, giving lots of insight of how these principles are applied.
From Landscape Painting: Artists Who Love the Land
1. A winding path.
A path or river that winds through the landscape from foreground to background can make us believe that the picture describes a deep space.
2. Changes in size.
A tree that is close to us appears much larger than a tree of the same size that is far away.
A boulder that is close to us overlaps and partially hides a much larger cliff behind it.
4. Changes in clarity.
A distant mountain range appears more hazy and less distinct than a mountain that is closer.
Land that moves away from us on the diagonal appears to move back into space.