Monday, July 04, 2005

Pictoral quilts, art, etc.

I wrote Diane an email early in this discussion, but decided I wanted to write a whole lot and edit it and think about and then maybe blog it.

I have my "take" on what Mel said... though it's merely MY take: #1. She admitted she was cranky. But..IF we are going to call ourselves artists, shouldn't the work we do be original? And how can it be original if the full scope of the project is to take someone else's photographic image (or our own), and translate it identically into fabric. Does this say anything different about the object that the photograph doesn't? Does it really say anything different about the medium? (fabric?).

Which is NOT saying that pictoral quilts are not art. Just that this class wasn't art.

If I take a photograph as inspiration, but in the construction things happen, and the image changes... then the inspiration has ACTED upon me.. and the result is something fresh and new and different (regardless of the medium used). But if I take a photograph and merely translate into fabric... what is the purpose? And letting a program alter the image... yes, I may be the operator behind the program, but it's a collaboration between me and the original programmer. And if the art ends there, how much am I "involved", except as the craftsman?

I'm not saying don't make still lifes. Pick some items, arrange them yourself.. and work with that arrangement. The items you choose, the way you place them and the light you bring to the subject says something about you.

If 10 of us were given the same 5 articles to arrange into a piece, they would all look different. (and actually the wonder of how they would be different is quite exciting to me.). Deb R. said something similar in her blog. And this might be an interesting basis for a blogring challenge. "someone" would pick 5 specific objects that everyone uses as the basis for a piece. Each person arranges them, and works with them however they wish. Then we all TA-DA them on our blogs on the same day. (sound interesting to anyone else?)

So maybe Mel was trying to push more people into finding and owning their own voice. Into FINDING their style. And style isn't something that you can find by piecing someone else's teapot. That said, I LOVE Diane's teapot. And I want to know what from the class you intend to make your own.

Diane wrote:
I have to add here (as long as I'm rambling away) that I don't have a style. Melody, Gabrielle, Pam, Liz, and all sorts of amazing quilt artists have an identifiable style that shines through their bodies of work. I feel like I'm just doing all sorts of things and trying all sorts of techniques on the way to figuring out what I like to do, what works for my working style, and what helps me express what I want to say. For the moment, "Hey, look! I made a shiny blue teapot!" is enough for me to say.

And that's a good start.

What about the technique did you enjoy? Was it learning how to place color to create 3-D shape? Was it using the software to "map" the color shapes and placements? All cool.

If it was a day spent with good friends and fellowship, working together and making something... that's good too. It may not move you along the "finding your style" path... but sometime we need a break from that.

What do you really like to do in your work? Or see? Start working toward that... Even if it means moving away from taking guild workshops. So for the teapot... did you LOVE the applique? If so... remember that to keep as part of your work in the future. Was it playing with color as light? Want to play some more? Figure out how to with your own stuff.

Can you USE the class as a jumping off point for your own style?

At the moment, I'm beginning to find "my style" something that a year ago I would not have found possible. A lot of what I like now is strictly color, texture and shape. Things that sound very simple.. But they are beginning of a style. It's taken me about a year to discover this is how I want to work with them. We'll see where it leads.

At the same time, I'm being drawn to stitched texture that isn't quilting: small woven pieces, and embroidery and "encrustations"... and I know that I'll be moving in that direction in the next year. To that end, the classes I've taken are all leading to that end: Sue Benner's class on fusing and construction techniques... and next fall Gerry Chase's class on painting and improvisional construction. My watercolor on fabric class. And lots of private work on "mark making with stitches"... (speaking of which.. stay tuned to a blog about this in a couple weeks).

I have looked at other classes, and decided that if it doesn't advance my "start" of a style, then it's just pulling me a different direction. It's what Dara was talking about in her blog on ENTHUSIASTIC EFFORT .. distraction as laziness. If you can distract yourself with enough other people's style and work, then you don't have to think about your own.


Deb R said...

Good post, Debra! And I'd be interested in your challenge idea.

Sonji Hunt said...

Yes, good post. I am not someone who is fond of representational imagery. My husband and I were debating his desire to purchase a landscape photograph last weekend. I didn't care for the work because I could simply look outside our window to see the same thing. He is a documentarian and I like to recall things by closing my eyes and bringing up the memory.

I appreciate the skill it takes to recreate something realistically in a drawing, painting or quilt, but it isn't my thing. In art school, the appeal of representationalism was that one had to view the REAL object(s) in an abstract frame in order to make it look photographic. Tons and tons of painters would argue with your opinion of making art from a photo. Learning how to make something look real in whatever medium is a technical lesson and an excellent methodology for learning the visual process connected with the materials of your choice. It helps to define HOW you see, how you understand structure and recreate it, etc. It's like a contemporary rap poet learning standard english and studying the depth of Shakespeare as part of the learning process.

Everyone's thrill for creating is different, but there is nothing like having a strong footing in traditional techniques.

Debra said...

Yeah, Sonji... tons of painters may want to argue with, but I don't. Never been to art school... my degrees are in English comp/grammar; secondary education; and a masters in small business development. So what the heck to do I know from art school??

I DO know I need to take some pictures today or people are gonna stop visiting my blog completely.

Lisa, Procrastinator Extraordinaire said...

Let me know if you decide to do the blogring challenge. Sounds like fun to me!

lizzieb said...

Believe it or not, but I am just finding my "style". I am also in the process of trying out all sorts of things that are new to me, and hoping my "style" still comes through them.

I think style develops with time. I have made over 400 pieces since I retired almost six years ago. A lot of them are very small, but then that allows me to keep on doing more, just to work things out.

Just keep on making those babies and your "style" will come out!