Friday, March 28, 2014

Workshop Report

I've been back almost two weeks.  The first week there is still a sort of "contact high" lingering about the workshop. The second week I start to crash into post-workshop blues.  Fighting that, and getting ready for a big trip, so there's no time to be blue.

I wanted to do a little report on my work at the workshop.   The results were mixed.  I worked hard to finish the first exercise of each week, and was successful.  The second "big" project I kind of crashed and burned.  Nancy liked each of the b/w f/g compositions for the "big" projects but was dismayed to see me fiddle around with some sort of crazed over-complicated development that painted me into a corner.

I did learn a lot, of course.  You learn so much, at every level when you are spending 60 hours a week or so, in such an intense atmosphere.   I learned that understanding F/G intellectually does NOT automatically translate into producing it in fabric.  But I finally understood enough to see what I don't know and how to work on it.

I learned that I'd better practice sewing compositions really hard this year, so that I can succeed in finishing pieces, and learn exactly what is "sew-able" or not.  And I learned not to listen when Nancy says "Don't worry now about how to sew it."

I actually think I began to understand Flat and Glowing, and to understand that its' all relative.  I understand that flat recedes and glowing comes forward, and any color is going to be flat or glowing relative to what it is adjacent to.   You can see this in Daggers, below - that the light beige glows on the dull tan, but disappears into the background when surrounded by the brights.

So here's the low-down:
 This was a great exercise on multiple levels: the development of a motif that is simple enough to repeat many times, the effect of different colors and values on texture, the testing of "how small can you go," and then the composition question of whether you arrange them randomly or all in one.  Looks like I don't have a finished picture here,  I'll take one at home.
These are the result of an exercise about "visual texture."
Mine were the smallest, at about 1" until another late-finishing student went even smaller!
 I was actually really liking the next composition and the way that the arrows seemed to create a swirling motion. However, I did not have the ability to translate what was on the wall into the same thing in a sewn composition.  I knew it would shrink up, but it didn't shrink in the right proportions of course, so that orange dagger crossing from top to bottom ended up in the middle of the piece.  And looks absurd.  I don't think I'll go on with the bottom half of this.  I will fix the dagger and square-off the remains and call it good.  You can probably see that the intent of this was to progress from very flat and dull to very bright and glowing, over ten different segments.

Rockers are born
This was an exercise about using flat and glowing pairs of fabrics to create more depth, texture and secondary figure/ground relationships.  I was the only one that made squares.   They are too static, and should be cut down to achieve more figure/ground tension.    I won't take it apart for that reason, though.  Done is done.  This motif, turned upside down, is what I chose to work on in my final piece, and the little motif I sketched at the end of the previous post.  It's three lines, a bottom "foot" or rocker, a torso, and an arm.  Simple.  If I could only KEEP it simple.

In my call with Lisa last night we talked quite a bit about this.  I need to start doing small relatively simple pieces, so that I can succeed in completing something!

For the antithesis of that, here's the latest photo I have handy of the week two final piece - that I'm now calling Magnum Opus.  Hopefully you can see some outline of the "Rockers."  Nancy liked the background thing I had going, especially the bottom part, but said she even liked the "pastel" one.  Good thing, because she's the one who put the requirement for a value range from very light to very dark in the exercise.  There were 28 or more fabrics to be used.  (The or-more depending on whether you wanted to complicate it by using flat and glowing versions of the same color.  Of course I did).  The figures were to consist entirely of line.   Those requirements really threw me off.  My classmates did not seem to comply with the "line" part.  Apparently one of the things I have NOT learned is to only follow the rules if they're working for me, and throw them out if I get to a point where the composition wants to go somewhere else.  I will be studying photos of some of my classmate's work, which seemed to veer way away from line, and right into shape.  But to share other's work is strictly verboten, which I totally understand.  I don't want my W.I.P. being blogged all over the place either.  But since I am putting it here, it's fair game for Pinterest or whatever, I guess.  Not that I can imagine anyone wanting to Pin it!


  1. Great wrap up Sharon! You are right. Do not listen to Nancy when she tells you worry about construction later. I've fallen for that as well.

    1. Thanks Maria. Yes, after three years I am just ::starting::: to figure Nancy out!