Saturday, March 29, 2014

Workshop Pictures

Mine was a lot less square than my classmates'

And I didn't have enough squares left for this piece.

This is the figure ground basis for the exercise of flat to glowing.
ANd this was the start of the exercise using line.

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!

Weekly F/G

Here's this week's figure grounds, so far.  I wanted to play with the colored fabric scraps that were removed from the workshop piece, but didn't put in enough time to make Exquisite Figure Ground Tension.  Then I went back to black and white.  It was fun, but by the time I got to the third one I was bored and tired.  
I like to do a group like that, so that you can evolve and fine-tune the proportions.  It's so much easier to see the shapes an proportions when you look at the photo than it is when you are at the wall. (Especially if you are distracted by making up black shapes from multiple pieces).

This morning I re-read this post by Judy Kirpich at Unmulti-tasking.  In light of re-focusing on F/G I found Carlos Merida's work fascinating, and was motivated to start sketching.  I'm currently enamored of this little motif that I started using in the workshop. I call it a rocker. I like this.  I think I might like sketching in pencil more than in fabric.  At least right now.  

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Figure Ground March 22

An attempt at a couple figure ground compositions on Notability.

More Playing With Value

Here are the results of playing a little bit in Photoshop Elements.   I took two pictures, one of the light side of my piles and one of the right.  There is a problem in that one of them used flash and the other didn't (not sure why) so that could be affecting the experiment.  But whatever.  I don't have time to do it again. This isn't a science lab.   I think that three light piles (white -ish, Light, and Medium-Light) are pretty good.  The blues in the M-L pile might want to move to medium.  The second photo, with the Medium, Medium-dark and Dark is not so good.  The darks are okay, but Medium and Medium-dark are a complete jumble.

More work to do.

Here's what I found:

Lights Grayscale

Lights Desaturated


Dark Desaturated
Dark, Grayscale

Interesting Experiement with Value

One of my goals, after coming back from the Crow workshops was - again - to work on value.  So important, so often ignored or forgotten (by me at least).   After sorting out my fabrics, I took some test photos with the filters on my iphone.  There are three choices, Mono, Noir, and Tonal.   Problem is after emailing the photos off the phone, then downloading them, then re-uploading them here, I'm not certain which is which is which.  But it was an interesting experiment.

I think for my first sort it looks pretty good.  I know I tend to put yellows in a darker category than they should be, and greens in a lighter one.    I think that lighter mass in the medium-dark pile is red/pink, and that might be why the different read. 

Later today I'm going to do some more technical photos with Photoshop Elements.




Thursday, March 20, 2014

Today's F/G

Shouldn't the flat dark color recede?  It doesn't seem to, unless I squint really hard.  Hmmm.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Figure Ground Studies

I got back yesterday afternoon from the two weeks with Nancy Crow.  I'm pretty fried.  I will have to process and sleep a little bit more before I can do any blogging about it.   But I made one resolution during the class - to do a figure ground study every day, or at least to do seven per week.  They are not to be sewn (unless I really decide one is worth pursuing) and can be either fabric on the design wall, or sketch, or iPad, etc.  So, here is today's sketch:

The iPhone insisted on turning it upside-down but a good composition should work any way you turn it, right?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Going Tiny

Three days gone already in week one.  Here's a tiny part of what took all of the first two days and more than half of today.  In this picture my motifs are neatly lined up, when finished they were much more randomly arranged.  This is the first set of 40, and I was feeling pretty good at that point.  Nancy made a point of calling the whole class over to see how small they were.  In a good way.  They were 1-1/4" before sewing, about 1" after.
They took forever, however.  And the assignment required five sets of 40 each!  I'll post my completed versions later, the pictures are on a different  camera.  

The next assignment was started today, at 9 for those done with #1, and about 2:00 for me.   Here's a peek:  
Hours so far:Monday 9:00 to 11:00.  (14) Tuesday, 8:00 to 12:00 (16).  Wednesday, 8:00 to 11:00 (15),   In my head, going home at 11:00 was "early."

So far I'm liking it but have very little confidence that I can finish it by Friday afternoon.