Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Small Exercise in Abstraction

I was playing around today and eventually settled on photographing some of the sequences in creating abstractions form an original photograph. I often get asked how you do this when I teach workshops , and on the whole for me it is a lenghty process that might involve years- drawing shapes , refining them , looking for line, contour, shape and ultimately colour. It is something I have been able to do from reasonably early on as I have always felt confident in colour use- so for me often the overriding factor is how the colours balance each other and the rest sort of falls into place from there.
However I do use my own photographs in recreating images- photography seems to give what the eye sees but does it really? And then you are dealing with a very two dimensional medium such as textile- but it is saved by the possibility of creating texture which apart from embroidery none of the other mediums can do in quite the same way. So I have done some sequential photos to show where I was going and what happened.I have collaged the images so I could load all the images in one post

The top image is the original photo, already cropped which I took whilst beach combing in the Bay if Islands., New Zealand I particularly liked the spiral shape, because everywhere it is depicted as an unfurling fern frond, and yet here it was in a shell shape on the beach. After cropping the photo I printed it and then created a viewing rectangle from paper so I could place it on what seemd a pleasing arrangement and one which gave visual play as well as colour contrast.

I then drew line drawings of the viewing window- the blue ink one first, which I don't much like, but I did like some fo the shapes, the black one second- that was much more interesting because I stopped looking at the original picture except for cursory guidance- Instead was looking for positive/negative balance and line.I could see possibilities so refined it further into a postcard shape adding texture to the ink drawing in order to create positive/ negative balance ( but I was already thinking about the stitching at this stage so the texture also had in mind the kind of stitching i might do). Then drawn again and coloured in- not terribly successful , but I did like the emrgence of blue into the playing area.

Adding texture to the coloured drawing much as I might stitch- have completely let go of the original photograph- I am now playing in the area of poetic licence- what adds interest and what doesn't?

I decide to do it in two colour ways- one with a background not too dissimilar from the colour sin the original photo, the other what I found a pleasing colour combination- I vliesofixed the cut out shapes and then stitched using the texture drawing as a rough guide- but as I was determined to try the Aurifil Rayon 12 weight threads, my palette was a little different to what I might normally l use ( I used what was sent to me). I left the turquoise coloured background till last- and that is when my machine had a teenage tantrum- so I called it a day. But what an effect stitching has and how little or much does it look like the original photo? I keep on seeing Pinocchio in the turquoise background one, even more so once it was stitched.
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Mal* said...

I LOVE this post! Of course I am a huge sucker for artistic process and for exploring and musing on themes, shapes, and the like. Still, your work is always so beautiful and it is wonderful to have a peek behind the scenes. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your process---it is really helpful to see how an artist thinks and creates.

Beena said...

I liked reading your post and about your creative process. It's interesting. I love the sketches.

As for Pinocchio (laughing), I never would have thought anything like that until you mentioned it. Then, I suddenly started seeing an elf sitting cross-legged in a mushroom patch with radishes! Your best not to put those ideas in my head! It's filled with enough nuttiness as it is! (kidding)

Just to let you know, in general, human form is the most recognizable of all shapes to us, to people. So it should not come as a surprise to "see" human form where there is a mottled marble tile, in a cloud drifting by, in the grain of a piece of wood, etc..

But seriously, I like the shapes and textures very much in your piece. And I like how you drew inspiration from the photos, and then arranged it to your liking in your sketches, and proceeded. Thanks for sharing your process with us!