Here is the last of eleven questions by blog followers left in the comment section earlier this spring. I thought it would be a good topic to cover while packing for Art Quilt Campus and my workshop in Italy.
Karen J. asked: I love the use of fibers in any piece and also the hand stitching. My query would be: how do you come up with ideas to design an art piece? I know your photography would be high on your list, but what about others?
This is a question that will speak to a number of readers, for me it was a little difficult to organize and formulate an appropriate answer. Here is what my answer is – please remember, it is my point of view shared from my experience.
Karen’s question has multiple parts, and I will break them down into individually to provide in-depth answers and suggestions.
The first part: I love the use of fibers in any piece and also the hand stitching is really a statement. We are working with fabrics and its components, fibers. We add embellishments, like beads and hand stitching to add texture and dimension. These additions are also part of the finishing of the art piece. As a general rule I do not plan my finishing before I design the actual piece. Hand stitching and beads come out after I have finished my machine work. Do I always add hand stitching? The simple answer is “no” – I carefully evaluate the piece, hang it on the design wall and let it “talk to me” for a few days. Adding hand stitching for the sake of hand stitching without a specific purpose or to enhance the overall appearance is a waste of precious time. Embellishments must be well integrated.
The second part of Karen’s question: My query would be: how do you come up with ideas to design an art piece? I know your photography would be high on your list, but what about others?
I have elaborated on this many times, on this blog and in my lectures. My City & Guilds training with two dedicated tutors over 8 years have provided me with countless opportunities to sample, sample, sample. Basic design exercises, which I openly share in designated design classes and regular technique workshops, are the foundation for taking an idea/inspiration from inception to completion.
These days photographs play a vital role in my research and gathering of ideas. It is easy to capture an image that caught my interest, but in the end a thousand photographs may only provide one idea that gets pushed further. It is all in one’s mindset. Keeping your eyes open to observe specific color combinations, to recognize textures in a landscape or simply register lines ans shapes is my primary purpose for carrying a camera. I also have a more focused side as a photographer, and my art background really helps with composition when making a picture.
With all this said, I do not have a specific recipe or easy to follow step-by-step instructions on how to design. Over the years through practice and continued trial and error I have honed my eyes and my senses to be receptive to ideas and possibilities. My best tool is a note book in my bag where I capture fleeting ideas and thoughts in word and quick sketches. That’s the best way to let go of one idea and make room for another. Back in the studio I may or may not refer to these notes and sketches.
At the moment my studio time is very limited and the note book is getting a great workout, as is my camera. Once I return from all the teaching at the end of November this notebook will provide me with backup and ideas that I can push further.