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Getting Back on Track

Yes, I am still here!  What happened to me since my last post?  Well, things like chocolate chip cookies, writing poetry, planting seeds, fresh baked bread, spring flowers, bird watching and so on.  Of course, I have been stitching too, though my color and design project is definitely going to be a two year endeavor.  Other than the neutral palette pieces that I have previously introduced, I have pieces started for the second workshop (monochrome) and the third workshop (complementary color).  Additionally, I have selected fabric for no less than six collages dealing with the fourth workshop, complex complements.  I’m getting back on track with posting once a week here, so please check back for profiles of my continuing color adventures.  I will discuss the monochrome workshop next week.  Meanwhile, here is a picture of one of my neutral palette collages with some stitching:

The first workshop also incorporates an investigation of balance as it relates to art design.  This is the example for radial balance, where the design emerges from a main focal point.  This particular collage also uses informal or asymmetrical balance, even though I have another collage for that type of balance.  I am finding that some pieces of art straddle more than one category of certain design elements.  In these cases, a piece of art will usually be a better representative of one category more than another.  When I finish my intended sample of informal balance, I will post it alongside this radial balance piece, and I’ll compare and contrast the two.

Until next week, I will keep stitching, and searching for the ultimate chocolate chip cookie.

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Finding Balance with the Colors of an Ohio Winter

Already, I have made my yearlong color and design project more complicated than I intended, but I am having fun with it.  I have taken to heart my own advice to play with the elements of composition.  My monthly goals have been revised a bit, I am going to aim for having the fabric pieces placed by the end of each month.  The stitching on these will take much longer, especially since I started out by trying to make five wall hangings for January’s workshop on balance using a neutral palette.  This has been an unusually snowy winter in my part of Ohio, the neutral palette required of this workshop is exactly what I see outside.   Here is what I have so far:

Formal or Symmetrical Balance

Informal or Asymmetrical Balance

Radial Balance

Crystallographic Balance

I have several questions that I keep asking myself about the pieces as I work on them.  Am I using the full range of values (light to dark)?  Is the viewer’s attention going to move all around the piece?  Will I want to keep looking at each piece?  Is it something I want to live with?

There are more things to think about when evaluating artwork.  Right now, I need to think about workshop #2, February is half over already.

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The End of the Squares

I am happy to report that I finished my year of 4 x 4” squares on time!  Here are the December squares:

Now, I must decide what to do with all of these crazy squares.  My original intent was to keep some as prototypes for larger pieces.  I like to think of these as sketches – throughout the project, I played with composition, color combinations and to a lesser degree, getting more creative with my stitching.  While I made my way through the year, I thought the squares that I did not decide to keep would get mounted on small canvas panels to sell at art fairs.

On New Year’s Day, I laid out all of the squares, and they looked great all together.  I am now considering making an art quilt of them, and making more squares for my original plan sometime in the future.  I am thinking it would be best to wait and see when and how the art fair comeback trail will unfold before making huge plans.

Of course, seeing all the squares out together with the idea of making them into a single work raised a few questions.  Not just the technical issues of putting them together, but more personal questions: Can I live without the squares that I love if the piece sells?  Will I really want to keep the resulting piece – will I see it as a constant reminder of a year that I want to forget?  Making four squares a week certainly helped to get me through having nearly everything that I was looking forward to in 2020 taken away.  Now that I have let the first week of 2021 slip by, I need to get busy with my new year-long series.

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Looking Forward with a Past Project

Again, I have changed course from my intended plans.  I’m being flexible!  The pumpkin and autumn leaves that I promised in my last post will come some other time.  Meanwhile, I have my 4 x 4” squares from November:

In the eleventh month of this project, I am finally pushing myself to get more creative with my stitching by filling the shapes created by the fabric pieces and jumping outside the edges.

Looking ahead to 2021 (and hoping that we get to go to art festivals, quilt shows and sewing industry expos again), I have decided on my yearlong project.  I am going to revisit the book A Fiber Artist’s Guide to Color and Design by Heather Thomas (Landauer Publishing, 2011), and complete all twelve workshops in the book.  Back in 2011 when I bought my copy of the book, I completed the first workshop, and then never went on to the second.  I am going to start over, since my skill level has improved since 2011, not to mention my creative vision changing over the years.

I will also investigate some new fabric collage techniques in this project, with the intent of making multiple small quilts for each workshop to test out all of the new things I want to try.  Ambitious?  Oh yes!  I have already started cutting fabric.  The first workshop focuses on value, texture and balance using a restricted neutral palette.  I’ll start off with pieces of commercial print fabric cut to the intended finished size.

These first four collage quilts for Workshop 1 will be collaged with bits and pieces in much the same way that I have stitched my 4 x 4” squares.  The bits and pieces will include assorted fabrics, trims and funky yarns.

Another set of collaged quilts will emerge from pieced backgrounds that will have more fabric pieces, lace, doilies, trims and stitching added to them.

How far will I get with this?  I could work on the neutrals for an entire year!  Keep checking back to see what happens in my latest creative adventure.

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More Little Squares

October was another successful month of churning out my funky little squares.  I need to get all of them out and start looking at them with an eye to finding any possible trends that I developed in them.  My main goal for the project was to make four squares each week this year, and I feel like I have the self-discipline to finish the year on target, and to keep that stitching habit going.  After December 31, I don’t know if I will make many more of the little squares, instead I want to keep that time I have ingrained into my routine to finish older projects.

A couple of secondary goals for the 4 x4” square project was to play with composition and color and to work on making my hand stitching more interesting.  The color and composition play has been mostly successful.  I think that there were only a few squares that just don’t cut it visually, but that is all a part of creating.  I will be able to judge myself better on this when I get all of the square out together at the end.  The stitching goal hasn’t quite gone as planned.  I am just now, in the eleventh month of the project, doing some truly unusual and creative things with my stitching.  Part of my lack of growth in stitching comes from needing to complete each square quickly, and from the size constraint.  These factors slowed stretching myself in this aspect, so moving forward I think I will be able be more innovative in my stitching.

Next week, some musings on projects involving pumpkins and autumn leaves.