Friday, May 19, 2017

Abstract Thoughts About Abstract Art

I'm quite proud of myself -- I'm right on schedule for my upcoming solo show.  I'll be debuting 15 new pieces, and they are all finished.  Well, technically, they are sewn together  and quilted, but several of them still need facings and labels.  But the fun part (and the hard work) is done.  I have a few mundane tasks left -- a few postcards to send out, gallery labels to edit and print, a final gallery layout to tweak and a little bit of hand sewing -- and it is leaving me entirely too much time to think.  For "mundane" you can substitute either the word "boring" or "mindless."  All would be correct.  It's leaving my mind entirely too much time to wander.

This morning I printed out the latest monthly challenge piece for my critique group.  My interpretation of this painting is due in June.  And while doing a little of that pesky hand sewing, I have been sitting and staring at it.  And feeling a bit baffled.

Not that I don't like the piece.  I do, very much.  It is by Stuart Davis, one of my favorite modernist painters.  And it is very abstract.  I love a good abstract painting.  Especially a good RED abstract painting.
Stuart Davis, Cliche, 1955
I'm spending entirely too much time trying to figure out how to abstract this abstraction and to make it my own.  I have no interest in reproducing this or any other painting in fabric.  I would like to pull something out of the painting, be it a shape or a color or a feeling, or all three, and create something original.  But how?  Figuring this out is something I wrestle with every month.

So what can I do with this painting?  It seems a bit chaotic in composition.  I could perhaps focus on the text and incorporate this into my piece.  Or I could straighten out the curves and create a piece that I could then call "Stuart Davis Buys a Ruler."  Or I could simplify the chaos in some way, making my piece much more spare and open.  Or I could create a piece using curves and lines, but with no real relation to the shapes or composition of the original piece.  Or I could just make a "happy" (this strikes me as a happy painting -- must be the palette) piece, totally improvisationally.  I considered all of these and nothing really fired my imagination.

Or, when in doubt, chop it up!  So I did.

Now I'm getting interested!

While I won't use any one of these as a "template," I will use them as a starting point.  I can see making a piece with lines and curves in a very limited palette.  Two colors.  At least, I'll try to keep it to two colors.  Tints and tones of the two chosen colors don't count as additional colors, do they?  I love to slightly vary the background.

OK, enough hand sewing for today.  I think it's time to take a machine sewing break!  I'll hopefully have a finished project to show soon.....

1 comment:

Yanicka said...

Thank k you for sharing your process. After this next quilt show in Toronto next month, I have to start making a port folio to for an university bachelor in Textile art class. To date I made "commercial" quilt pattern so they would sell and I am unsure how to get access to my "art" part.

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