14 September 2008

Early Morning Club, Week Nine

I started the Early Morning Club as a way to create lots of pieces and meet my crap quota. Each morning I get up and spend 30 minutes or less composing a 6" x 9" finished vertical piece. Here are the pieces from the past week.

Monday, September 8th

In this piece, I wanted to play with color fields as part of the background. The teal color reminded me of the ocean or a swimming pool. Those thoughts led to thoughts of lifeguard chairs and poolside ladders. And that led to this visual interpretation.

Tuesday, September 9th
I wanted to play with the idea of subway maps or circuit boards, basically the idea of interconnected nodes and pathways. Here, I have taken an extreme closeup of a map or board. I added the embroidered node at the bottom add visual interest and personal interest. I have come to really appreciate how embroidery enhances the idea of an artist's hand at work on the piece.

Wednesday, September 10th
My maternal family is of Finnish origin. As a symbol of ethnic pride, my family would buy textiles from the Marimekko design house. This piece reminds me of the Marimekko fabrics that covered our beds and hung from our walls. Clean design, reminiscent of woodcut prints. Again, I added embroidery for a personal touch.

Thursday, September 11th
I woke this morning with a keen awareness that it was the seventh anniversary of September 11th. For the first time since that day, I watched footage on television. I became highly emotional, reliving to a certain extent, the intense grief of that day and the following weeks. When I approached my piece, I wanted to work with intense and highly contrasting colors so I selected solid black, red, and yellow. This piece is an attempt to capture my emotional response to remembering that horrible day.

Friday, September 12th
After the intense emotions of Thursday, I wanted to create a piece to represent hope and growth. Forsythia, to me, are one of the most hopeful plants. Early each spring, riotous forsythia blooms promise an end to winter's chill. (I have to admit that Kevin disagrees entirely with this, given the absolute war he's waged on the overgrown forsythia patches in our yard.)

I have an idea for a larger quilt I want to make, using forsythia as a theme, so I'll play with interpretations of forsythia over time. I liked this one at first, but now I think that it is too spiky, smooth, and regular. It doesn't give that sense of riotous growth as we move from lifeless winter into spring.

Saturday, September 13th
Saturday was a rough day for me. I felt ill when I woke so I slept in. I went to work but left early. A late afternoon nap followed by a trip to the grocery store meant that it was 7:30 p.m. before I felt well enough to work on my piece. I headed into my studio with no idea what I wanted to create. I spread out a 6.5" x 9.5" background piece and began cutting and arranging squares and rectangles in greens and yellows and grays. But I felt uninspired--it reminded me of work I had done earlier in the summer.

So I returned to the black, yellow, and red palette from Thursday. I wanted to show myself that those colors can be fun and aren't necessarily linked to intense, negative emotions. Rather than use a rotary cutter to cut shapes with even edges, I used scissors to intentionally cut raw and ragged pieces. I arranged them in a slightly overlapping composition that reminds me of a very abstract bouquet. I glued the pieces down and then embroidered them in place using a very ragged running stitch. I actually really like this piece. The ragged edges and the running stitch make it feel very personal to me.

Sunday, September 14th

I wanted to play some more with forsythia and try to capture that riotous growth. Here, I cut ragged stems from a brown batik (Hoffman's 1895 Havana, which is one of my all-time favorite fabrics to work with) and cut little flower and leaf snips from gold and green batiks. I kept the blooms and growth sparse because I wanted to show the initial hints of spring.

General Thoughts
I am finding my work each day to be more and more fulfilling. When I began, back in July, I would approach the blank space each morning with a blank mind. I had no idea what I was going to make each day, my only intention was to make something. So I would cut pieces and arrange fabrics and wait for inspiration to strike and see where it leads me.

Now, as I begin my piece each morning, I am generally guided by a concept: pools and ladders, interconnected nodes, fabrics from my childhood, an emotion. This is exciting to me to see how I then interpret my idea visually. I feel like I am finding my voice and my personal style. Even though the pieces I created this week use different fabrics and techniques to express a variety of concepts, I still think there are enough similarities that they feel connected, as part of a cohesive body of work.

I don't know if I can express just how important embroidery has become. It's not something I have a lot of experience with. I think I embroidered a pillow in Girl Scouts and once made a redwork poinsettia. But, there is something intensely personal about it that really builds my connection with my work. Not every piece calls for it, but when they do, I intend to make time for it when possible.

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