Monday, October 4, 2010
Abstracting We Will Go...
I'm back from the Sue Benner retreat -- it was a fun experience but I struggled with some of the exercises. I used the photo above for all my work and enjoyed working with those colors, but my poor little brain doesn't make the jump from realistic work to abstraction very easily. It didn't help that several of our exercises were to be finished quickly. I need more time to process a new way of working and thinking...
Sue called our first exercise "bait and switch." We each fused 5 different pieces of fabric and then gathered in a circle. We had to let the person on our left take one of our five pieces of fabric and got one from the person on our right. Repeat in the other direction, and we ended up with 5 pieces, 2 of which were new to us. I had lime green, two pinks, a yellow and orange batik and a dark blue-green batik. Not bad, at least I had a range of values to work with. Then Sue handed us each a magazine photo and I got a hippo... My interpretation is very ugly (it looks like a potato-head cow in bright girlie colors) so you don't get to see it!
Our next exercise was to select an image to work with and do a quick paper collage. My first one didn't have enough contrast so I did a second with random text in the background. I don't know why I flipped the image, but for a quick exercise I like the result.
After that we started in on fabric. The first was supposed to be simplified but fairly realistic, and then we abstracted from there. My first one was passable, but it was all downhill from there! (nope, you don't get to see those, either). When Sue came around, she could tell I was struggling and she gave me a couple of specific exercises, and even did a quick sketch that I turned into this sample:
Not bad, although I only had one black fabric with me. Duh! I rummaged through the communal scrap pile and found a second black for the gills, but the detail is still hard to make out. With the right fabrics and a little more time it could make an interesting quilt.
At this point, I was still floundering and hadn't found a way of thinking and working that made sense. Then Sue showed some of her work and the light bulb went on. I fused a bunch of fabrics in colors similar to my photo and focused on a 1.5" x 1.5" portion of the image (my focus was on a little area diagonally down and to the left of the slug's head). I mentally divided it into a 4x4 grid and built a background fabric on release paper. Then I added little fabric "match sticks" to break up the grid somewhat and approximate the color/texture distribution in my little area. I added some "foliage" and a detail from one of the coral/sponge/gooey bits and this is the result. I did a happy dance when I got this one done and it worked!