I have a friend and I call her Sally. Her full name is Sally Saboteur - a bit french I think. She's quite volatile and changes her mind quite often She is frequently in the studio when I am working and lately she has been a right pain.
I am thinking about being a quilt artist, constructing and making quilts that I design and construct and quilt. A real quilt artist, not one who tries a bit of this, en-caustic, painting, slow-stitching, eco-dying and a bit of that. And then tries a quilt. Sally really likes it when I dibble and dabble and try this and try that.
"Golly," she says. "I quite like that."
"But Sally," I say, "you know I want to be a quilt artist"
"I know. Well you say that." And she looks at me and wriggles her nose and looks somewhat skeptical. "You know it's scary doing new stuff. Anyway you're working with fabric and paper and paper's sort of fabric, that's OK isn't it. "
"I know Sally," I reply. "I do love fabric, like I love clothes"
"You've always done bits of this and bits of that. And you know it's fun, you nearly tried some eco-dying the other day, on linen to see if it worked. Before you always worked on silk. I saw you reading Clare Wellesley-Smith's book and looking at Lotta Hellberg's work. It would be so easy to try it. Go on, just try it."
"No, Sally. I really want to work differently now. I know it's hard and scary for me to stay doing the same thing and you are really not helping." Sally looks really sad when I say this and sometimes I am sure there are tears in her eyes. She looks around at the bags of second hand clothing piled on the floor and at the bags of old embroidery and I can tell she's thinking what treasures there are in there. Treasures for her to watch me do something with or even just think about doing something with.
"You know I did all those black and white quilts, Sally" I say. She curls her lip a bit, and I rush on. "That wasn't too bad was it? I got those big ones accepted into the Nelson Changing Threads exhibition, that was pretty cool."
"Yes. But look at you now, you have stuff everywhere, you don't know what you want. You waste so much time, thinking about this, reading that. Those black and white quilts are pretty violent you know, great slashes everywhere. Nobody would buy them"
By now I have tears in my eyes. "But Sally, I do want to do this. I do want to stop playing and be real."
I have been wanting to incorporate some colour into my quilted works and that has left me with many questions. How much colour? How many colours? And then the style and design of the quilt - my black and white work was all cut using a ruler ie straight lines, but I have a yearning to just cut and assemble.
So this week in between black and white stitching I have been experimenting. I have looked at Judy Kirpich's quilts, I just love her work, I love the size and the boldness of it and her colour palette. I assembled a piece and then tried placing lines and appliqueing them on the surface.
I did put some thinner lines on the surface first, but I wasn't happy. Loved the colours though. I am pretty sure they are some I dyed myself.
And then I thought about colour values and how I was going to incorporate them. I tried black and white photographs which does give some idea but doesn't show colour saturation.
A bit cripes. But all part of the process.
Playing with colour and no ruler. I do like this.
And then yesterday this happened. I was really interested to see the idea development and how one thing lead to another. Still using the ruler and those lovely colours. I have another one with free cut lines happening - that will be interesting to see. How does your design process work? Sometimes I just try to do it in my head but it's not the same is it?
"I paint flowers so they do not die." Frida Kahlo