Getting an Art Critique

  I am really fortunate to have a couple of good friends who can help me with a critique when I am working on a new piece. Sometimes the piece flows, and sometimes I’m blocked in making decisions and moving ahead. It is made more complicated by the fact that I am trying to use our marbled fabrics to create unique art pieces. In surfing the web on a regular basis, I don’t see anyone else doing what I’m attempting to do with marbled fabric in the art quilt movement.

There are a lot of things to consider in developing these pieces of fiber art. Are my sewing skills strong enough? Are my quilting skills advanced enough? Does the fabric speak to us? Can the design tell an interesting story? Can I work with the principles of design?

In looking at all these questions, there are two that I am the weakest in, and this is where my group of friends can really help. Quilting skills and design principles.

Momcat is my first voice. She is a digital artist in her own right, and a self-taught expert in Greek pottery, among all the other skills in being a Renaissance woman. Suzan is my overall digital partner and a superb, published quilter and designer in her own right. Karin is a water color artist with a very strong sense of color and overall design organization. Hubby is the marbler and can see things in the designs that the rest of us miss.

I am at a point in this new piece where I needed advice. Which way should the piece hang, for one – vertical or horizontal. Usually that’s one of the last questions for me, because by the time I’m done, the piece has usually told me what it wants. With this piece, I need to decide this now, as I will need to work on the shading with a light source from the “northwest,” which is how scientific illustration is done. I was leaning in one way, and my group confirmed that. They pointed out that I already had a lot of the “shadows” developing on their own from the new orientation.

The second was size and pattern. I am fine with all the quilting on half of the piece, but the other half seems naked of color and looks like it would require some serious thread work that wouldn’t necessarily add to the overall effect. I had been thinking about potentially cutting away half of the piece. We looked at that possibility, and once we folded back some of the fabric (which had never occurred to me), we knew it needed to be tall and narrow, not wide and thick.

Now, Momcat had sent me some of her photos of rocks and lichen that Dali had painted, and I LOVED the lichen. I was initially thinking of marbling some very small silk flowers and then attaching them with some thread painting. The group didn’t like that idea – felt they were not “tough” enough for the texture of lichen. Momcat disappeared, only to come back with a small vial of green stuff that she proceeded to spread on the one or two rocks that are already green. Perfect! Upon closer look – they are very fine chopped-up pieces of old money from the Denver Mint. Who knew? I guess now this is a “mixed media” piece…..We are also thinking about using some coconut Husk or actual moss from a pet store – need to think that through.

Next question: facing vs. binding vs. frame. How do I want to finish this? I don’t see a basic binding. We talked about fabric as an inner mat and as a frame. We looked at serging the edges – which I have done with pieces in the past, much to one gallery owner’s chagrin – “wasn’t finished properly” was her verdict. But I always let the piece tell me what it wants. I am thinking this piece is telling me it doesn’t want anything more to constrain it beyond a facing that wraps to the back.

The final discussion revolved around light, medium, and dark. I know if I were to take a picture of this and turn it to black and white, everything would pretty much be medium values. I know it needs more dark, so I need to think through how to do that with thread…..or moss…..or coconut husk…..or…….actual small stones…….

I left energized, ready to complete the piece. Amazing how being with a great group of like-minded visual people can  make a difference!

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