I feel it is time to explore the possibilities of scale in quilting. I am keen to begin to understand a more physically laboured experience of making as an amateur but I suspect that this may be a job that I will have to pick up as and when I have the time. I am about to go into a phase of this research which will require more time to be spent reading and the practice element may need to be paused a little.
I decided it was time that I took one of my earlier painting studies of a Gee’s Bend quilt and have a go at translating it into a quilt top.
Tim Ingold talks about ‘know for yourself’ in his book Making. In order to truly understand something, from the inside out you need to be actively engaged in it i.e. just looking at pictures of the Gee’s Bend quilts will only bring a certain amount [and type] of understanding. My thoughts are that by drawing them, painting them and making work that explores similar aspects [not copying] will bring more of the true knowing that Ingold talks of.
Ref: Ingold, T. (2013). Making. Oxon: Routledge.
I have used the quilt top / sandwich to develop some ideas with sequins. Think in this case it has not worked, not sure why but it feels like it is two separate things forced together. I am going to keep going with this though but it will need more thought. Once I get a little more time I would like to work on a piece a lot more heavily, at the moment it seems too polite. Need to take it to extremes.
I need to gain more control of the straight line, particularly the machine sewn ones. I am ok with the mix of machine and hand sewn lines but it just needs a lot more of a lot more things?
Working over a frame or on a machine can cause physical pains in your arms and back, after an hour or 5 you find yourself having to get up and stretch and are incredibly aware of the force of labour.
Upon review of some of the photographs I was taking during the quilting case study I found further clarity of this experience and decided to start observing the form as a mode to express notions of active [slow] labour.
I created a series of about 20 drawings of these shapes and attempted to capture both the slowness and repetitive action that was being carried out. I don’t believe I quite captured it but I am keen on developing this perhaps at a later stage. It was created using a layout pad, I enjoy being able to see through from one drawing to the next.
As a development, I began to explore a range of stuffed forms and explored laying 2d work out that suggested form.
I have been doing quite a few studies of the work of others over the last few months so it seemed appropriate to do the same for some of my own creations.
By engaging actively rather than from a distance I develop a different kind of relationship with the original pieces. The making of the pieces become an engaged act in which I am ‘simply’ creating artifacts for a still life. I like that level of engagement and intensity, not sure what it communicates outside of my studio however.
I have been reflecting on the style of painting that I have used for my quilt studies and the connection I observed with the old methods [pre-computers] of painting designs out. The flatness and intensity of gouache paints is providing a different visual language. Because of the nature of gouache, it is also difficult to build up layers and so you would paint in a way more akin to colouring in or a paint-by-numbers technique.
I have explored this further with the exploration of landscape / form applied from a functional, design perspective.
Over the for 5 or 6 years I have explored making my own materials, mainly paints [tempera, oils and gouache] but also chalk pastels. I am interested in developing greater connections and other experiences from the making of a painting or drawing itself.
I am very much an amateur paint maker [and painter] but I am wondering what part this element of my practice may bring to this research. By questioning the nature and materiality of the materials I [and others] utilise within amateur craft making, what may this bring to the table?
I think that before I start to question this to much, I will need to develop a better understanding of the kinds of materials and tools that are filling hobbiest craft makers cupboards, what are standard in hobbiest craft shops?
Here are some paintings I made with tempera paint while I was busy formulating the ideas and question for this research. This paint has been made on the day with fresh egg yolks and artist grade pigments which is how paint was typically used between the 12th and 15th century, following this oil paints became the more usual medium of choice. Today, tempera paint is more commonly used and known as ‘primary school paints’ although it does not use eggs.
The Quilters Guild had [now not open to the public] a gallery in York and so I decided to head over with the intention of doing some further painted and drawn studies of what I found.
At the time the Ancestral Gifts exhibition. For this exhibition, Kaffe Fassett had been invited to view a collection of quilts within the archive and create contemporary responses. For these quilts he used his own print collection of fabrics.
The exhibition had been curated so the archived and new quilts sat alongside or opposite each other. In a lot of my own drawings and practice I am drawn to the use of a lot of rich and sometimes bright colours, I certainly don’t hold back. the interesting point for me was that Fassett’s fabrics are similar but I found them overwhelming. Perhaps next to the greater subtlety’s of aging, the archived quilts commanded so much more presence and asked, rather than demanded to be observed.
My intention had been to spend an hour or two but without realising, it turned into a full day, below are a selection of sketches and a painting that was made once I returned to my studio.
As stated in a previous post, I am keen to understand the designs and the possible steps that were taken to piece the quilt tops. This could be done in a much quicker way such as line drawing but by painting the designs out, I get a greater sense of the making process beyond function.
I enjoy spending time observing even small photographs / replicas of the originals, since I can remember visiting galleries, I have always drawn from what I see or at least made written notes. I tend to avoid reading the text that puts the exhibition in context or explains an artwork until I have spent a good deal of time with the work first. Forming my own understanding of an artwork, image or painterly mark provides an insight that may or may not be hoped for by the artist but I am not sure that even matters.
Here are a series of paintings I did in gouache on cartridge paper over a period of a couple of weeks. I have also provided a copy of the image that inspired my version, they are not replicas or copies but studies of something that I admire.