I began my marks explorations with black and white as I reported last week, but soon added color. I have finally caught on that so-so surface designs are often improved with more layers, so I dug out a few pieces I had made in a Sue Benner thickened dye class with a eye to tarting them up a bit.
A rather haphazard squodge of red, blue and gold got another layer of yellow using torn freezer paper as a mask. I like how the somewhat transparent yellow turns the blue to turquoise.
On another piece I used a deformed empty toilet paper roll to add white on top of black bits. The result is probably best used cut up in bits.
I also added layers to my gelli plate experiments.
Finally, I created another fabric bowl with black and white printed canvas, sections cut out of really bad black and white mark making efforts, commercial fabrics, and hand dyed yellow fabric. I know I was influenced by clay pottery from the southwestern U.S. I saw at the Cleveland Museum of Art.
Lately I’ve been working through an online course from Susan Purney Mark that uses just black and white paint and ink. It’s called Squiggle, Line and Dot; and focuses on mark making with markers and paint. Mark marking seems an artistic term for abstract streaks and blobs on paper or fabric.
So far my success rate has been 50/50. I like some of the techniques enough to tuck them in my toolbox. Others I had high hopes for have just fallen flat for me.
Let’s start with the successes. Both are easy and involve an iron.
Both of the above techniques achieve fast results and can be used with multiple colors of paint.
Here’s another piece with freezer paper strips over writing with a marker, followed by printing with wrapped string.
Now for the flops. I was excited to try straight and curving lines with paint and a tool like a credit card. Unfortunately, my efforts achieved lots of blobs and few sustained lines. I had to draw in the curved lines with Penn artist markers.
I tried different thicknesses of paint, but never managed to get effects like those shown in Susan’s video. Instead, I used my palette to print with the leftover white paint after I ran some printing tools across it.
Another failure for me was asemic writing. Susan’s looked elegant; mine looked like failed cursive writing. The only example of my attempts I’m willing to share is the last freezer paper strip piece above.
I did learn a good tip for dealing with palette cleanup. Cover your palette (mine is a pane of glass with taped edges) with Press ‘n Seal. Then, pull it off and throw it away when you’re done.
Overall, I have mixed feelings about this class. I’ve learned new techniques and have the foundation for a new fabric bowl. I discovered white markers, which I could cheerfully overuse.
But, I bought lots of paper and ink as they were on the supply list. The class videos didn’t use paper. Of course the exercises can be done on paper, but I think the paper supplies were optional. More importantly, I found I missed the ability to ask questions. Apparently there is a Facebook page, but I don’t do Facebook.
In all, I’m glad I took the class and plan to use what I learned, but it just wasn’t as good as it could have been.
Too often I trip myself up with a lack of focus in my work. I start with an idea that cascades into yet other ideas and, in the end, I realize none of them well because I try to do them all. I find I do better by putting metaphorical blinders on – to work only with certain colors, shapes, or techniques. In her 1965 book “On Weaving” Anni Albers said, “Great freedom can be a hindrance because of the bewildering choices it leaves to us, while limitations, when approached open-mindedly, can spur the imagination to make the best use of them and possibly even to overcome them.”
I have two long term projects on the go that have built in size and material limitations. Both are sets of squares, needle felted ones and appliqued roundish shapes that I call pebbles.
The former came about because I had wool roving left from a wet felting class and was given felted wool fabric scraps. I bought a Clover needle felting tool, read a book, watched a video and went to work. The work is limited to the colors I have on hand, hand embroidery, and 5 inch wool squares. At some point I may sew the squares together. So far I have 16 squares made and only a small amount of roving left. I’m undecided about buying more. Right now I’m concentrating on embroidering them all.
The pebbles are a variation like this one on the classic Dale Fleming 6 minute circle, with my monoprinting experiments used as the pebbles and backgrounds of hand dyed mottled fabrics in green, blue-green, and turquoise. When I make just one inset circular shape I often use a single layer of freezer paper as my template. If I’m making several shapes, as with my pebbles, I iron two layers of freezer paper together to make a longer lasting template.
For my pebbles I used pieces of my monoprints smaller than the template so I could get more pebbles – 30 in all. It worked fine as I made sure the stitching lines wouldn’t go beyond the edges of my fabric pieces.
Here’s the pebbles I created with four different templates. I’m now out of monoprinted fabrics.
I debated whether to go with a simple layout or try to concoct something more elaborate. I decided to surround each square with uneven thin lines, somewhat like a tile floor.
Next up is figuring out a surround. I’m working on an uneven border. After that is settled I need to decide whether to pursue a wild hair idea to turn my pebbles into talismans by crossing them with threads to make them look wrapped. I wouldn’t add beads and feathers, though.
I have saved all the innards I cut out of the framing fabrics and fused WonderUnder to them. Maybe I could figure a way to add them, or maybe not. At this point I should reread the first paragraph of this post.
I had to bring back this feature for a one day stand when I came across the following websites. Besides I haven’t done much sewing because of a long lasting cold. Eye candy is more fun than reviews of cold remedies.
Perkins says, “In my current body of work, Plastic Classics, Old Masters are given a contemporary twist. I use anything of the right size, shape or colour: toys, shells, buttons, beads, jewellery, curtain hooks, springs etc. No colour is added – everything is used exactly ‘as found’.” I enjoy Perkins’ cheeky renditions of art classics and applaud her chutzpah in using throwaway plastics.
From her website: Holly Wong is an artist who lives and works in San Francisco, California. She was educated at the San Francisco Art Institute where she graduated with a Master of Fine Arts with a concentration in New Genres. Holly creates installations, assemblages and works on paper, integrating non-traditional approaches with more traditional sewing techniques associated with the history of women. Her approach is both non-conventional but also deeply rooted in her history and culture.
I love the transparent nature of Wong’s work and the interplay of shadows in the free standing pieces.
Wong uses dichroic film, vinyl table cloth, plastic bags, gold foil, hand-painted vellum, thread, candle smoke, polyester tulle, duralene plastic, plastic rope, cotton gauze, origami paper, and monofilament wire in installations, works on paper, mixed media, and photography. I give her full marks for listing candle smoke as a medium.
WPA Posters Documenting and Presenting the Posters of the WPA (U.S. Works Progress Administration 1936 -1943)
From the website: The lavishly illustrated book Posters for the People: Art of the WPA amasses nearly 500 of the best and most striking posters designed by artists working in the 1930s and early 1940s for the government-sponsored Works Progress Administration, or WPA. Posters for the People presents these works for what they truly are: highly accomplished and powerful examples of American art. All are iconic and eye-catching, some are humorous and educational, and many combine modern art trends with the techniques of advertising and commercial designs.
Mind you, many, many of the posters are bog standard and could have easily been produced by high school students. You have to search for the gems.