Sunday, October 26, 2008


Yesterday was Oregon Critique group, held in Eugene. This is a group of fiber artists that meet twice a year and hire an artist from another medium to critique our work. It is always interesting to hear what they have to say and in most cases it is interesting to see that most of them have never looked at fiber art much and seem pleasantly surprised by what they are seeing from us.
Gerrie and I drove down to Eugene together and enjoyed the two hour trip to catch up with each other and take in the beautiful fall color. It was a glorious day.
One of the pieces I took for critique was the Laurel piece I showed parts of last week here on the blog.


The critique-er is an artist, photographer and graphic designer. Quite an interesting and articulate guy. He was complimentary about many aspects of this piece, but his bottom line opinion was that the center square, of the laurel leaves, does not fit with, or need, the rest of the piece and should stand alone. I think he made a very good point and I am thinking about it and tending to agree. Of course if I remove it from the background it no longer meets the requirements for the "green line" show, but that is no reason to leave it as it is. I could remove it and design a new center for the background—sort of a bass ackwards approach to design, but an interesting challenge.

What do you think? Is it better without the background piece?

12" x 12"


  1. Anonymous6:33 PM

    I really like (and prefer) the 12x12 laurel as a stand alone work but I wonder if you will still have similar issues no matter what you put in the centre of the larger piece. Perhaps you could experiment with Photoshop and audition different centres before deconstructing the piece physically?

    By the way, and forgive me if this is a totally inappropriate comment, but the overall larger work reminds me of a beautiful enammeled napkin ring wrapping around a fine linen.

  2. I prefer it as a standalone, too. But I could see altering the horizontal part so either the colors of the squares are more reflective of the laurel colors, or the shapes are more leaf-like, rather than square. And I'm wondering about the stark white, gorgeous as it is, of the background. I'd be tempted to dye or paint it a shade, or shades, that tie in with what you already have going on.

  3. Before deconstructing it would be my temptation to play with the background as Revalani has suggested.

  4. I agree with the critiquing artist that your laurel leaves are stronger by themselves. Although I really like the idea of the lines in the white background and the added bar of squares with green line, it somehow doesn't seem to work together. Hmmm... the fluid lines and detail of the leaves seem to fight with the squares and straight edges of the bar behind the leaves. So it leaves me seeing three separate pieces stacked up. This may be one (rare) situation where the strength of your black outlines defines the pieces so strongly that it makes the white background not work.

    I see more cohesiveness with the white background removed... and work with the two pieces that have such strong black?

    I love the leaves, and love the bar design ... but each of them seems to have a separate idea and right now they aren't tied together?

  5. Anonymous10:06 PM

    I think the leaves have more punch by themselves - the white is distracting IMHO.


  6. I may be alone here, but I like the background. The laurel leaves on their own are beautiful, but I think they have more presence with a frame of some sort (the horizontal band and white background). I agree that any new center would probably have the same issues that the leaf center has. I liked teh background even when you showed just a teensy part of it the other day as it reminds me of a Welsh quilt; and as you may know, I love anything that references quilts when one is making art with three layers stitched together. So... what if you took some element from the center area and incorporated it into the white area? Maybe a few leaves breaking the confines of the center square? Some subtle green in teh vertical leaf quilting?

  7. Anonymous6:05 AM

    I like it better without the white background.

    what about putting the square onto a large leaf with a few berries scattered about or on a brown background simulating bark?

  8. I am so glad you've asked for additional critiques. I am always fascinated by what people say on blogs. Ultimately, I hope YOU decide what YOU think about this piece.

    I am so intrigued by the concept of the green line show, I can see why you did some of the things you did in preparing this piece for that show. Personally, I don't think all the pieces match. I love the laurel and I think you could do a different background to incorporate the green line. I also really like the white background with the contrast of the bar of squares. In fact, I think it might be able to stand on its own. I might consider moving the bar a bit so it wasn't quilt so symmetrical. It would be very spare, but quite dramatic.

    Since I'm not sure exactly how the whole piece is constructed, it's hard to make recommendations. Can you just rip a few stitches and lift the pieces off -- or are they all pieced in?

    Can't wait to see what you do next.

  9. Anonymous7:33 AM

    Although I do like the center piece by itself I think there are elements of the piece as a whole. I think the leaf motif is place right in the center and that is not as pleasing as it would be if you placed it more to a side. I would also crop the white space and make the piece more horizonal than verticle as it is now. The white background is also somewhat to "bright" I would change it to a more greyish or green grey almost sage hue instead of white.

    Bottom line make your center piece ofset and asymetrical, darken the background and make the piece stand more horizontal and it will look much more pleasing a composition.

    I think your piece is beautiful and my comments are added just because you asked for an honest opinion. Remember each artist has their own opinions and the person that critiqued the work merely gave his and I mine.

  10. I wish I could see a larger image of the large piece. Without being able to view the subleties closer I prefer the leaves the alone. The colors are wonderful.

  11. Okay - here goes from a non-quilter, non-graphic artist, interloper, opinionater...

    If it were me I would place it on a green background, not a light green but a darker green, remove the horizontal band, then "finish" the leaves of the center on the outside of the 12x12, almost magnifying the center piece (but not really). But before I did any of this, I'd do it in Photoshop first!

    Whatever...I still think it's a gorgeous piece. I also had the napkin ring thought but maybe that's because I'm looking at it on a 22" screen as opposed to the real thing!

  12. Anonymous8:22 AM

    I also like the laurel leaves on their own. What is the size requirement for the show you're preparing this for? I would love to see your 12-inch block design as a larger piece...more leaves and berries added, rather than changing the scale of the existing design.

  13. I feel completely unqualified to give you any critique. Since you asked I would like the square more off center. I really like each of the elements in this but I think I like them as individual elements more. Each part is really nicely done but I thought of the napkin ring thing as well and I'd love to see what would come of more leaves and a few random berries.
    What do I know anyway? You're the artist-I'm just the quilter.

  14. Anonymous9:10 PM

    Although the laurel leaves are beautiful, I disagree with the idea that they could stand on their own. They really do look to me like they need to be part of something larger.
    The trouble I have with the large piece is that it is way to symmetrical--the center part is very square, the band exactly divides the piece horizontally, the quilted leaf stripe divides it exactly on the vertical. I rather like the white--it's one of the surprises in the pieces. I don't know--maybe you just need to rearrange the pieces so that your eye moves from place to place more? Think Fibonacci?

  15. For me it also doesn't go with the background, because it degrades the beautifully worked leaves into a kind of decoration like a napkin ring around a napkin.

  16. The work that went into your quilted is lovely. I hope you will be using that background in another piece.