Friday, September 28, 2012

Making something

Not sure if was worth making or not. At the end of the day yesterday this is what I had put together and I was pretty underwhelmed.

My starting point was a photo I took this summer at the Mission Santa Barbara. This is one of the bell towers. My goal is to simplify the composition, to focus on the lines, shapes and colors, as opposed to the subject itself and to rethink color. No more blue skies and green grass. This is simple. And dull. And flat. I am using solid fabrics here, which are pretty bland. My idea was that I would start with these flat fabrics and as I worked, add color and texture.

First color.

Then texture.

And, because I just can't resist adding some black drawing, some detail. Not too much, I hope.

Now that I have gotten this far I see a problem. The angle on that dark structure below the arched opening at the bottom is off. Arrrrrgh. And this is going to drive me crazy. I put it down and laid a piece of dark fabric over it and can see already that it will need to be fixed..

I also think the design needs to be cropped. Too much space with not enough going on.

If I fix the angle of that dark strip, this could work.

Or crop even more.

Or more. This one would eliminate the need to fix the bad angle, but I think it is too much. Darn. Now I see something else that is wonky. That arched opening needs to get wider at the bottom.

So, that is what I have been up to. This is a small piece made mostly to experiment. Slow progress and not much to show for it, but I am working some things out before I get back to the bigger piece I started in Elizabeth Barton's class. This may remain a practice piece. Those are often necessary!


  1. Thanks for sharing your process, Terry. I have struggled many times when I've tried to incorporate realistic images in my work. Every angle has to make sense or it just doesn't work. It's even worse if I try to combine it with less than realistic collage-type elements. I think it's notable that most of Elizabeth's works that include buildings are not completely realistic. They are full of wonky angles, but because the whole piece is intentionally wonky, they work.

  2. I'm glad you showed this, too Terry. And I've struggled with this a bit as well -- I have one big piece I started, based loosely on a photo, and I wanted it to be simplified and abstracted but not having the architectural lines straight kept making me crazy, and the more I fussed, the more realistic it got and suddenly I was doing what I set out NOT to do. It's still folded away in the closet, unresolved.

    But I actually like your last crop -- the tightness works well to my eye.

    And if you don't mind my saying, while the solid colors are pleasing here, I've always thought that one of the amazing skills you have is working with printed fabric well in terms of scale and pattern and visual texture. I wonder if the absence of those aspects is partly what is making you less enthused with this?

  3. Don't forget, when you are moving from one way of working to another, there has to be steps...just like when you go from one location to another, unless you are good at jumping.

    I am preaching to me here, too. I have an idea for a new range of work, but am a bit frustrated that the first thing I have done is only a wee step towards what I want to do.

    you will get there. you said slow progress. But it IS progress nontheless.
    Sandy in the UK

  4. It is amazing to me how much adding the texture element give the piece in depth. Thanks for sharing the process, it is very interesting an reveals a lot in defining a just so, so piece and a more artistic piece.

  5. I also like your most drastic crop. And appreciate your sharing the process. Good on you for having the courage to turn down an opportunity in favour of exploring your own direction!

  6. Practice, practice, practice, right!? I like the more cropped versions -- I think that is very different than your usual compositions and so a big move in itself. Ditto what Deborah says too. I'd love to see you go wild with the prints as you're always quite understated. Of course that's where I'd take it and this is your work, not mine.