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Monday, 9 May 2022

Collage As Sketching

In Friday's posting, my intention was to focus on mark making on fabric as opposed to paper only it ended up the other way around. Paper, and by extension making marks on paper, is not something I'm familiar with and I found it a STEEP learning curve. One thing that was especially difficult was the inability to change my mind. Once the mark was on the paper, it was there to stay, like it or not. I found that could lead to overworking the piece trying to save a misplaced mark. 

I added marks to six of the paper collages moving from a few marks to a lot of marks. I preferred fewer marks with simpler lines and found more marks too busy and visually cluttered. I chose this one to take forward into fabric because of its simple lines and the large square shape which I thought would be a challenge in fabric. The collages are postcard size and this textile piece is paper size. I wondered if collage could be a form of sketching for textile art and if so, what did I think of that? 

To start, I chose a white background and fabrics from my collection of pieces with fusible web on the back. There was no grey in that mix so I used a piece from the monoprints done earlier. I traced the design onto the background, cut out the fabrics, pinned the elements in place, and then used a French curve to draw the placement of the dark lines through all the layers. 

Then I removed the fabric pieces and stitched parallel lines on the background with a cream coloured thread before fusing the fabrics in place, zigzagging around the edges to secure them, and stitching the dark lines with two layers of a heavier thread. The finished piece was trimmed to 7 1/2" x 9 1/2". 

As a sketch, this is certainly a way of working for the right person only I'm not that person. I find it very paint-by-number-ish when most of the decisions have been made in advance and I'm just executing the plan as opposed to responding to the developing piece. That was a huge factor in why I only did one of the collages in fabric. It's a technique to have in my toolbox but not something I want to do a lot of going forward. 

The image above is of a 24" x 48" piece I started last year and then abandoned because it too had that paint-by-number feel since I was working with an enlarged design by tracing, cutting, and applying the fabric pieces. I'd already been thinking of what to do with this piece since I knew I wasn't going to finish it so I cut a 7 1/2" x 9 1/2" section from this corner and then...  

... responded to that by eliminating two bits of fabric (yellow and mottled blue) that were in the top right corner (of the above left image). What struck me with this was that even though the shapes were fused and stitched in place, I could change my mind by removing the stitching and heating up the webbing to pull off the pieces. That was a huge difference from the permanence of mark making on paper.

From there, I added additional stitching to the egg shape and half circle at the top and then green stitching to the large blue shape at the bottom. Once the green stitching was added, the piece wanted to be rotated as it is in the right hand image although looking at it now, either way is fine... which is good... since I aim to have an abstract piece work in all rotations. The black lines across the yellow strip with the one dot added more energy to the piece and connect the sections keeping the eye moving up and down.

There are more than three pieces in this fabric version so it doesn't really answer the collage assignment but it did give me some valuable information. If I was unable to work with fabric for some reason, then I could see myself working with paper. There is enough familiarity and enough pull that it could work but only if fabric was out of the equation because it's my first love and always, ALWAYS, calls me back. 

Looking at the long range weather forecast, there is supposed to be a lot of rain over the next two weeks which isn't good for yard work but excellent for potential forest fires this summer. We already have one in the area so rain, rain, come again. Although I'll only be able to work on the yard intermittently, luckily I got all the underbrush cleaned out on Saturday with eighteen large garbage bags of pruning and leaves plus this pile of sticks that I need to take to the landfill. The area beyond the top of the stairs is the most noticeably different, more cleaned out, more open to the sunshine. I'm wondering about planting my strawberries here but I'm a long way from that still. Next is to start shaping the edges. 

Talk soon - Myrna

- a cleaned up backyard  ready for re-landscaping

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