onsdag den 3. april 2013

Saved by feedback!!!

I've got a commission art quilt I've been working on (and off) for about four years. I've posted some of the work I've done on this piece in this blog. Here are the direct links to them:


The art quilt must be about 170 cm long and must not be higher than 60 cm. It has to fit on a short wall, over a couch. This has not been the challenge.

The challenge has been to compose an image with all the atmosphere I wanted on a long piece. The theme is nature, since the commissioners are keen on long walks with their dogs. My house lies in the middle of their daily tours...


Inspiration has not been a problem: I live in the middle of the woods, and I'd even taken some pictures of the wife and their dogs, one day they walked by. We've talked about colours and they would like to have some warm colours in the room. But to start with I've made a light blue background - and the atmosphere is still cold... But I have plans to change it a lot... the background colour isn't always what dominates... By the way, the photos below were taken at different times, with different sources of light - that's why the colours look so different...

Background and the first layer: the old tree

There have been changes - many, and huge. They all happened in my private life, and ended up sinking my work a whole lot. At times I just couldn't do anything about this art quilt, so it hang on my wall waiting for some peace and quite, so I could work on it. But time goes on, and it became a source of bad conscious and self criticism - which is not constructive in any way.

So I decided to take it down, pack it and hide it in my cellar and there it remained until a couple of weeks ago. It was good to take a break from it - it stopped feeling as if it was a heavy burden I couldn't deal with. Instead, I'm motivated to finish it. But efter ironing it flat again, and considering the work so far and wondering what the next step should be, I felt hopeless.

I just couldn't understand what I'd done or how it would become something decent. My first impulse was to throw this piece away and make a whole new one from scratch. But then I took a deep breath and realised I've done this before. It's part of the creative process to doubt and to get lost. I know that if you don't give up, it might become a masterpiece. But that's when I need help - usually  a fresh pair of eyes to look at it.

Alice and my unfinished art quilt
And help I found this time with my friend, and artist, Alice Frost. She makes wonderful things and we've exhibited together a couple of times. So I called her and asked if she could give me a cup of coffe and packed my art quilt in the car.

Alice was great! We spread the piece on the floor of her living-room and rolled a piece of plastic over it, and then we discussed the possibilities and drew a few sketches on the plastic, so we could se how it'd work. Efter 15 minuttes I was confident again - I knew what I had to do next!!! And next!!! Actually I could almost see the end picture for myself...

With plastic on top, I drew some of the ideas with a marker - and choices were made!

The tree hole... 
Feedback is really a powerfull instrument - Alice listened and watched carefully. She helped me see what was lacking and how I'd put a 'cave' atmosphere in the picture. It's something I thought of while the art quilt was hidden in the cellar. I needed that possibility to shield, hide and protect, which you find in caves, holes and closed spaces. But I had trouble finding place for that in this art quilt. Until we decided that it could be a part of the great old tree in the front!!! WOW!!! So simple!

Transition pine forest

We also talked about the transition area between the autumn forest and the lake area. I realised I'd also developed a winter landscape on the right side, which I wasn't aware of. That also needs to find a balance with the rest. And the key to all these issues is pine trees!!!

I can bring some of the darkness of the tree hole with a smaller pinetree forest in between autumn and the lake, and some pine tree's outlines on the winter landscape. Spring will come later on the old tree in the foreground, and sommer  may show around the tree hole, I think...

Counterbalance pine trees and quilting  

At least now I know what I need to do and I'm looking forward to working on it, and to see what will come out of it!!!

I want to send a huge THANK YOU to my friend Alice Frost. It made a real difference!

 You can see her art work at http://www.af-tekstilbilleder.dk/

onsdag den 6. marts 2013

Mermaids and oceans...

Somebody told me recently: "You know, your work is great, but the technique takes too long and is complicated!" And last month another person asked med if I could simplify the technique, så children in the second grade could use it...

Hmmf! Complicated? Too long? Yeah, right... That's what I thought at first. But then sometimes it's nice to try new boundaries. So maybe I should try and see if I could come with something easier to do, but which would still look awesome.

Efter some thinking, I came down to some possibilities and and decided to try two of them. My parameters were:

- requires few materials and tools available everywhere, so to speak.
- the level of dificulty should not be too high - imagine what 8 year old children's skills. Nothing that needs precision or lots of instruction.
- keep it simple!!!

Textiles on canvas

I cut small pieces of fabric skraps - who hasn't got plenty of it? :-) - and glued them on a 20 x 20 cm canvas. The idea seemed simple, but it actually required more ability than I expected. For the first, it takes time, and then it's messy - the glue in the brush keeps atracting pieces I had glued in the first layer... So maybe the best would to let it dry in between layers - but very few children like working on something for many days... I did get the grip of it, and I was quite amased to see the result. But I'm not sure every eight-year-old-child would enjoy it! Her are the mermaids that came out of it: 

When the whole piece was dry, I drew the mermaids with a black permanent ink marker and with a golden marker. I should add that since I was running out of glue, I mixed it with a pearl medium for acrylic ink. That's why the coulors seem a bit washed away. I quite like the result.

Plastic and textiles

The next technique was much easier and quicker. I simply cut the fabric skraps on a sheet of laminating plast, covered it and came it through a laminator. Fun, easy and very nice result! It's easier to show rather than explaining. See the pictures: 

Lots of tiny fabric skraps...

... closing the laminating plast...

... and the laminator does magic!

And this is how it looks efter the laminator...

... and efter I drew the mermaid with a marker!

Surprise: the backside looks diferent! 
So why not draw some sea life on it? 

And should you wonder how you get those small skraps, well, her is a very short video so you can see how I do it! :-)