Friday, February 12, 2016
Start with a piece of paper...
For a long time I have recognized a fundamental difference between working on paper or canvas and working in fabric. On paper or canvas, you start with a support of a predetermined size and shape, and have to decide at the very beginning how the composition is going to fit into that shape. With fabric, your shape changes continually as you stitch pieces together. If you have a beautiful red shape at the center of your composition, you're only a slice away from moving it to the edge; if your composition starts out squarish and you decide it would look better as a rectangle, you need only add more fabric or cut away some at one side.
As a result of decades of making art from fabric, I think I'm pretty good at composition, but have noticed in the past that whenever I have to make art to fit it's a lot harder. I have written about this problem before in the context of making quilts, and acknowledge that my improvisational working style makes it even harder; my mantra is "sew first, plan later." My inability to translate a composition into a space has not been helped by years of photography, where I have infinite capability to shoot and reshoot, adjusting the camera position to get the scene framed exactly as I want it. (And if that doesn't work there's always cropping...)
Now that I am both taking a drawing class and drawing as a daily art project, my spatially challenged chickens are coming home to roost. I am having a hard time getting my drawings to fit onto my paper. Even when I spend time thinking about it and figuring out how big the drawing should be, I end up with it huddled over in one corner of the page or, more frequently, I run out of paper before I run out of drawing.
I guess the remedy for this is practice, practice, practice.