Monday, February 14, 2022

Asking for advice

I am of two minds when it comes to asking other people for advice, especially in large groups (whether in person or virtual).  There are people whose advice you respect, and there are those who just volunteer useless praise or counterproductive suggestions.  It's easy to ignore those in the second group, but what happens when those in the first group don't agree?

I have had a compositional fragment on my design wall for more than a year, a tulip on a branch cut out from a very old and distressed quilt, sitting on a torn piece from a linen napkin or tablecloth for background.  At some point a length of leafy vine joined it, but I couldn't figure out what else needed to be there.

Last week I found a piece of embroidered silk that seemed to want to join the party, so I stitched it to the bottom corner of the linen.  The original embroidered stems and leaves had begun to disintegrate, so it took a fair amount of stitching with almost-matching thread to secure the fabric and restore the design.

Next I extended the branch from which the quilt tulip was growing, and added another tulip.  Also another little yellow and red flower to match the one on the embroidered silk.

I also found a butterfly, cut from a vintage kimono scrap, but wasn't sure where or if it should go in the composition, so I just pinned it on.  I posted it on instagram as work in progress.  Two people whose opinions I respect suggested that it was finished (I think they meant without the butterfly).

Then I showed it to somebody else whose opinion I respect, and she was not happy.  She said, and I see her point, that the two halves of the composition don't really play well together.  The top half is big and bold, the bottom half is small, pale and delicate.  She thought each half would be better off on its own.

Hmmm.  I thought about it for a while and realized that it wouldn't be too hard to cut the piece in two, since the quilted tulip hasn't been sewed down yet.  I mentally tried out different ways to do this, but none of them seemed great.

Then I thought that maybe the trouble was the right hand tulip, which took on too much weight because of its dark value.  What if it were paler, to restore the focus to the original quilt tulip?  And I realized that the easiest way to consider the alternatives was via photoshop.

So here are four possibilities.  I put them out to you to share my thought process, not to put it up for a vote (I will happily read your comments but unfortunately the buck stops here and I'll be stuck with the final decision).  

Pale tulip

Pale tulip + butterfly

Pale tulip, two new flowers

Pale tulip, three new flowers

I usually audition design decisions in person, pinning and repinning on the design wall; the advantage is that a possibility can stay on display for a long time and your opinion can change over time.  But doing it on photoshop certainly is quicker, and allows a side-by-side comparison with all the versions, or at least as many as you can tile onto your computer screen. 

Now I have a lot more to think about.  And I guess I should really photoshop some possibilities from cutting the piece in two...

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Disrespecting us again?

For months I've been getting my trash TV exclusively from Netflix and Hulu.  Now that I've switched over to watching the Olympics, I realize that my fast-forward skills have atrophied, and I find myself listening to commercials for a bit before I snap to and realize that I don't actually have to.  I had sort of forgotten how puerile and patronizing commercials can be, but today one really yanked my chain.

It's for USBank, and it begins with a perky customer service rep hooking up on her laptop with a guy who has an account.  "Cody!" she exclaims, "Hi!  How are you!" 

Cody is sitting on a lawn chair in his garage and apparently he has a laptop too.  He overexplains, "I'm good.  I'm crocheting!  It started off as a hobby, kind of snowballed from there, and Alex, I don't want to stop!"  As the camera pans back we see him surrounded by a whole lot of yarn (looking as though it just came home from the store, as none of the skeins appear to have been touched).  Many of his tools and the kids' toys have been cozied in crochet, a large afghan is spread out on a table, a granny-square pillow decorates a leather armchair.

We also see a whole bunch of his finished work, including covers for his car and a very large object -- a camper van with a boat on top? -- that is inexplicably parked in the middle of his neighbor's lawn.

Alex says, "Well, I don't see why you should have to.  Let's set you up with a sider gig savings goal on the US Bank mobile app.  This way you can turn it into your main hustle before you know it!"

Cody is thrilled.  "You're my hero, Alex!"  (Is this an acknowledgement that the mobile app is so hard to use that he couldn't set up his side gig savings goal by himself??)

Alex grins wildly and asks, "What are you working on now?"

He holds up a crocheted round about the size of a potholder.  "Pool cover."

Alex keeps grinning.  "That's fun!"

"Oh, I made my wife a bathing suit!"

"Did she like it?"

"She did not.  See what I made for Max.  Max!!  Look at him!  He loves it!"  Max, we see, is the dog, wearing a crocheted poncho and hat.

Now the voice-over intones, "The confidence to make your dream a reality.  USBank.  We'll get there together."

I don't know about you, but I found this commercial about as unappealing as Mrs. Cody apparently found her bathing suit.  

I can just see the ad guys lounging about in a conference room.  "Let's have somebody who wants to quit their job and go into business for themself and we can help them save money to do it."  They brainstorm somebody who wants to open a restaurant or a tattoo parlor, to become a wedding photographer, to start a landscaping service.  Nothing sounds really appealing, so one of them says, "Let's do something light-hearted and funny!!  Let's come up with a business that's really silly."  

Maybe a woman who wants to make jewelry or bake cupcakes.  "What's funny about that?" somebody asks and they all agree.  "That's something that women do all the time.  It's not funny.  If a guy did it, maybe that would be funny."   They think of all kinds of frivolous things that would be hilarious if a guy did it.  Now they're yukking it up.  After many sidesplitting suggestions, some of them even appropriate for family viewing, they finally come up with the most ridiculous career choice that a guy could possibly have -- crocheting!!

And of course, the way they portray crocheting, it IS ridiculous that anybody could ever turn dog ponchos and RV covers into a "main hustle."  Especially a guy.  

I could see how a woman (or a man) crocheting something beautiful could be a plausible example of an idea that could conceivably be turned into a business.  But the ad guys wanted the cheap laugh, and you can always get one by making fun of people who do handwork.  And what's funnier than silly women doing crocheting, but a DUDE doing it!!!    

This commercial is supposed to make people want to do business with USBank???  As a USBank customer for more than three decades, it made me want to take my money somewhere else.

Saturday, February 5, 2022

Daily painting -- setting a deadline

I started my daily painting project with several tubes of acrylic paint that I have owned for a long time.  They're low-end stuff, and when applied at full strength they're shiny rather than matte, which I don't particularly love, but the tubes are big and I appear to have a lifetime supply.  After a couple of days of using the paints with very little dilution, I decided I would be happier watering them down and doing washes.

I found myself doing landscapes with receding ranges of mountains and hills, working from the top down, intrigued by the way that a new layer of dilute wash would combine with the previous layer to make the next closest mountain range a little darker.  I also found myself making some of the landscapes in portrait orientation rather than landscape.  

In mid-January I showed my sketchbook to some friends, including the one who had been my drawing teacher a few years ago at the University of Louisville.  She thought I was shooting myself in the foot by using low-end paints and brushes (and didn't think much of my palette knives either).  She made me promise to buy some better brushes and suggested that I switch to gouache instead of acrylic for the time being.  So I obediently went out and bought a big bag of stuff.

But I wasn't ready to give up on the washy landscapes.  I told myself I would open up the gouache on February 1, but do what I could with the acrylics until then.  Which gave me a week and a half to experiment with some abstracts in addition to the landscapes.  

I was happy with how they came out, but a promise is a promise and at the end of the month I put the acrylics away.  I'll show you what I've been doing with the gouache soon. 

If you can't wait, you can see all of my daily art at my other blog.