Monday, September 7, 2015

Day 7-Lillian Smith Center-Labor Day

And labor it is!  It's dang hard work trying to see and record a bit about the world around me.  Yet it seems to be something I'm compelled to do.  Over and over.  I mentioned the word sacred the other day in another post and I do indeed think that finding the sacredness in the small and seemingly insignificant world around me is what I'm trying to do.

I am a member of the American Tapestry Alliance and the latest newsletter was just sent to members.  In it, Sharon Marcus has an article called "Strategies for Finding Your Voice in Tapestry."  The first suggestion she makes is to write about your work... a 100 word artist's statement describing the work.  She says to focus on "...what it is about, why it is important to you...."  As it so happens, these are two of the words I discovered I needed to think about while I was at West Dean to study for 6 weeks in 2010.  At one point it occurred to me that I needed to think about the WHAT, WHY, HOW of my work.  And I've been trying very hard ever since to do just that.

Several of my students have heard those words.  In fact, a class I taught at Penland a few years ago had that as the title of the course.  And I often bring those thought up when I'm teaching any course now.  What do I (you) want to weave?  Why do I (you) want to do it?  How should I (you) proceed... what are the technical points you need to be able to control.

All this said, let's get to today's labors at the studio.  I always walk the big loop of road around the Center when I'm here.  It's downhill as I start out and then turns into a gradual grade uphill on the way back to my cottage.  This time I'm here I'm particularly attuned to the leaves that are on the ground as I walk.  Those are what I've been working with for the past week.

On the walk today I found several leaves that were interesting and as I was near the cottage again, a branch of oak leaves was on the road.  I passed them by but then turned around and picked them up because I was curious about how many were in the cluster.  Fibonacci numbers are often found in natural occurrences and I though, wonder if there are five or eight leaves on that branch (both 5 and 8 are in the Fibonacci sequence),  and there were eight.

I pinned them up into a square I'd drawn and began work.  I decided to use a large square of canvas also and since the canvas is 60" wide (really only primed at 58") I tore a 60" piece and measured off a 2" margin:

Then I drew with charcoal--as I've done with the past image--and worked though a few stages to get to the painting point.  Here are steps for this one:

Initial charcoal drawing...
... then spritzed the whole thing with water.

I painted over it with white block out and matt medium.

Then I drew again.

I added color and did a selfie to show the scale of the leaves....

Before I left today I painted in the first of the shadow areas.  I'll work on this more tomorrow when I get to the studio.  And then start with whatever happens to find me tomorrow morning!  I hope.

As an aside... you might like to check out Jonathan Byrd's White Oak Wood:

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