Wednesday 22 July 2009

Replicating Paintings and Quilt Delivery

There's been a lively discussion on the Contemporary Quilt Yahoo Group on quilts replicating famous paintings -whether it's allowable or despicable (well perhaps not quite that wording but you get the drift) For the record, I've never slavishly copied a painting exactly but I have tried to analyse and duplicate some of the effects in those I admire and learnt a lot in the process. It's worth pointing out that all my studies , while I might have used postcards or books as reference, have been based on paintings I've seen 'in the flesh' and often spent some time looking at.So you might say that they are as much about my interaction with the work as a fascimile. In the 1998 there was a Paul Bonnard exhibition at the Royal Academy. The emphasis was on on colour as he was painting at a time when colour theory was being developed and indeed when you looked at many of them, there was a lot of use of complimentary and triad colour schemes. Paul Bonnard Dining Room in the Country 1913 was the inspiration for the piece above(Bonnards Window I) Trying to match paint colours and tones in particular in fabrics was a challenge. I learnt a lot about composition and balance and the effect of different proportions of colour. A second piece based on door opening onto garden , with a complimentary scheme of purple and yellow, made it onto the advertising poster for Festival Of Quilts at Lords Cricket Ground in 1999(remember that?)

I've long been a huge fan of Paul Klee and Florentine Villas was one of my favourites when I first visited the Pompidou in Paris 20 years ago. The original is very textured with a heavily scored plaster-like surface, well suited to its subject of crumbly architecture. When I first tried silk painting 15 years ago I used a photo of this painting as inspiration , using gutta to inscribe the lines which were then quilted in silks afterwards (above). It worked reasonably well - best in those areas that were completely unlike the original and which made the most of the properties of the silk and paint itself. I discovered the drawbacks in working from somebody elses work (or indeed photographs): you don't have sufficient information and it was a bit lifeless -little of 'me' in it.

His watercolours were some of the highlights of a Paul Klee exhibition at the Hayward Galllery in 2002 - many of them tiny in comparison to their much published reproductions. The above piece 'Greetings from Gafsa' was inspired by his paintings of Tunisia rather than a copy - I went on holiday there in 1997 and shared a room with an artist, with impromptu 'colouring-in' sessions in the evenings. (I got quite good at drawing camels too). The view from a rather seedy hotel included satellite dishes - I'm sure Klee would have appreciated those.
This time I was interpreting my own painting in fabrics - still a challenge but ultimately more satisfying.It featured in the Quilters Guide for Pictorial Quilts (check out the copyright and content pages! ). I'm returning to Tunisia this Xmas , you can be sure I'll pack my paintbox

In the ten years or so since these works I've gradually moved towards direct painting on fabric based on my own sketches and source material .However I wouldn't dismiss copying the work of great artists, you can learn so much but acknowledgement is crucial.

Despite a viral infection over the weekend I managed to finish my FoQ entry and posted it on Monday ( it arrived, on schedule, signed for ,the following morning) I'm still not showing you the whole thing pending judging (I hope with all these teases that it will not be a letdown when you see it) So you'll have to be content with a sample piece (above) and my July Journal Quilt constructed from the leftovers (below) . As well as pearlescent inks I've been playing with interference paints - what fun .

But will it be judged? I neglected to place a flap of fabric over the label to allow anonimity! My fault for not having a final check of the rules but you'd have thought that they'd have put a reminder on the sheets of labels wouldn't you?

Monday 20 July 2009

Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

Over a week ago now, my mother-in-law Sheila and I went to Hampton Court Place flower show. I'd rested my foot for a couple of days so by Saturday it was up to traipsing around. We concentrated on the show gardens - the extensive TV coverage doesn't do them justice as they tend to gloss over the detail and colour combinations which are the most interesting part.
My favourites, at the beginning and end of this post couldn't be more different - very formal and stylised v. naturalistic

This conceptual garden ' It's hard to see' had black dyed woodchips and below the soil surface, green lush planting. The clever use of mirrors gave the illusion that the greenery went underneath the black area. I loved the exuberant combinations of colour and form in the 'Nature to Nurture' Garden The key colours that seemed to pop up everywhere were pinks/purples (in 'Enchanting Escape')
And oranges - in the 'Cooks Garden' (loved the white leaves of the Verbascum too)
And used to great effect in the sustainable garden 'oak tree:lying in state'
The 'Colour from the Garden' display had a living pergola of dye plants and coloured silks woven between silver birches The gardens themed around the six wives of Henry viii were a mixed bag. At different times of day the queens were in their respective gardens. Katherine Howard, as befits a flirt, was showing how her petticoat supported her farthingale and eyeing up mens calves ! I liked the thyme 'quilt'
Both Sheila and I were very taken with these Avocets painted on glass in the 'Pastures Bye' garden - the edges of the glass disappeared so you were just aware of the subtle shapes. We were both tempted by these very reasonably priced iron wall sculptures from Garden Iron
but apart from getting them back on the 65 bus where would we put them? I'm still thinking.....

This sustainable 'Coppice' garden with it's wonderful combination of curves and use of fencing and dry stone walling was a favourite - maybe because we spent some time looking at it having our picnic lunch nearby.
Not so sure about the plants they used to give it a woodland feel - I spent a lot of time eradicating some species from my last garden.
I was very modest in my purchases - a sea holly and Origanum 'Kent Beauty' - I guess called that as its flowers look like hops but it reminded me of Cerinthe which I've tried and failed to grow several times. Perhaps I'll have better luck with this.

Monday 6 July 2009

Leaks,Breaks, and Breakthroughs

Following Tiggy's example, I took a photo of my selection of 2008 Journal Quilts before they went off on their travels, not at Minerva for me (tho' my 'Thin Blue Line' piece is there) but up to the Contemporary Quilt stand at Festival of Quilts.
We were given instructions on how to join them with strips of white netting which allows easy folding. What a great idea: flexible, stable and unobtrusive. It opens up the possibility of doing a 90cm rather than 60cm piece for the current CQ challenge 'Breakthrough' - acrylic paint cracks and creases easily as I found to my cost when a quilt was returned to me folded rather than rolled. But if I could use hinged sections.....
I've also made a breakthrough in my FoQ entry this weekend. After playing with different sized ovals, I went back to drawing from life onto several tracing paper sheets laid over a photo of the quilt so far and found that what worked best was smaller ovals but more of them. Reminded me of the value of going back to source material when inspiration falters.
So I've been slaving over a hot sewing machine ( although a least it's not so hot outside now ) The problem is that I've broken a toe on my 'pedal foot'! I stubbed it on the bedroom door on Monday and as the pain and bruising had increased by Wednesday, went to A&E. Not much to be done apart from strap it to it's neighbour and keep taking the painkillers ('red medicine' helps too! ) I did consider posting a photo but I think that would count as 'too much information'. The rather impressive bruise colours might make their way into a Journal Quilt
Apart from my poorly computer being taken away to be checked out, the 3rd bad luck incident this week was finding at 4 in the morning (when the weather broke with a deluge) water dripping from the ceiling in the upstairs landing. Roofer came to check it out on Saturday morning and is due back anytime now with his 'cat ladder' to replace some tiles and clear a blocked gutter. If it stops raining ......