Thursday, 23 October 2008

Castleford Weir: Fast Friday Fabric Challenge

I've been a member of the Fast Friday Group for a year now, though many of my pieces I have to admit are awaiting completion. However I have determined to complete this year's challenges.
For this year we have decided to work in a series, with emphasis on colour and composition (it's a great group for learning and artistic development). I have decided to base my series round Castleford Weir in West Yorkshire, including the new award-winning footbridge over the weir photographed in a recent post, and decided on the mill-race as the topic for the first piece:

This month's challenge had also to be composed of basically complementary colours, and had to have a strong vertical, horisontal or diagonal composition.

I'm not sure whether this is creative cheating or not but I wanted a series of muted greyed colours for the stone and water so I did several blue-orange dye-runs, including (at the top of the photograph) runs of the basic colours mixed with black. The dyes are Procion MX Blue 2G (sometimes sold as cobalt or cobalt navy) and Bright (Pillar-Box) Red G plus Gold 3R for the orange.
I simplified the photograph, flattening the perspective, and exaggerating the height. The water-shapes have been simplified considerably too, to give a poster-like effect. In fact the design is what took longest (I have to work hard to get to be this simple!). Fabric pieces have been fused onto a dark blue background which has been allowed to show through in places because I wanted it not to look too smooth.

The piece still needs stitching, which I intend to do today - some of the features such as the mill-wheel will also be added in stitch. Must admit I feel quite good at the moment about the overall result.

Next challenge begins tomorrow and I'm really looking forward to it.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Back to School

After visiting the Festival of Quilts I decided it was time to overcome my fear of the D word (drawing in case you haven't guessed) so I signed up for not one but two beginners'/returners' courses at Leeds College of Art and Design: they're also designed for people wanting to put together a portfolio of work in order to apply for mainstream art courses.

The two classes complement each other. One is based not at the Art College itself but at the Leeds Museum Service centre where stuff not on display in the city's museums is stored, catalogued and so on - everything from stuffed zebras to 1960s juke-boxes. This caourse is drawing-based and already I'm learning how to look at things in order to produce a (relatively at this stage) accurate drawing, plus looking at other options than academic naturalistic drawings.
The other course is so far more wide-ranging, including different media - there will even be a chance to try some sculpture later.
The great thing is I can feel my confidence developing already. I'm beginning to look at things differently and am making full use of the various sketchbooks I have. Also two great groups of people - on the first one a small group of all women enabling me to attempt things in a friendly and supportive atmosphere; on the second a wide mix of both men and women including a large number of young people - creating quite a buzz.
Hopefully it should all soon begin to trickle down into my fabric work!

The photographs in this post are of items from the museum collection we used last week for still life - using simple shapes to learn the basic principles of perspective. Hopefully, when I get a bit more confidence I'll post some the things I've done.