Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sweat Equity

Here is where you get to sit back and relax in the comfort of your own home and observe this beaver of an artist gnaw on trees with total faith that they will all topple down and soon fit snugly into a fine, new dwelling!

This past week I've been practically obsessed with completing the current Pages piece. Full moons tend to increase my energy and drive, which is already pretty high. I finished stitching the entire surface and reinforcing the stitching, then took it outside and hosed off the water soluble -- my down and dirty new method for saving the bathtubs from degunking -- although the hose will have to come in soon when the temperatures start to dip to freezing. Once the piece got washed, ironed and hung, I realized that the letter forms I had cut out didn't contrast enough with the mottled surface and I hadn't varied the scale of the letter form patterns enough on it. Hmmm, what to do, what to do.

Beavers don't give up when a tree is a bit thicker than anticipated, they just keep chewing. I cut out and fused rectangles of lightly printed white silk on the silk broadcloth ground. I'm fairly pleased with the results, the random dark and light frames around these white rectangles.

At this point the piece is attractive but needs more of a focal point. I decide to test out some of the ideas that are rolling around in my head, so I start quietly experimenting, contrasting and comparing results.

My first idea is to cut tiny rectangles of black and place them in an irregular pattern on the surface. Doing this will add another scale to the pattern, provide elements that will move the eye around the surface in an interesting way and tone done some of the white printing. I can also fuse and apply some unprinted "frames" around the white silk centers to tone down some of the concentrated areas of printed white letters even more. The photography seems to making these stand out more than they do in person; I probably shouldn't be using a direct flash.
As long as I'm trying out variations, I decide to contrast an irregular placement of the little black rectangles with creating a regular pattern. I rule it out. Too static.

Then I go back to my original letter forms to see how they look on the surface now that the white rectangles are there. I rule this out.

And I also contemplate returning to the sheer letter forms from the previous piece and creating more spontaneous placement of these on the surface. This is a bit better than the previous piece, but I probably won't use these here. A quieter ground works so much better for the letter forms. I have been cutting smaller rectangles and will use the letter forms with those on the next two pieces.

I am also considering whether to add some bits of a goldish yellow to this piece -- yes, hold on to your hats, I'm actually considering adding some COLOR -- but after these past few days of such intense effort, it's time for a break. Even beavers stop gnawing once in a while to scratch a few fleas, groom themselves and have a snack. My breather will be to head up to my dye studio and work on some new letterform ideas. A few pieces in process wait for me on my print tables testing out some new processes and language imagery, so when I walk in I suspect my beaver-style gnawing will start up again, just on a new tree!

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