Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Soon January Endeth

One of the new monoprinted silk pieces that dyed black instead of soft gray.

I took a running leap into January 2009 armed with strong theme words to set my intentions -- "confidence" and "flourish." So of course immediately I plunged into a week or two of total lack of confidence and self-doubt. As Christine Kane says, when you're planting seeds of intention, the first thing you do is dig up some dirt!

Happily, my energetic, inspired self has returned, stronger for the bit of cultivating. If there are more big clumps and stones under the surface as the sowing and planting continue, I can deal with them confidently!

Right now I'm diving into new work in the studio that builds on the previous Parables pieces. The first variable for investigation is refining the ground fabrics on each piece to increase the sense of depth.

I monoprinted two new lengths of natural silk broadcloth this week. On the first I mixed a medium dye concentration to print light and medium grays and used resist to preserve large areas of white space. Alas, the dyes penetrated all the resist work and came out dark, almost black. Totally my fault for not testing the dye concentration or making sure the resist penetrated the fabric well enough. So, what to do?

I'm discharging the surfaces; this is the first one in progress and the ground fabric is beginning to have the softer, smoke-drawing feel to it that I'm envisioning as a first layer. Hints of color will come next.

While I'd rather not admit I ever make mistakes -- so you'll think beautiful art flows from me like water from a faucet whenever I turn the handle -- I made a commitment long ago to be honest about my artistic process. Some ideas don't work out the first time. Or ever.

Other times they work out almost effortlessly -- and beautifully -- but to me those pieces are gifts that result from working through challenges on the others.

Taking risks and pushing past comfort zones put excitement in the creative process. You'll be amazed at how the slightest variation in your routine can immediately put you on the "edge." A new tool, a new material or technique can throw you into that unsettling territory where mistakes happen.

But it's those very mistakes that can generate amazing new directions and insights.

So back to my vision for muted gray and cream surfaces that look like smoke drawings. There are options, like removing color, that can alter these current surfaces in interesting ways. Maybe removing the color from these pieces will work out better than the original idea. Maybe they both will end up relegated to sample status eventually as stronger ones emerge.

Tomorrow after I finish discharging these I'll start hand painting shades of grays and hints of color on two new pieces with acrylic paints rather than dyes. It's another idea I want to test to create the muted first layer that I'm envisioning for new work in this series.

Uncertain results, new risks and possible pitfalls lie ahead. Makes me feel like an Indiana Jones of artistic practice; but it's the exploration and adventure that ARE the treasure!

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