Monday, July 13, 2009

Samples and Options

I decided to start this week by working on a group of studies for new works. Here are some of the steps you can take if you'd like to do the same.

Cut fabric into approximately 20"x 20" squares until you have a number of them in a pile. Mix a palette of colors. Have a rough idea in your mind of what you plan to work on. For me today it was to create some gestural handwriting compositions using various viscosities of paint and several different brushes and screen prints. Take a deep breath, grab a fabric and tape or pin it down and just start working.

Once you've made a number of samples that respond to one another and to your original idea or intention, take some time to pause and reflect. This first piece was a true warm up, I just grabbed a brush and began to put marks on the surface, then responded to them with varying brush strokes and colors.

Once I completed four or five samples, I dried them with a hair dryer and put them up on my design wall, then photographed them and loaded them on my computer. Looking at them as images on a computer screen really gives me a different perspective on them. Details that didn't seem prominant when I looked at them on the design wall become very apparent when I look at the image; the reverse is true also. Areas I think will be very dominant may not always come forward in the photograph.

This piece was painted with diluted paint on dampened cotton. When the fabric was still wet, I added the black letters using thicker paint and a thin tipped applicator bottle. The letters hold their basic shapes but some of the paint migrates and creates interesting halos. Some areas of this piece work better than others. I like the migration of the thicker paint applied to the wet surface. The partially erased line of letterforms at the bottom is another idea that works for me.

Here's a detail so you can see the halos better.

This piece began with repeated screen prints of a design I had made into a silk screen on Saturday from vertical rows of invented cursive writing. Today I printed one of these screens on the cloth, let it dry and then added the gestural handwriting. The vertical stripes of language seem to help anchor these letterforms. Then I experimented with the thin red lines over the gray calligraphic marks on this and several other similar pieces.

On another sample, in contrast to the more defined shapes in the first composition, I decided to create a more subtly painted surface and leave some less defined areas to develop with stitching -- either machine or hand.

Once I hung this, I wondered how a third and final layer of calligraphic writing might work on this piece. The bamboo brush with its bristly, frayed ends might make marks that are an interesting contrast to these.

Here's a sample of what such a mark would look like. A FEW thick, feathery strokes are what I'll try adding to the piece above this one. It may not work at all, but since these are all samples, the whole point is to execute each idea to SEE it.


  1. Great exercise, Jeanne! It is hard to self-analyze, I think, & giving yourself permission to play, then photograph and look at the work has given you a lot of insight.

  2. Challenging but oh so informative -- I'm looking forward to more tomorrow.

  3. These are so nice and work so well with your language pieces. A friend of mine gave me hundreds oflinen napkins, several with stains on them, and I love using them to experiment on.

  4. Karen, what a great gift -- now THAT'S a friend! - and the stains just add to their history.