I gave a presentation at the Quilters Guild of Dallas last week. My program was titled "Twelve by Twelve: Inspirations and Adventures from the Art Quilt Challenge." I showed each of my 24 quilts for the themes in our 12x12 challenge. I also showed quilts from each of the other artists in the project. There were a few great questions after my program. I am still lingering over one question and my answer to it. A woman said something like, "I noticed that none of your quilts include realistic images. They are all rather abstract. Why?"
I took a second to think about my answer and then I said, "Because I can't draw."
Ug. I wish I hadn't said that. I did go on to explain that I am really enamored with the shape of things and the way lines play with each other. And I left it at that.
I wish I had extrapolated a little. So, I'm blogging my thoughts instead. I'll include this post in my continuing collection of "ideas to chew on."
I really do love playing with shapes. I love the shape of a house.
I also love rectangles and their many variations.
I like to play with the relationship of one shape with another. They look different depending on whether they are next to each other or overlapping each other. I'm interested in the edge of the shape -- is it cut, torn, sewn or frayed? If I cut it out, did I use a pattern? A wavy rotary cutter or a dull pair of scissors? Each detail in the process has an effect on the final design of an art quilt.
If I were trying to create an art quilt that looked like something realistic, I couldn't play with those details in the same way. Every decision would be serving the image rather than the fabric or the relationship between the elements in the composition. That's the stuff that's interesting to me.
I also like the idea that each shape can be an individual frame for other details. It can be even more interesting when details spill out of their frame.
Beyond shapes and their edges, I love playing with the colors and textures of fabrics. I'm interested in how a stitched line enhances a composition. Hand stitches say something different than machine stitches.
That said, there are occasions when I want to include something that is a bit more realistic. Then I do some research and lots of sketching. It's not so much that I can't draw, or that I couldn't become better at drawing if I worked at it. It's just that my interest lies in other areas. I think some artists, myself included, feel like we have to apologize for our lack of skills in a particular area. But, we shouldn't. I'm reminding myself of that today.
My personal style and the techniques, shapes and symbols I use regularly are things I've discovered over several years of cutting, stitching, fusing, layering, painting and just exploring! I think I'll keep at it.