The 3 of Swords quilt I made for Beneath the Surface, was a departure from my usual style. My work although often inspired by life experiences is usually not so personal in nature, but the timing of that exhibit coinciding with some very difficult stuff happening in my life, provided me with an opportunity to work through some intense emotions.
I have decided my quilt for the next exhibit, The Space Between, will be a continuation of exploring my emotional state of mind a year later, by breaking away from my usual style again.
I love getting really focused and tightly rendering a representational image while painting, but I am also trying to get looser and more gestural with my painting, kind of like the direction I take with some of my mixed media work, but pushing it even further. Last summer I took a class with my super talented friend Alisa Burke in an effort to help loosen up and be more playful when painting, so I am using what I did there as a jumping off point for this new quilt.
After experimenting with the Daler Rowney FW Inks, I decided to use them for painting a 4′ x 5′ piece of cotton sheeting with large loose brush strokes of random color, to see how the inks would work covering large areas and what would happen as the different colors overlapped.
I really liked how the colors would get soft and mottled if the fabric was very wet with ink
After painting the fabric, I used a permanent marker to write personal words and phrases that expressed some of my feelings. These messages are being written for my own catharsis and ultimately will not be very legible to the viewer. My intention is for the words to be embedded in the work like a talisman.
I also collaged a few bits of printed imagery; a toner printed tea bag and some painted abaca paper that I had leftover from making my One collages.
I also used some of my hand carved stamps with the ink and it worked great, not as thick and gloppy as stamping with regular acrylics.
My next step was to draw/paint some big floral imagery. To draw the flower motifs, I thought I would try this solid stick permanent marker I ordered from Dharma.
It was kind of a creamy consistency, much like an oil pastel. It had a little bit of odor but as it dried (after a couple hours) the smell went away. It was easy to draw on the fabric and quickly work out a design. I used the whole stick to draw the images on the quilt, it was easy and convenient but did not go very far.
I am not sure it was better than using a paint brush and paint, but it was probably faster. If you are more comfortable drawing than painting a design freehand then I would recommend it.
To define the flowers from the background it was a matter of painting different colors of ink over the separate areas. For example I painted yellow over the blue areas of the leaves and blue over yellows to get an overall green. I painted a deeper blue over the areas that would be background, making it overall blue yet with all kinds of variations in hue because the colors underneath effect it in different ways.
The large flower was painted over with white, since there was so much green in the under painting it would have been difficult to put a warm color over it without getting a muddy dark flower. As I painted the flowers and background I ended up using white textile paint to add more details and painting over some of the drawn lines to make them bolder.
The next part of the design process involved creating a layer of thorny black weeds to paint on top of the floral imagery.
I took a photo of the painted fabric (by putting it on the floor and standing on a table) and printed out a copy on 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper. I placed tracing paper over the top and drew multiple versions of weeds until I had it the way I wanted and made a final clean copy with black marker.
My next problem was to figure out how to transfer my design to the painted fabric. I decided the best way to do it would be to project the image on to the cloth. Not having an overhead projector, I decided to use my digital projector that I use for giving lectures.
I scanned the tracing paper and opened the jpg in photosshop, connected my laptop to the projector, taped my painted cloth to the wall and lined up the projected line drawing over the painting. I used a fine point sharpie to trace the line drawing onto my painting.
I painted the weeds with black textile paint, since I wanted it to have the most opacity and I knew it would be tough to cover the white lines.
So now you see where I am, one year after the Three of Swords quilt. There has been some difficult and ugly stuff (represented by thorny weeds) that I have had to deal with, but in the space between there has been a lot of growth, blossoming, renewal, light and life. Even the black bitterness has it’s own beauty, it’s just a little hard to see sometimes 🙂 So in other words, I am good! and life is certainly interesting, lol.
As I get further along in the process, I will post about the quilting.