Thursday, August 11, 2011

My Orange Box

I've been thinking about my own artistic comfort zones. Usually I'm up for any style or technique that suits the message I want to convey, so I was thinking that maybe I didn't have a comfort zone in the sense of preferred colors, styles, or techniques.

But I am procrastinating like crazy on this orange piece. It's not teh color, it's what I want to do with it. I decided that I needed to try a collage-y, printed, layered look that I so admire in other artists' work. I made notes in my magazines, gathered supplies, bought more supplies, made silkscreens, cut masks, and am still not sure where I am going with this.

I am finding that I enjoy starting with a pile of already colored and patterned fabrics. I like that I can add and subtract with sewing and cutting. I am comfortable in my process of piecing and occasionally painting or dying fabrics to be pieced. I feed my stash and my stash feeds me.

What I am not comfortable with is the planning by way of cutting masks or making screens, combined with the element of serendipity that comes with the unconventional use of those tools like using wet media to transfer crayon color, or dried dye, or newspaper clippings. I'm annoyed that I need to prepare my fabrics with soda ash if I'm going to use dyes, and that I need to make only as much as I plan to use before they spoil. I don't like that I need to seal my silk screen with duct tape and I don't have any at home, or that I have water soluble crayons for one technique but not the soft gel medium with which to disperse them. There's so much to plan and purchase for. I know that if I try these techniques and like them, then I will have the supplies on hand and not be so frustrated, but right now all the prep work is engendering procrastination.

I've come to the realization that my comfort zone is my boxes of fabric that I can reach into at a moment's notice and combine in any way that my thread and needle allow. I like the direct. Pencil on paper, blade on fabric or paper, hook to yarn. Much more than that -- preparing the ground, mixing the pigments, determining layers and masks -- is generally outside of my box.


Renate said...

Your eloquent comfort zone explanation is right up my alley! I think I have the same problems.

Terry said...

Oh yeahhhh. I too have these "creating my own fabrics" urges and even go so far as doing some of it from time to time, but I keep going back to my bins of printed fabrics. And for me, it is more than the convenience, it is the look and surprises that happen when I start to combine them and the clarity of the prints. I am tempted by the other, but find my comfort zone in those bins of fabrics as well, though "comfort zone" sounds more timid than I actually feel.

nicolette said...

I just finished my 2nd art quilt and I although I’m a novice art quilter I can so relate to your comfort zone explanation
I think there needs to be a reason to use certain techniques and fabrics in a quilt. Just using them for the sake of, doesn’t work for me.
And thanks for being such an inspiration!

Brenda Gael Smith said...

Does this mean there will be an orange peel block inspired design in your future instead?

Diane Perin Hock said...

Kristin, you've summed up what I've often felt. Like you and Terry, I love printed fabrics and don't want to stop working with them. Using printed fabrics well and in surprising ways is a skill I really admire. But, also like you, I like the IDEA of making my own fabric and planning it out for screens and dyes and such... but then, also like you, all of the steps are so daunting and end up frustrating me. It feels like the forward momentum stalls over stupid prep things like taping screens or soda soaking fabric, as you said.

Maybe it helps if, like Gerrie and Karen and others, you have dedicated permanent space where that stuff is immediately available. Me, I have to haul it out of the garage and set it up on the back patio and by the time I do the prep arts I'm not that energized about going forward.

So I keep thinking the trick is to just make the fabric and screen printed fabric "for fun" to accumulate your own batch of fabric that becomes part of your stash to use the way you use printed fabric.

I'm still struggling with these issues, too. I feel your pain. :-)