I am beginning a new series of art quilts and I am thinking about windows, working out compositions in my sketchbook.
I discovered the appeal of windows as I created my “Home” series in 2018. Almost all of the works incorporated a shape of a house. But, as the series developed, I also became increasingly interested in the windows.
A window invites one to look inside.
A window may reveal, or it may obscure the interior.
I like the rhythm of panes in windows.
So, as I am looking ahead, I want to draw on what I am discovering about windows, and see if I can take it further or explore in some new ways.
To get my thoughts rolling, I’ve been studying windows that I’ve discovered in the works of master artists to see what I can learn. Here are four I’ve noted in my sketchbook.
Windows as Depth– This is “Spring Fed” (painted in 1967) by Andrew Wyeth. (1917-2009) The subject matter is sparse and the colors are muted. The first place my eyes go is the darkness of the water and the trough. Then that vertical black shadow in the water leads up to the vertical center of the window. Once at the window, I look through to the next room, and then through the smaller window and out beyond the wall to the animals in the yard. The window is the way into the journey beyond the foreground.
Window as Composition - This is “The Open Window” (painted in 1917) by cubist painter Juan Gris (1887-1927). I enjoy the distorted perspectives of cubism and the interest in seeing a thing in more than one way at one time. In this work, the window is a strong unifying element. It is holding together all the different shapes and objects. Both the still life objects inside and the natural elements outside are contained by the window frame. The shape of the window is the strongest and the simplest element in the composition. (Yet, there is still the opportunity for playful mixing up of space. See how the clouds/sky come in through the window onto the shutter?)
Windows as storytelling device - This is “Night Window” (1928) by Edward Hopper. (1882-1967) (One of my favorite artists.) The windows are interior frames, revealing or suggesting a story within. The overall painting is dark, but inside the windows is light. The windows reveal the breeze, with the single curtain blowing through the window. And, of course, there’s the very intriguing backside of a woman revealed.
Windows as balance – This is “Cottage Interior with Woodburning Stove and Geraniums on the Windowsill” by Andrew Wyeth. Wyeth’s seemingly simple depictions of interiors sometimes just take my breath away. This one has a very strong emotional pull to me. The only character is the woman, but she is all the way over on the edge of the picture frame and partially hidden. Balancing her, all the way over on the other side of the image, the light-filled window is a contrast. I find myself going back and forth between them: left to the woman, right to the sunny window, then back over to the woman. They balance one another and provide a dynamic quality to this very quiet, immobile interior scene.
For me, the process of developing an idea may proceed on a different route for each concept. I like the windows element in my work. I’m hoping a combination of looking at others’ works and sketching out my own ideas will lead to a body of work that accomplishes what I envision. Stay tuned. I’ll keep working on this idea and write as I go.
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