If the order of making gets changed around… does it make a difference?
As an experiment in artmaking with textiles, I recently tried reversing the order of the whole process. It's been revealing and interesting
My textile works have some of the characteristics of a painting and some of the characteristics of an art quilt. I always start with blank fabric, creating my own fabrics with acrylic paints. I monotyope print, stencil, stamp, use relief printing and paint directly. But, generally, I am making batches of fabric, then cutting them up and incorporating them into a collaged and stitched composition.
There’s a lot I like about this way of creating. But sometimes, by starting with individual pieces, I feel like I lose sight of the overall composition, especially big shapes and values. If there are things I need to correct, I don’t always see it till I’m pretty far along.
So, with a piece that’s still a work in progress, I started with the big picture first. I cut a large piece of muslin a little bigger than the finished size, (about 36"H x 48"W) then ripped it into five random sections. I taped them back together (on the back) so that I again had one large piece. I gessoed the fabric to stiffen it up then treated it like a painting canvas. Using hand-cut stencils in the shape of houses, I painted with a roller to get the overall composition roughed in. It felt quite different – working more like a painter and less like a quilter. At this point, I could see the finished composition. I knew what was successful ad what was not right from the beginning.
THEN I untaped the sections and worked on them individually. I added some texture with paint, collaged in some new fabrics, and added stitching for texture over the whole piece.
THEN I sewed the sections back together again to recreate the whole. Now, I felt more like a quilter.
For me, this has been like adding a new language to my studio vocabulary. I will continue to work in the reverse order on some pieces, and sometimes combine the two procedures.
My studio “note-to-self” this week says “Creativity demands experimentation.” Yes.
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