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Before trees

March 19, 2016

Working on the sampler for Jude Hill’s online course I’m following (well, dipping into) is giving me insights into how I work generally.  The idea here is to weave some fabric strips together as a base, and then work on the grid formed by the strips of cloth.

spiritclothsampler2

spiritcloth sampler, in progress

I chose the circle as a uniting theme, but the tree wanted to be there in the middle, and when it appeared, the work stopped being an exercise and connected with my heart.

Someone once commented that I should stop working in all those little rectangles in my art. But this way of working speaks to me, is actually a part of my personal visual vocabulary. I realise I feel most comfortable within defined spaces where I can play with edges, defining them, letting them fade, overlapping. And each square a little story of its own. If you look at Jude’s work, you see her breaking out of the grid repeatedly, but it is there as a strong basis to the design, holding all the separate parts together.

You can see in the next images, how I like to work. I used an old painting(shown upside down) below.

background painting before trees

old painting used as background for Before trees

On the painting below, you can still see part of the neck of the greenish bottle (far right) showing if you look carefully. And other areas have been painted over letting parts of the background show through. Using an old painting as the background determines the palette a bit, and some of the movement.

before trees

Before trees

But I got stuck fairly quickly on this one. It was too familiar and I wasn’t learning much  by continuing with it. Using prompts from Flora Bowley’s book, mentioned in several previous posts, I decided to risk ruining/losing what I had in order to find something new. So I turned it upside down and treated it like a background.

Ah, trees again, they just wanted to be there. To orient between the old and new versions, look for the yellow sun on the painting above, and now you’ll see it peeking through behind the big tree on the left.

before trees2

Before trees, worked on further

Here is a later stage.
So, for me, the textile work at teh top of the page,  and painting are intimately related. They are both about layering, not planning overmuch, following where the work seems to want to go, and being patient with all the twists and turns on the way.

before trees1

Before trees, more definition

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2 Responses to “Before trees”

  1. Jani Says:

    Your paintings as well as your words of description at a smile to my day. I love the trees. I am curious what they mean to you. The tree that needed to be there, that connected with your heart in the fabric piece, grabbed me. The green leaf connecting to the square, the colorful bark, the “squirrel hole”, the snowy ground effect of the fabric fringe made me want to know what was in your mind when you designed that square.


    • jani, thank you for your thoughtful comment and question.
      The piece has progressed and there are more green leaves reaching into the squares. I love the idea of the hole being a squirrel hole, it brings the animals in without having to depict them. 🙂

      At one point, I knew I wanted a tree in there- in the ups and downs of my health over the last months, nature has been one of the steady factors I could fall back on. I brought a painting of a tree I’d made with me to the hospital (in this post you can see a picture of it) and had it there for comfort and inspiration. The trees just remind me to trust nature’s cycles and to go with the flow of life.
      love, Sarah


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