Wednesday, March 14, 2012

JTA 2012 Challenge - Fauvism

I belong to an art group -- Journeys Thru Art -- a wonderful group of artists.  You might remember last year we did a Door Challenge, if not, here is a collage of the eight doors.

Well, the door challenge was loads of fun, struggle, aggravation, thrill, surprise, and learning all rolled up into a quilt -- well at least for me.

This year the project is quite different.  We are doing six mini quilts -- only 12"x12".  Each mini quilt will be our interpretation of a specific style of art.  The first style is FAUVISM.  Well, you would not believe the dilemmas that followed!  Do I choose a single subject matter for each of the styles, do I do something different, keep color schemes matching?  The questions were rolling out of my brain faster than I could think, let alone, answer any of them. 

So, we'll start here... practice day at my kitchen table. Nancy and I get together just about every Friday, for sewing, shopping, chit chat, bitching, moaning, complaining, and altogether general fun!  Some days we don't make it beyond the coffee and donuts, other days we conquer world peace!  Natalie came over for this special practice day, she brought her So Soft paints -- all 9 bazillion colors of them (there goes that exaggeration problem I have).  Here is Natalie and Nancy, and you can see in the picture she's got oodles of those cute little paint bottles.  We figured with all these beautiful paints it would be more than easy to get our creative juices flowing in the proper fauvism direction!

We were ready... for what, I have no idea, we were just going to let the creativity flow -- it does that a lot at my house, even if you aren't prepared for it, it'll still happen!  Just ask Nancy!

For those that don't know, here is the definition of fauvism according to The Metropolitan Museum of Art  Fauvism was the first of the avant-garde movements that flourished in France in the early years of the twentieth century. The Fauve painters were the first to break with Impressionism as well as with older, traditional methods of perception. Their spontaneous, often subjective response to nature was expressed in bold, undisguised brushstrokes and high-keyed, vibrant colors directly from the tube. 

And here is a very interesting blurb from WebMuseum, Paris - Fauvism, French Fauvisme, style of painting that flourished in France from 1898 to 1908; it used pure, brilliant colour, applied straight from the paint tubes in an aggressive, direct manner to create a sense of an explosion on the canvas. The Fauves painted directly from nature as the Impressionists had before them, but their works were invested with a strong expressive reaction to the subjects they painted. First formally exhibited in Paris in 1905, Fauvist paintings shocked visitors to the annual Salon d'Automne; one of these visitors was the critic Louis Vauxcelles, who, because of the violence of their works, dubbed the painters "Les Fauves" (Wild Beasts). 

And my most favorite description comes from artyfactoryFauvism was not a formal movement with a manifesto of rules and regulations. It was more an instinctive coming together of artists who wished to express themselves by using bold colours, simplified drawing and expressive brushwork. 'Les Fauves' simply believed that colour had a spiritual quality which linked directly to your emotions and they loved to use it at the highest possible pitch.

Now, armed with all this information we practice and play...



FUN... nothing planned, just let magic happen.  So I think we pretty much conquered practicing fauvism.  BUT... the real project... ahhh.... nothing coming out of my brain yet.  Other than, YES, I am working on a tree.  I decided that ALL six of my mini quilts (blocks) would be based on one simple drawing.    This way, there would be a consistency when the six of them were hanging together -- you would see the differences in the styles better because they are all the same drawing.  Yep,  that's what I decided... then I realize, one drawing, six different styles of art... this would be much much more difficult than to use six different subject matters that lend themselves to that style of art.  Never have I known myself to take the easy route... never.  So I drew a tree, of course I added my own little life to it, which will make the six styles even more difficult!  But, what good is a challenge if you are not challenging yourself!!

So... I was thinking what am I going to do.  How am I going to make this simple drawing into a beautiful interpretation of fauvism?!!   I layered a bunch of scraps of a beautiful terracotta orange fabric on top of each other (held them there with a little glue stick), traced my tree in reverse and started stitching from the back.  I had no idea if this would work the way I had intended or not... Yep, it did, it was beginning to look exactly like my plan.  Don't you absolutely LOVE when this happens?!!

So I conquered the tree, and it turned out pretty cool.  But what about the ground???  Well, Friday while packing my husbands lunch it hit me... I ran into the studio (haha, the old living room), and started my idea before it fell out of my head.

Wow... again, don't you absolutely love when things work out exactly like you were thinking?  I took some scraps of a turquoise and orange batik and cut them into strips of varying widths, then I cut pieces of a variegated wool yarn and I randomly stitched a giant zig-zag to hold them down.  Then I cut more strips of fabric and more pieces of yarn and filled in all the open areas, and zig-zagged some more.

And then... the felting of the wool yarn.  Let me start with I have never felted wool, ever.  The only reason I had this wool yarn was to help Nancy knit some wool for her special woolies that she makes.  She is the felting pro... I just listen.  So I took this beautiful thing I'd just made and put it in the sink with very, very, hot water.  Then you pretty much beat the living crap out of it... seriously.  You rub it, stretch it, and even scrap it with a metal sieve... what ever you have to rough it up.  Then you throw it in the dryer on very high heat and wait.

So then comes the fun part... I wasn't sure how this would turn out, because it wasn't knitted, it was just stitched in with the fabric strips.  Well, turns out, it turned out perfect!  This was the exact look my mind was seeing!  Kinda like some crazy lumpy mossy grass.  I know you can't see in the picture, but there is so much depth to this mess, I love it!

Gee, how could I make this any more wonderful... why not use gauzy fashion fabric for the sky background -- remember no rules, no regulations, just expressive wildness -- love it!!  The deep turquoise was the perfect color for this project -- it totally made the orange fabric of the tree pop, and pulled the turquoise out of the batik in the grass.  At this point I was super pleased, and both new things I tried worked -- not only worked, they worked perfectly and exactly as my mind saw them!

So then on to the quilting (my favorite part) -- nothing crazy, just follow the flow of the felted wool in the grass and some detail in the tree and some simple lines in the gauzy background.  But holy cow, look at the amazing textures in the grass.  I was more than pleased at this point.

I even couched some decorative thread -- I have had this amazing spool of YLI Designer 6 for eons (I have three different colors and I guard them, they are my absolute most favorite decorative thread, they are like a little satin cord -- I guard them because I have found them to be difficult to find), and it just happens to be the most amazing dark turquoisy-teal color.  Look how fantastic this is -- it is exactly what was needed to pull it all together!

Well... let me just say, gauze is not the easiest fabric to bind with... even with oodles of starch it has a mind of its own... but why do easy now?  Here is my finished mini-quilt "Strong Roots - Fauvism"

I hope you have all enjoyed the journey of this block as much as I have.  I really wanted my project to be more than just painted fabric -- that would have been way too easy -- I hope that it translates well and still speaks the style of fauvism even though it is all fabric, no paint.  Thanks for reading all the way to the end, I know this was a really, really, long post!

PS... just got back from the big "reveal" meeting... OMG, awesomeness as always!  Here are pictures of everyone's projects:
Eyvonne Smith
Natalie Carlton

Kathy Rentz
Judie Gutke
Pat Foust
Pam Post

5 comments:

  1. All are so wonderful. Great article.

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  2. Lovely pieces of art! Great grass too. I've done something similar but failed at the hot water and crap beating. Must give that a go.

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  3. Love them all and great description of the concept. You go GIRLS!!

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  4. Fabulous article...I couldn't stop reading! You really shared the story perfectly! And you all came up with very creative art pieces, I am amazed and love this post! Judy

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  5. Thanks for sharing your process! I really like how your grass turned out! Keep the creative juices flowing! I look forward to reading what you're up to!

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