Friday, July 02, 2010

Process Pledge: Working in a Series

While it took me FOREVER to figure out how to work in a series, I now know a few ways to attack the idea. Here we have a collage of my Pine Tree series. The common element is the tree shape in each of the compositions. Some have house shapes too, but others are examples of my Stack idea. Despite the varying sizes in this photo collage, all the quilts were about the same size and all had some hand stitching and of course all were fused hand dyed cottons, with a few commercial cottons included. I began by making lots of tree shapes thinking I would make a quilt with blocks of trees. Nah. That wasn't going to work, and I quit that idea and returned later with the better plan to make individual compositions, making me much happier.
(Collages were made with Picasa3, a free program from Google).

The Pine Tree series was not my first series, having done this Street Series first. But what made the Pine Tree series significant is that it was sorta pictorial. It is easier to explain than the Street Series.
 In the Street series my aim was to limit my color scheme (ha!), to use the Stack construction again, but to keep them all to the same size and shape. They would also have strings and dots and handwork too.
Color was the real limiting factor though, as I was trying to get past my dependence on 'all color, all the time' which had gotten kinda stale.

Feeling courageous, I decided to go for the really hard stuff, MUD.
Brown is not my favorite color, but I had some super earth tones in my stash, and determined to use them I did a series with the working title
Rivers of Illinois.

I couldn't stick with one size and designs went whereever they needed to go. I felt I had 'overcome'.
Much later I found I could wander back into that muddy stash and make more with a similar feel. If this were a gallery showing, I might put these on an adjacent wall. The yellow and blue composition at the bottom of this group (A New Day) is included even though it isn't muddy colored. It just belongs. Artist's perogative.

So far I have been talking about small works. Easy peasy. What about making series that are larger and more complicated? Eeek.
I should mention right here that I never know I am making a series when the first piece gets made. That would mean I know what I am doing, calculating the future. As if.
With this Bon bon series, I made lots of parts first (blocks and strips). That seemed to be a good way to start since I had no ideas. At least there is something to arrange and design which could begin to work into a composition, maybe. Plus it kept me busy and out of trouble.
Layout came from a quilt made by Robin Ferrier. It was in horizontal bands. That was enough to get the parts organized and vroom! soon the top was assembled. I had made lots more parts and the second one was easy. The third one, in blues and greens was difficult and forced. I made it once, didn't like it and then tried a second time, removing parts and decided to stick with the results. #4 incorporated some of the blues that were left and a really different layout was used.
 Months and months passed and other things got made and different ideas were tried and then...nothing.  
Trying to  get back into a working mode made me consider returning to the Bon bon ideas. This time they turned out quite different, more traditional looking and controlled. The good thing about working in a series is having limits, layouts or themes that can be reinvented. The simpler the better, methinks.

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  1. Anonymous9:34 AM

    You are an inspiration.

  2. Wow, these are all fabulous. You've definitely inspired me.

  3. Pammyfay10:59 AM

    Do you KNOW what a joy it is to look at your work? All of your creations make me say WOW! They brighten up my day and make me smile! You light up my life. (Sing along! You know the words. OK, that was corny. sorry. but it's true!)

  4. They make me happy too. ;-)

  5. These are great, and really illustrate the formation of a series. Not generally planned at the beginning, but there is more to say on the subject -or "art" on the subject.

  6. Clarity about working in series -- at last! I think I am on the right track, but you've done it -- so well and so beautifully. Thank you!

  7. livelovelaugh-cathy.blogspot.com12:36 PM

    Hi Mel,
    Happy 2nd! I really enjoyed your thoughts on the stack series, but was wondering...stack means what in what you did with these?
    PS Can't remember how to get to the page to order photo please

  8. Most excellent. Thank you for sharing even though I am from the "why make it simple when you can make it complicated" frame of mind.

  9. oh these are so wonderful... I could look at them all day!!!

  10. Cathy--
    This blog entry (scroll down) explains how the first Stack came about, while I was teaching.

    After several quilts were made using that idea, it settled in my mind that this was the new way I wanted to work. Things evolved from there to other things, but there is always a bit of stacking going on in my work.

    I can't help you with the ordering prints page. Don't know what that is.

  11. They are ALL fabulous! Wish I could afford to buy some of your work...maybe someday.

    Kristin in SC

  12. Anonymous4:08 PM

    What a wonderful summary of your latest work! All lovely as usual!

  13. Melody,
    Just sat here smiling while I read your blog and adored your works of art. If only I could get past my fear of failure, maybe I could put all my dyed fabrics and sketches into art---- but---no I will keep on reading your blog and enjoying what is going on in your life.
    Wonderful!!!! and Thanks!!!

  14. Hi,
    I absolutely love reading your blog and all the wonderful insight! ... A series for me is starting with an idea and continuing on until the idea is exhausted ~ but I find if I don't start them all at once, they are bit disjointed ... a bit of a challenge!
    Very best wishes,

  15. Corinne5:59 AM

    As I said at the start (when I was 'anonymous') you are an inspiration. And I'd like to say to Bren - I know exactly what you mean .. but go for it. I have, and it's brilliant. 'Failures' can be cut up and used in something else! And to Pammyfay - I have 'wow' on my bookmark bar as a shortcut to Melody's website!

  16. Thank you for posting a "retrospective". Wonderful work. Just did my first batch of dyeing and now I'm REALLY inspired.

  17. I just had an AHA moment inspired by you! You are correct: "the simpler the better, methinks!" Thank you once again for sharing and inspiring.

  18. Wow, wow, and double wow again!!! I can, and do, get lost on your blog and in your work. What amazing talent you have. Thanks for sharing your work and your vision with fabric with the rest of us humble quilters. Can't wait to see what you come up with next.

  19. I love your bold colors. can't emphasize that enough. It is a feast to one's eyes. Thanks.



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