Following on from my last blog, this is the second of my 16 inch square quilts made in my 'Works inspired by artists' series for the group '12 by the Dozen'. This time the artist chosen was Wilhelmina Barnes Graham, chosen by Linda Bilsborrow, and what a great choice it was. You can find out more about her by clicking here.
Below is a tiny taste of her work.
The inspiration for this next quilt comes from my study of her drawings, and in particular, her 'Line' series. One of my favourites is titled 'Music of the Sea' which you can see by clicking here. I find the simplicity of this work fascinating. Simply by the repeated use of hundreds of thin lines Barnes-Graham was able to capture enormous energy and movement in her drawings and is a perfect example of 'rhythm' in design terms. That is what I wanted to explore.
As I wanted to create a portrait again I chose a sketch I made several years ago of a man I once knew named Paul.
Taking this drawing as a starting point I drew several new versions of Paul's face, concentrating on using only thin lines to mark the contours of the face. The progression below shows what I did. I deliberately did not use as many lines as Barnes-Graham as I wanted to leave space to add more lines with the quilting stitches later. I must say, it does remind me of a map!
Once I was happy with the drawing I made a series of mono prints by reversing the image and drawing onto the back of a piece of white cotton fabric that was laid onto a sheet of glass covered in oil based printing ink. It is a technique I love to use and have described several times in the past. (Click here for a recent blog post describing the technique)
As I had a lot of ink on the plate I decided to make several prints. One of the early prints was especially dark and the lines lost much of their definition (too much wet ink on the printing plate) so I ended up turning the fabric over and using the back of the print which was much more subtle.
Once the ink was fully dry (about 4 days) I used Markal oilsticks and a dry toothbrush to add hints of colour to the fabric. I used turquoise, Wedgewood blue and muddy grey colours, similar to those Barnes-Graham used in 'Sea Movement' (see image below; click here for more details of this piece) Once it was dry (another few days) I free motion quilted further thin lines with black thread, echoing and enhancing the lines already in the drawing .
He looks quite a sombre old man, don't you think? I am not entirely happy with the bottom left corner of the piece, I think I got it wrong when I added that diagonal line coming up from his chin area. I also don't like the dark grey shading I added in the very bottom left corner, continuing from his jersey. In an attempt to understand better what I had done I decided to make a second piece to address the problems, which you can see below.
It is mostly similar, but the colours are a little more vibtant, the lines thinner and less dark and the bottom left corner has been tidied up, I think it is a much better version - and he doesn't look so glum either.
I am happy to say that 'Old Man II' is currently on his way to New Zealand (via South Africa) to be part of an exhibition by members of '12 by the Dozen' at the National Quilt Symposium in Auckland, 1st to 6th October 2019. Further details can be found by clicking here.
Many thanks to Rosemary Rush for organising this fabulous opportunity for us.
For my next blog post I will share the third and latest quilt I have made, inspired by the work of German artist, Gabrielle Münter, chosen by Uta Lenk.
Thanks for reading.
At the end of last year I was kindly invited to join a group of fellow quilt artists known as 12 by the Dozen. It is co-ordinated by the lovely Hilary Gooding whom I have got to know over the past few years. I first met Hillary when I was assisting with the annual quilt challenge run by the Contemporary Quilt Group of the British Guild, and our distant friendship has grown from there.
Other members of 'The Twelve' are:
It is a real pleasure to be able to get to know all these people a little better and to share our ideas and our work. You can find out more about the group by clicking here.
The current brief for the quilts we make is 'Works inspired by artists: 16" square'. It is a format I have really taken to as there is enough 'space' to work in, allowing for different ideas to take shape, but not so huge as to take a long time to create. Before I started the first quilt I decided to set myself a few additional guidelines. Wherever possible I want to try and create a portrait as my response to the artist selected; (so far so good on that front). I have decided to mount all my finished pieces onto stretcher bars and set into floater frames so that I might have a nice collection to hang in an exhibition in the future.
So far I have made two quilts and am about to complete my third.
For my first quilt (and the 8th in this series as I am a late comer to this round of quilts) was inspired by the Danish artist Vilhelm Lundstrøm - who was chosen by Mai-Britt Axelsen. He was an artist previously unknown to me, so another bonus. Below are a few images to give you a flavour of his work.
For my quilt I chose the image on the bottom right of the collection above - called 'Seated Nude' and I focused just on her face. (Narrowing down which of his works to use was greatly helped by my earlier decision to try and focus on portraits.)
Lundstrøm used clear, bright shapes and just a few bold colours to create his nude, so I decided to isolate the shapes and colours he used with the free shareware photo editing software known as Gimp. The results are quite interesting and could possible lead on to a small series focusing on colour in their own right.
I looked through my box of hand dyed fabrics and found a selection that looked to be suitable.
Using Lundstrøm's original and the manipulated photos as a guide, I drew the face freehand and isolated the boldest shapes I could identify . I then enlarged it so I could use the shapes as a pattern for the fabrics. The photo below also shows the threads I chose to match the fabrics as I didn't want any additional thread lines to be particularly visible.
I traced the enlarged shapes onto bondaweb and then fused them to the back of the fabrics. The bondaweb stops the raw edges of the fabric from fraying when they are cut out, so I was able to collage all the pieces together directly onto the wadding to create the face. The image below shows how the collaged pieces were put together.
I then added simple free motion quilting to hold the pieces down, echoing the shapes.
And here she is, my version of the face of 'Seated Nude', rendered in fabric - with a little added Markal oilstick paint to give the impression of the smudged areas on the original.
Creating this simple quilt was an exercise in focusing on both colour and shape in this composition and it was very enjoyable to be able to make my first piece with the group. I have now mounted it onto stretcher bars and will make a floater frame to place it in. When I have a few of them finished I will share some more photos.
For my next blog post I will share the next artist, Wilhelmina Barnes Graham, and my interpretation of one of her drawings, this time carefully examining how she used line in her compositions.
Thanks for reading.