APQW: Saturday Abstract-a-Licious

As I've said previously, the classes I signed up for at this shindig have been completely outside my comfort zone. Today I realized for the umpteenth time that I am a person who thrives on rules, order, uniformity, and precision. If I wanted to get all into self-analysis (which is tedious, even on the best of days), I'd say it's because I grew up in a military family. No surprise there. Also, I'm trained as a classical musician, where straying from what the masters put down on their staff paper was discouraged. 

Take away rules and order from someone like me, and it's a little like standing on a balcony high up on the upper floors of a skyscraper. It's fun to stand at the railing and look down. Heck, I'll stand on the railing. In fact, I'll do a tap dance right next to the railing. Take away the railing, and you'll be lucky to get me to step onto the balcony at all. There is safety in boundaries, rules, order, and precision.

With that intro, let's get started on our day. My instructor for this class was the same as yesterday, Lyric Kinard.

Our first task was to take a sheet of paper, fold it into fourths, then cut a rectangle from the center folded point to make a little window. Then, we were instructed to make little hash marks for reference, and then look through it as we gazed around the room looking for lines. Remember our friend "Line" from yesterday? Line takes the eye on a journey.

Then we drew little 2 x 3-inch thumbnails on another sheet and drew in the lines we saw. I started with these seven. I'm calling the third one in the second row my "toilet seat study". No, it wasn't actually a toilet seat, but it kind of looks like one, doesn't it?

Once we had that done, our task was to fill in with our friend "Value" from yesterday. Value...lightness or darkness. It can add depth.

And this exercise went on far longer than I hoped it would, giving us plenty of time to fill in our entire sheet of thumbnails. And pay attention to this because we're going to come back to it later.

After that, we did the same sort of exercise with fabric. I picked some prints and solids I liked and then sort of worked with the designs on the fabric. Here's what I ended up with.

Next, we were to use our tracing paper, and trace our scissors onto the paper. I had three pair, and I traced all three. Once we had the scissors traced, we were to take them away, and using another sheet of tracing paper, trace what we had already traced, only changing it a little bit. Here's what I ended up with after about four tracings.

I sort of liked my "Scissors to Superman" take with this particular pair of scissors, but I was admonished to think more abstractly for this.

I suppose it was the admonishment that started ruining my day, but I started hating the class right about now.

Then we did another study with two complimentary colors, although we were allowed to use different values. Here's mine.

And then we were instructed to use the same design with two different complimentary colors. here's my second take:

For those of you not on Facebook, I'll confess that I started whining mightily on Facebook right about now about how much I was hating this whole thing. And it was about this time we broke for lunch and I was given an opportunity to get my mind right. When we returned, I was in a better, more receptive mood. Which was a good thing because the rest of the afternoon was a lot of fun.

Remember my thumbnail doodles from up above? We were told to choose one that was pleasing to our eye and work with that. If you look again at the thumbnail images above, you'll see that I chose the third one in the fourth row. Only...I decided to flip it over and go with that.

And then we were to draw it larger, adding or subtracting elements if we wanted to. I ended up with a 9 x 12-inch sheet that looked like this.

From there, we chose fabrics from the pool of fabrics the whole class had contributed, and we were taught the virtues of Wonder Under. Recall when I was talking about Wonder Under the other day, I was not sure why it was any better than Heat-n-Bond Lite. And I'll say here that I still like Heat-n-Bond, but Wonder Under does have its advantages. For one thing, it is possible to peel it up once it's been fused and then refuse it. But the thing I liked most about it was this: Once you've peeled off the backing (which is like parchment), you can then use it to trace the design you want to fuse. This needs to be done with a Sharpie, although Lyric admitted she had not experimented with other kinds of ink.

I had fused the Wonder Under to a large piece of green. But then I refused the backing paper to the Wonder Under side of the fabric.

Once you've done that, you can peel the paper off again, and your design has transferred to the fabric! All you need to do is cut it out.

Can you see it? A little more contrast would help, but I think you get the idea. These were the three dark green stripes on my design, which was completed below:

We spent the rest of the afternoon on these creations, and I'll say right here that I actually had fun doing this. It's my first original design, I think. I can't recall when I've done something where I wasn't starting with someone else's original work in the form of a pattern or art work that I'd used with permission. When Lyric came around to my space, I'd taken the piece this far:

And this is the point where everything we'd done in the past two days started to fall into place. I was all set to add a green rectangle in the large blue partial circle, when Lyric stopped by. She liked my piece. "Repetition" is the watchword with abstract designs. Think of the elements of art that I wrote about from yesterday's class: Texture, Shape, Line, Color, Value. Find repetition in any or all of those elements. In my design, there is repetition of the stripes, the circles (even the circles in the yellow and the green fabric, which was just a happy accident), color...red and green. Lyric pointed out that what was missing was a repetition of the diagonal yellow line just above the large red circle. She suggested bringing in some element in the large blue area that would repeat the line. I'm not sure I was happy with my choice, but I did repeat the element.

In any case, I called it quits at that point. We had spent all afternoon on these pieces, and I was tired of working on it. Still, I'm happy with what I ended up with, and I'm motivated to give this whole exercise another try.

Here are some of the designs I liked from my classmates. The woman sitting next to me did this one. Can you see the contrasts in value? The repetition of lines, curves, and colors?

How about this one from the woman in front of me:

And this one from one of my dorm roomies:

And for all I've whined about being outside my comfort zone, I feel that possibly it's become less uncomfortable. Now I'm kind of excited to try this again when I get home.

Tomorrow my class is with Barbara Olson, entitled "Thread Makes the Design". I'm going to be very happy to be reunited with Pfelicity when I get to my classroom and to do the only actual sewing I've done so far. I have a quilt sandwich made up that I brought from home, and I've brought lots of different colors of thread from the wall of thread back home. It's a half-day class, and then I'll be on my way home. 

9 comments from clever and witty friends:

Michele said...

It does look like an interesting exercise and I'm betting that you will use your newly discovered skills on your own creations before long.

Barb H said...

I find it interesting that when we begin something that seems so uncomfortable at the start, it often becomes part of our comfort zone by the end of the exercise. At least, that's happened to me a number of times. Good for you for taking this chance--and for liking it!

kc said...

I'm proud of you. I'm with you, tho, it's way out of my comfort zone. I kinda LIKED your Scissorman, and had I been criticized like that (no matter HOW kindly framed or constructively sugggested), my feelings would have been hurt and I would have chosen to simply stay in the park and not returned. I guess that's why they make those symposiums so expensive - that way you are invested and you're a stakeholder. If it had been cheap or free, it would have been easy to walk away. I like that you were able to adopt the Purr More attitude - seemed to work for you, 'cuz you ended up with a pretty decent design (and the only one I liked, out of your class samples, but, shhhhh!, don't tell, k? 'cuz I don't want to hurt anyone else's feelings. bet you'll be glad to get back home!

liniecat said...

Hm do you think Picasso went thru all this to achieve his (weird)works?
Its actually quite clever and you've all made attractive pieces using the system, but I suspect you'd have made just as good pieces, without all that 'patting your head and rubbing your tummy' routine.

Claire said...

New things are scary and exciting all at once--so glad you got through the scary and negative to the exciting. When I taught writing, we talked about selecting from abundance. A better chance of a good idea from ten than from three. I'll have to go back and count how many sketches before the one you chose. I do like the end result!

quiltzyx said...

I knew you could do it! I think I might try using the 'window' trick & see what comes out of it. I'm glad you came back after lunch & enjoyed the second half of the day too!

Kate said...

Glad you finally got to the point you were having fun. Very cool experiments.

Angela FlowersMoore said...

OMG I will come back and revisit this. How fun.
Like you I get kinda wacky when I am taken from my comfort zone, but in this adult life I have learned to embrace it.

Celtic Thistle said...

Sounds like a really challenging time was had by all Barbara! I am glad that you managed to get to a point where you were enjoying the activity, I am not so sure that I would have had your patience :)

Thanks for linking up to New to Me too.