Saturday, January 10, 2015

A Walk through the Field (Study)

I have finished my first artwork of the new year!  O.k., o.k. it was actually started last year and I didn't get it done before the end of the year.  So now it is the first of 2015.

Field Study
48-1/4" x 37"
©2015 Lisa Flowers Ross

Since most of my artwork is abstract, I thought for this piece I would walk you through the thought process from start to finish.

The first step comes when I see something that inspires me.  That is easy because I see things around me all the time, especially in nature, that inspire me.  What I saw for this piece were the bare branches of dogwood bushes as I drove back and forth to Ketchum.

Here is a picture I took somewhere along the road.  It's hard when you see something while driving. (Yes, I stopped and pulled over to take the picture.  Even got out to walk along the highway to get the view I wanted. The things we do for art!)

What inspired me were the colors of the bushes that stood out so brightly in the winter landscape.

The next step was to go to my sketch book and draw out some designs.  I did several thumbnails and this was the one I went with for the piece.  The numbers and dotted lines were added later while I was working on the piece.

After I had my sketch, I went to my fabric stash to pick colors. I really wanted a deep red burgundy color, but I just didn't have that color in my dyed fabrics.  These lean more toward purple.  That is one of the hard things about dyeing fabric only once a year.  You have to make do with what you have.  It's also a good challenge.

I pulled out a bunch of fabrics I thought would work to represent the branch colors.  I also pulled out some golds/tans to represent the grasses.  Do they match the photo colors?  No, they don't have to.  That was just the inspirational start.

When I had chosen the colors, then I went back to the sketch to figure out how I was going to piece it together.  It looks simple but the order is a little different than what you might think.  That's what all the numbers on the sketch are for, the order to put sections together.  The dotted lines are the seam lines for the sections.

From that point, I just cut the pieces within each section free-hand and sewed them together. Then, sewed the sections in order of the numbers.

Once everything was sewn together, then I had to make a decision about how to do the quilted stitches.  I had several ideas.  Here is one of them where I have more of a free-motion scribble stitch in the top section.  This would represent the scrubby sage brush in the background and would also be denser stitching to help "push" that section back to create a small amount of depth.

Although I liked that concept, there is more energy in those scribbles and I wanted to stay with the more gentle, flowing vertical lines of the seams.  And that is what I did, I stitched gently curving, vertical lines.

The thread color was another choice that needed to be made.  I wanted to use a variegated thread to create a little variation.  I used the same thread in the orange section as I did on the bottom section.  It looks completely different on different backgrounds.  I used a similar but slightly brighter color of thread in the gold section, although it actually looks darker than the other.  That is some of the fun of playing with threads, or anything.  Colors will change depending on what colors they are next to.

Even though you might not be able to tell from the picture of the finished piece, I trimmed the edges free-hand with slight curves (maybe a little too slight).  All that is left to do is sew on the sleeve and put on a label (and cut a hanging rod), which brings me to the last step - the title.

In my mind as I was working on this, I was just referring to this piece as Field Study.  But when I found out the type of bush was a dogwood, I did some research online about the scientific name or any other information that would suggest a different title (like the word "dagger" came up in my searches, I think it was the meaning of a latin name for the bush).

I didn't really like any of the things that I found with my search.  For now, I think it is going to be Field Study (K1).  "Field study" because the bushes were out in the field.  And "K1" for Ketchum and the first in what I hope will be a series.  I can continue with the dogwood bush inspiration or I also envision using some of the many other pictures I have of fields for inspiration, in which case the letters would change to something like "B1".   That could be the first of a Boise field inspiration.

Now you know how this artwork came into being.


Vickie said...

Beautiful. I like the 2 stripes that leave their boxes to travel into the upper and lower space. Thanks for sharing your artistic process!

Kathleen Probst said...

Gorgeous palette and composition. I also like those two elements that travel. Great piece!

Lisa Flowers Ross said...

Thanks Vickie and Kathleen!

Linda M said...

Love the colors and agree with Kathleen and Vickie about the traveling pieces. You have a gift for simplifying images.

Ellen Lindner said...

I enjoyed reading your post and seeing your process. However, I'm wondering how you went from a round undulating line of bushes to rectangular shapes. Care to share? I'm very curious.