Monday, June 18, 2007

How We Learn

"When I first started painting, I was most interested in technique. Then as I became more familiar with the media, composition became more important to me. As I started to understand composition, expression became important. And to express myself effectively in painting, I needed to know an astonishing amount about color. Thus I began the process of studying color and working with structured color schemes in my painting. The more I worked with these color schemes, the more exciting color became to me....I discovered that the more I worked and applied these theories, the more my color sense developed. I was training my eye! As I began to understand structured color schemes more fully, I started to use color more subjectively. But I began to use color subjectively with knowledge. To me the knowledge of color is the key. The more the artist knows about color, the more personal the color can become."

-Stephen Quiller, Color Choices copyright 1989


If I substitute "quilting" for "painting" in this quotation, I find it is an apt description of my own journey. That is, up to the point where he talks about working with structured color themes. I've not really done that, and so I think that may be the reason I still err and flounder at times. My experience dyeing fabric really opened my eyes to what was going on with color, but I clearly have much more to learn. Quiller, like so many working artists, has emphasized the value in doing in order to train our eyes, improve our senses. But should we ever expect to arrive at perfect knowledge and understanding? Thank goodness, NO!

"In my eagerness to research the masters and learn how they approached color, I found that all these great painters had one quality in common: They were students their whole lives...The list of masters who studied masters could go on and on.


What really brought this idea home to me was a trip to the East Coast. I was at the drawing and print study room at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and asked to see a portfolio of Winslow Homer watercolors. As I was going through the paintings, I commented on a certain area of one of them. The curator remarked that Andrew Wyeth had been in the day before and made a similar comment about that area of the same painting...a living master, one of the most legendary painters of our time, is still studying and growing."

To view some of Quiller's work, visit Quiller Gallery website or the gallery itself in Creede, Colorado. His use of color really is extraordinary.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

Excellent post Shelia. I feel I am always learning and questioning and trying to get better. Making art is a process of discovery, which I enjoy it so much. Ican never know it all, so I won't ever get bored.