Saturday, December 29, 2007

Merry Christmas To Me

This arrived before Christmas, a little gift to myself. I was ordering some notecards on the Metropolitan Museum of Art website, and popped into the sale page out of curiosity. It is divided up into departments: jewelry, shawls, art books... I certainly don't need more books, but I thought I'd look anyway - they often have exceptional discounts on coffee table books. Once you click on books, you get another page of subdivisions, and there, advertising one of them was this book. I couldn't believe it. I first became acquainted with Signac through an article in the Smithsonian Magazine. This is the painting that captured my imagination and wouldn't let go.
As you no doubt have guessed, it was that background, so reminiscent of fabric, that intrigued me as well as the curving lines. I took it as a personal challenge to test my technical prowess: could I draft and piece a similar background to make a small wall quilt. I used the Hoffman Challenge fabric for that year and submitted it for consideration - but it wasn't chosen. Ah, well, I was happy I made it anyway.

I was in one of my stubborn moods when I made it. Every curve you see, with the exception of the circles, are pieced, not appliqued. One section in particular was nearly impossible to do that way, and to the casual observer, it actually looks to be appliqued. I learned a lesson there about how far to take curved piecing.

I quilted the heck out of it, trying different designs I'd seen used elsewhere, then added lots of beads. The hand didn't get added until after the piece was rejected by the Hoffman Challenge jury. A friend kept insisting I must put that hand in there. Having no faith in my abilities to draw it freehand, I scanned my own arm and hand, then traced the outline from that. At one point I'd considered dangling some of the challenge fabric from that hand, but in the course of making this, it started reminding me of planets swirling in space. I named it "Night & Noon on the Planet Hoffman" and thought of the hand as a great creator bringing a special universe into being. So sprays of beads rising up out of the hand seemed more appropriate.

Since making that quilt, I've periodically searched for more paintings by Signac, without a lot of success. I'm not sure why I am so drawn to his work (what little I've seen), but it speaks to me more than the other impressionists do. When I saw a whole book on him available at less than half price, well, I was willing to take a chance. If nothing else, I knew it had THE picture in it plus a few working sketches to show how the idea developed.

The book is beautiful, I love the rest of his work as much as what I had already seen, and the book also includes works of his contemporaries like Monet and Seurat. I feel like I hit the jackpot!

As always, click on any picture for a larger view.

1 comment:

The Wittering Rainbow said...

I love the curves on this one - a fabulous piece of piecing. I like to piece curves too; it's a challenge to do things like that and I also have a puritan streak deep down that thinks I ought to be piecing rather than using applique, but then, I've also decided that I'm a bit bonkers at times and nobody else really notices. 10/10 for yours though - very impressive and quite beautiful.