Saturday, June 07, 2008

Bringing Nature Inside

While I spent the week marking and basting sashings for applique, and working through the last few issues on my TIF piece (neither activity generating blog-worthy reports), my mind has been pondering a new color palette. The azaleas bloomed and I found myself intrigued by the juxtaposition of the three colors they represented. At first, it was just the buttery yellow and the classic azalea color (tangerine?) I considered in combination. Then I noticed the purple blooms not fully opened. This is a color scheme I probably would not pull together out of my head. It's a bit tropical in nature, without being loud and splashy.

I easily get stuck in a rut when choosing colors for projects. It is probably fair to say that my default palette is one along the lines of my autumn pieces - rusts, browns, golds, blacks, a touch of rich green. Next favorite often pulls in blues with yellows or reds. Note "or" there - I often have trouble pulling in a third or fourth color unless a let a fabric do it for me, like the batik in Flow. I seem to be thinking a lot in black and white lately, my design ideas more like pencil sketches in my head. I want to try something, then let myself get stuck choosing the "right" fabrics to carry it out. Or bore myself by picking the same combinations. So while this color combination with green for a background may not seem revolutionary to you, it jarred something loose in me. I could see them from my studio window, and found I couldn't concentrate on the project at hand until I'd pulled a few fabrics to mirror those shades.

A few days later, I remembered to grab the camera to record the combination before the flowers faded. It'd be just like me to let the inspiration disappear before I actually acted upon it, then wonder just what it was I thought I was trying to do. I erroneously thought that once images were safely saved, my mind would refocus, but this idea just wouldn't let go. Why wait to print out my pictures to verify fabric selection when I could cut blooms to bring into the studio? That's when the real fun began.

I was amazed at how closely I could match the blooms from my stash. Usually I am missing at least one key color. Hand-dyes and batiks readily spanned the values. But what to make from them? That's an additional problem I've been having lately, being inspired by a set of colors or fabrics with no idea how best to show them off. This time, brain still churning away without my permission, two ideas presented themselves. One is an older idea, an exercise of sorts from a book that never got tried (because I clutched on choosing fabric). The other is a more recent idea captured in my sketchbook and even colored in. It seems to be winning out, and my subconscious is eager for me to get going on it, flipping through ways to execute it, doing all this planning while I work on other things. In fact, I can tell the technical direction it is going is directly influenced by the applique I'm working on right now. It is flowing like Flow did, and making me feel that antsy-ness to get to work that has been more off than on as of late. Tis a good feeling.

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