Tuesday, November 17, 2009

"Emily Carr Skies"

"Emily Carr Skies"
12 x 16 Art Quilt
Sheila Mahanke Barnes 2009

Here at last is my response to June's October challenge painting. Because I got so caught up in studying the way the painter Emily Carr rendered her skies, my name for this art quilt went from something about dancing trees to "Emily Carr Skies." It is 12 x 16 inches and has been mounted on foamcore board and framed.

The designing of this quilt has been a most interesting conversation between June, June's painting (above), Emily Carr's paintings and me. (For June's explanation of how Carr's work influenced her painting, see her post here.) First of all, the color palette is one I am naturally drawn to so it was easy to limit my fabric choices to those I could pick out in the painting (the more I looked, the more variety I spotted - an on-going conversation). As I studied it further, I was struck by something June said went she sent the painting along, about how Carr's cubist skies worked well with her swirling forests. I'd been noting trees both in nature and in artwork that depicted trees that seemed to be dancing. What if I could get the skies and the trees to dance together? And thus I had my answer to how to respond to June's swirling yet geometric design.

I spent quite a bit of time researching Emily Carr and her work, settling on the above two paintings of Carr's to work out my skies. I loved the idea of cubing the sky spaces as in the painting on the left and filling them with the blues and violets in June's painting. The painting on the right gave me my answer to how to quilt those areas, in undulating parallel lines. I worked at placing the colors and angling the quilting stitches to really get those skies dancing a bit like June had, sections ducking under others in something of a square dance reel.

June used a wide range of browns which was everything I needed for my tree trunks. I opted to leave them unquilted, partly because the quilt seemed busy enough without more stitch and texture being added, partly because unquilted they stand out from the surface increasing the sense of three dimensionality.

June's non-sky area is full of sharp angles. I wasn't sure if those green ones were mountains or trees, but in my design they became mountains. I would have liked to bring in a wider range of greens as June did, but I was afraid of losing my trees in the possible resulting chaos. Also, I really didn't have the greens in my stash to make it work. There are several ways I could have quilted that green area, but I decided to keep it simple and cohesive, mirroring what I'd done in the sky.

As in any good challenge, I learned quite a bit as I worked through various stages. I'd definitely work a sky that way again and carry it into the ground as well. I discovered weaknesses in my original drawing which I may revisit and revise in another quilt, and thought of different color combinations or treatment of the background that might make for a stronger piece of art. I definitely got the urge to piece curved seams out of my system for a bit!

Within the limits of this challenge, I am pleased with my outcome. June says I've done a good job of capturing the spirit of Carr's work without copying, and at this stage of my artistic development, I take that as high praise - thanks! For more detailed explanation of my process and the challenge itself as well as links to information about Emily Carr, see these posts:

More Play With Effects
Emily Carr
Poor Browns?
June's Jockeying
Return to Familiar Territory
Are We Dancing Yet?
Dancing Along
Quilting the Dance

And of course, clicking on any picture will give you a larger view.


June said...

Well Done! And I'm glad we are taking a bit of a break. I think you are outdoing me by some amount, so I need to catch up in skill:-)

The Idaho Beauty said...

Thanks June, and yes, the break is indeed welcome! And pashaw about me outdoing you...you are doing some serious and seriously physically draining art out there in Nevada. I bet your work soars when you return to Portland.

HugOfJoy.com said...

LOVE your Emily Carr sky. Do you sell your work? HugofJoy@telus.net