Thursday 26 January 2012

The bird is flying

the face and headdress, probably finished today
Good progress working on Plumage today. I feel the work is more than half finished now. I finally got to that pleasing stage where it no longer feels like the discipline of "work"  -  as in, that place where you have to keep plugging away and have no certainty that the idea will succeed aesthetically. I took the textile I had been creating for the lower part of the body a few days ago and cut it up into leaf shaped fragments and then machine appliqued the pieces to the canvas leaving large areas of the background showing through. These pieces will be integrated with more stitching and painting in a similar way to how the headdress has been embellished today. One of the important things I have learned as an artist is to persevere with the struggle and uncertainty when you start a new work and to keep going until it segues past the ugly and awkward beginning stages. It doesn't always work out, of course, as sometimes there are failures, and its equally important to come to terms with those and to learn the confidence when to abandon them before they take up too much valuable time and before you become mired in frustration and doubts about your ability. I think I have about every 4-5th work end up in a blind alley and have to set them aside and turn to some other idea.

the whole canvas
close up, face, headdress textile and stitching
Rodney is away in Melbourne tonight....hello, beloved husband! He is staying with a dear old friend whose wife passed away a few days ago to support and assist him during the secular commemoration gatherings of family and friends.

Sunday 22 January 2012

Growing feathers

Stitching detail around headdress
 Today I did a lot of stitch detailing to embellish the headdress.

 This was done through a technique called free motion embroidery. The feeddogs of the sewing machine are dropped and a special walking foot is attached and the stitch length set to zero. I then literally draw on the surface of the canvas by moving it around under the machine needle as it stitches with thread. It is a technique that requires a great deal of skill and concentration. I have to simultaneously press the foot control at the right speed and move the canvas either fast or slow to regulate the length of the stitch.

I can only do the stitching once and mistakes cannot be made as the needle punctures the canvas and leaves holes, so the stitching can't be removed without leaving damage.

I decided not to use the piece of textile I had pinned to the bottom of the figure yesterday. It was too difficult to integrate with the significant colours I had already committed to using with the headdress. The picture above shows the beginning stage of the new piece of textile being created specifically to coordinate.The white bits at the top and bottom in the picture are just pieces of masking tape used to temporarily adhere the piece to the surface while working out what to do next. I will continue to work on it as a separate entity and only apply it permanently to the composition by stitching it on as an applique when I feel it is developed to the right level. When finished many areas of the textile will remain transparent or have open lacework and show the painted canvas underneath.

The picture below shows how it was developing by the end of the day.

ummhhhhhm...strangely enough!...I actually really like the picture of how the textile looked previously at the very first stage!