Continued from Part 2
As I continue to write this blog to help others, I must pause and reflect on areas with which some beginners are having difficulty.
And so, before continuing with step 8, let’s talk more about fabrics.
I tell students to choose large and small prints in darks, mediums, and lights. I avoid certain fabrics, such as batiks and solids, in favor of directional patterns that help build the collage. I then show them a few images of prints to help them get started. Students, while attending my workshops, however, have brought to my attention how useful it was when I demonstrated how to use directional and flowing prints to indicate anatomy. Although I am the author of this blog, YOU are the artist. YOU get to choose… so look for fabrics that resonate with your personality, as well as with the animal’s, and you’ll begin to BOND with your work. Your art will reflect a personal expression if you fill in the pattern using not only appealing colors, but fabrics with movement and direction. Give yourself permission to ignore what others are doing and choose fabrics you LOVE. I cannot count how many times my students have tossed aside their work only to start over because they chose fabrics they “thought” would work because they were big name brands. WRONG. Remember, always work from your HEART and it will flow through your art.
Here are some of the things I look for when selecting fabrics.
Study the species. Several animals have tiny specs that a print can help indicate.
For example, if you were creating a bird with a speckled breast, look for fabrics to help “imply” this freckled appearance.
Look at the example below of the flamingo. Can you see why I chose this feathered fabric under the beak? This helps indicate not only a shadow, but the direction of the bird’s anatomy. The curve of the print follows the curve of the neck.
Now, look at the fabrics that were used in creating the bunny. By choosing materials that suggest the direction of the fur, the collage begins to work in harmony and you can “feel” this as it comes alive. Botanicals are a wonderful choice when you want to express movement. Petals, leaves, and branches encourage direction and can do most of the work for you.
Muted pastels and soft greys are excellent choices to allow contrast and dimension.
The Siberian tiger in “Angels Amongst Us” is a good example of how the prints indicate the pathway of muscles and structure. How do you do this? By carefully observing the animal. Look for several images of the animal you are creating. Search out images of muscle tone and bone structure, and study them carefully to get a “feel” for the animal. What kind of texture is it made of? Course hair, a soft pelt, or shiny scales? Look for fabrics that will help tell YOUR story.
As you may already know, I am a fabric designer for FreeSpirit Fabrics. I am creating bold fabrics with strong movement, as this is exactly what I look for when choosing fabrics to design with.
Take a look at these two images. The top one is Range Runners and the bottom is Barrel Cacti. Can you see how excellent they are for fussy cutting and using in fabric collage?
The most important step in creating fabric collage is EXPERIMENTING.
Play, have fun and don’t get too stressed about your art. If it begins to feel like a chore, walk away from it and go have a cup of tea or coffee. Remember to literally get your hands into the textiles! Sometimes just organizing my stash will bring revelation of fabrics I’ve had that have been waiting to jump into the story! There they’ve sat all this time patiently waiting for me to accept that they have better things to do than take up room in my bin. GO PLAY!
I look at your work and find myself beyond words to describe how I feel from studying your pieces. Sometimes I will sit and stare looking at all the shapes and sculpture you have created like a clay piece, and not really even seeing the colors. I find myself going into this animal and following each line that created this piece. I feel what this piece is telling me.
A couple years ago I went to a zoo and found myself doing the same with the animals there. A elephant and I were in very close contact alone for 20 minutes I talked to her and her eyes stayed on mine. I wanted to hug her save her from this place as tears ran down both of our faces and never losing eye contact. Her area was large and she wasn’t alone yet I knew this is not where she belongs. As I talked to her and told her my feelings and my wishes for her with my tears she started with her tears, she reached out to me through her eyes and trunk. As I touched her more tears fell from both of us. I then wanted to cheer her up so I started telling her how beautiful she is and everything changed for both of us. She took her trunk back and turned to walk away I felt horrible like I had insulted her and stood there wishing she would at least look back at me and she didn’t. I have thought so much about her since then and pray she is ok under the circumstances she is in. Even now I am crying with those feelings I have for her.
As I study your work I know I want to create her and still tossing around in my head the colors I want to use. I know how I want her to look the royalty I saw in her and yet the sadness we were both having. I see her not where she is but where she belongs but some strange reason feel she will still have that sadness in her. I have read on elephants and their memory and feelings is incredible so understanding more so what she has to be sad about. I see myself in her but I am where I want to be and yet have a lose in me that by losing my son and 3 year old granddaughter 7 years ago I will never be with out.
So all this comes down to your work brings out the artist in me that stopped that worst day of my life. Animals have such a freedom in them that I want in their head to see how they see their world. To run, fly, jump and be alone are with their own. I see this in your work. You are very special how you bring that out in your art and someday plan on working with you in one of your classes. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and art and teaching others how important it is in the animal world.
There is a personal connection to every blade of grass, drop of rain and brilliance reflected from embracing and respecting nature.
Thank you for your honesty and for sharing your heart. I believe if you continue to meditate and reach out to her, you will begin to get a clearer image in your mind’s eye. TRUST your intuition and begin to play with the textiles. She will guide you.
I always tell my students…When you work with your heart it flows through your art.
I hope you are able to join me in a workshop one day.
Thanks again for your thoughtful comments, you are clearly someone who wishes to
“Be the Change!”
Really love your work Lorraine and was lucky and privileged to attend your class in Ireland 😊
Thank you very much. I am very much looking forward to returning to Ireland, it was a remarkable experience for me. I was able to connect with the land, the animals and especially the heart of this country…its people. I feel lucky and privileged as well. Please stay in touch!