30 Sep

Abstract Collage Workshop

I barricaded myself in my sewing room this morning and got in two hours of productive work and one more hour that was probably more interruptions than works itself, but got me to a good stopping point. The rest of the day was spent at “Hermann’s Biergarten” celebrating Oktoberfest. Four of the families in our row went and we dressed up in our best Lederhosen and Dirndles (OK, me, the girls, and our resident toddler boy). We ate Weißwurst and Obazde, but had to pass on the beer because all the hubbies are gone and we had no designated drivers.

Anyways, I’m overwhelmed and tired from trying to balance the art stuff I want to do and the mom stuff I need to do (plus the fun family stuff like fests and cultural events). By the time the kids are in bed I just want to read some blogs and go to bed myself — no energy for even doing hand work in front of the TV. Oddly enough, having the kids in school has given me less time to myself. No longer do they disappear to friends’ houses for hours on end. No, by the time I get them both off to school I have no more than three hours before they return home, and then we have homework and after school activities and new friends who want to play here because the novelty hasn’t worn off yet. One more week (that has more days off than on) and then Katja goes to 5 hours of school instead of the 2 to 3 she has now. Phew!
I actually didn’t set out to write, yet again, about my lack of time to do what I want to do. I guess that’s just where my head is at right now. What I did want to write about is the full day I had attending Mirjam Pet-Jacobs’ Abstract Collage workshop at the Main Quilt Festival. I think the very, very best thing for me about the workshop was that I had a full day there. I could get a momentum going and no one was going to make me stop to prepare them lunch or pick them up from school or get ice for their boo-boo or whatever.

I guessed that we were going to take an image of our choosing and then work to simplify it to an abstract composition, but Mirjam’s method was more direct, and cunningly simple, than that. She had us each make a cropping tool, and then take an image that had interesting forms and lines in it and, using tracing paper, find various interesting compositions. Concentrating just on lines and shapes, we could take these little sketches just about anywhere. Magazines are a great place to find inspiration, but how about one’s own work, or photos of something you are interested in. I couldn’t help but think that this technique would be perfect for my Twelve by Twelve friends taking dandelion photos and wondering where they could go next.

With a half dozen or so sketches we could then develop our favorites into fabric constructions, or pick one and do variations on it. I chose to do variations on one because there are just so many options when one isn’t tied down to making it “be something.” Here’s where I become a bad student though. I like piecing, so I developed my squares by piecing as I went. I also like to work a lot of stuff out myself before I invite others to give their input. This didn’t really allow much moving around and switching out of bits once I had something on the design wall. This is my issue though and not Mirjam’s. She is attentive as a teacher and had plenty input for those who wanted/needed it. In my favor, I’m a relatively quick worker, so Mirjam’s reaction to one piece would then feed into the next one (and a half dozen others I could have made if I could have stayed all weekend!). This is what I left with at the end of the day on Friday:
Radiator Studies

I probably could have worked a bit more at home to really finish these off, but I decided that I didn’t need them to be finished art; I merely needed the experience of making them. What was important was the discovery of which proportions worked better for me, the freedom of trying different techniques on something small and not worrying about whether it had some relation to the content of the piece, and being given a cool new way to find compositions without having to invent the wheel every time.

This one was all about the contrast between the satin stitched, fused squares and the three dimensional, raw edged stripes. I didn’t do anything else to it:

Radiator Study 4

This was the first one where I was trying to replicate the lines in the radiator with a striped fabric. I didn’t have enough fabric to get the proportions right, so I didn’t take this one any farther. I also wanted to see if I could translate it into piecing just because everyone else was doing raw edge applique and I wanted a bit of a challenge. Done. Moving on:
Radiator Study 1

I liked where this one was going with stitch and liked the subtle and not so subtle grid aspects. I echoed the couched yarn with more back and forth quilting in the white and taupe areas and then added more white in a few of the “windows” with stippling.  I rather like the way this one turned out:
Radiator Study 3

This one was almost there, so I just added a bit of parallel line quilting to finish it off. I didn’t want to take too much away from the cool pleats which totally said “radiator” to me. Originally I wanted to add a few hand stitched details (and I still think it could use them), but in the end I wimped out and decided that my time would be better spent making more postcards to sell at the Villa Meixner show in less than two weeks. I can always come back to this later if I feel I need to.
Radiator Study 2

All in all it was a good workshop and worth the effort it took to get there. I can definitely see incorporating things I learned/did into future work.
In other news, we braved the crowds at the Heidelberger Herbst Fest on Saturday to see the Vorhang Auf show at Bourgeois Pig. Well, not just the show — we met a friend too, and I can’t in good conscience pass up a chance to drag the kids to a fest. We ate big pretzels and Zwiebelkuchen (onion cake that’s really more like a simple quiche), watched a mideaval theater, just missed the South African dancers, and listened to the fanfare band perform one number. The show looked really nice and I’m soooooo glad I didn’t stress over making a new quilt for it. “Village Series #1” is new to the general public and to the gallery, and fit right in with the soft colors and mixed media of many of the other works. My friend noted that I was the second oldest most mature artist to be represented by the gallery. However, although I may be one of the oldest, I’m pretty sure I am the newest on the art scene. So, yea to a gallery that supports both young AND emerging artists.
Vorhang Auf at Bourgeois Pig, HD

5 thoughts on “Abstract Collage Workshop

  1. I really like what you did in your workshop, Kristin… especially the stitching one. Great contrast, and a lot to look at there on a lot of levels. And I TOTALLY understand what you mean about the luxury of working all day in a workshop setting. I get teased because I tend to just put my head down and do a lot of work in those settings…but it’s the feeling that I want to take advantage of every uninterrupted minute!

  2. I took a week long class with Carol Bryer Fallert and we did the cropping tool and tracing paper bit. I still have a ton of drawings that I could pull out when I get creatively challenged, if I would just think of it. I love the variety you got with the same design.

    You are busy and it is hard to be a single parent. Don’t be too hard on yourself.

  3. Those workshop pieces are wonderful — and no, you don’t have to have finished pieces, sometimes it’s enough to have tried the technique. (hmm, I could use my own advice there sometimes!)

    Hang in there — I’ve got my dh around and I still have problems balancing the mom vs wife vs what I want to do thing. And I don’t even have a pretense that I’m trying to do this as a career. You’re doing a fantastic job. You’ve got terrific kids and you make beautiful art. Sounds like success to me.

  4. Been there, done that with the balancing act, Kristin, and still do sometimes. It DOES get better as they get older, though. And I’m going to echo Angela for the rest of what I’ll say:

    The workshop pieces are fab, and it sounds like the perfect day. You’re doing a fantastic job, terrific kids + beautiful art = success. Hang in there!

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