Here's how I usually go about making a new piece. First of all, unlike most artquilters, I have a pitifully small stash as most of my fabric comes from recycled clothing. Sometimes, however, I come across a fabric in a shop that I just have to buy. A Jane Sasseman swirly print that you see in this new piece is one of those. It sat in the studio for about 3 months just waiting for the right image to call its name. I have a biggish stash of art books on the other hand ,which I often brouse during lunch. In this way I was rediscovering an artist who much influenced me in my early painting days. Edouard Vuillard is a late 19th early 20th century painter who seemed to be fascinated with ordinary domestic scenes....figures in interiors doing ordinary things. This type of subject matter appeals to me as its what I KNOW and am interested in. His work is rendered in very mid to dark tones, subdued color and pattern upon pattern which makes the objects almost ( but not quite) disappear. So I was wanting to try one for myself along these lines. And the Jane Sasseman print was just the thing!
Here are a few examples of Vuillard's lovely paintings.
The first thing I do is select a few fabrics that will make a pleasing background. In this case, I know it will be an interior so I arranged the shapes to suggest the floor and walls of a room. The Sasseman print was begging to be a wing chair by virtue of the big curled motifs and the large scale. I had to cut and patch shapes to suggest the contours of the chair. Having these colors already established, I then chose some prints and stripes that would subdivide the space and introduce the plant element. I had noticed that Vuillard was not afraid to introduce a certain amount of light color to make the forms pop, and the plant fabric I had, seemed to fit quite nicely. I don't like fussy cutting images from a print, but rather cut out the shapes in a more generic planty configuration. Finally, I made a selection of satiny greeny/blue fabric to introduce another color family for variety. Again, I cut shapes from the print and reassembled them to better conform to a human figure. The figure wasn't showing up too well against the chair so I tucked a red fabric behind. This helped to connect the eye to a similar red print in the background.
So far, all of this has just been spray basted to the batting. I can now take it downstairs after dinner and hand raw edge applique' everything using embroidery floss. I add the backing at this time too as I like to work with the whole sandwich right from the beginning. I try to make use of contrasting color for the stitching rather than trying to camouflage it because I like the addition of a definite line to the work....one that again helps to unify the colors throughout. Also, the piece starts to get some texture because I am working through the top and batting layers . I like this stage of the work, as it gives me time to think of what I will do next.
Now that everything so far has been safely stitched down, I can get it up onto the design wall . I really feel it's important to put things on a vertical surface and get away from it to have a good look at what is working and what is not. I began completing the figure by cutting shoulders and sleeves. Then arms and face. Again, after testing a number of fabrics, I thought the pale greens were a good contrast and related to some olivey green in the plane print. I shall do the face last...that is the details of eyes and mouth. But it definitely needed a few more elements to define the environment....give a little more depth. So I made the table and finally the arched doorway. The latter was a perfect fabric as it picks up many of the colors already present in the composition. Last but not least, I had to decide what my lady was actually DOING! As the arms were already configured, it seemed she could be taking a coffee break with mug in hand and the carafe on the table.And it is only because I run around the house that way, that I gave her bare feet!
Now I am happy with the composition, the imagery and the title. I am now in the process of machine quilting and will then finish her face and think about embellishment if any. For more....watch this space! HaHa!
She is more or less finished now. There is a lot of quilting imagery that can't be seen except close up. That's what I hope will happen anyway....that people will be drawn closer to see the details. I thought it was too calm and tranquil for my taste, so I have added a really bad hairdo to get the viewer's attention. I'm calling it COFFEE BREAK as it seems to me she is taking a rest from endless housework! I have only quilted in her eyes....perhaps I will add some bubblejetted eyes and maybe embroider a mouth too.