Before I get to work

In order to be a practicing artist I discovered very early on this month that I had certain needs to be met. I need to be authentic, to feel like I have a purpose, and to nourish my creative impulses.  So ultimately, I had to get really clear on how to meet these needs, because it is my unique voice, what I want to say in my work that will at the end of the day nourish my soul and sustain my art practice.  This was really frustrating to be so ‘in my head’ about it, when all I really felt I should be doing was to start working, like Chuck Close advises see previous post.  But now I’m graciously accepting the process that it took knowing that at least my conceptual foundations have been laid and I have a strong sense of my voice and purpose.

So, what is my voice?  I had no idea until I did an exercise that my tutor gave me, putting together 10 of my favourite artists with intentions of making connections, so that I could see what they all had in common.  I soon discovered that I am drawn to: Illustration, Mixed Media Sculpture, Digital and Traditional Mixed Media, and Printmaking of all sorts (most recently I have been fascinated with Photopolymer Etching as it satisfies the photographer and printmaker in me. See gallery below for the selection of artists that I chose in the exercise.

 

The common threads are works that tell a narrative, feature people or creatures or both, surreal juxtapositions, and a good dose of whimsy.  These connections didn’t surprise me, but what did surprise me was that these concepts lead me down a pathway of quite a political approach to my practice.  Which stands to reason, as I want my art to be a provocation. Using my art as a form of storytelling (another love of mine) and inviting the viewer to consider their own experience of being human, ones place of belonging in the world, and in the body, and also the choice to live consciously alongside our fellow human beings and the other creatures of the planet.

My voice resounds with :

  • humanitarianism
  • optimistism
  • animal and human consciousness
  • philosophical
  • awareness of Self
  • reflection
  • poetics

May it serve me well in the World!

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Throw the Dice

In response to my research and learnings in previous posts and a month of delving into the topic of ‘Pattern Universe’, I designed my outcome on such musings. I was incredibly provoked by the evidence that nature and the entire universe is so deliberately created in pattern. So these images are the 6 sides of my object design. Using two of technologies that I have been taught over the past month (screen print and Adobe Illustrator), I created a 3D object than combines my passion for pattern, textiles and print, with an Indie Craft flavour complimented by an Einstein inspired philosophical twist (see previous post). I was completely in my element creating this, and I look forward to further exploration with an ink and thread pairing.

Using a found foam cube from my son’s bedroom (and yes he gave me permission to use it), I machine sewed these 6 dice sides together and covered the cube to form the dice. I was challenged by a few logistics in the process. Firstly, deciding how to feature the dice dots as a darker fabric, which was resolved when I found scraps of grey blanket in my fabric stash, before then, I was going to use black acrylic felt. Because the other blankets were pastel colours however, I am pleased with the contrasting result that they grey gives. It is a softer, more complimentary contrast than what black would have been. Secondly, if I had more time and resources to fulfill this brief, I would have preferred to have designed 6 differing patterns, all displaying elements and features of nature that we come across. This way, when the dice is thrown, each side would have featured a distinctly different pattern. In this case, the only thing that really changes from side to side is the colour and layering of inks and the spots of grey representing the numbers in nature. Still, it is a result that I am content with. My last and final challenge occurred when I didn’t think that my fabric prints were going to be large enough to cover the surface area of each dice side. I had underestimated the nature of fabric and it’s tendency to shift and warp out of shape. What began as a square did not always remain a square.  I considered having to slice the foam cube down in size with a sharp knife,  but fortunately, the fabric squares warped back into shape after a little encouragement from myself and the sewing machine.

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My greatest success with this work is the matching up of top and under layers of printed blanket squares, and how when the top layer is cut away, the grey darker print is revealed with the same corresponding detail of the pattern. An alternative option was to applique the grey dots on as a top layer, however the concept of revealing a hidden pattern underneath interested me more so, especially in relation to the project theme that I have discussed prior.

I am proud to have created a piece that is reflective of my values of repurposing and bringing old things back to life in a new form. I have been making crafts in a ‘practical’ sense for many years, and finally I get to label this piece as a work of art as well. I am grateful to all the crafters and artists around the globe for paving the way that has merged the two together, inspiring me to now do the same with confidence.

I also express my gratitude to my research artists Hanna Werning and Kahori Maki, for inspiring me  in this process. Both women are very talented and unique in what they do.

If I were to refine my outcome, I would go back to the stencil making process and make the pattern image an A2 size so that I can be more flexible with the printing stage.  In addition, I would create 6 different patterns representative of more aspects of nature, ensuring that each side had a different outcome in throwing the dice.

Further exploration with pattern in general would follow the concepts of Earth, Fire, Air and Water Elements in nature. Using Illustrator Pen Tool to draw the individual units as I had done in this brief, I am curious to discover the possibilities of patterns to be found, and the various forms that come from combining similar elements in nature with each other.

An Artful Life: Kahori Maki

Born in Japan 1961, Kahori Maki is an acclaimed artist/designer, having produced many works in various disciplines including illustration, installation, painting, graphic design, and object design.  Working as an active freelancer since 1994, Maki has collaborated with leading brands and companies such as Designworks, Shiseido, Levi’s and McDonalds.

In addition, Maki has been working on Solo exhibitions and her works have featured in numerous fashion and design magazines.  Her un-mistaking recognisable style is seen extensively in posters, commercial advertising, window displays, interior walls of buildings, fashion shoot back drops, textile prints and even on cars. This month, Maki’s work covered the walls of an entire warehouse for an audio-visual event in Brooklyn.

Maki’s stylised imagery, regardless of where she features it, is striking and tends to provoke mystery with its edgy, dark, fluid and organic forms. Her designs depict nature in its beautiful power and seductiveness, portraying the exotic and the eerie.  Maki’s designs are always nature inspired, but her signature monochromatic illustrations are far from traditional depictions of nature.

(Maki is) one of the first fashion illustrators to identify the dramatic impact of the natural forms through dark monochromes rather than the more traditional soft pastels

Furthermore, Maki juxtaposes her work by placing it in the extreme urban environment or context – factoring in her philosophical concept of how urban life is deficient of nature.  A concept marvellously complimented by the surreal and dark moody nature of her work, portraying her deep connection to the less desired aspects of nature.

I am not afraid of looking into the shadows and shedding light on the beautiful creatures that live in the twilight worlds

Maki talks about connecting the aspects of nature to a part of the human soul, and I interpret her work as an expression of the depth and mystery contained therein. I find myself also connecting this quote above to the human soul, and what may lay within the darkest corners. I too, am not afraid of looking into the shadows of my own soul and shedding light on what may be there. What beauty and treasures are still yet to be discovered?

Finally, I am inspired by Maki’s love of nature and the darkness of it that some may find oppressive or grotesque. Many of her works convey to me the idea of portals into other worlds. She expresses the melancholic with such elegance; one cannot help but be allured into the realms of swirling, meandering lines and forms.

The work of Maki has influenced my current project significantly. I have drawn upon her concept of combining animal and insect life with fauna and flora, and placed the bold outlines of them in a perfectly random occurring pattern.  This research has led me to have confidence in taking an organic and bold approach to pattern, and I have explored and developed numerous possibilities for an outcome in this brief, of which I hope to experiment with further in the future. For the mean time, lets see how my project for ‘Pattern Universe’ has developed.

Watch this space.

References:

IdN. Wayfinding+Signage: Kahori Maki. IdN , v17 (n5), 56-57.

Maki, K. (2010). Works. Retrieved May 28, 2013, from Kahori Maki: http://www.k-maki.com/

Quinn, B. (2009). Textile Designers: At the Cutting Edge. London, UK: Lawrence King Publishing.

An Artful Life: Hanna Werning

Born in Sweden in 1973, Hanna Werning is an inspiring and extremely accomplished artist and designer. This London trained graphic designer, independently designs and manufactures products and art works for her own company Spring Street Studio in Stockholm, and also creates commissioned works for many leading companies such as IKEA, Eastpak, Stussy, Anna Sui and House of Dagmar. Her disciplines include communication design, graphic design, product design, visual arts and illustration.  Werning exhibits in many cities and countries including Berlin, Tokyo, Brooklyn, Italy, London, and her hometown Stockholm. Werning’s designs are seen globally on textiles, greeting cards, wallpapers, logos and company identity graphics, stationary, dinnerware, mugs, home furnishings and décor.

In addition to pattern, the constant source of inspiration for Werning is obviously nature: landscape, fauna and flora, animals and insects alike are depicted on her textile prints and wallpaper designs in unexpected juxtapositions. Having grown up in the forest she believes that motifs featuring nature will always be a design trend.

The work of Werning is incredibly broad and throughout researching her work, I have observed an obvious fascination for pattern, nature inspired images with a bold use of colour.  The result of which tends to a natural flair for designing prints and ornamentation on a wide range of products including fashion and home decor, inspiring me to look towards a possible similar vision in my work in the future.  Werning also features her work in sculpture, installation art and performance, making her a well-rounded and very capable practitioner in many realms of art and design. Such success is admirable and inspiring.

What further resonates with me is Werning’s philosophy behind her designs and how the world that she lives in, reflect them.  She says…

To me, the world is like a big patchwork of different cultures, and sometimes I see my own work as a big visual collage or like the sound of a DJ sampling her own rhythms with others’. (Quinn, 2009).p.92.

I admire artists and designers who have a deep connection to them-selves and the world around them. It touches my needs as a humanitarian and philosopher. When connecting this research to the current project I am developing, I am mindful that a motivating force driving me in my idea is my enquiring mind. Not only to consider the cause of nature’s patterns for myself, but to also provoke those thoughts in others.

References

Dwell. (2004-2013). Dwell: People: Hanna Werning. Retrieved May 27, 2013, from Dwell: At Home in the Modern World: http://www.dwell.com/people/hanna-werning

Quinn, B. (2009). Textile Designers: At the Cutting Edge. London, UK: Lawrence King Publishing.

Werning, H. (2001-2013). Work by Hanna Werning. Retrieved May 19, 2013, from Work by Hanna Werning: http://www.byhanna.com

Self-Portrait – Inspired by Marloes Dukyer

I'm all stitched up (2013) Sewing machine with thread on paperIn response to being inspired by my research on Marloes Dukyer, I drew with my sewing machine for the first time. Being a semi industrial machine, I found it very difficult to turn corners fast and smoothly enough. My Bernina 850 is only familiar with going at top speed! However, I am so excited by my results and how I may be able to create in the future using this media. I find the organic nature of the ‘sketch’ has a definite sense of freedom from constraint, enhanced by potential movement of the hanging threads and the lack of contour lines used. Every thing about this self-portrait is suggestive of me: the texture, expression, combination of colours, and unruly curly auburn hair that decides to go in a different direction from one day to the next. A great accomplishment in my books.