I have heard it said that one of the tricks to creating good art is to know when to force a piece into the shape that your mind’s eye has created and when to let it take on a life of its own. I generally don’t have a problem with this, but then, I generally don’t cut deadlines quite this close*. (Somewhere I swear I hear Jenn Deon hyperventilating. Calm down Jenn. Everything is fine. This is just what it’s like inside my head. Scary, what?)
This damned thing is starting to jump out of my hands and is behaving like a greased eel on espresso with shape-shifting abilities.
To make the cherry tree fabric (which is a bit darker than pictured at right), I painted over a piece of reddish hand-dyed cotton with oils sticks, working in horizontal stripes in about four colours. Then I blended them using a stiff-bristled brush and left them to dry for a day or two. They were heat set and ready to go this morning.
Or so I thought.
The piece that I conceived of as having two trees framing it suddenly looked heavy to my eye. Keep in mind that the dark fabric is much wider than it would finish as being, since it includes seam allowances. Also keep in mind that this is the point at which I start second-guessing myself all over the place.
The trees were to have been separate pieces from the background, quilted separately and added as a secondary layer. They would visually stand out from the background by virtue of both their layering and the trunk details that would be quilted and further accentuated with paints and oil sticks for shading.
I suspect that a substantial part of my displeasure with the piece at this point lies in the clumsiness of the branches at this transient point. They will/would be much more elegant once completed, being thinner and more detailed. At present, they seem oppressive and the trees are more of a barracade than an archway.
So I took the right one out to allow the sun in a bit more, but this created the problem of the “archway” or frame no longer existing. Ignoring the thickness of limb, it’s still a much brighter piece. But I’ve lost my arch. Damn.
Allowing the idea to keep on spooling in my obviously over-analytical brain, I decided to add the third rock (on the right) which I quite like; it increases the asymmetry.
So I fused the rocks in place temporarily (they will be stitched properly during the quilting) and started to assemble the background. My thought was that I could finish the background quilting and assembly, except for the binding, finish the left tree assembly, possibly do the right one as well if the left one looked good and then layer it all together to see if it worked.
The background needs quilting and the reflections on the water also need to be hand-detailed with paint, but I’ll do those after the bulk of the quilting is done, for various reasons.
While layering the background piece, I was struck again by how bright and vibrant the colours are and how powerful even this portion could be as a stand-alone. If quilted right and if the reflections were properly added, the trees could be superfluous. Damn. See? Over-thinking it is a real concern, because now I start wondering if I should go with my initial plan, which was clearly thought out and deliberate, or if I should let the thing take on its own life and just be rocks in water, which is what it clearly wants to be.
Stay tuned for further madness.
*(Nota bene: This deadline thing is entirely my fault. I should have moved the piece along faster and earlier. There is, however, still time to get it done. Who really needs sleep?)