I stumbled across Phillipa Kay Lack’s website today, and found it quite inspiring. She is a Master Silk Painter and also a quilt artist (plus lots of other misc fiber arts stuff), and her work exemplifies many of the characteristics I’d like to find in my work: free-flowing, colorful, and complex. By “complex” I mean something you can’t just take in at a glance, but which rewards careful study by showing more detail and more interest as you examine more closely. I would love to be able to do work like that someday, and am firmly resolved that I will. But first I must develop my skills!
I am using this fallow period to think about skills, and about the intrinsic limits of a given medium. What I love about Philippa’s work is its free-wheeling, freeform style. That is, largely, not possible within the rectilinear limits of floor-loom weaving. The intricacy is also difficult to reproduce using weaving alone. This suggests to me that I need to open my repertoire beyond weaving and into surface design techniques such as painting, dyeing, shibori, etc. A good background in art techniques, particularly watercolor, wouldn’t hurt either.
Accordingly, I have decided to split my time between weaving and surface design techniques. This is not so different from what I was doing anyway, with the Munsell dye group, but I want to approach it more systematically – allowing investigation of techniques for their own sake, not just as an adjunct to weaving. My first set of explorations will be in silk-painting, which may flow free-form into working with Shiva Paintstiks and/or shibori. In doing this, I am deliberately expanding my mandate to include not just weaving but also surface design. I think this is a big step for me as a fiber artist. The intent is not to dilute my focus, but to select surface design techniques that will meld with my vision, and will mix well with weaving.
My second decision is the result of happy circumstance. I had thought about enrolling in a design class, but my searches of colleges and universities suggested that I would have to pay about $1500 for a class, which was way out of my budget. Then someone suggested community colleges. Aha! But, with the California budget crisis, I wasn’t sure I could get into a class. So I didn’t pursue it immediately, and by the time I got around to it, registration had been open for 14 days and nearly all the classes were filled.
But not quite. I managed to get one of the last two spots in a class at Foothill Community College, Introduction to Two-dimensional Design, and will be starting classes on the 20th. The class is a morning class, but fortunately it’s an early morning class (8-10am) and my work schedule is flexible enough to accommodate this. If this class goes well, I intend to take one class per quarter, gradually accumulating my artists’ education. Four classes a year doesn’t sound like much, but over the course of six or seven years, I think it will add up to something.