Trial and Error

I’ve been working on this piece for a few weeks now. Actually, I stretched the lovely patterned fabric two years ago and then propped it against the wall in the studio where it has taunted me ever since. I finally picked it back up again on a whim and have been struggling to come up with something that does not scream “cover over me with gesso.”

Regardless of the frustration I am currently feeling I recognize that this is generally when I make discoveries that lead to bigger and better things so I’m sticking with it and waiting for the “ah ha!” moment that will hopefully come… hopefully.

When I first picked up the stretched “canvas” I had this intense urge to outline the patterns with turquoise:

Then I decided that I hated the outline and started to push it back with a light coating of thin gesso… only to remember that I’d used about a 75% gouache/25% acrylic mixture for the outline and the thinned gesso began to break up the paint and smear it around… after about an hour of “playing” I arrived at this:

I rather liked this but the break up of sections in the background is not something I do much in my work now (remember that this began two years ago) and thus, it’s become a bit of a problem.

I painted a bird and then the white section seemed even more pronounced so began a separate pattern (in the vein of William Morris) and now we have the above which is painstakingly in progress.

I don’t know where to go from here. I’m not entirely sure this work is a keeper.

What have I learned so far: I need to plan more – these two patterns don’t exactly work. Patterns CAN mix, if there’s anything I’ve concluded from the three books I’ve read on William Morris I know this to be true – however, successful Morris patterns contrast large with small and line unifies the two patterns by drawing the eye into and out of the larger more central arrangements.

I’ve also realized that I really don’t care for working on fabric or canvas (too much give), I detest the plasticity of acrylic, and foreshortening is tricky when juxtaposing flattened parallel (to the wall) patterns. (This works in my drawings but does not feel right in this work.)

So, I will just have to keep messing with this work until I either get it right, learn enough that I feel triumphant and can walk away… or go insane and start raising sheep.

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