Across the threshold of this new year I found time and space to bring this cloth, long in the making, near completion. Some elements that have long sought a home have found one.
Arranging squares yesterday – pure pleasure – I thought of how the strips and swatches of fabric hold memory in a tactile, visceral, yet gentle form. Maybe that is the allure of cloth for me. There is also a conversation. The cloth talks to me and to my many teachers.
I found some handkerchief weight linen that will make a nice backing for this. Before winter is over I will cover up with it and daydream.
Here is some new work using my new Spring stencil. First I created the background water pattern, using the water stencil featured in this post. I pasted my Spring stencil over that background. One of the challenges for me was getting the values dark enough in contrast to the background. This was in part due to my tendency to be tentative with use of pigments. Also, the work looks darker when it is wet; nevertheless I still had trouble getting dark enough values. I painted probably 4-5 layers of pigments and soy. In the top image, the darkest values in the branches and buds were painted on after washing off the paste – a method of fixing it when you wash the paste off too soon!
Another general challenge in katazome, which I really felt while working on this piece, is that the yellowish rice paste resist covers the lightest values in the work, so what you see is not really what you get. This adds to the excitement (and/or disappointment!) when you do finally wash off the paste! I’ve posted more photos of the work in progress in this photo album on my Facebook page.
I stitched the piece to a sheet of handmade Japanese moriki kozo paper from Wet Paint Art, treated with konnyaku starch (to give it texture and strengthen it for stitching).
In the example above I added an image of a cardinal before pasting the Spring stencil. The cardinal was dyed and covered with paste before adding the primary Spring layer.
A cardinal takes flight from a rain garden near my house – a surprising flash of red that always makes my heart skip a beat!
The annual spring exhibit at at the Grand Marais Art Colony is called Rhythms of Darkness and Light, and will be on display March 23-April 1st. Each artist responds to the theme with a new work.
From a distance, the winter landscape can seem drab and monochrome. But up close, the variety of color in the bare branches is astonishing. When I look deeply I can see that each moment contains evidence, as well as memory, of summer and autumn, and the anticipation of spring. The idea for this image came from a photograph I took at midsummer. Walking on a path near the shore of Como Lake in St. Paul, I glanced up and saw grackles ascending a tree limb with the moon directly above them.