At play in the garden of stitch

Three weeks, three pieces, three inspirations. My weeks have been full of obligations and distractions so I haven’t been able to concentrate on much of anything in my studio. The distractions were also inspirations. So my art shows it.

Those who follow my work will know that I tend to avoid patterned fabrics. Since my focus is on the stitching I like a background that is open and structured. This piece is exemplary of that technique.

Whispered nothings, Paula Kovarik.

These detailed stitch drawings bring story to shape. In this case the story is about the media and how we get our news. The texture that develops can add another layer of drama.

Detail stitching both by hand and machine betray my tendency to believe that more is, in fact, more.

But what now? After a workshop with Pamela Allen I did some hand stitching. This time patterned fabrics were part of the composition — foreign territory for me. I am not a patient hand stitcher so I started machine stitching after awhile.

Patterned fabrics add a sense of mystery to this composition. Stitching adds texture.

This one will stay on the board for awhile until I have the patience to stitch on it some more.

And then I spent a few days with Maria Shell building a community quilt with some folks in Memphis. Her fabrics added a sense of joy and energy to our community quilt that challenged my vision of how things go together. I mined the garbage can to come up with some scraps that I could experiment with on my own.

The scraps are ironed onto a navy blue background.

Added some stitching

And some more stitching.

Then some more stitching. I want to call this “We don’t know what’s down there” because it reminds me of a National Geographic special on the ocean that I watched last week.

I’ve been so happy to have the time to work on these experiments. And happier still to have the opportunity to learn from other artists. Thanks to Michael Brennand-Wood, Pamela Allen and Maria Shell I have a new box of toys to play with.

traveling unknown pathways

Sightlines, Paula Kovarik, 2015

Sightlines, Paula Kovarik, 2015

I was talking to a good friend this weekend about the fact that I can't seem to finish things. I am full of ideas and come into the studio each day with a new direction I want to pursue. Exploration, imitation and experimentation all teach me what to do next time -- perhaps with a clearer eye to finality. But often that next time doesn't arrive because I'm onto a different idea. A perfect example is this tangent lines piece. It started as an extemporaneous exploration of color piecing.
I decided to use saturated colors that interact with each other and shatter across a black and white surface. I used the willy-nilly approach of joining the color pieces from a scrap box instead of pre-planning and cutting to fit.

The composition came together with a strong horizon line and some interaction between the shapes. I thought it was a good start and that I could play with line to exaggerate a wacky perspective. Since the two colorful figures seemed to be communicating I wanted to explore how my line work might emphasize that. I used an acetate overlay and experimented with line patterns. I drew plumes of lines coming from the tips of the forms, antennae, perspective lines and heart beat lines but wasn't happy with any of them.

The piece lingered on the design wall for over a month. Then one day I came up with the idea of adding a line at each seam just to see what would happen -- an experiment in geometry. Would the composition come together or fall apart? Would the lines impede the message? What message?

Sightlines, Paula Kovarik

Sightlines, Paula Kovarik

There were a whole lot of lines to add. Over 275 if I counted right. The texture of the piece changed drastically. The experiment taught me:

  • lines of sight can be complicated,
  • forms have a trajectory that might not be apparent to the casual observer,
  • interconnectedness can have voids, and
  • I wasn't sure if I really liked it.
vacant doodle

vacant doodle

So ... with nothing to lose I went for more experimentation.

Remember those drawings you did on the back of your math homework or your English class spiral notebook where you scribbled a line and then colored the shapes that were formed? Well, maybe you don't. But I sure do. I still do that in a vacant sort of doodling mood. It occurred to me maybe these lines and forms had even greater secrets to reveal. You know....like a fourth dimension. Perhaps if I colored in areas where the lines formed triangles it would reveal a pattern that connects. Little did I realize that there are over 200 triangles formed by these lines and some of them take a huge hunk of thread to fill in. Tedious. I'm still finding triangles to fill, still seeing triangles in my dreams. Still.

And, from what I can tell. There is no pattern that connects. Just a whole lot of lines and triangles.

I think I'll crop it, block it, and wait for the next inspiration. For now I know it is unfinished, next to three other unfinished pieces on the boards. And that might be a good thing because I learned from it. Or a bad thing because it's still a mystery and I might have to add more. It does give me more ideas to pursue. How do forms inform line work? Where do lines intersect to add more meaning? Why triangles?

Not sure.

Sightlines, triangles, Paula Kovarik

Sightlines, triangles, Paula Kovarik