Thursday, June 7, 2012

Vive la Experimentation!

Overall, I was happy with the result of my little orange mushroom project.  The only thing I really wasn't satisfied with was the background which seemed a little empty.  So, I've been experimenting with backgrounds for my little applique'/embroidery pictures.  I used to think it was totally unnecessary to dye your own fabrics and threads, etc.  I thought people were either going a bit overboard or they were just gluttons for punishment.  But, now I totally understand why artists go to the trouble to customize their own materials.  Recently, I visited the fabric store looking for a patterned fabric that I could use for the backgrounds of my pictures. I literally spent hours combing every aisle for something to use and came up with nothing.  Either the color was wrong, the pattern was too large, or something.  Therefore, I have come to the inevitable conclusion that I too will have to create my own background fabric.  And, afterall, that is probably best anyway.  It will make my work even more unique, which is always a good thing.  I firmly believe that it is our individuality, our uniqueness, which is our single greatest asset as artists.  The more ways we can express that the better. 
First, I cut some small swatches of canvas and used stencils and acrylic paint to try to create a background of fallen leaves. 

The "control" swatch is the plain piece on the lower left.  Upper left is what happens when you don't allow it to dry properly before trying to paint on it.  I was hoping it would be a softly blurred effect.  It's blurry all right.  I was much happier with the other two.  The leaf shapes on the lower right I thought were a bit too large, so I cut my own smaller leaf shape out of an old plastic water jug and used it for the one on the upper right.  I think I like it the best. 
When I went to the fabric store, I did purchase a piece of brown cotton calico with a soft, mottled print.  I like it pretty well by itself, but I decided to use the stencilling technique on it to see what it would look like.

The unpainted piece is the one on the left.  This time, I decided to combine the large and the small leaf shapes and alternate between using the negative and positive large leaf stencil.  I was trying to achieve the soft suggestion of a mass of fallen leaves.  I know it's subtle, but that's what I was going for.  Again, I don't want it to compete with the design that will be applied to it.  What do you think?  Was it a successful experiment?  


Carol- Beads and Birds said...

Yes!! All of your dyed fabrics look really good. I especially like the last one on the right. I look forward to seeing what you do with it.

I've dyed a lot of fabric..mostly for wearable art. I admire what you have done with these pieces.

Emily said...

Those look great! I think there are many uses for your fabrics. You should try more samples!

Starr White said...

Carol, I have already begun another mushroom 'painting' with this piece. I will be trying some new things with this we'll see how it turns out!

Starr White said...

Thanks for the encouragement, Emily. These were fun to do, and I learned a lot from the experience. I will definitely be doing more in the future!

Meg said...

Big success! They look wonderful. I'd love to quilt with fabrics like this. Very organic looking, you clever lady!