For the first two days of the Strip Piecing and Restructuring workshop, Nancy Crow taught us about figure/ground relationships. To put it simply, when you look at an abstract composition, what comes forward and what is pushed backwards? We were specifically looking at how colors influence this.
We started by making a series of strip-pieced fabrics following some guidelines Nancy gave us. This exericse was designed to get us thinking about the different qualities that individual colors have. We were especially trying to recognize, what colors moved forward and which pushed back. Sometimes it is the very light or very bright colors that grab your attention, but not always. Sometimes the dark colors get pushed back, but not always. Some times it depended on how luminous the color appeared. It seemed so confusing to me, and I already knew that colors are chameleon!
We had to freehand cut the fabric selvage to selvage and stitch multiple strips together with a 1/4″ seam. I decided that I liked wobbly and curvy, so I encouraged that in my lines. So far, so good, other than it was difficult for me to identify the dull versus vibrant colors in many instances, especially in the neutrals like gray and brown. (I came to think of the dull verses vibrant colors as “dead and alive” colors.)
Next we had to cut the pieced fabrics apart to make a simple composition of squares and rectangles. I am not used to working abstractly, so I floundered quite a bit during this exercise. I decided that it was actually good to be lost because it identified another area I’d like to explore further. I tried to be playful and brave and take risks. I tried to give my composition a sense of energy. I took pictures as I went, and I tried several compositions.
For my first attempt, I randomly placed the colors and shapes across the surface. On my second attempt, I tried to group the bright greens in an inverted “V”. For my last composition, I loosely grouped colors in pinwheel-like block arrangements. It seemed more interesting to me that way, but I don’t know that it was highly successful, other than the fact that I met the deadline!