It often happened during the years when I was teaching art at Brockwood Park School in Hampshire, England, that my own artwork had its origin in classroom activities.
My keen group of students were learning how to paint on silk and other fibers as part of a fiber art program. They also wanted to explore off-loom weaving processes.
I had a wonderful stash of painted silk color samples from studio experiments in earlier days, and laminated them onto canvas to make ribbon strips. In the attic I found a discarded window blind made of narrow pieces of wood – these were painted using light-reflective acrylics.
The wooden sticks and the silk ribbons came together in a pattern discovered in one of the texts we studied – it’s a very old Chinese pattern symbolizing the ebb and flow of the Tao.
A closer look.
The weaving was eventually mounted on a length of painted bamboo matting.
1780 x 650
painting on silk, off-loom weaving
silk Habotai, canvas, wooden sticks,
acrylic paints, fiber-reactive dyes
nomad collection: England
In the 70s and 80s I was working in textile surface design – at first creating one-off designer garments and ensembles, and later making pieces for walls to wear.
In 1987 I received a generous Arts Council study grant to work with master indigo dyers and shibori artisans in Japan.
It was in Kyoto that I learned about the ancient technique of tsujigahana, researched and redeveloped by Itchiku Kubota.
At an exhibition of his kimonos in Kyoto I was almost unable to stay on my feet in front of the beauty and power of the works. They were simply breathtaking. I came home with a treasure of a tome, resplendent with glorious photographs of these silk masterpieces.
Years later, when working with toxic dyestuffs was a thing of the past and I was delighting in the possibilities of tube colors, pastels and brushes, I decided to make a study of a panel from one of Kubota-san’s kimonos.
It was the beginning of a new series of paintings – the aquascapes.
360 x 820
acrylic paints on textured canvas
mounted on canvas covered panel (not shown)
Private collection, Hawaii
[Imagine my delight to be ‘Featured Artist’ in the new issue of ONE: the magazine.
Since the editor used a tiled version of this aquascape as the background to my page, it seemed timely to post it here, with a little background information.]
painted silk Habotai, textured card, acrylic paint, fragment of steel gauze
The noun of self becomes a verb.
This flashpoint of creation in the present moment is where work and play merge.
– Stephen Nachmanovitch
painted silk Habotai, textured card, cotton mosquito netting
Only a single line is needed to discover who is doing what.
– Paul Reps
stained and distressed canvas, acrylic paints, market basket fragment, sea shells, linen thread
Art’s a staple. Like bread or wine or a warm coat in winter.
Those who think it is a luxury have only a fragment of a mind.
Man’s spirit grows hungry for art in the same way his stomach growls for food.
– Irving Stone
shibori on hand-woven ramie cloth, organic indigo dye, bamboo, cotton cord
Creativity is a type of learning process where the teacher and the student
are located in the same individual.
– Arthur Koestler
water hyacinth fiber, rice paper, fragments from old straw sunhat, rayon ribbon, acetate, images of personal artworks cut and woven
Every act of creation is first of all an act of destruction.
– Pablo Picasso
painted, padded and shirred silk Habotai, fiber reactive dyes
Satisfaction of one’s curiosity is one of the greatest sources of happiness in life.
– Linus Pauling
painted silk Habotai, handmade paper, bamboo, cord, acrylic light-reflective pigments, fiber reactive dyes, machine stitching
In art, every generation must start again afresh.
– Maurice de Vlamink