Saturday, April 2, 2011

New Project - Fuchsia Plant Fabric Collage

Art is the unceasing effort to compete with the beauty of flowers - and never succeeding.      ~ Gian Carlo Menotti

One of the things that really draws me to fabric collage as an art form is the challenge of it.  Using small cuttings of fabric to depict what I see around me is fascinating; with all of the patterns of light, shadows and reflections represented in different fabrics.   It really is an adventure with every piece I do because there are always surprises along the way. Fabrics will sometimes look even better than I thought they would, but there are also those times when  I have not chosen the right one at all and I have to go back to hunting.  In the past, I have always used found fabrics,that is, already printed fabrics found in fabric stores , or  vintage clothing, for example.  But I have begun to see how amusing it can be to play around with coloring my own fabric .  There are so many ways to do that , but I will leave that for another day. 
I am thinking I will begin a series of Floral Fabric Collages in honor of Spring. These will be on a smaller scale than I have been doing and will probably be installed in a different way.  More about that later.  But as promised, I will try to give a little more detail about the process I use in making fabric collages.
 The first piece in this series will be the Fuchsia Plant pictured above.   I love the colors of this photo. .  It was actually a 35mm slide taken many years ago of my mother's hanging fuchsia plant.  The shades of green and aqua contrast beautifully with the  "fuchsia"  of the plant  and the composition is quite nice as well,  so I have decided to copy the photo pretty much as it is with only a few minor changes. All of the floral collages I'm working on will be in the range of 8" to 10"  high  by  8" to 14" wide.  A rectangular size will probably work better with this one.  Once I have decided on the finished size, I will cut my base fabric the finished size plus about a 3" border all around.   I tape the base fabric to a masonite panel or heavy cardboard to keep it from shifting while I am working on the piece.  The photo below shows the back side of the masonite board after I have taped it.  I could also tape it flat on a larger board. This is the method I use if I 
 want to add a mat to the finished piece.  I can then remove the tape, lay it flat , put it on a backer  and add a mat over top. If I am not using a mat, I usually adhere the base fabric permanently to the masonite , which makes it almost like a painter's canvas. 

At this point I will take some time to analyse the Fuchsia plant photo.  I need to determine the values that are present in the photo.  In other words, the range of darks to lights that I need in order to represent the picture accurately.   For example,  I am seeing about 6 values in the flower alone.  So I need to find that many different  "values"  of fabrics to represent them.

Then I collect my fabrics.  I usually start with more than I think I will need and weed out the ones that just aren't working.  I "audition" them together to get the most pleasing combination in the final product. For the flower  I have narrowed it down to the fabrics shown below; with the lightest fabric for the highlights in the flower and the darkest fabric for the shadow on the background flower. I may decide I need to go a bit darker for the shadow, but for now this is the basic range of values I will work with.
When I have selected all of my fabrics, I am ready to begin the actual collage. 
More in the next post!

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