Saturday, August 9, 2014

Designer Patterns - Part I
Opinion Piece on Art

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

I am well aware that there is a diverse range of people who have read various posts on this blogspot. Many have emailed me directly with encouraging comments, helpful advice and tips on what future subjects I should direct my attention to. In particular, the Art Resource series has received a lot of attention with the Glossary of Terms and Fabrics being by far the most viewed post on this blogspot.

A novice wanted to know how to kick off a lifelong passion to do Art, using cloth as the medium. There are the standard entry points such as:
(a) Workshops in ArtCloth and associated skilled courses (e.g. dyeing, screen-printing, stencilling, designing, coloring etc.)
(b) Tertiary courses in Art and fiber art.
(c) Professional groups (e.g. Surface Design Association, European Textile Network and in Australia, Australian Textile Arts & Surface Design Association).
(d) Small effective working groups that have a similar focus towards their Art medium.
(e) Numerous internet lists (such as complex cloth, dyeing, printing groups etc.) where active conversations and enquiries are often addressed about various aspects of fiber art.
(f) Social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc. seeking out those with a similar art passion.
(g) Visiting local galleries where ArtCloth, Art Quilts and fiber art are being exhibited.
(h) Visiting blogs and internet sites that host images and topics on fiber art.
(i) Developing a large bank of resource information (ranging from a collection of books, magazines and digital CDs with “how to” information about fiber art).
(j) Actually doing ArtCloth or fiber art on a regular basis and seeking advice from mentors about the completed artwork.
(k) Entering your ArtCloth in group and/or solo exhibitions.

Steps (a)-(k) happen simultaneously, serendipitously or simply by osmosis but very rarely in a planned and orderly fashion. The deeper one’s commitment becomes, the more nodes are created and the more links are forged between the nodes of one’s artistic web.

I often see students becoming impatient with their perceived lack of progress. They forget that when you come to a completely new endeavour some educational psychologists believe you need to go through the four stages of Piaget’s theory of cognitive development. These stages can be roughly summarized as follows.

(a) The first stage is the reflexive stage. Here the emphasis is on doing, reacting and aping. Mimicking is very important learning tool at this stage. In the 1950s it was not usual for artists to sit in galleries, mimicking an artwork that hung on the wall before them. There is an ego centricity driving this stage in order for the artist to reach a point of conceptual development of a skill set that will be needed for the next stage of development.

(b) The second stage is the pre-operational stage. Here artistic thought is no longer restricted to immediate perceptual events; that is, you need a representation in your immediate reach in order to ape it. Artistic thought is now representational (symbolic) and artistic behaviour can be played out in one’s mind rather than only in a real physical event (i.e. only via your hands as you mimic a work). This stage is still restricted in that reverse engineering is a difficult chore for the person to do. For example, they see a finished ArtCloth work by another artist but they are still unable to perceive what techniques, materials and implements were used to create the work.

(c) The third stage is the concrete operational stage. Here the artist has evolved logical operations, but these operations are only useful to the artist in solving artistic problems involving (real, observable) objects and events. Therefore if the artist is presented with clear instructions - without demonstrations and constant problem solving by their tutor - their progress would be severely curtailed.

(d) The last stage is the formal stage. Here the artist is able to construct an intention, commandeer the skill set necessary to implement the intention, evaluate objectively the progress of the work and whether it conforms to the original intention and if not - modify either the original intention or the skill set and outcomes in order to create a unique and interesting body of work.

I have often seen students in stage (a) attempting to be in stage (d) with little success. It is okay to be in any stage of cognitive development with respect to an endeavour since eventually, if we are passionate about what we do, we all will end in stage four. (Caveat: I don’t play chess and I know that I will never be in stage four in that endeavor due to my lack of passion for the game!)

It is important not to be too precious about learning from others - my students have taught me heaps about ArtCloth! It is therefore important when you are beginning to see what others are doing and perhaps to appropriate their endeavours in order to create a new and exciting piece of ArtCloth. Note: Appropriation is not mimicking, rather it is a transforming process in which the starting point is vastly different from the end point of an artistic journey - see my post Is It Appropriation or Mimicry?

Books of patterns are a valuable resource for any ArtCloth artist. Drusilla Cole, "Patterns" (Laurence King, Publishing Ltd., London, 2007) is such a resource. The images below are procured from a section of her book she terms - “Conversational” - where she has selected patterns that are novel, containing images of objects or situations. You should add this book to your library.

Conversational Designs
The patterns below have been generated using a number of different techniques which include drawing, painting, collage, embroidery, applique, hand dyeing and screen printing. Many of the designs have been digitally manipulated.

Designer: Emily Anderson.
Comment: Super-enlarged sewing needles are laid out in staggered rows. Screen printed textile.

Designer: Aj Dimarucot.
Comment: Mask-like faces, birds and a plethora of stylized motifs are combined in a rainbow color design. Digital design for fashion fabric.

Designer: Hanna Cottrell.
Comment: The design is part of a series exploring the complexities of traditional Japanese origami, looking at the nature of the delicate folds that form paper structures, alongside investigating birds and the natural beauty of their wings. Digital design.

Designer: Gina Pipet.
Comment: “Swan Lake”. Arabesques of blue and red, interspersed with ribbons and ballet shoes. Digital design.

Designer: Daniele de Batte.
Comment: Bubbles of aqua and cream against a brown background turned into the pattern of a dove. Design for a ceramic tile.

Designer: Alex Russell.
Comment: Multiple scanned drawings of stars and scribbles. A design for fashion fabric?

Designer: Cecillia Heffer.
Comment: Heavy mix of floral and abstract patterns hand-printed onto Shantung silk. This is a detail of a scarf commissioned by the Fashion and Textiles Department of the University of Technology, Sydney as a gift to designer Zandra Rhodes.

Designer: Dominic Crinson.
Comment: Household objects and kitchen equipment appear in this loosely sketched and brightly colored design which was produced for ceramic titles.

Designer: Jessie Whipple.
Comment: Bold outlines of flowers, which turn out to contain booted legs. Print.

Designer: Marie Hanson.
Comment: Pegasus-style flying horses feature in this pattern. The horse is a symbol of power and strength, and the wings add a magical dimension to the design.

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