by Christine Barnes
Being “driven to abstraction” at Asilomar with Sue Benner was a fabulous experience. My good buddy Kari and I took her workshop two weeks ago, and I came away with a head full of inspiration and new ways to work. Here’s just a bit of what we did:
For the first exercise, Sue terrified the class by giving each one of us a page torn from National Geographic and telling us to create a fabric abstraction in 20 minutes or less. Yes, gulp, 20 minutes or less. We all survived, but some of us looked liked scared rabbits.
For the second exercise, we worked from a photo we had brought. I actually brought a box of pages torn from magazines to make collages as studies for quilts, as the German Expressionist Hans Hofmann did for his paintings. (I have yet to do that.) I loved the simplicity of this image, courtesy of Martha Stewart. I even like my torn edge at the bottom.Our first study was to quickly depict the image in a simplified but somewhat realistic fashion. The floaty, see-though shape over the vase is a layer of tulle. Of course this little composition needed a bit of transparency!Sue gave us a variety of ways to further abstract our first study. I chose fragmentation for my next study, below, slicing and shifting the sections. I LOVE what happens to the Marcia Derse background and foreground fabrics.For my third study, I zeroed in on a particular section of the image and let go of any sense of perspective or proportion. The abstracted twig was cut from a section of one of my favorite plaids. How thoughtful of it to contain the colors I needed to echo the other elements.We then moved on to a self-directed study, but mine is nowhere near ready for prime time. I can’t begin to tell you how much I got out of Sue’s workshop—she is a delight, a bundle of knowledge and talent, and I’ll be taking another class from her for sure.
A note: My Artistic Alchemy workshop, “Transparency, A Special Effect,” is full, but please ask to be put on my waiting list if you’re interested. I plan to bring some sheers and fusible web for you to play with on a quick raw-edge collage.