In April/May 2021 I took an online painting class at Woodmere Art Museum in Philadelphia, PA. The class was called BLENDING ABSTRACTION AND REPRESENTATION, and over 5 sessions our class explored the continuum between these two endpoints of a line. This set of classes is a continuation of the previous group with the same teacher and most of the same group of students, plus some new faces.
The class was structured so that we worked on our individual artworks in our home studios while participating in discussions and vewing demonstrations by the teacher. I did quite a bit of work and I’ll be showing them to you over a few posts.
Thanks to my instructor, Lesa Chittenden Lim, and my classmates, for a good experience.
Our assignment was to choose a piece of art in any medium, examine why we were attracted to it or what appealed to us about it, and to create a painting based on that analysis. After some thought, I chose the work of the Gee’s Bend quilters as my artwork inspiration.
Why? I have loved these works since I first saw them. As you may know, I have a sewing and quilting background and fabric work will always interest me. The quilters have a compelling story behind their work. But in the end, I love the vibrant, emotional, and free qualities of these quilts. They are the essence of improvisation but are never random. Each artist listened to their inner voice to make these works.
I feel a kinship with this way of working.
All right. I did not want to paint a quilt. Fabric does not behave like paint. I thought of images that make me feel the way these quilts do, of something that I could depict.
I settled on these houses in Allentown, PA. You know of my love for houses and this style of building is exuberant, lively, and alive – like the quilt images are for me.
I got to work. First I painted a pink/red/orange etc. background all over the paper, in a nod to the construction of the quilts. Then I took India ink, acrylic markers, and acrylic paint, and I added the houses on top. I amended the sky a bit and I had my painting.
The painting is called “Houses Sewn Together” and it is 18″ x 24″, acrylics on paper.
Oooh, what a striking painting. At first I was disappointed when I read that you weren’t in fact going to use a Gee’s Bend quilt as inspiration, but that disappeared when I saw the image. The magic of fabric has materialised in the painting (to my eye, anyway)
I am so glad to hear this. I knew I could not approach the look of the quilts, (even though I plan to try the improvising technique this summer, it would be a whole different thing, but I would like the experience). I wanted to express the feeling of familiarity I have with their way of working (as I see it in their art). So this is what happened, and I am happy with it, because it has a connection to what I love so much about the quilts, but is my way of expressing it, which to me was what it was all about.
You have definitely captured the feeling of familiarity with the quilters art.
Thank you. I’ve always loved the Gee’s Bend artists and when the assignment came up that is who I thought of first. I decided to try it but not to copy (as if I could). I hope to try some quilting this summer, or fabric art or whatever, so maybe that is what prompted me, too.
How wonderful! They’re beautiful houses & they look like they’re full of life. Gorgeous colors, too. 👏🤗
Thank you. I love houses of all kinds and this style especially. And I chose the colors because I like pink and red together a lot. This is all sort of how I put together quilts when I did fabric work, so it fit in with my inspiration of the Gee’s Bend quilts.
And – the quilting inspiration shines thru. 👏👏👏
Those are really cool quilts, and I love your final painting, awesome work!
Thank you, and yes, thos quilts are something else all right, I agree!
Yup, another amazing piece!
Thank you. This assignment was confusing until I figured out the way to go about it, and then, well, there it was!
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