Monday, October 27, 2008

Does Good Weaving Have To Hurt? Part 2: Background

When Peg suggested I was underwhelmed because my new warp didn't look like Randy's, it forced me to try to put into words what I was trying to do and/or what outcome I hoped for. In the first instance, I was indeed underwhelmed because the warp didn't look like Randy's, but not because I wanted to weave bad imitations of Randall Darwall scarves, but because I've been thinking of giving it a go for over two years, and I have been disappointed I hadn't. You bet, I think about it all the time, it's just, "not this warp, eh?" every bloody time.

Further, Randy's scarves, (and many of yours; oh yeah, I click to enlarge your pics, even if I don't read your words!) stand to repeated scrutiny and the viewer can discover new things in a familiar cloth over time. I don't see that in mine; I think mine are more straight forward, and in this context, that's bad, WISIWYG scarves.

That is not to say I shall quit developing what I've vaguely come to think of as my kind of elegant, (bland in the first instance, but they are useful in the context of "outfits".) I like understated scarves, pieces that don't have to be the main event. Eventually, if I stay in this game long enough and try hard enough, I may see my two seemingly disparate directions converge and then it could be my thing. (NOTE:BY NO MEANS AM I SAYING RANDY'S ARE INELEGANT OR UNDERSTATED! But now we're talking about ME!)

Anyway, I was thinking how I've come to be such a color-coward and a lover of monotones and analogous schemes. Mom's preferences aside, I have "history" with colors.

All my life, I thought I had spunk when it came to colors. My art teachers told me I was good with them. (Little did I know they meant I sucked with shapes, proportion and composition.)

I took a correspondence course via the guild in 2000 on basic color theories, which was a hard slog. Jargon confused me, I learned I have a hard time seeing values across hues. Saturation totally threw me, and a couple of times I was told I misunderstood the instructions and asked to redo modules. Once I was told portrait orientation was wrong for the module, when I was trying to emphasize height using values. I should have contacted my course-mates, we were supplied with an email list, I didn't because I didn't know any of them.

If I stuck to using mainly blues in my assignments, I would have at least felt more comfortable and perhaps I might have understood the concepts faster, but because I was determined to try colors I normally wouldn't, (anything between orange-red to green-without-blue on the wheel,) I made life harder for myself.

I came out of the course feeling defeated and stupid. Since then when I heard weavers say they love to work with colors, I instantly dislike and envy them, and scrutinize their work to try to find something wrong. Well, not actually, but you know how I feel when I hear it. It got so bad I couldn't even stand to hear the Kiwi pronunciation of the word "color" which sounds like /kələ/ or /kʌlə/, instead of /ˈkʌlər/. (When the end of the word is shortened by not pronouncing the /r/, even the first syllable is shortened, including the consonant /k/. Trust me, this is what I did at university.) The Kiwi pronunciation lacks emphasis and makes the word short and sharp, it doesn't give sufficient weight to the big concept, and worse, it signifies the speakers' easy and happy relationship with colors and makes a mockery of my sufferings.

In 2002, I took my first design course with Alison, and it was bad enough we had to draw a lot, but in the very last module, we planned a specific piece, and had to determine the color scheme first by determining the values and then assigning hues. Well, I went out of my mind! I kind of cheated and worked forward and backward (deciding on the hues) and connected the two, like digging a tunnel from both ends.

I quit colors altogether and bought yarns I liked and did the best to mix and match. I said I needed to learn to dye, but didn't intended to get into that game any time soon. I wondered if I would ever be like playing with colors again.

I signed up for Randy Darwall's workshop in 2006 only because the name sounded vaguely familiar, having been, I was almost sure, mentioned by Brigit Howitt, a most amazing, inspiring weaver/artist in New Zealand, ever, (but who hasn't got a website,) after her 2002 Convergence trip. Little did I know his thing was colors, and the rest is history.

Last year when I minded Sue's gallery, I made an effort to enjoy colors. It was hard at first, because I didn't want to think about it, but for five hours every week, I was surrounded by her colors, and boy, she is versatile, so I let myself sit back and observe. Then I started a notebook of magazine clippings just pasting color schemes I liked. I had intended to mix paint and dyes to try to create my own schemes inspired by hers, but didn't get that far. So, all input and no output, but I started to emerge from my phobia.

When I signed up for Ronette's figure drawing course, I had thought it was all about lines and shapes and proportions, but we do use colors from time to time. Even so, I dread it, and used safe color washes or just wet my charcoal or pastel areas. Or use analogous colors. Cheat! Ronette also organized color workshops for Refinery Art Space, and because I support whatever Ronette or the Refinery does, I signed up for them, little knowing (even though it was in black and white on the web site and the blurbs!!) they were painting workshops.

Heck, there is a pattern emerging here. I don't read blurbs carefully and sign up for workshops, but somehow come out alive, even when I'm required to work with colors or, heaven forbid, paint!

I'm find learning about color theories and being able to see/analyze colors totally different from producing pleasing color schemes based on theories, which again is totally different from mixing and matching what I've got and ending up with nice color schemes. I'm not saying one is better or more beneficial than the other; I'm just need all the help to I can get.

Today is Labour Day holiday in New Zealand, and windy but sunny and clear in Nelson. I must finish Scarf 4 and the application draft. I'll go labor now.

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