Friday, October 06, 2006

Color Conundrum - part I


This is the star I wrote of a few days ago. I've been living with it. It's grown on me so I think I'll make three more for another "quartet". It will be slow going, partly because each star has 128 pieces and takes three to four hours to piece and because I'm working on monarchs [per yesterday's entry].
I keep thinking about color, taking it personally. We say that some people have "a musical ear" or "an eye for color" or a nose for scandal -- well forget that, it's a metaphor. A few people called "Noses" are well paid by the perfume industry and the food industry has tasters. Some people are born with extraordinary musical or color skills. Most of us can never be Mozarts or Matisses. But, like so many skills, we can learn and hone our innate abilities, even if they're mediocre. I'm told even tone deaf people can learn to sing. I know an art quilter who, as an adult decided to learn to sing -- I don't think she was tone deaf, just untutored. She found a good teacher and can now sing and it gives her much joy.
I have a poor musical ear, I cannot hear a tune and reproduce it on the piano as my grandchildren can. But my mother believed her job was to raise a daughter with the social skills she wished she had which included piano lessons. I learned to read music and the dexterity came easily. But I had very poor teachers and learned almost nothing about music although I played the piano hours a day because I loved music. Not until my own children found piano too boring to practice and I decided to take lessons from their excellent teacher did I begin to learn musicality. My mother didn't mean to give me classical music but I discovered it and have been enriched ever since, mainly listening, but also playing the piano.
I think color skills are analogous. In my case there were no art classes in school. I had crayons for a while but no instruction. There were no art museums, no awareness of art. -- An aside: I vividly remember a calendar from an insurance company that had a picture of Rosa Bonhuer's Horse Fair.

It's a powerful painting. I had no idea those huge horses were painted by a woman. Not until I moved to NYC did I see the size of that painting. I was stunned that that picture I recall from seeing before I was ten, has a major space in the entry hall to the impressionists in the metropolitan Museum. When at the Met, I usually go by and say hello to the horses and salute an iconoclastic woman (a wearer of pants a la George Sand).
I learned about color combining sewing my own clothes. I am thoroughly comfortable combining garments, as most women are, but I am especially comforted living in NYC knowing I can dress all in black any time, any place and I'll look fine. That is how many insecure New Yorkers dress; it's also economical. The easiest fall back decision any day.
Back to color and quilting. I've read the color theory books, but I feel about them the way I feel about trying to read music without a piano to play. It's not helpful. I don't have the eye to carry theory in my head, or the ear to hear music on the page.
Part of the reason I've made fourteen "quartets" is because I wanted to practice color combinations in a small venue. I have lots of fat quarters or other smallish pieces of fabric and a great array of colors. I choose colors that are not those that Carol Doak uses. I have often made a square or only half a square and chucked it and changed one or several different colors for the quartet. Even with a pile of fabric on the table, my judgment of what will be strongest is not good; I have to see it sewn. I've been prepared to chuck this one. I might sew another and still chuck it ... this is definitely pushing my comfort level but I believe I can't learn if I don't push take the leap..

2 comments :

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magikquilter said...

I adore this block June.