Friday, June 21, 2013

Art Quilt Portfolio: People & Portraits

Martha Sielman's new book, Art Quilt Portfolio: People & Portraits has been calling to me from my inbox for over 2 months now.  I finally found a few hours to sit, read, admire, and reread.
Small disclaimer:  The poor photography is my error NOT the book, for it is gorgeous!
Personally, I have never felt the need or want to recreate a person in fabric which may relate back to my fear of eyes as a child.  All the photos and dolls had to be turned around at bedtime and no one caught this early warning of my neurosis:)). 
Even so, I can completely appreciate the skill it takes to achieve the depth and realism these artists are able to.  My personal favorites contain a background and/or landscape that helps to tell the story.
In the Intro, Martha speaks of her love of people watching and wanting to know and capture their stories.  I too am fascinated by people but not from an artistic point of view.  Where I am intrigued by the societal interaction (the way a mother holds, scolds, loves a child/ young lovers and old lovers), an artist wants to capture the look and feel of that moment.  This book contains some very successful moments in time.
Maria Elkins' work graces the cover and I use that word with every one of its meanings conveyed.  Words are hard to come by to describe the comfort I find in her work.  The cover quilt is phenomenally quilted and this, along with her other works, tend to contain traditional quilt images which may be why I am so drawn to them.  As you read, let her work take you to a similar moment in your life and you will understand the comfort.
Joan Sowada: Her shading is dead on and the backgrounds really pulled me in.  The few pieces in the book fascinated me enough to head over to her site where I found more lovely pieces including an adorable piece of 2 young girls with a quilt.
Again I felt that the backgrounds added so much to the story and I was very intrigued by how they were assembled to give so much movement.  Being an applique designer, I keep thinking I can accomplish this too but why try when the best are already here:)
Let's talk Nudity:  Blame my conservative upbringing, but I have never seen the point of nudity in art whether traditional paintings or other.  I am not saying I can't appreciate a good body but I just don't need to go see it out in public especially the ones made to shock.  Having said that, I really liked the beautifully creative way Sherri Culver (pg. 57) portrayed this young pregnant mother-to-be using floral fabric to symbolize the blossoming of new life. Whether that was her intent or not, that is what I, the viewer, took away. 
Yoshiko Kurihara (pg. 66) portrays people in such a festive way....There always seems to be a party happening.  She is able to bring such a joyful feeling to the viewer without facial details.
Masquerade on pg. 70 was my favorite (not just because I love the song from Phantom of the Opera either) because of all the other details she included of the room too.  It just screams FUN!

I have 2 artists I want to call out and praise for their exceptional use of commercial prints to achieve such emotion and realism.  I am not saying it is easy to paint a face because it isn't, but having that blank canvas sure helps.  Using a print of something completely unrelated to your topic to convey shades of a smile is quite a feat!
Margene Gloria May (pg. 112) and Lori Lupe Pelish (pg. 118), way to go.

Then we go a step further to exceptional use of a commercial fabric and take a look at Mary Pal (pg. 144).  Although I may not be drawn to faces, her skill at conveying emotion through cheesecloth knocks my socks off!

Because I like backgrounds so much, JennyBowker (pg. 150) grabbed my attention with how she put her people into their element.  Hassan and the Glass is fantastic in subject, skill, and color.  The work on her website contains so many exceptional, traditional backgrounds as well.  I could dream for hours here.

Pam Rubert has been on my radar for more than a few years now. Her work is so colorful and creative.  The biggest attraction for me though is her wordplay.  Anytime an artist can catch me with a pun or a play on words, I am in:) 

It is true that "art is in the eye of the beholder" because you just never know what will catch your eye and why.  I would say that I am not a lover of portraits but I found so many pieces in here that spoke to me.  Maybe it was a smile or a color or the movement in a background....

I could keep talking and pointing out the great skill and talent in the book but then there wouldn't be anything left for go get it and share your insights with us.

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