Thursday, January 28, 2010

What's In the Background?--Kay


14" x 14"    fused applique, pieced, hand quilted

The photo basis for this portrait was taken a couple of years ago in the village outside Paris where Van Gogh spent the last days of his life.  There was no one in the little park when we were there, so I did the dumb-tourist thing and had my husband photograph me beside Van Gogh's statue.


 I chose the photo simply because it turned out well and it's fun to remember the day; then I tried to think of how to make the portrait show something about me.

For the background, I scanned paintings by some of my favorite artists into Photoshop and filled them with a solid neutral fill.  I added pages from a favorite novel, because I was a book person before I became an "artist".  I wanted the images to be only partially visible.  After quilting, they appear only in certain lights, which is a bit less than I intended, but maybe that's appropriate.


For the face, I used the stamp filter in Photoshop to manipulate the image, printed the result on freezer paper, cut it out and fused it. (I've put more about how I did this on my blog.) The crazy pieced border  represents the quilter part of me, and the hand quilting is based (very loosely) on the hand quilting designs used by the Japanese quilters I admire so much.

But all that's just words.  In the end, probably subconsciously the color and design did come to reflect me:  it's orderly, quiet and tasteful, (but not dull, I hope),  a bit too cerebral.  But there I am in the middle, laughing.

The title comes from my husband's comment:  "It's you!  What's that stuff in the background?"  That seems to fit, I think.

16 comments:

  1. Well worth the wait Kay. I love the border and the Japanese aesthetic. Scanning those pictures and text really is such a great idea. Making your own fabric-inspired. Kind of like pentimento.

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  2. Wonderful! I love seeing the two pictures side by side. There seems to be so much of you in the piece and the process of you thinking about yourself while making the piece is wonderful to read about. I of course like the colors (they are my tastes too!). The juxtaposition of you laughing surrounded by the elegant and simple color scheme as well as the other complex elements is a really good effect. Good for you!

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  3. I love what you did with the background, I wish I could see it in person. It really does seem like the person is coming out in these portraits! Wonderful! work

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  4. What a great idea for the background of your piece!

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  5. Holey Moley, Kay! This is YOU! I have to say this is your best piece to date. I love the techniques you have used. I hope you will explore combining some of these ideas more. You may be onto something. Bravo!

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  6. This is brilliant - love all the thought put into the background and the execution is perfect!

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  7. Oh Kay, I don't even know what to say, shocking at that may seem. I've feel I've come to know you for quite some time now and built a connection but as I look at this piece and read about it I realize that actually - no - I didn't know you as I thought I did. True, I know you to be orderly, quiet and tasteful (and witty). I've always known you're talented and I often look to you for ways to order my own artistic life. But what I didn't know is that you've grown to have this ability to pull together so many techniques that combine to represent who you are in a "true to heart" way. This is important I think. It's a milestone in your abilities and I truly am in awe. Mostly because I've shared in your journey for a while now and know this is an honest to goodness combination of sheer talent and the sweat of pure effort. I am so honored to be among your friends, Kay. I learn so much from you. *karendianne.

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  8. Brava! This small scaled piece has a big impact. The fact that it can easily be seen from a distance and then the surprising content of the background up close is wonderful. I, too, wish I could see it up close and personal. Glad to know of your techniques with computer manipulations. All that knowledge is another "tool" in our box of tricks/techniques to make art.

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  9. Kay you did an awesome job! as soon as I opened up the blog page I knew it was you. great work!!

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  10. Wow. Kay, this absolutely over the top. I think the way you juxtaposed the distinct facial features over the diaphanous images in the background is inspired. You are right, it is interesting to see how our two pieces are similar and different at the same time. Very well done. Brilliant.

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  11. Not dull at all! Just a wonderful use of techniques to complement a well-conceived design that captures your own self-described personality.

    Enjoyed reading about the process you used for creating the silhouette.

    Kudos Kay!

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  12. Kay,
    One of the things I really like about this picture is your minimal use of the same blue in the border that you used for your face. The imaginary extended lines of the four pieces don't exactly match (that would be too much) but do intersect right where you want the eye to go--your face. You are just a very clever artist! That is the type of subtle detail I want to incorporate in my work!

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  13. I picked up on that detail effect too and thought the blue was well placed.

    Boy, Kay, you really set the bar high on this one! *wink*

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  14. I am so impressed! This is so fine in so many ways! The border that picks up the blue,the barely there background. Really grand! The bar is indeed set high!!

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  15. Well done Kay! I love how you added the background bits and how they did turn out subtle. And it is a great photo of you. You obviously were enjoying the day.

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  16. There is not much more one can say! Fantastic piece, excellent skills, it is you!

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Thanks for stopping by and commenting!