Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Seasons Of My Life - A Self Portrait - Barbara

The Seasons Of My Life - A Self Portrait
37 inches X 26 inches
Commercial and Silk Hand dyed Fabric
Metallic Thread
Machine Pieced, Fused Raw Edged Applique
Machine Quilted

This is the first self portrait I have done.  I found it to be very hard to decide what you consider yourself to be.  All sorts of ideas went through my head but then when listening to the Fleetwood Mac song
"Landslide" there was the lyric, "the seasons of my life".  I decided that is truely how I feel right now.
I remembered a photo taken last fall of me in the  "Kettle Moraine State Forest" hiking.

My thoughts went into this direction.  I wanted to portray myself as in the fall of my life now.
(Even at 61 I do not consider myself to be in winter yet! )
 What be came the challenge was how to portray myself moving through these stages.

I pieced my background first in black and white strips going in a horizontal direction.  Then I cut them vertically and staggered them and resewed them together.  I sandwiched the piece and quilted the entire background. 

I sketched out the figure of me walking taking liberties with the clothing and hair.
I thought about how at some stage in our lives we stop seeing our bodies as aging and sometimes
(when in a dressing room especially) we wonder "whose body is that?"  So I portrayed myself as I think
I am.  However I added some telltale signs.  The strands of grey hair coming through regardless of "Nice and Easy". (I used metallic silver thread and purposed lowered my tension so it would look wirey and unruly like it is.)   The scarf wrapped around my neck to hide the double chin and the beginnings of turkey skin.  The glasses in my pocket that now have to go everywhere with me just in case I need to read or see a small object.

Then came the hard part.  How to portray myself in the past season and birth.  I attempted several things,  using light weight fabric for the figures, using diluted acryllics and painting them on etc. 
They were all to visible and I wanted these figures to  be there  only sometimes.
So I chose tulle in white, green and red.

I wanted to look like I have moved through my life conquering the good things and the bad and that  I am happy to see what comes ahead, still learning and looking for new experiences.
I also used the leaves to portray what I hope to be colorful,  happy, productive and successful things I have done in my past that I will be remembered for.

The final addition were the trees which are the barriers along the way that come our way.
I quilted all the surface details and then bound the quilt with a fused binding using the two fabrics, one dark and one colorful.

And I put a smile on my face!


  1. It's lovely, as I would have expected! What a terrific piece of work, beautiful without the explanation, and more meaningful with it.

  2. Your concept is very clear without the explanation but the explanation adds a second layer of meaning to your piece. So well done and interesting! Thank you!

  3. I think this is your best piece yet. Really. All of the layers of meaning both physical and mental. Really, a great effect. Just the right details really make the piece. Just a really well thought out and executed piece.

  4. Wonderful concept. A really great interpretation of you!

  5. WOW! What a great self-portrait!

    So this is what that pieced background was for. It's perfect for your interpretation and meaning ... as are all your other design decisions and material choices.

  6. At first glance I missed the YOU through the ages. I am so glad that you pointed them out. I think they do exactly what you wanted them to do.

  7. Beautifully executed, and a very interesting concept. I love the way you did the purple transparency and I see it as a collection of your life experiences and memories.

  8. Barbara, a well thought out and executed piece. I love how you used the tulle for earlier seasons, and your background perfectly captures the essence of the autumn trees in your photo. Pretty much everything you said in your statement really resonated with me! Congrats, a beautiful addition to the self-portrait gallery.


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