Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Design decisions: the making of Fractured

Fractured by Gillian Cooper
Sharp eyed readers may have noticed on my photos of my exhibition at the Scottish StorytellingCentre that there was another new piece of work there which I haven't written about.  It is a piece I have been intending to make for ages, but I only finished it at the very last moment (the day before I hung the show).
It started life on my floor drawn out on lining paper and I walked over it for several weeks, before it got so grubby and damaged I decided to start again. 
Second version of the figure
I also think that I had been holding back making it because I wasn’t completely convinced of the design and needed to think through all the technicalities of how I was going to make it.  So it was redrawn and I then made the figure shape.
Cutting the figure
The kids were horrified when I took the scissors to it and cut it into the pieces.  
The chopped up figure
Originally, I was going to stitch it to strips of patched silk.  This then changed to clustered pieces.  Finally, I decided to make the silk as one complete background.  
Stitching the silk background
The mega downside of this was the size, especially as I was using Vilene as a backing as it was very difficult to manipulate under the sewing machine.  I made it in two long strips, then stitched them together.
Tacking the two strips together
So I added the figure onto this background, played around with where the pieces were going to go, stood back... and... realised that it didn’t work.  
Before adjusting the tonal balance
I photographed it to confirm that it didn’t work and made it black and white.  
The black and white version
Which just proved it further.  There wasn’t sufficient tone differentiation between the background and the foreground. 
With the organza over the background
I tried adding a pale blue organza layer over the background, but it didn't make enough difference.
With rapid haste, the background got made lighter with paintstiks, which also added more texture, thus improving the piece.  The figure was darkened by overpainting, several times to get a darker shade.
The figure exploding out over the background
When I put it back together again, the next decision was exactly how to layout the figure pieces.  I decided to make it easy to read as a figure, rather than having them spread out more randomly as shown above.  Which do you think is better?
Stitching the figure to the background

These were stitched down in place and the piece made ready for hanging, with all of several hours to spare.  It is rather big (8 feet high) and I’m not sure I want to make another piece so large, but I do like the idea of the fractured figure, so I think there may be further versions of this to come.


Maggi said...

Thank goodness for surface design techniques because adding the paint made all the difference. I agree that the less exploded version looks better. I like the other but perhaps that is for a later step.

Gillian Cooper said...

Yes, surface design techniques are fantastic, especially when you discover the problem at 10pm on a Saturday night!

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