Stepping Over the Line

Last week I wrote about my current Surround series. This series has a unifying theme involving color using all different shades of purple to be the "surrounding" fabric. For the focal point on the inside shape or "what is surrounded by the purple fabric," I have no rules. The inside shape can be any color, square or rectangle, and anywhere within the square. This is a perfect blend for me of constraints and freedom. It makes me excited to get into the studio every day.  

In the past, when I've mentioned how I like to push up against the self-imposed constraints I have set for myself in each series, I often get blank stares from people. I thought I would try to explain this creative habit of Stepping Over the Line because it is one of my favorite things to do. It makes me daydream about design and is the main thing I do to help me look forward to getting into the studio every day. In a way, I do more than push up against my own self-imposed rules.  I actually like to break them. Usually, when I first start the series for the first week I abide by the rules. Then I slowly break the rules apart bit by bit. I can’t deviate too far because then the individual square would stand out from the other 24 squares in the final piece a bit too much.  As in most things, it is a balancing act. I have found it is always these squares where I allow myself the freedom to Step Over the Line of the design or color rules of each series, which resonate with me the most.

Day 302 of 2016. Surround series.

For the Surround series inside shape I started out with three strips of fabric making three horizontal lines in the center of the square surrounded by a medium color purple. The next day the fabric strips I sewed together were not quite squared off but had a slight angle. I decided to break my rule of a square or rectangle shapes on Day 2 in the series. I included a photo of Day 302 of 2016 to show you. I was off to a good start. Things really got crazy when I ran out of one of the purple colors so instead of the same color purple for the Surround fabric I threw in different purple fabric on Day 306 of 2016. I included a photo so you can see for yourself.

Day 306 of 2016. Surround series.

I did set the rule of “No Rules” for the inside shape, so technically I can’t Step Over the Line because there really was no line. So then I turn to my next tool which is Variation with in my self-imposed constraints. First, I started using fabric scraps from last month series for the inside shape. But then I branched out into my basket of scraps and picked out some chartreuse green and some Kaffe Fassett shot cottons. I even thought about using a hot pink fabric strip but thought that was maybe too bold of a choice. Not one of my favorite colors either. I have also been playing about where the inside shape is in the overall square, the center or off to one side. I don’t measure but rather just eyeball it.

Days 76-100 of 2015. Gulf Waters series.

One of my favorite examples of Stepping Over the Line is in the series Gulf Waters. I used mostly green and blue fabric with accents of tomato red. At one point, I decided to add one little square of white. I must say this white square is my favorite part of the whole piece. My eye always goes to that one white square. You can see it in the 4th row down and the 3rd square over in the middle. It reminds me of one of my favorite paintings at the Art Institute of Chicago called a Rainy Day in Paris by Gustave Caillebotte. My eye always goes to the woman’s diamond earring. It's that little speck of white.  

Rainy Day in Paris, 1877 by Gustave Caillebotte at the Art Institute of Chicago