I think I have the value gradation figured out now. As I have said earlier, this is a learning exercise and I have learned lots from it. The shoes were fun to hook and relatively easy. But the background proved a challenge. I wanted it to be interesting but it ended up being distracting. There are still a few things to change, but I think I can now move gradually into the lights. Still, the interplay of background and foreground is something I will continue to experiment with in future pieces–it intrigues me. I’ll post it again when the lights are in.
And finally here is the Toffee Delta tote. This is the third in the delta series and a very nice one too. (You can see the red and green ones in the sidebar photoblog.) It is made from exceptional pebbly toffee leather which has a great look and feel. The very last bit of the flocked caramel skirt adds some character to the zipper pull, zipper end and side loops. It has carry handles and an adjustable shoulder strap which can be removed. It also has a reinforced bottom with four ‘feet’ to protect it from scuffs. Inside it is lined with some amazing African Karibu cotton in dark green and caramel and has two slip pockets and a zippered pocket. The large outside pocket closes with a magnet. This is the kind of tote that develops character as you use it–and it will be in use for many years to come. It is a great travel bag which will slip under an airline seat, or a useful tote on days when you have lots to carry. More details in the online shop–just press the button at the right of the screen.
ps if you hit the instagram button on the right, you will see the very beginnings of the next delta–another red one.
You probably know the saying Value does all the work; colour gets all the credit. I’ve been thinking about that as I have been working on this background. I have been putting in squares and then taking them out when they clearly did not work. My original idea was to have light values behind the shoes working out to a border of darks. But when I saw that the light values were not working, I realized that it was medium values that were needed to enhance the shoes. With a light value, the small strip of lining inside the shoes disappeared and the eye was confused. I took a look at the original posterized view of the shoes and my thoughts were confirmed. Medium values working out to light would work much better.
After a lot of pulling out strips and replacing them with medium values, it looks like this. I’m gradually working to a lighter value at the edges–being careful to make sure to move only one value step away. Working in medium and lighter values is much harder than working in dark values–somehow the darks allow more flexibility and imprecision. The eye seems to pick up any irregularity in both colour and value on the light side of the scale, making the background a distraction, not an enhancement. This seems better now; I’ll post again when it is completed.
On a totally different note, the Toffee Delta is finished and will be on the blog and in the on-line shop by Tuesday. I have been waiting for some good weather to photograph it. What a crazy cold and wild weather weekend it was!
And finally, we went out to Prince Edward Point to see the bird banding and do some sketching. It was so cold I had to stay in the car! Here is the photograph and the very quick sketch of the lighthouse, sadly missing its topnotch. And, oh yes, I got to hold a Baltimore Oriole at the banding station–magnificent!
I was delighted to receive a new piece of hooking from Catherine in Matangwe, Kenya. Although I was in Matangwe teaching hooking for several weeks, Catherine joined us only in the last two days. But, she learned quickly and completed her first piece before I left, making a special trip to the clinic to make sure that she gave it to me personally. And then this week this one arrived! As you can imagine, supplies in Kenya for rug hooking are very limited–but somehow she has found enough t-shirt pieces to make a well-designed piece. I am delighted and have great hopes that the women will be producing small rug-sized pieces next year.
And here are the shoes at this stage. This background is proving more challenging than I expected. I knew that the values would take special care–but I wasn’t prepared for the issues with colour. Because the pieces I am using are spot dyes and marbelized, the background has more colour than I want in places. I find some of the turquoise distracting and think it has to go! I’ll continue to work with it and post an update on Monday.
I haven’t had much time to work at this, but here is the progress so far. I am going to our rug hooking group today, so I hope you see a difference tomorrow. I’ll also explain what I am thinking about with the value changes. This is a working piece, a prototype, an experiment–and I am just seeing where it takes me.
I have made a small start on the background. It will be squares of neutral colours working outwards from light to dark. I gathered a pile of strips in the right values and started between the shoes. I hope the colours will create a subdued flickering behind the shoes, interesting but not intrusive. I have always thought that backgrounds, while by definition must of course take a ‘back seat’, should be as interesting as the main motif. Check back to see if my plan works! Also the toffee Delta should be done by the end of the week.
I am back. The last two days were spent driving north from the Carolinas, through the stunning multiplicity of spring’s early greens punctuated by numbing blocks of urban sameness. Twenty hours of sitting provides a lot of time for reflection.
Last night as I was trying to remember just where I store the tea (and we were only gone 10 days!) I was rereading Jonah Lehrer’s essay on why we travel. He cites various experiments which show that travel has a lasting impact, making us more creative because we’re less insular. We’re reminded of all that we don’t know, which is nearly everything; we’re surprised by the constant stream of surprises. Even in this globalised age, slouching toward similarity, we can still marvel at all the earthly things that weren’t included in the Lonely Planet guidebook and that certainly don’t exist back home.
We travel because we need to, because distance and difference are the secret tonic of creativity. When we get home, home is still the same. But something in our mind has been changed, and that changes everything.
I walked along the expanse of beach early each morning and than again at night. This was my favourite part of the time away. I’ll share a few of the photos I took and then I am off to take advantage of the secret tonic of creativity. Maybe these glimpses of this wild beauty will inspire you too. I hope so.