Colwell Cedars Retreat
~ merging awareness, creativity, and nature ~
ELENA’S ASPEN ©Katherine Colwell 2012
9 ½” H x 9 1/2” W x 1/2” thick.
Hand embroidered monotypes and hand dyed silk. Silk fabrics, pigments, dyes, beads, charm.
Silk, cotton and metallic threads. Cotton batting, hand quilting and hand sewing.
More than any of my 2-Sided or 3-Dimensional embroidered works, Elena’s Aspen is a synthesis of a lifetime of inspirations and experiences:
* Formal sewing and tailoring classes in the 1960s as a young adult provided a foundation of universal skills, including the ability to plan and execute complex projects. With Elena’s Aspen, it felt like coming home as I worked at the sewing machine and did the hand-sewing.
* Forty-plus years living in nature, observing nature, and recording nature in art media, provided a broad world outlook on which to base most of my artwork. I do not sell my drawings; they are organized in my flat files in general chronological sequence for inspiration for future embroidered imagery.
* Formal fine art education — with its focus on design fundamentals, printmaking, plein air drawing — provided a foundation in seeking harmony and balance while including contrast and variety of art elements. “The hidden harmony is better than the obvious one” says Heraclitus.* On October 7, 1998, Joe and I drove up Leroux Creek Road with our friend Elena, to walk among the autumn aspen. While they walked (near Gray Reservoir), I drew the contours and painted the colors. The 7 1/2″ x 5 1/4″ graphite drawing Elena’s aspen became the source for the imagery on the back of this work. As with all my drawings they are either posted in my studio or stored in the studio flat files.
* In May 1998, during our first annual Fiber and Embroidery Retreat at Colwell Cedars, the silk fabric and hand-dye explorations resulted in the joyful color background for the backside of Elena’s Aspen. The 12″ x 12″ piece of hand-dyed silk chiffon was posted on my studio wall from May 1998 to December 2009, waiting for the “right” synthesis of experiences to become part of an artwork.
* From 1998 to 2004, membership in S & B Quilters, in Hotchkiss, resulted in learning modern/contemporary quilting and piecing and fabric manipulation techniques.
* During an intensive monoprinting workshop in Mendocino in 2004, I created the two monotypes (a blue version and a yellow/green/blue version) which I used to make the front side of Elena’s Aspen. I rotary cut 1 1/4″ pieces and arranged them so the strongest blue pieces are the labyrinth area, the yellow/gree pieces are the upper area, and the brown/orange pieces the lower area. The monotypes’ imagery was also based on the plein air graphite drawing from October 7, 1998.
In 2004 I began exploring frameless finishing and presentation methods for my work.
By embroidering the backs, the two-sided pieces became sculpture or wall pieces. This frameless approach is a continuation of the 3-dimensional embroidered book formats I began exploring in the mid-1990s.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s I studied modern quilting and piecing techniques and materials, which enhanced my lifelong sewing and tailoring skills. The resulting synthesis provides a wealth of possibilities for two-sided embroideries.
This Two-Sided Embroidery is among many embroidery, fabric, and print works available.
* I began formal planning in December 2009, completed the stitching on February 17, 2012, and the mounting for display on March 1, 2012.
The same month, it was exhibited with two other 2-sided embroideries in a group show. The back of Elena’s Aspen is shown in middle right in the exhibit photo.
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Hotchkiss, Colorado, USA.
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