Wednesday, May 18, 2016

arte Rose Wylie

Adding my 2¢ of opinion to an online discussion often seems like a good idea to me, at the time. So, but for the grace of Google, which has locked me out of commenting in my ScanWeave group, until I produce my long lost password, I'd have felt compelled to offer my take on a recent discussion:  how often to advance the warp off the back beam, and  how frequently to move the rocking pivots on the overhanging beater of the Scandinavian loom forward,  for the optimal beat.

It turns out there are many aspects to the subject, which generated heated interest.  Opinions vary from never moving the rocking pivots forward, from a Swedish weaver who averred that no Swedish weaver she knew would ever do it, to moving it alternately, while advancing the warp, every 2 inches, never mind the temple, also advancing.

Of course, this sounds like an exercise I could never accomplish, like bringing myself to a free handstand in yoga class, that would require coordination well beyond my current (or future) ability and concentration, both sadly in decline.  It's probably better I can't comment, because I am  unqualified.  For the record, I've moved the rocking pivots on my loom rarely in my long weaving career, and when I did, it was only as a desperate measure, to eek out a few more inches of a warp that was coming up short.

In days past this kind of discussion would have preoccupied me. Should I pay attention to this? I am self taught and suspect (with substantial evidence) I may have quit teaching myself too soon. Maybe I'm not a real weaver.

But I am always interested in lively discussions by other, knowledgeable weavers, which I love to hear, and experience, if only vicariously, standing outside the inner ScanWeave circle.  To be clear, the ScanWeavers have always made me feel welcome. I do share their intensity about weaving matters, and try to pay close attention to the finer points.  But, I find my interests often lean in a different direction.  My  best hope at this point in my weaving career, is to be a competent weaver, no more, but certainly, no less.  I weave everyday of my life. My genetic code has made me a Scandinavian weaver to the bone.  I try to improve daily, or at least try not to lose ground.

The intensity of my feeling, and my urge to weave, conversely, increases steadily.  This state of mind usually begins with an image, or a memory, a fragile apparition.  I prepare my warps with as much planning and care as I can muster. I practice patience as I work out designs. I work deliberately at each step of the warping process, and try not to rush.  At the same time, I try not to make stupid mistakes.  I supply myself with  the best materials and colors I can procure.  I am finally able to develop very good, even tension, consistently, across my warp. Though I'm quite impressed with myself over these modest achievements, other qualities interest me more, and are what drive my desire to weave as often as I can.

Painters are often the source of my agitation, and tend to send me off in new weaving directions.  Lately, my muse and model for all things artistic is the British painter, Rose Wylie, who likes a quality of "slightly casual misfits," in her paintings. My obsession with her painting is acute, and people close to me have already had their fill of it. I usually can manage to work Rose Wylie into any conversation.

 Rose Wylie has a lot to say about her painting process.  She prioritizes the "object quality" of her canvases, "the thread, the glue, .... the marks of registration."  She cuts her canvases and pastes them on in a very casual, not precious way.  She even used to paint, stacking her canvases on the floor,  and sometimes even walk on  them.  This was not because of a careless approach to her work, but out of an intimate connection with it.  Her work is both careful, highly structured, and meaningful.   "In all the imperfection,"  she says, "the object becomes your own piece of work, it becomes very much a part of you."

 What is more saturated with "object quality" than a weave?  The beauty of raw materials, the feeling and shape that use and time add to the quality of a weave, the power of color and texture to surprise us, and change our perceptions.  I also obsess pay attention to Rose Wylie's fields of color, the division of the canvas, the use of black line, broken lines, subject (memory)..... I'm in artist-love again! Seeing these images sends direct current to my brain as I weave, and technique is a far-off consideration. If I am making a good weave, while getting close to my idea, I've accomplished what I desire. What weaver doesn't feel that way about her work?  Most importantly,  if I burn this new imagery into my brain,  how will it change my weaving?  It will change it. I anxiously wait to see that result.

In recent years I have read some discussion of craft whose highest achievement is not its "finesse, polish, and virtuosity. " "Sloppy Craft" and Arte Povera offer pushback to the dominance of skill as the primary criteria in woven work.  I don't mean to diminish the importance of skill,  but also to beware of its tendency to overpower, and even hold back the weaver/artist from achieving what may be the better part in the work.

Maybe I should have been a painter, but  I'm content to be able to call myself a weaver, even if it's just by the skin of my teeth.

Rose Wylie!


Theresa said...

Blood root is on my list of things I miss about the other side of the Rockies. Atlantic seafood, good corn on the cob and fireflies are also on that list.

Velma Bolyard said...

so i visited rose wylie's spot and liked her talk...i think you two are color sisters. the former post and this one are quite rich, you know, and i like reading your thoughts and seeing your photos.

Alice said...

"I also obsess pay attention to Rose Wylie's fields of color, the division of the canvas, the use of black line, broken lines, subject (memory)...."
Thank you for introducing me to Rose Wylie. Great post.

Susan said...

Velma, She talks about art the way I think about it. So I was thrilled to discover her work. I do like her color choices and would be very much at home in that kind of studio. Interesting to me, she took time off from her painting career to bring up her 3 children, which she does not regret because it was important work. And she made things during that time; she sewed clothes and made foie gras

Susan said...

Theresa, Yes, bloodroot. Pick a bouquet and stain your hand! I'm such a Midwesterner, I can't conceive of leaving the Great Lakes region, and despite our presently horrible political scene here, I do love Wisconsin

Susan said...

Thank you, Alice. I wrote this for a week or so. It's not quite right yet, but I thought I'd take a stab. And I am very excited about Rose Wylie, of course.

erin m riley said...

I love this post. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Skill is something that is great but should not get in the way of expression.

Cynthia Nicole said...

Thanks for the bloodroot and for introducing me to Rose Wylie. My heart is also stirred.

Susan said...

Thanks, Erin. You're the one carving out the territory I'm trying to talk about.

Susan said...

Cynthia, I hope you get a creative boost from R. Wylie. . It seems like there are too many missing pieces in our worldview, especially the missing female vision. I think I've become a born again feminist

Vibeke said...

hi Susan

it's no hurry to respond to it but i just wanted to ask you if you received an email from me some days back?

hello's from rainy Norway

Susan said...

Vibeke, yes. I have your email. I'll write to you tomorrow!

Velma Bolyard said...

susan, bring up children as art. being intentional. i wonder if that mitigated the guilt and the resentments...those insidious beasts of the artist/mom who intentionally mothers.

Susan said...

Velma, Rose Wylie in interviews says of course she is a feminist, and also describes the history of art as "male driven." This accurately describes the relationship of women and art today.

But she clearly defines herself first as a painter. She also has said she didn't resent the years she spent mothering, because that was important work. Even though her husband's (Roy Oxlade) painting career was dominant, she didn't resent him. I was pleased to read that both he and Rose were amazed and amused when the lorries started arriving to truck her paintings to the museums. She's certainly been acknowledged. But, she also says, she worked for years without any attention, which allowed her some freedom to grow as a painter. She implies that early success is often a burden to an artist. And at this stage of her life, while it's gratifying to have this recognition, it isn't so important to her as her own assessment of her work.

She seems to have found a balance, not a compromise. Women know that some of the most valuable work we do, mothering, will not be recognized or compensated in our culture. It is a great injustice, but we know it must be done, we do it with imagination, and for the future, This must change. I'm not making an apology for it.

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