Saturday, May 31, 2014

- Trees on the Homestead: Improv applique

Here's a quick update on my last "What if," which seems to be working. After using Jude Hill's invisible basting technique from Spirit Cloth 101 to attach the back of a repurposed linen blouse to the Homestead towel, I started cutting away the areas in the design that are not tree-covered:

Where there are trees on the property, I'm turning under the green linen and tacking down the edges using Jude's appliqué technique.

It's slow going, but it's giving me the look I wanted. Hopefully my efficiency will pick up with practice, but that remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, I'm pondering a post on Spirit Cloth that takes exception to the concept of "stealing" from other artists. It's a legitimate gripe since the internet makes it incredibly easy to rip off someone else's work and misrepresent it as one's own ... and Jude Hill has been so victimized.

As a (retired) librarian, I have to agree with Jude's concern up to a point, since citing sources is part and parcel of quality research. But if you attribute or give credit to the inspiration for your work (as I did above), that's not "stealing," right?

"Steal" is a provocative word. And I can't speak for Austin Kleon, who uses the word in the title of his book Steal Like an Artist, but I actually like his use of "steal" because it makes me think he's trying to provoke his readers: "to stir up [them up] purposely" (to quote Merriam-Webster Online, Stealing sounds anti-social and not at all what we expect of artists ... which is why the title gets your attention and makes you think. 

In fact, Austin Kleon gives credit to his sources (even after he comes up with an idea on his own and only realizes later that it's already been done); he does not countenance theft. If anything, he's raising awareness about the difference between stealing from and being influenced by another person's work. So I would characterize him as a provocateur in the best sense of the word.

And that's not a bad thing at all.

An Artist's Story (4)

There's a watercolor in the guest room made by my grandfather (aka Pop Pops).

I know he painted it around the time he retired from the plumbing business, because he thoughtfully signed it:

He also informed his viewers that the subject of the painting was Old Ironsides, aka the  ...

And I just discovered Pop Pops copied it from another artist's painting. I know that because he wrote this along the bottom:

Which I think is pretty cool. I'd be hard-pressed to make a copy of this quality and I'm willing to bet that my grandfather got a fair bit of practice in mark making along the way to finishing this:

But he wasn't satisfied with copying. In the mid-1960s he took a correspondence course in watercolor painting from the Famous Artists School (which still exists).

His technique improved and he learned tricks of the trade, such as masking medium, which he used here to create an impression of grass blades and to sign his work.

Greatly influenced by Andrew Wyeth, my grandfather painted landscapes of the Catskills (using old photographs) and  Shelter Island shore birds (with details researched in field guides). Two of the bird paintings spent a lot of time on the walls of our homes and eventually landed in Meg and Paul's house, where we enjoy visiting them from time to time.

As wonderful as they always appeared to my (then young) eyes, I do remember my dad muttering darkly about "Jack's perspective" (or lack thereof). But that's another story.


Liz Ackert said...

An afterthought on "Steal Like an Artist" ... the problem with any writing is once you turn it loose in the universe, you cannot control how readers may (mis)interpret it.

Anonymous said...

I adore your map piece! (just came over from Jude Hill's forum). How stunning.

I read "Steal Like An Artist" last year and keep it out to keep referring to it... he's not talking about the Pinterest kind of stealing, but the real Artist kind of stealing... making the point that no one, from the most original artist to the lowliest producer of crap, works in a vacuum. Having said that, I'm not sure attribution solves all ills of borrowing. Certainly better than NOT, but... it's a tough one, sometimes!

Karen said...

Regarding your map piece...I see a cow at the top. Did you?

Liz Ackert said...

I didn't see it before you mentioned it ... how cool! Of course, now that I've sewed everything down it looks more like a golf course ;)