writer, artist, scholar, cultural critic, queer theorist
Planning and Playing
The first image to the right is the pattern which I created by flipping the Klee painting horizontally (to the left) and measuring each of the shapes in the painting, and then converting those very roughly into the pattern I want to use for the piece. I cut out each of the shapes, laid them out so that I could get a sense of the overall pattern.
Next, I took the Google Earth image of Morocco and grabbed the RGB codes from different areas of the map--the blues and whites of the ocean, the greens and the reds of the coast, the browns and pinks of the desert. I converted these RGB codes into the DMC thread codes--very rarely was there a 1:1 match between the RGB and the DMC codes so that this triple translation (satellite map, RGB code, DMC code) will necessary create variations between the colors on the satellite map and the final colors I use in the piece. I like this abstracted method, which will lead to a more abstract pattern and color palette.
I placed the DMC threads on the patterns, allowing myself to not hold to an exact replica of the Klee or the Google Earth imagine of Morocco's geography.
Finally, I converted the DMC threads back into their RGB codes in order to plot it out in an excel sheet--the last image to the right--to get a rough sense of what the piece should look like when it's done.
I like the colors, the pattern, and the varied shapes.
Buried in this blocking are the seven shapes that are meant to represent the seven cities in Morocco, which will also correspond with representations of seven writers--Paul Bowles and six contemporaries who influenced Bowles' life and writing.
Test pattern of the "ocean" blocks; i.e., the four upper left squares. Here, I'm seeing how different stitching techniques create different patterns. The light blue in the upper left corner is stitched horizontally, 10 single stitches followed by 10 double stitches and then another 10 single stitches. The double stitches pull the linen tight so that there are blank spaces between the stitches. I don't think I like this effect.
The darker blue area diagonal from the light blue contains the same pattern, but this time I stitched it horizontally so that there is an alternating pattern of slightly raised and slightly depressed rows.
Finally, I'm testing out the blending of the edges between shapes to try and get the blurred edges of the Klee painting. I've done this by combining the two colors of each shape where they meet.
I don't like the blurred edges effect. It creates a sloppy pattern, and it's going to get maddening at the intersections of four shapes. I'm going to forgo trying to get the blurred edges of the Klee.
I do like the effect I'm getting from stitching horizontally and vertically. It's subtle enough to give texture, without being too busy, which I think the double stitch creates.
It was good to spend the last month or so stitching this test patch, even if in the end it wasn't successful.
I have begun mapping out my next cross stitch project, which I'm titling Klee Bowles.
I plan to use Paul Klee's 1923 painting Pictorial Architecture and Paul Bowles' writings to stitch an abstract landscape of Morocco.
Both Klee's painting and Bowle's writings are influenced by Morocco's landscape.
I will stitch a sand background that will be dotted with multicolored square blocks-whose colors will be determined by the palette of the Klee painting-and whose composition will be determined by Bowles' writing.
It's not clearly sketched out yet, but it will come into focus as I move forward.
Let's see how many years this one takes.
While reading Bowles' book of short stories and his novel The Sheltering Sky, I'm also thinking how this project might manifest itself. I'm playing with colors and different cloth for the piece. I'm thinking about how Klees's painting intersects with Bowles's writing. How the landscape of this textile will come together.
During this play period, I'm doing test patterns on different cloths and throwing together different colors of thread.
Right now, I'm thinking of using a map of Morocco to determine the color scheme of the background stitching. I brought up Morocco on Google Earth, which you see to the right. I'm fascinated by the pinkish browns and grays and rusts of the desert in the southwest part of the country, and the greens and reds and golds of the mountains in the northeast. My interpretation of this landscape is to the right. (Don't know yet if I'm going to include the incredible blues of the ocean.
I've also been working on mapping out the major Moroccan cities-Marrakesh, Casablanca, Rabat, Tangiers, Fes-according to their longitude and latitude, and using the colored rectangles of Klee's painting to represent them on the map.
This is the fun part, the playing, the imagining. Those moments before it's time to get down to the actually stitching, which, at times, becomes monotonous. The heavy slog. (It's the same with the writing process.)
A. W. Barnes