Tuesday, September 29, 2009


The Compositional Conversation piece continues to develop and travel from artist to artist and each version continues to be a surprise and in some way, a reflection of the artist of that stage. One of the aspects I have found most interesting is the variety of approaches I hear described. This is not surprising to me but it is especially interesting as "the studio experience" is the main driving force in my own work and I know that over time we all develop ways of working that are very specific to our own personalities and techniques.

This week's artist is Fulvia Luciano whose work focuses on surface design. Fulvia is the creator of our video and has shared with us a few of the compositions she auditioned.

Fulvia Luciano's Comments

I have enjoyed the challenge of being part of a group process that has been completely new and foreign to me. Funny how what I thought would be difficult or of concern, never was. By that I mean that I had imagined all along that "touching" someone else's parts (stay tuned for more on that choice of words) would be unthinkable and probably not something I could execute. Fear not - I touched, I cut, I moved!

As it turns out, I unpacked and pinned up on my design wall the project as Leslie sent it to me. I let it hang there for a few hours and kept observing it to try and understand it in the flesh, as opposed to what I had been seeing on the blog, like all of you. This confirmed my very first reaction: that I liked the vertical orientation of the piece, its colour, shape and size, and that my favorite shape was the one with which Terry launched this, but also that there was just too much going on, not all of which I could understand or follow visually. On any day, I subscribe to the 'less is more' style so I had to edit, edit, edit the work. In looking at the piece as it had come to me, I kept thinking of Ray Bradbury's writings or some other fantastic plot whereby the component parts were on a joyous trip at the shore...I liked very much the olive-puce colour of that long shape next to the red piece but my brain kept calling it 'a stomach' or a 'world wrestling federation belt' and that thought continued to get in my way and I could work with it successfully as it was presented. There was only one thing to do: photograph the piece and then remove everything and start over, and that's what I did.

I knew I wanted to keep the background colour, the red shape, the black and blue fabrics, but after that, it was all up for grabs for me. Something else I did not expect was that I did not have the urge to add an element of my own creation: in fact, I kept editing and working with what had already been offered to see if I could meet the challenge. The video shows you some of the many iterations, incarnations I considered. I realized that what kept me trying more and more things was not just that perhaps they were all bad - which is entirely possible --but, rather, the fact that since I was not to finalize the piece, well, then this was an open-ended/endless stage. I absolutely could have continued to go on and on and...you get the drift. In the end, that was the second surprise: that I could only go on and on trying different arrangements for so long before the excitement/interest left me and it became a seemingly endless exercise. I guess that is not that odd considering I am one of many along the way.

Now Marcia gets to try her hand at this and I am just o.k. with the shape it is in at this point. I realize, as I write this, that it is reminiscent of Munari's fantastical machines. "Le Macchine di Munari" was a book that I read as a child but I had not thought about it until just now. From the publisher:

Artist, writer, product designer, architect, graphic designer, illustrator, educator, and philosopher Bruno Munari created an enormously successful and utterly charming book in 1942 called Le Macchine di Munari. It contains instructions for building the most fantastical of mechanical structures, including a machine for taming alarm clocks, a lizard-driven engine for tired tortoises, a mechanism for sniffing artificial flowers, a humiliator for mosquitoes, a machine for playing the pipe even when you are not home, a machine for seeing the dawn before anyone else, and a tail wager for dogs.

Look it up on any of the large online book sellers.

Thank you for letting me play!

Personal bit:

Some years ago I started playing with fabric and paint. At the time, I did not know how to sew at all so I started teaching myself and practicing, practicing, practicing. My work has evolved over the years and it always incorporates a few, favorite elements: paint, dye, drawing, photographs, text, and stitch. I live in my head and in my heart, where I carry my homeland, Venezuela, and I show that love by letting it flow through my fingers as they do the work. I like simple, direct, succinct conversations - textile and otherwise - so I am going to have to leave you now ...Thank you for this opportunity.

Heartland - Fulvia Luciano

Detail - Heartland - Fulvia Luciano

Detail - Heartland - Fulvia Luciano

Check your June/July 2008 issue of Quilting Arts Magazine for an article on Fulvia or click HERE for a PDF version of the article.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Wow! Stage Six. We are moving right along and elements of the work are beginning to shift around. Leslie Bixel has given us a through report on her thinking process and how she has contributed to the work. If you didn't see the new Video or the CC Grid from this past weekend, please visit the previous post. I will be updating both of those as the weeks pass. Leslie has a lot to say so let's get going.

Leslie's Observations on the Project

So we are now officially in the messy middle of our conversation. And it does seem very different than what I had expected. I can't just drop a colorful bon mot and expect to move the conversation along. I need to acknowledge the other voices in the room and respond with something appropriate. I feel pressure to resolve the piece even though we just started getting into the meat of the conversation.

Because aesthetic choice is so personal, I realize that someone else's compositional choices may not be the same as mine. I therefore want to be very careful to evaluate the composition I receive on formal elements, and look for areas of potential adjustment or enhancement. I also understand that as artist number 5 of 14, I'm not likely to resolve everything, maybe not anything. So instead, I want to take the opportunity to move the piece along and keep the conversation flowing.

Design Process Notes

First Impressions:

I opened up the package on Wednesday morning. Wow, a total re-design!!! A bit disorienting. I need to get re-acquainted with the piece. Which way is up? Interesting addition of some sienna colored bits to move the eye around. What happened to the first figure? Oh there it is. Now it's a spark plug. Fun. I like the sense of spontaneity and whimsy. But I'm not sure what to tackle first. The piece feels "finished", so in order to contribute, I will likely need to deconstruct something. What will it be?

Still undecided about the orientation, I hung it on my design wall horizontally, in order to have a clear view for considering compositional elements from the other side of the room.

The large yellow rectangle of complex cloth, while beautiful, is very bossy. I feel the need to cut it up, and use its power in a more subtle and controlled way.

I sent a message to the group asking if it would be OK to cut stuff up. They said yes.

First approach a false start with color:

Itching to make my mark on the piece, I dove directly into my stash, and started auditioning colors for new figures. I always start with color. To me color is central to any work of art I make, and since color is often the focus of my work, I had assumed this is where I could safely contribute to the piece.

If I couldn't cut down the complex cloth, maybe I could balance it with some acid greens.

Maybe a figure in a plumy purple, or an ocean blue?

I left it on the design wall for 3 days until I could make time to work again in the studio. Which means I had a lot of time to think about the piece before diving in.

The art class in my head

As I went about meeting other commitments over those three days, I thought about this piece frequently. I even dreamed about it. As time passed, more and more details of the piece revealed themselves to me. It was frustrating not being able to get to the studio, but I was getting something out of reflecting on the work pinned to my design wall. Sitting at my office desk one afternoon, I wrote up a very analytical mini-critique to the compositional elements of the piece.

Color Palette:
From a strictly formal viewpoint, the palette of this piece has yet to be defined, and currently lacks an internal logic, with warm and cool, and multiple values in competition within the space. The red is an extremely strong element, as is the acid yellow, and both want to come forward as figures above everything else.

The line work is a mix of both linear and curved. Still roughing in, the current state of line work lacks a unified sensibility or dominant gesture. The large rectangular fabrics do not have distinctly defined shapes, and do not seem to have been cut with intention.

This new composition has a couple of islands. Not clear that the grey pieced element can stand on its own as a figure. Things are floating, not connected, and there is no repeated shape other than rectangles. The ground is still a single color and does not contribute to defining the space, nor is the current composition create a strong sense of layers or depth.

The current composition reads as two figures. The central figure dominates the composition from the middle, the secondary figure wants to pull you to the edge of the piece, but is not strong enough to do so. The strong yellow element at the very edge unexpectedly disappears, and has the effect of making the mouse grey background more square.

The current composition is balanced so that it reads from most orientations fairly equally, possibly leaning towards a portrait (vertical) orientation.

The only repeated elements, the small sienna rectangles move the eye around the piece. The two yellow fabrics play off each other.

The yellow fabrics create very large figures, and end up dominating the composition.

A Plan Emerges

After thinking about all the design elements of the piece for several days, I decided my objective would be to create a stable ground that allows figures to float above and interact with each other in a jazzy sort of Stuart Davis way.

Studio Day 1:
Structuring the ground
I took off the big yellow fabric to get a good look at the other elements.

I liked the idea of using the strong linear elements to organize the space into distinct areas across the piece. I took everything off the background, but kept some elements pinned together to preserve their current relationship. I roughed in linear elements to proportion the space in a pleasing way.

I restored a design passage I really loved in a previous composition by using the big red element in relation ship to the ocher amoeba-like element to add yet another vertical component.

Time to play with color
So now I had some structure. Time to work on color. In order to push the background even further to the cool side, I decided i wanted to add blue elements to the space. I had another reason for choosing blue. I wanted to include something that both speaks to the environment where I live looking out at the Pacific ocean, and that could contribute a spiritual element of calm comfort in the design.

I used two shades of solid blue fabric and the existing black element to color block the space. After I roughed it in, I carefully cut the shapes to the blocks (blue and black) with focus on the line work at the edges of the shapes. I got the right hand side of the piece looking OK to my eye, but the line work on the blue element to the left felt too hard and straight.

I decided to sleep on it and see if I could do better in the morning.

Studio Day 2:

At first glance, I realize I have been letting the urge to resolve things influence me. My goal was to provide structure and support to the artists ahead of me in the project. So, rather than perfecting the blue shape on the left, I decide to remove the element entirely.

Now the piece feels wide open and unfinished again, and I feel pleased about making room for others. I see about 10 things I want to change, but again push aside the pressure to resolve, and resist and changes that require a sharp blade or scissors.

I feel like I have moved the piece forward and achieved my objective of stabilizing the background by unifying the color palette with cool tones, creating rhythm and structure across the space with the use of vertically placed linear elements, and defining distinct spaces through the use of color blocking on the right side of the piece.

Time to play with figure placement

The Red & Ochre figures now appear quite static marching along with the vertical elements of the background.

I decide to place them oriented horizontally by rotating them 90 degrees. Ahhhhh. Much better.

Meanwhile, I have thought about the shapes I would like to see added as figures. I knew I would cut into the complex cloth I had put aside if I was going to get it to work without overpowering the composition. I wanted curved, organic shapes with a gesture capturing the human arm's motion. I used a chalk marker to draw a sweeping curve, and a boomerang.

I played with positioning the curved shape , first on the left, then on the right.

I responded to the way the curve interacted with the line created by the color fields.

Finally, I added my boomerang in relation to the two strong figures on the right of the composition. I placed it to echo the curve on the left, to build a bridge across the vertical element.

Happy at this added bit of whimsy, I pinned everything in place.

Intentionally Imperfect and Unresolved

Here is my "final" composition. Intentionally unresolved and open to more input, but also speaking to my own compositional sense of rhythm, proportion, balance & gesture.

Leslie Bixel - Stage Six

Leslie Bixel Mini-Artist Profile:

Leslie Bix working with "Desert Life" on wall. This quilt is 73" x 72" and was made in 2008.

About 10 years ago I made a switch from oil painting to quilting. Since then I have been exploring various fiber techniques, mastering the craft of sewing, building a body of work, and searching for my own voice. Color is my emotional touchstone and is a consistent theme across all my artwork, regardless of media. In recent years I have created several color experiments using commercial printed fabrics, ordered by the gridded structure of traditional quilts. My sense of composition has been greatly enhanced by studying under Nancy Crow, and she has inspired me to move forward with more abstract and contemoporary work. In 2007 I began dying all my own fabrics. Currently I am involved in a series of pieces that reflect the organic forms and subtle colors of the pristine redwood forest surrounding my Northern California home.

Detail: Desert Life

To read more about Leslie's life and work as an artist please visit her blog: O-I-Quilt.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


The first four versions of our project have all been interesting. Each artist has worked with the composition in a thoughtful way, interjecting their personal vision into the piece. The composition has become more complex and challenging as it has passed through the hands of the first four artists. I had been thinking that soon, someone would be forced to rearrange something because space was becoming limited.

Several of the artists wrote me inquiring about possible changes they might do to the piece: could an already existing element be reshaped, or could you do a surface design process on someone else's contribution etc. As these issues were resolved I received the following email from Shelley Brenner Baird that I thought was interesting. Shelley wrote, "I find these questions really interesting because for me the project really does have distinct phases and what seems to be the middle phase is a lot harder than the initial phase where we were mapping out space, and using up a lot of it. That leaves editing and altering as the next logical step. I would be happy to see my stuff cut up, drawn on, sewed on, or added to!! For my way of working the first phase was really hard for me. "

I agree with Shelley, it's becoming more difficult. This weeks artist, Judi Hurwitt, has really broken things open by doing an overall reorganization of the piece.

Judi Hurwitt's Comments

I'll just say this right up front - I knew even before the Conversation piece arrived in my hands that I wanted to dismantle it. I'm like a little kid that way. I learn, in part, by deconstructing something and then reconstructing. I knew that putting it back together so that it looked exactly as it had before would never satisfy me - I was going to rearrange every element I could, leave off what I couldn't use, and hope no one hated me for doing it.

The boldness of this plan, of taking apart someone else's work and reinterpreting it, made me shake in my shoes. Me, a complete unknown. Who do I think I am?

But I wanted to remain open to all possibilities. I even contacted Terry - an probably scared the tar out of her - and asked if the background fabric could be altered, painted, overdyed or replaced. And secretly, of course, I wondered what I believe we're all wondering: will I be the first one to take the scissors to someone else's work?

These questions gave me some sleepless nights.

When the quilt top did arrive, I donned my leather work gloves to guard against the many pins Shelley had kindly warned of, pulled it out of its box and spread it out on my work table.

The first thing that occurred to me was that the piece wanted to be ironed and de-fuzzed. There were some minor wrinkles, and some of the elements were, as could be expected, fraying a little.

I took each element off, carefully pressed and de-linted it, set it aside and went on to the next. I pressed each piece. I love the aroma of a hot iron touching clean cotton. What charmed me most about ironing the Conversation was how much I learned about Terry, Rebecca, Beth and Shelley in the process.

I learned that Terry was bravely willing to dive into the deep end of the pool with the color choices she made to launch our project. Her red shape against her background of gunmetal blue felt like a bold declaration of joyousness achieved through contrast. Rebecca had to have worked like a demon to create the shape she contributed to the conversation...each edge was so very carefully turned under and then supported with a matching paper lining. Beth also used a lining to support her stripes, which - I got a huge kick out of learning - she stitched with powder blue sparkly thread in what looked like the bobbin. Her hand-dyed fabrics and the meticulous pressing open of her seams spoke to me of talent and a strong studio discipline. And the fabrics that Shelley added - well I just fell in love with both pieces, but particularly her focal piece, the large rectangle of yellow/green painted fabric she dyed and painted. This fabric sang to me and helped inform the way the quilt top was finally reassembled.

The first piece I repositioned on the background was a large black shape that Beth had added. It had been folded and when I opened it up to iron it, I noticed that one long edge has subtle curving arcs cut into it that meet in the middle like a widow's peak. I wasn't sure if that had been intentional, but it fascinated me and I wanted to celebrate that edge, if I could.

The second piece to go back was Shelley's focal fabric, right on top of the black. I wanted that fabric to pop against its background and didn't want to cover too much of it, but I also wanted to make it relate to the other pieces around it. To accomplish that, I laid Rebecca's mustardy-green shape within the boundaries of Shelly's fabric, asking each piece to converse with one another.

I positioned Rebecca's shape so that on it's left side it mimics and blends with the painted circles and curves of Shelley's piece, and on the right side, it emphasizes the gentle curve of the black element. The interaction of the three is gorgeous and looks for all the world like a Matiesse-esque female form.

At this point everything was still clumped together in the center and there was no tension to break the happy homogeneity. In response, I brought back some of Beth's stripes of hand-dyed fabrics and, to help draw the eye and give interest to the whole piece, I angled them inward, as Beth herself had originally done.

Terry's bold red element was next positioned to reinforce and balance the reds in Shelley's piece. And to help balance the entire quilt top while adding a much-needed horizontal element, I stretched Shelley's second piece, a long, angled shape with a lovely frayed edge, across the top. I got a kick out of the way, the angle of the stripe and the angle of the print on the fabric were almost exactly the same when I slipped it under Beth's stripe. Everything just seemed to fall into place naturally.

Stripe Detail.

At this point I stopped and photographed the piece.

I really loved the wonky angles and the fact that, in spite of those angles, all of the pieces still seemed to be harmonizing with one another.

At this point, I was looking at my biggest challenge: how would I add elements of my own to the piece which would support and elevate it without adding too much visual chaos?

I decided that the best way I could contribute to the Conversation from this point was to think smaller. I had already changed the direction of the conversation; it didn't now need me to overwhelm it with a large element of my own making. It was asking for a more delicate touch from me (and if you've seen my work, you know that "delicate" is a relative term for me - I crave chaotic color and texture).

The stripes seemed to need more of a connection to the other elements, so I popped them off the background using three small vertical red elements from my stash (white muslin strips, painted with thinned liquid acrylics and scrunched into a Dixie cup to dry) whcih also helped to draw more of the red component into that quadrant of the quilt. I used a little repetitive design theory and added two more of the small dyed/painted pieces, placed horizontally onto Terry's red element. At that point, I felt it was time to stop before I went too far. This is the piece I sent on to Leslie...

Stage Five Completed

Despite the many straight pins, there was only one injury and when it happened, I was more worried about bleeding on the work than I was about the fact that I really was bleeding. I may have even cried for Mama for a minute or ten but didn't hear that from me, understand?

War Wound

This has been an exhilarating experience for me. It's the first time in my career that I was asked to participate in something like this. I feel incredibly honored to have been asked to work along side so much talent and experience. I started this project with the faint but persistent worry that I might freeze solid when the piece arrived and not be able to see my way forward. However, because I was first able to closely examine all of the components of the quilt, I found myself inspired and energized by their beauty and craftsmanship and fully prepared to make my proud contribution.

Thank you for this opportunity, Terry.

Mini Artist Profile

Judi Hurwitt

I am a 45 year-old paper and textile artist based in Houston, Texas.

My work is a reflection not only of the contemporary world I see around me, but also of my upbringing in the late sixties and seventies. I strive to represent my voice and views through careful manipulation of textures, colors and materials in a balanced design. My mediums of choice are varied and can include anything from fragile, hand-painted threads to metal and stone.

Fabric Collage

My personal aesthetic has always tended towards the linear-straight, clean lines, simple geometric shapes, bold blocks of color. My spirit, however, is somewhat chaotic and irrepressible. Through my art, I strive to express these two traits in a cohesive fashion by combining linear, geometric elements with unexpected materials, bold color palettes and energetic thread work.

My primary focus is on paper but a recent obsession has sent me on what has been, so far, a joyful and exhilarating journey into textiles.

Terry's Comments

Well I think we can all see that Judi had a blast and really dug into this project. Thank you for your energetic description of your process. Good job! Now the piece heads out west to Leslie Bixel, a wonderful person of many talents and accomplishments. See you next week with Compositional Conversation: Stage Six.


Monday, August 31, 2009


It was with great excitement I learned that two of the artists participating in Compositional Conversation were selected to participate in the Studio Art Quilt Association's exhibition: A Sense of Direction: Sightlines. Congratulations to Shelley Brenner Baird and Fulvia Luciano .

As it happens, the work being featured this week is by Shelley.


I want to thank Terry for planning this project and for the invitation to participate. At first I was concerned about my part in it since I was familiar with Terry's work -- pure, clean and elegant and all about the shape. My work is all about the line(s), marks, gesture and is never clean, pure and elegant. This project involves pulling pieces together, but for the past few years I have been working in painted and screened whole cloth with no rearranging possible. But proposal mentioned "conversation" and I like to talk, and the directions stressed that we were not to "finish" the piece and not finishing pieces is one of my best skills!
When the piece arrived from Beth I pinned it to a piece of board and kept it near me all day and night and started thinking. I scanned the fabric I wanted to use and made small prints to mock-up. The first thing I noticed was that the entire left side had been untouched which felt like a good place to begin.

I tried three different approaches. At first I handled it like surface design placing 4-5 of the large circular shapes on top of the existing shapes.

After I let that sit for a while I realized that I was merely being decorative. I also realized that different phases of the project involved different approaches and that at this early phase the bones of the thing were the most important part.
So then came plan B. I decided to use the existing colors because my fabrics were so different from what was there I needed to tie things together (converse in a different dialect but at least the same language). I departed slightly from that plan by including a bit of pink on the right side. I used a large piece in a vertical that almost went from top to bottom. But as I lived with it for a while I saw that I was not leaving enough room for anyone to do much but remove piece or cover it instead of interacting with it.


PLAN C - Final Version

Finally I cut a smaller square that I positioned to change the extreme verticality of the piece and introduced a horizontal option. When I did this the remaining solid blue next to Beth's first vertical became an integral part of those vertical shapes. I did the same on the right to emphasize the lone blue vertical and to make a new shape out of the black. So that added some pieces to the puzzle without overwhelming it. I am curious to watch this piece transform. Have fun Judi.


Shelley says: For years I studied printmaking, painting, drawing and photography in college and graduate school. I taught photography, history of photography and creative bookbinding at universities, prep schools and continuing education programs and worked for a while as a graphic designer/illustrator. I continued to study and create art in various media seeking out excellent teachers and mentors, concentrating on developing a body of work that reflects by background in this wide range of media. Once I discovered surface design on fabric all of the separate pieces of my puzzle fell into place.

Fabric is resilient. It can be dyed, bleached, painted, printed, burned, cut , frayed, glued, stitched, torn and mended. The word itself comes from "fabrica" (Latin) describing something skillfully produced. And the word fabricate means to dream up, assemble and create.

I make non-literal narratives. Marks I use may be balanced or reckless, austere or angry, surgical or ragged, literal or obscure. Images are superimposed on cloth by screen printing, painting and drawing with dyes, paint and bleaching agents, processes both directed and serendipitous, as the reaction with the fabric is instantaneous and slightly out of my control. The exact result is revealed only when the dye residue is washed from the fabric, much like watching a photograph develop in the darkroom.



My many thanks to you Shelley for the great process description and photographs. It is interesting to see how we are interacting but staying true to ourselves. We will be taking a break next week and then return with the contribution of Judi Hurwitt.


STAGE THREE; Beth Carney

Compositional Conversation it is a project involving 13 artists all working to develop one artwork. Each artists has an opportunity to place their mark on the work and then passes it to the next person. The work has now passed through the hands of three artists and this week we are seeing the hand of Beth Carney. To read the first two articles on this project click HERE.

Compositional Conversation: Stage Three

Comments by Beth Carney

I was very excited about being asked to participate in this project, loving the idea of having this conversation between the piece and the artists involved. All too often I struggle with creating a section of work that I love and then get stuck because I love it too much. Once I get rid of the concept of how precious it is, freedom sets in and then the work really begins to take shape. I felt this conversation would be a perfect step on that journey that forces the artist to keep the conversation alive and dancing.

I received the work on Saturday and on Sunday was busy for hours playing and creating. The first laugh was when I looked at the blog of Terry and Rebecca's comments and realized that when I placed the piece on my design wall, it was upside down to what they presented! Who knew??? (Beth received and began working on the project before the first images were posted.)

The shapes presented were large and flowing, but I wanted to connect them trying to create more depth as well as play with the positive and negative space possibilities they created. I did not want to remove anything because they did seem to be taking with each other, they seemed to want to be closer and so the red shape began to move all around the canvas till I found its home, which turned out to be exactly where it started. I rarely work in solids anymore, with the belief that more is more...so out came the hand dyes and I created intersecting lines. Since I usually piece, I used Rebecca's freezer paper idea and attached the long lines with freezer paper so that could be moved around without falling apart.

I stepped back and thought I was done until I woke up this morning and found that I just had to break up the space more by adding the large black shape on the left. Each element seems to connect yet show individual voices.

Can't wait to see what happens next.


I love Beth's revelation concerning the positioning of the "top" of the work. Those of us who work with abstract compositions know that a tried and true way of "testing" a piece to see if it is balanced is to turn it and observe the results. I guess Rebecca and I did alright. I also appreciate the introduction of types of materials Beth loves and works with in her own pieces. They add a new twist and a new layer of complexity. Many thanks to you Beth for your participation and involvement in this project. Read on for more about Beth and her work.


For the past 8 years I have been exploring the fusion of my 2 worlds: visual and performing art, in a series of works called Structured Chaos. My love of color, movement, architecture all combine into these projects as I explore line and shape. They are inspired by the world around me, sometimes based on nature, architecture, places and personal experiences.

For more information please visit Beth's website.

Structured Chaos 26....44"h x 33"w...2008
Hand dyed cotton by artist with commercial cotton and silk

We welcome your comments and hope you will take time and let us hear your thoughts.

Next week we will see the contribution of Ohio artist, Shelley Baird.



For those who are new to Compositional Conversation, it is a project involving 13 artists all working to develop one artwork. Each artists has an opportunity to place their mark on the work and then passes it to the next person. To read the first article on this project click HERE.


I was thrilled when I returned from an evening out and found the box on my porch. I had been anticipating working on this composition ever since Terry posted the first image. My first thought when I opened the box was how large the composition is - about 60" h x 40" w. I immediately fell in love with the warm red shape against the cool blue/gray. Right away, my thoughts were that whatever I added, I did not want to remove or change the position of the red shape; instead my addition would want to be beside it, get close to it, interact with it. What I didn't anticipate, was that my shape would want to inch up from the bottom and slide over the whole composition before oozing around the red shape.

I thought about all of these ideas over a two day period while I finished a class obligation. My shape always, always in my mind wanted to envelop and almost caress the red shape. "Fine" the red shape said, "you can celebrate me and caress me, but you can't take away my thunder."

I was anxious to see how this little power struggle would play out, so I took a photo of the original work, printed out several copies and cut out paper shapes to see what I liked. I have to admit to trying to rein in my shape, make it smaller and less demanding but no dice. I drew 2 full size freezer paper patterns, took photos along the way and from there decided on the winner.

The next decision was color and again, I knew that I wanted the color to be complementary to the "boss" shape but not overtly so. I wanted it lighter in value. In this part of my conversation, the size of the shape was a factor in that it is over 50" long. When I found this acid olive green in rayon, no matter how much I tried to force another choice, it wasn't going to happen. I stabilized the rayon with freezer paper and was actually grateful to this decision as it wrapped around those curves very nicely.

I do love line, line and shape created by negative space and warm against cool. I see all of those elements in the composition. I adore the movement of the flowing organic line and see the influences of my style. But I also see a "working relationship" of the two shapes and a promise of a lot of interesting conversations to come.

Thanks, Terry, for a great experience.

Thank you Rebecca, for a beautiful addition to our piece and a wonderful description of your thought process and work process. Now here is bit more about Rebecca.

Rebecca Howdeshell

For the past three years, I've been exploring the idea of strength exemplified through my artwork of the human spine. I equate the spine to the trunk of the tree or the river that carves its way through the earth. I think strength can be deceiving, we perceive a person with a degenerative spinal condition or an old, splitting tree or even a small stream as weak but the reality isn't always clear. How can we imagine what each of these living organisms went through to get where they are? Perception is perplexing.


I love the act of mark making, particularly stitching on a soft, organic material by drawing with thread. I do many, many sketches that contribute to the overall series but aren't necessarily specific of the artwork. It is all grist for the mill. I embrace this creative life as a whole, there aren't parts or multi-tasking in my mind.

The idea of having conversations in this project was utterly alluring to me. How wonderful to consider not just our conversations through email as artists, but of course, the conversation we have with the artwork as it progresses. I sincerely hope that we gain a following, too, from other artists. Thank you, Terry, for the opportunity to play!


Please follow these links to see more work by Rebecca and Rebecca's website.