Sunday, September 20, 2009



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.