Saturday, November 7, 2009


Welcome to week Ten of COMPOSITIONAL CONVERSATION. I have been out of town and found myself unable to log on to my email so it was really fun this morning to download the image files from Paula Swett and see how she has handled our project piece. Following one of my favorite mottos, "Why wait?". Here is Paula's final version of our piece.

Stage Ten: by Paula Swett

Paula's Comments

I received an email stating Gayle had shipped the project. While I was waiting from Sat. to Mon. for the package to arrive I reviewed everyone's composition and conversation with the project (I now call the project "CC"). I also reread Terry's initial remarks and rules for the project.

I decided to write some rules for myself that would help me to respond to the project.

1. I will not look at the postings again until after I finish working with the piece. It will distract me and influence my dialogue.

2. I will remember not to take everything off and start all over (original rule).

3. I will keep digital camera and computer at my side to document my dialogue.

4. I will create some working rules when I open the piece.

5. Do not break any of the above rules ( Ha Ha)

The project arrived on Mond. evening. I invited a friend over to witness the opening of the long awaited package. (feels like an exciting Xmas gift). I opened the box and first glanced through the bag of extra parts and looked them all over. Many pieces were familiar as they had appeared in earlier compositions. My professional life was in social work. In fact groups were my specialty thus I hate for anyone to feel left out and now my mind is already scheming "Maybe I can work these pieces into my conversation".

I opened the project and hung in a horizontal format on my design wall. I photographed the piece, rotating several times and finally decided which layout spoke to me.

New orientation of project as done by Gayle Vickery Prichard.

WOW!!!!! I see much has happened since Marcia's changes. There is so much going on that I stand way back from the piece and just keep saying "oh my" and "oh my goodness". Translating my expressions means "where do I begin" and "what can I say" and "I can't wait to start". Intuitively I jump right in and attack the middle section. I audition some of the beautiful pieced work from Beth. I need to warm this area up and help integrate this middle into the rest of the piece. I then put a section of Rebecca's green shape along side the red shape in the left unit.

Second stage of Paula's exploration.

I now removed my two added pieces. After looking at these quick additions/auditions I soon realized that I must have a framework for this conversation. I will be quiet and still observe, document and LISTEN to what I see in the piece presented to me. After listening I can dialogue with this piece. This is important for my compositional process as I could jump all over the place. Tomorrow I will devise a sort of road map to maintain focus.

I spent much of my night arranging/rearranging planning during sleep time. This is good in that I know I am engaged with the piece and excited.

I wake up and want to hutr anyone who gets in my way of running upstairs to the studio. Seeing the piece first thing in the morning is invigorating.

Observations - Day 2

As a young child I used to play the whisper game also called the telephone game. The leader would whisper a sentence to the person beside her and this whisper would continue around the circle. By the time the sentence returned to the leader the original sentence was immensely changed.

I am artist #10 and a lot has changed since Terry whispered this project to all of us. I know some of the early artists' work has disappeared. I have watched how once the work is shipped to the next person that voices have disappeared. There are 4 more artists after me who will also possibly change my work. I speak of this issue of loss and change not in judgment of good or bad, but to acknowledge. Many of the large shapes have rounded edges. There is a large black shape in high horizon on the right side. There are 3 sections with the right and left sections containing several colors (bright and mostly primary, except for the cold grey/pinstripe section). Smaller shapes --- x's, ovals, small rectangles and markings drawn all over with crayons or ????


  • Keep the large shapes and remove all small pieces that do not add to the piece.
  • Figure out a way to transition left side to right side of composition.
  • Resolve the grey/pinstripe area and make the entire composition converse
  • Keep in mind color (color distribution throughout the piece, value and really talk to the X's maybe more and in different sizes and colors probably best in groupings
  • Remember the negative spaces
  • Really like the challenge of the high horizon
And on and on in the composition game my mind goes but will put the brakes on now.

I begin by putting the green remnant shape of Rebecca's work snug with the large red shape on the left side. (needs more happening over here) this addition looks like the "shape to nowhere" so I move it to the top of the red shape. A strong vertical shape that goes edge to edge will give strength to this side. I also removed some small rectangle pieces and the face and pants.

Stepping back from those moves I am reminded of how just one move and the piece is out of balance.

Third stage of Paula's exploration.

Fourth stage of Paula's exploration.

I know this is the beginning of the struggles. I am glad I am documenting this work. In my studio I intuitively compose and do not speak out loud to myself about my compositional considerations.

I now audition a shape from the traveling bag of pieces and place part of the surface designed fabric coming out of the large shape of red on the right. I am again concerned about how to connect the left side to the right and to work in a continuous high horizon. Well, that shape didn't work at all, very distracting and not at all pleasing to my eye.

I know that I must resolve this high horizon now because I want that idea to work and that it will be an important part to resolve. I cut a red shape with arc that created the line to the other side and horizon. I added varying sizes of x's for color, value, movement and repetition of shape.

Fifth stage of Paula's exploration.

At this point I sit quietly with what I have done so far. I realize once more each move makes a lot of noise. I turn my attention to the bl/grey/pinstripe area. This is the first time I notice the upper right corner of this section has a chunk cut out of the blue background and the black does not reach the edge. I resolve that issue by using the yellow/green color (felt that I needed to add that color to the piece anyhow) to replace the blue grey and a new crisper white and black stripe. (Much time spent deciding on width of stripe and pressing exterior edge into slight curvilinear edge.)

Sixth stage of Paula's exploration.

I now go back to the left side realizing the green shape that is not extended to the edge and it needs to go off the edge. I pieced an addition to that. I now am disturbed by the x/s and spend some time refining color, size and placement. The pale yellow rectangle that float on the red piece (left side) are replaced with a rectangle shape revealing the underlying violet.

Final version (same as first image).

I must say this has been a great exercise for me to really listen to myself as I work.

Thanks again for the opportunity to engage with a wonderful group of talented artists.

Thank you Paula. You make an interesting observation regarding the use of design elements and principles when the artists has internalized those guidelines. How do we listen to our own creative self in the privacy of our studios?

More about Paula.

Mini Artist Profile - Paula Swett

Artist Statement

I credit my mother and two grandmothers for giving me the passion for and gift of handwork. I learned from them to knit and sew, to create clothes and quilts. However, what was created went beyond the material process. I was woven into an intergenerational community of creative women who's contagious passion to express continue to be a common thread in my life.

My work is a personal narrative, weaving imprinted images retrieved from childhood, with my life's journey and current events. My work expresses a glimpse of life, a momentary look or a non objective impression. I work intuitively reacting to the creative inspiration and to the mediums I use. An intimate dialogue is created between the experience and the designed surfaces that result.

My voice is boundless. When I create my work, I use photographs, journal pages, sketches, and the thoughts from life's passages and everyda musings.

I use many methods in my work including improvisational cutting, piecing, layering, stitching and dying to name a few.

Paula Swett is a studio artist. She lives in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. She has been working with her own hand dyed textiles creating art quilts since the early 90's. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally.

Paula earned a B.S.W. from the University of Vermont. She has studied with many of the leading fiber artists for the past 10 years. Paula has taught art, art quilting, owned an art gallery for many years and continues to support the arts in her area.

You can reach Paula at: