It’s always interesting to learn more about the educational background of our contributors, especially as it relates to their artistic development.
One of the highlights of our March/April 2016 issue is an article by multi-talented artist Mary McCauley about her 3-dimensional fabric sculptures. Mary recently earned a Foundation Certificate in Botanic Illustration from the Denver Botanic Gardens and she was kind enough to share with me how this has impacted her fiber work.
If I had to sum it up into the most valuable learning I got from the program, it is to truly observe –to see what is really there rather than what you expect to see or want to see. I no longer look at a color as one color, but I think now in terms of what component colors have to be there to get the exact color I see. My world now has more greens than I can count and every one is a mix of many colors. I think about shapes and forms that make up everything from simple basic shapes to a complex cluster of forest trees, or roots of a bulb, or the stamen in relation to the petals and sepals of an iris. I learned to look at very intricate and complex forms and see the simple structures and their relationships that make up the whole. What artist wouldn’t benefit from that skill?
Training in illustration is all about editing. You don’t represent everything you see. You learn what features or aspects of a plant are important to differentiate that particular species, that point in its life cycle, or to simplify a composition as in a patch of tangled weeds. As quilters we all learn to select a palette of colors – not everything in our stash, and the balance of lights and darks – just one example of the editing we do as artists.
I encourage all quilting artists to step outside their usual learning zone of quilting classes and study art in other contexts and subject areas. You will be amazed at how relevant and inspiring it will be.”
Thank you so much Mary! Your work is certainly inspirational to us.