Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Summer Reading

Lately I've treated myself to a bunch of new books.  Yay!  Next to new yarn, new books are my favorite thing.  If you are looking for some fun art and fiber books to dive into, here are some suggestions.

101 Things to Learn in Art School by Kit White.  This was recommended to me a few years ago by Rowen Schussheim-Anderson, who was teaching an ATA workshop at Convergence.  Even though I did go to art school, I found a number of thought-provoking assertions here.  Some I agree with:  "5. A drawing (or a painting, photograph and so on) is first and foremost an expression of its medium."  Amen to that; a tapestry is first and foremost a tapestry.  Some of White's assertions seem self-evident:  "81.  Art is apprehended through the senses as well as the mind."  Well, yes. This is a great book to read if you're looking to discover your own submerged ideas and preconceptions about art and to deepen and challenge your thinking about what you make and what you see. 

from Kit White, 101 Things to Learn in Art School

The Language of Ornament by James Trilling.  Humans have been decorating themselves, their clothing, their homes and tools for, well, forever.  This book describes that ornamentation in broad strokes, illustrated with objects in many media and from many cultures, and teaches the reader to "rediscover long-neglected skills of visual recognition and analysis."  Ornament aims to give visual pleasure purely for its own sake (much like woven tapestry); emotion is translated into pattern through intense labor.  Trilling explains how decorative strategies across the world generally involve one or more of the following:  stylization, abstraction and elaboration. My favorite chapter was the last, about ornament in the modern and post-modern era.  In 1908, architect Adolf Loos famously wrote an essay entitled "Ornament and Crime," calling for the elimination of decoration from architecture and design.  Trilling shows how ornament never really died out; it just took new forms.  I took lots of notes on this book and expect to turn to it often to stimulate and refine my ideas.   If you enjoy art history, you'll enjoy this. 

from James Trilling, The Language of Ornament

A Field Guide to Color:  A Watercolor Workbook by Lisa Solomon.  I confess I haven't had a chance to delve into this yet, but it looks like lots of fun.  If you enjoy messing about watercolors, you can do it right in the book if you like, playing with liquid color while exploring color theory in a hands-on way.  I'm looking forward to it.  

Pattern Design with over 1500 illustrations, edited by Elizabeth Wilhide.  This book is pure eye candy.  It's a hefty compendium of textile and wallpaper designs, reproduced in full color and organized by theme and style.  Small capsule histories of influential designers and design firms are interspersed throughout.  I am not a surface designer exactly--much of what is here would be difficult or impossible to translate to tapestry--but for me it's been fun to poke through and notice what I like, to see what kinds of designs, colors, spatial arrangements, etc. keep grabbing me.  Maybe clues for my own work??   

from Elizabeth Wilhide, Pattern Design

The Intentional Thread:  A Guide to Drawing, Gesture, and Color in Stitch by Susan Brandeis.  The gorgeous photos in this book and the thoughtful,  experimental approach to stitching is really tempting me to pick up an embroidery needle again.  Dangerous!  I love that Brandeis has approached embroidery from the perspective of design principles such as line, density, composition, value and so on.  Her work and samples show how excitingly contemporary embroidery can be.  

from Susan Brandeis, The Intentional Thread

Mark Adams:  Catalog Raisonné of Tapestries.  More eye candy for tapestry weavers especially.  I love the bold, graphic botanical and garden-themed pieces Adams did, and how we used both flat and blended color in his pieces.  In some cases the tapestries are reproduced next to the in-process designs and cartoons, and it's fun to see how the weaving developed away from the cartoon in some cases.  Lots of food for thought here for practicing weavers.  (And aren't we all always practicing?)

from Mark Adams, Catalog Raisonné of Tapestries

Have you discovered any art or fiber books recently that you're excited to share?  Tell us about them in the comments.