Multiple Media (jane davila)

I nearly forgot to post today and I have some questions that I’ve been gnawing on for a while.

picasso-sculpture.jpg One of Pablo Picasso’s sculptures, in Paris, France

What medium or media did you work in as an artist before you started in your current medium? Do you ever feel the need to explore another medium? Do you feel that it adds something to your current medium to make periodic explorations into other related or unrelated media?

picasso-painting.jpgPainting of Dora Maar, Pablo Picasso

Some artists successfully work in more than one medium concurrently. Picasso, for example, was known for both his sculpture and painting. The sculptor Brancusi was also a violinist.

Brancusi The Muse Constantin Brancusi – The Muse

Do you think that learning about a new medium helps inform your current medium? Or would it split/disrupt your focus or unnecessarily distract you? I’m not talking about jumping around willy-nilly but making the occasional foray into another form of expression with the intention of returning to your original mode, with hopefully a fresh outlook or a helpful insight to bring to your current work.

I love this quote by Brancusi that I came across while looking for images. It doesn’t relate to the topic, but I couldn’t resist sharing it as it is relevant to us as artists today too.

I do not aspire to be in fashion.
For what is in fashion, goes out of fashion….
If, on the contrary, your work is contested today, it doesn’t matter.
For when it is finally understood, it will be for eternity – Constantin Brancusi

10 Responses to “Multiple Media (jane davila)”

  1. 1 Sylvia October 13, 2007 at 3:36 am

    Many visual arttists were also musicians. Whether they used music as a relaxation in a time where a lot of people played musical instruments because that was their entertainment or because they were in tune (sorry for the pun) with another kind of communication is interesting speculation. I prefer to think that they are gifted with another means of communication–or another language.

  2. 2 Melanie October 12, 2007 at 8:24 pm

    This may be trite — but the visuals in your article reminded me of how useful it can be to experience other forms and traditions as well as to explore a variety of media. The Brancusi example reminded me of how much I like the pure lines, stark color, and general smoothness of Cycladic art. I found the Tawney pieces moving for the same reason — the seeming simplicity, the evocation of mystery.

    In a New Yorker profile (2001) Isaac Babel said: “Your language becomes clear and strong not when you can no longer add, but when you can no longer take away.” And I think one of the great benefits of working in other media is acquiring processes that not only enhance physical range and dexterity, but also enhance how I think about what I’m doing. Not just tools in the toolbox but reasons to deploy them.

  3. 3 Virginia Burnett October 12, 2007 at 6:35 am

    Explorations into other media are definitely good for my work overall. Art had been one of my majors in high school but I did not formally pursue the visual arts in college until my last few semesters as a non-trad returning student with a baby in my mid 20s. Returning to formal art studies as an adult, I pursued an independent study in traditional arts, with an emphasis on weaving. This led my to beadwork and my other textile explorations in the many years since graduation.

    I believe that textile artists are particularly eclectic. We make wearables, art for the wall, three dimensional sculptural work, functional household art… what don’t we make?! Anything that we learn from explorations into other media, whether it be pastels or welding, offers evolutionary opportunities. My experience is that everything new I try eventually finds its own place in my repertoire as I experiment with new techniques and ideas. I also have a tendency to get stale and bored with one technique or one media and taking a break to work with something new re-energizes my interest and creativity. Lately my earliest love, literature and writing, has been finding its way into my visual artwork. This is turning out to be very satisfying.

  4. 4 Melissa Roberts October 12, 2007 at 6:16 am

    My academic background is in sculpture and metalsmithing and that ended up serving as a springboard for my textiles. After focusing on textiles for the past couple of years, I’ve recently begun utilizing that imagery for my current works on paper here: and I’ve found all this to be very helpful in keeping fresh ideas flowing (both ways). I fully expect my painting to inform a fair amount of my future textile work. My personal take is that working in different mediums opens doors for me that I may not have otherwise come across.

  5. 5 terrygrant October 11, 2007 at 9:50 pm

    I was an art major in college–specifically a painting major. I have done maybe 5 paintings since graduating in 1968! I became quite interested in printmaking and for a number of years did silk screen and block prints. For a period of time in the late 70’s I made batik “wallhangings” and did weaving on a small loom. All of these things inform the fabric work that I do now.

    I worked for a number of years as a graphic designer and I think that work was a tremendous influence on what I am doing now. Interestingly to me, using computer graphics programs really solidified my way of working from background to foreground, composing line and mass and organizing composition in terms of layers. It also provided me with years of hand/eye practice which improved my drawing skills tremendously.

    Fabric brought together, for me, the best of the other media and is where I have really settled, but I am always drawn to new media. I have been taking jewelry classes lately and working with silver.

  6. 6 Mary Horton October 11, 2007 at 5:44 pm

    Sometimes I think that my work in other media (primarily drawing and painting) have ruined me as a quiltmaker. It has certainly changed my work and enabled me to find the expressiveness I never found with the pure textile medium.

    At the same time, I find that I don’t do my best work on paper and plain canvas, but on a pieced or hand-dyed surface, or, lately, on masks built from fabric (buckram), quilt batting, and thread to which I apply layers of paint and then, when the piece needs it, layers of thread on top of the paint. It’s why my business card says “Works on Cotton.” I consider myself a mixed-media fiber artist these days and not a quilter or even an “art quilter”.

    One of the things I’ve learned from painting is not to worry so much about color. Even when I’m making a traditional bed quilt, I don’t agonize about the placement of a particular piece of fabric as I used to. My whole approach has changed, as has my palette.

  7. 7 kim ritter October 11, 2007 at 4:31 pm

    I am making an art car and it is a bit of a stretch for me, I have no automotive knowlege, and 3d is not something I have ever done.
    I am building, papier mache mostly a large spool, needle, pins,buttons, and pincushion. Found out I can buy the scissors ( ribbone cutting ceremony trphy places sell them) and a 36″ pencil, and a large crayon if I want. Then I have to figure out how to attach all this to the car without it flying off, how to light it up. Then there are the fabrics I am decoupaging to the car body. These I printed on canvas and have to figure out how to seal it all up.
    You can see it my fabrics on my blog

  8. 8 Denise Aumick October 11, 2007 at 3:48 pm

    I have always worked with cloth. 30+ yrs ago I was stitching fabric together, adding embroidery and other embellishments and then sticking them up on the wall. This was in the early 70’s and people would look at my creations and say “It’s cool but what is it? Did you do this after having too much fun last night?”.

    The past year I have started messing with paints. I don’t know what I’m doing but I’m having fun. Also, I will be taking my first ever art class in a month – beginning drawing…figure it can only help!

    Thanks for this topic. It has provided some food for thought.


  9. 9 June October 11, 2007 at 10:42 am

    Jane and all,

    My forays into art prior to quilting were in words — specifically poetry, but an occasional attempt at short stories, also. Then I got to sewing and quilting, then art quilts, then quilted art. But when I got to the quilted art state, I found myself taking design classes, watercolor and oil classes, and drawing classes. I clench on drawing, but keep doing it (it’s good for me, like castor oil). I found I love oils and even watercolors, although I’m clearly not a watercolorist.

    These explorations have been invaluable — they keep me alert and alive when I’m jaded with the quilted textile work. They give me insights that I couldn’t otherwise achieve (like the fact that art quilters and quilt artists can be incredibly sophisticated about color.) And they allow me to do things that I can’t do in the quilted textiles (like describe all the variations of the golden ash trees in the fall). This last becomes a great inspiration and then often throws me back into the stitched textile work to see what _can_ be done there.

    By the way, I was re-reading Hockney a bit the other night and he says that Picasso was the most serious representational painter — not an abstract artist at all. I found his argument compelling.

  10. 10 Connie October 11, 2007 at 7:48 am

    Yes, trying other media definitely helps. I’ve been taking drawing classes (pencil, charcoal, conte, etc), which has been helping me expand my use of line and shape in quilts, and improving composition. In particular, I have been trying to bring lines from my drawings into the lines I use for quilting. And the techniques of perspective that are used in drawing can enhance quilting, not just in quilts that portray a realistic subject, but also in abstract quilts.

    I now want to take a collage class, since I know that mixed media collage will help inform my quilt design.

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