Today is the ninth day of my 100 day journey through the Green Man. I’m not actually working on him today; instead, I’m writing this update.
My intention is to explore techniques of creating a Green Man medallion quilt, and my greater motivation is to learn more and better ways of telling stories through quilts. I don’t believe that a quilt needs to be an “art” quilt in order to convey meaning. And I don’t believe a piece of art (or craft) needs to be representational to do that, either. Even representational art can be brushed off as merely pretty (as if being pretty is a bad thing) rather than meaningful. Stories are told in many different ways, and meaning conveyed depends as much on the audience as on the teller of the story.
But the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” is repeated for a reason. Pictures create a shorthand. And learning how to draw a picture to help tell stories is a worthy endeavor.
With no further ado, here is a bit about my progress in that direction.
My friend, with whom I am bartering work, wants a quilt representing a Green Man. This is a figure with mythology intertwined with both pagan and Christian background. In general, the symbolism represents humans’ interrelationship with nature. Images of the Green Man on ancient Christian churches across Britain and France show how tangled the early Church’s religious messages were with non-Christian beliefs.
My goal will be to express the Green Man as mankind tied to nature, as my friend is with her small family farm.
I began by noticing the printed design on my bedroom curtains. I thought a face could easily fit into the lower part of one of the motifs.
That, and a photo of the friend’s husband, led to this:
I didn’t love the upper part, or what I think of as a crown. I also wasn’t comfortable with copying the fabric designer’s motif so nearly. I wanted a crown with proportion a little more comfortable for the face, and also a more original composition.
I rearranged some elements and changed others. Then I traced it onto freezer paper with a Sharpie marker and cut away the background. I pressed it onto solid black fabric, leading to this:
But that does a poor job giving a notion of what color would do to the appearance. I decided to try again tracing with pencil and coloring with crayons. This certainly isn’t the color set I will use, (and really, they photographed badly,) but it gives me a notion of where to start. This photo uses my dark green cutting mat as the background, rather than black fabric. I like the dark green but want some depth of value on it.
I’m pretty happy with the notion of this now. The real question is how to execute it. I’ve ruled out using wool applique, because I want my fabrics to be richer with pattern. However, I’ve also ruled out using only batiks. Other printed and solid fabrics will have their place, both in the center block and in the rest of the quilt.
My workshop Monday with Kim Lapacek also gave me new tools for storytelling. Whether or not the techniques show up in this quilt, my imagination has been broadened.