Thursday, May 28, 2009

Fiber Fascination: New Adventures in Art

Sometimes an artist is called away from his or her familiar mediums and subjects to something entirely new and seemingly unrelated to his or her previous work. Often the time away from the usual art materials is, ironically, a way of deepening a connection with the original medium. In my case, my foray into acrylics ended up strengthening my connection and love for watercolors and inks. I learned new skills from my exploration in acrylics and if I hadn't tried working with acrylics for three years, I wouldn't have discovered my love for inks on canvas and clayboards.

Sometimes exploring a new medium develops in a whole new kind of creative expression. For over a year now, I have been exploring fiber. In particular wool. It began with knitting, which lead me to spinning yarn, and now to felting. Unlike, acrylics which returned me to where I started, working with wool has lead me to a whole new vision for my art. Painting will always be an important and necessary form of creative expression for me, but working with wool is opening doors and new creative possibilities. At this early stage, I have been exploring needle felting and creating felted wool "paintings".

I believe the physical nature of working with wool appeals to me, as painting, though a physical act in its execution, doesn't require the tactile manipulation like working with fiber does. I have the opportunity to explore sculpture and other three dimensional forms of art, which my painting does not permit. In some ways, working with both art forms balances out my creative expression with the fiber arts tapping into the physical and painting focusing on intellectual expression. Yet, both forms of art require an emotional and spiritual connection, which unites the creative energy in them. I don't believe I could give up one art form for the other, to me, they are a healthy balance for the whole of artistic expression.

Another aspect of working with wool is that it satisfies the eco-conscious side of my artistic goals. The wool requires no harsh chemicals, like varnishes or toxic paint pigments. It is 100% natural, biodegradable, and sustainable. I purchase my wool from a local sheep farmer, a small family practicing hand processed wool, committed to environmentally sound dyeing processes. The wool is also low in carbon output, as it requires little in the use of gasoline for transit. While, I have worked hard to choose products for my painting that are environmentally friendly and purchase only from companies that employ environmentally sustainable practices, there is no way to completely eliminate toxic or questionable materials without sacrificing quality or durability. With the fiber arts, it is very easy to choose safely and in favor of the environment.

I will soon be revising my website to incorporate this new aspect of my creative expression. Until then, I have created an Etsy shop featuring my needle-felted creations. All of the creations there celebrate and are inspired by nature. Please check out what I have been working on. Check back often, as I will continue to add more felted creatures, as well as other felted art works.

In the next post I will describe the needle felting process and give some background on this fascinating and relatively new art form. I am currently doing some research on the history of needle felting and wasn't quite ready to write about it at the time of this post.

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DoAn Art is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions in behalf of DoAn Art may be made payable to Fractured Atlas and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

All artwork and text © Copyright 2005-2009 DoAn Art (Antony Galbraith) unless indicated otherwise. All Rights Reserved. Any downloading, copying or use of images on this website is strictly prohibited without express written consent by Antony Galbraith.


Tracey Clarke said...

You are a true artist, Antony. This is really fantastic. I look forward to what you wil create next.

Antony Galbraith said...

Thanks Tracey. I love your artwork, so your compliment is very much appreciated.

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