Darker tones for darker times

January 2022 appears to be bringing with it more sombre greyness than just the weather. In truth the grey gloom of the weather and the pandemic has simply carried on from the end of last year into the beginning of this one. I remember when the news of Omicron first hit and, as is so often the case with me, the general mood of current affairs eventually filtered through and into my work.

When I began working on this large, 90 x 90 cm crepe de chine scarf in December I had intended the background to be entirely midnight blue.

Drawing out the basic design in gutta resist.

However, as I added other colours to the scarf the blue background didn’t feel dark enough.

The process of painting with dyes.

The blue, even as dark as it was, was not creating enough contrast to make the muted pinks and muted mouse browns as crisp and sharp as I wanted.

Pure black behind making seed heads more defined.

So, I got to work with the unadulterated black. Although, I frequently use small areas of black to achieve depth, it is a long time since I have used black for a background. I think you can see the difference it makes compared to the blue.

A large scarf like this takes some time for me to paint and, additionally, I had a break over Christmas when I cleared my studio to offer a comfy space for a large, visiting dog. When I returned to my work, I immediately saw that there seemed to be a gash in the design. It was not intentional. The order in which I had painted the colours had revealed this shape, gradually emerging running diagonally across the scarf as the pinks and reds were added.

A gash has appeared across the design.

At this point, and with the New Year fast approaching with hope in its wake, my mood changed and I felt I wanted the gash to be filled with soft colour.

Muted pinks making for a softer background.

The result was a background of the muted pinks with the seed heads painted with the mouse browns. I think you can see the line of the browns flowing diagonally from the top left to the bottom right of the scarf in this photo below.

The painting is finished and the scarf is ready for steaming.

With the scarf completed it is clearer to see how much black I’ve ended up using. Dark and moody, yet with more pink than I planned when I changed the blue for black. I guess the daylight hours are increasing and maybe Omicron is not as bad as it was first considered and the result is a little more colour and a little less black.

The scarf has now been steamed and photographed and added to my shop, and as usual, the photos don’t really give an accurate portrayal of the piece. I must say that considering the times in which it was painted, I at least, am very happy with the finished scarf. In truth and unexpectedly it’s turned out to be one of my favourite pieces of work! Clouds . . . silver linings . . . and all that.

Author: agnesashe

Artisan, blogger and passionate East Anglian working from home.

15 thoughts on “Darker tones for darker times”

  1. I love these pieces where you describe your creative process. I guess a sombre palette is inevitable these days, though I’m glad that light dawned towards the end.

    1. Thank you. When I looked over my photos I couldn’t believe I could see these changes so easily. December was not a great month and I’m not a huge fan of Christmas, however we’ve blue skies and winter sunshine this morning, so not all bad. Hope you’ve got this crisp weather in Yorkshire.

    1. Thank you. Sometimes when I’m working it’s a struggle to pull together a design that’s decided to go off on its own. You know, that way in which authors say some of their characters take on their own trajectory. This time with this scarf I just went with it and, for once, it worked out on its own. I expect that sounds weird, but perhaps there was an invisible visiting muse!

  2. I love the final result, the whole thing is gorgeous. And even better is the journey this scarf took to completion and how it reflects your own journey. I enjoy knowing about this aspect of your work.

    1. Thank you. I expect you can relate to how you’re feeling directly affecting what you’re working on. I guess this is quite common to all creative activities and why reproducing identical pieces is virtually impossible.

  3. I wonder if people ever buy your scarves and then frame them as a wall hanging? I did that with a Hungarian folkloric embroidery which was meant for a coffee table cover. This is stunning, and reflects so much of you. I always love the insight into the process.

    1. You know, I don’t think so. I’ve only had a little feedback and it’s been mostly about the colours and wearing the scarves. Having said that, somebody somewhere does have three pieces (90 x 90 cm) of my silk art professionally mounted as they were taken from my ex-husbands rental flat by a tenant when they left!

      1. That’s … I’m speechless! Surely there was some way of pursuing the tenant! Even retaining their rental bond wouldn’t have covered the value. Is it a form of flattery that they chose your work to clear off with?

      2. Oh, the tenant was long gone at the point my ex (who was living abroad at the time) realised the pictures had disappeared. And, you know what, I don’t think he could have cared less either!

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