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Artist Blocks

Updated: Jan 25, 2022

The other day, I was in the glass studio, when a colour chart I've installed over my sink caught my eye:

Isn't that lovely? (By the way, this chart isn't relevant to my glass work at all; I just thought it was pretty so I put it up on the wall.) I realized that if I tilted my head to the left, the rows of blocks sort of looked like an abstract city skyline. (I'll wait a bit while you tilt your head.)

You're back!

I decided to explore that idea, in textiles rather than glass. After printing out some colour charts, I got out my pencils and started drawing buildings on top of the charts. It felt..........awkward. I'm just not "urban". Fortunately, it occurred to me that instead of buildings, I could also see trees.

This is a relatively small "proof-of-concept" piece, with a colour chart printed on fabric.

I didn't follow the initial idea of placing the trees on top of the darker colour blocks, instead I saw the blocks as a sunrise/sunset with a dark foreground. (At some point I'll work on the original idea.)

My friend Tim Kihn took the photo that I used as inspiration for the trees and bear/cow.

Online, I found a great photo that someone had taken of paint chips displayed in a hardware store:

The way the chips on the bottom are separated by white lines made me think of water....which made me think of a sunset reflected in water, which made me think of Kootenay Lake. Then I saw a photo online, taken by Luanne Armstrong, which led this piece in another direction.

With Luanne's OK, I abandoned the paint chips, and started sewing a sky inspired by the hues in the photo. I boldly sewed strips together, intending to smooth out the transitions with appropriately-coloured thread.

The next morning, however, it caught me by surprise and I loved it just how it was! So, I carried on until I had this:

Feeling rather bold and painterly, I decided to take on a larger piece, this time based on a photo I took several years ago of some lupins growing along our fence. I wanted to use the fabric the way a painter uses paint. To me that meant having the scene make sense from a distance, but becoming abstract up close where the "brush strokes" are visible.

This was fun. Like, really fun.

I intend to see what comes of glasswork inspired by the methods developing here.

-Sarah Miller

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