While I’ve been stitching this week, I’ve been listening to some of Jean-Michel Pilc’s Piano Masterclass on Youtube. Although geared toward pianists (which I am not), what he teaches is very fluid, applying to improvisation across the creative board. I have been picking up nuggets of info that are just as relevant to my work as they are to music.
His points have led me to realize how much I rely upon improvisation…surprisingly a lot. While most of the time I begin with an overall idea of where I want to direct a piece, there is no detailed outline to follow and the resulting freedom has become a big part of the process. In general, the work spirals outward in a relatively consistent trajectory: beginning with a thumbnail that becomes a dyed base of pattern and color on silk — created intentionally and to some degree by serendipity. The next step is arrangement (and often re-arrangement), positioning all the elements based on what happened in the dye-bath. And finally, definition and enhancement are added via the visual and tactile qualities of stitch.
The piece I’m working on now, first shown in this post, is no exception. I have been concentrating on and exploring ways to marry the dyed, patterned under-layer with the textural markings of stitching, color being the predominant cord that draws them both together.
Pilc says in this clip that “one note changes everything”, bringing a passage from flat to colorful. That statement rings so true; I am continually comparing and testing elements against each other, ever-vigilant in an effort to keep a sense of electricity present. That also means being willing to “erase”, retracing one’s steps and reworking when the spark isn’t there. It can be slow, but there are appreciable rewards in being at liberty to make discoveries dictated by the work itself, rather than bowing to the constraint of a pre-conceived idea.
In some respects, I would have said my stitched pieces are pretty tightly controlled, but when framed in this way, it’s heartening to acknowledge that to a large degree that’s really not the case.