Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Am I Unbalanced?

Although I started doing Digital Photography School assignments to improve my blog photographs, I've been surprised by how many parallels I find between photography and textile design.

This week the assignment is "Balance". They refer to two good descriptions of balanced photographs:
I started out taking a picture of the front of our house. It's Victorian, and very asymmetrical. That made me realize how much I love asymmetry - which then made me search through my house for examples of symmetrical and asymmetrical balance.

The fabric on the left is a bedspread for our bright-colored orange and yellow bedroom. It was the only king-sized comforter in that color scheme we could find for a reasonable price.

The fabric on the right is fabric I'm using to make a bedskirt for that room (at which point the comforter will probably be covered by something solid colored!) I prefer this fabric with its asymmetrical stripes and beachy feel.

The rug on the left is my favorite of this group.....I fell in love with it when we were shopping for a living room rug for our old house. It is symmetrical - so I can like symmetry! (If you click on the picture, you can see a bigger picture.)

The rug on the right is a fairly new purchase from Target. We chose it because the colors and feel of it were perfect for our sunroom. I love it in that room, although I don't love it all on its own.

With these two summer bags, I fall back into my usual preferences. The bag on the left is a Hilfiger bag that I use a lot. It's a great design because I can fit a lot in it, and the outside plastic keeps it from getting totally grimy. Plus I love it for travel - I can throw maps, GPS, snacks, an umbrella in the side pockets and they're easy to grab. It's symmetrical, and while I love how functional it is, I don't like how symmetrical it is.

The bag on the right is a bag I made with my weaving group. (Many of them wove fabric for their bags, but I found it challenging enough just to sew a bag!) I prefer the informal look of this bag....although I've used it infrequently because it was so hard for me to make that I find myself not wanting to get it dirty!! I think next summer I will start using it though - now that the effort of making it is longer in the past!

Finally, this tile in our master bathroom is a favorite of mine. I think it's partly because it is symmetrical and asymmetrical at the same time. Symmetrical when divided vertically, but asymmetrical when divided horizontally.

Now what does this all have to do with weaving?

Somehow the combination of looking at textiles I've chosen for our home, working on this photography assignment, and signing up for my classes at New England Weavers Seminars this summer, made me realize a huge error in the way I've been thinking about many weave structures.

I realized that I tend to prefer asymmetrical designs.....I often decide I don't really like an entire weave structure just because the examples that I see of that weave structure are often so symmetrical and precise. That's definitely not doing those weave structures justice.

Plus, the exercise of looking at textiles in my home for cases where I did choose symmetrical designs, makes me realize that I do like both types of designs. I'm sure there are symmetrical weaving designs that I will love.

I hereby promise not to disregard, or decide I dislike, entire weave structures just because most of the examples I see using those structures are too formal and symmetrical for my taste.

Somewhere in all these photography lessons, I'm sure I'm learning to take better pictures!!! I'm definitely learning to look at things differently!


Theresa said...

Isn't it grand that when weaving you can do just what you want! I like symmetrical patterns with asymmetric elements, like random stripes.

Jennifer said...

In my first tapestry weaving class, the teacher spoke of sometimes feeling like she was "all eyes", because she kept her camera handy to capture what she saw. I can remember coming back from class and seeing so differently!
PS - I'm with you in preferring assymetrical - somehow I can see the whole item.

Life Looms Large said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who's fond of asymmetry!! I've been so focused on the techniques of weaving, that I haven't really started to design. I like the idea that with weaving you can create just what you want!!

Interesting about your experience with seeing differently after tapestry class. I notice that already with blogging. Last time I saw a movie, I was paying attention to how they handled certain photographic elements that I have trouble with.

So much to play with!!


Peg in South Carolina said...

I too like asymmetry but find it very difficult to do well. There still have to be some symmetrical or at least balanced elements. I have thought about doing the Digital Photography School. Perhaps I will check into it agai.

Valerie said...

Sounds like your photography class is teaching you how to "see". Which is a really valuable skill no matter what your creative pursuit.

I took a drawing class a number of years ago, not because I'll ever be a whiz at the drawing pad, but to learn to see. It gives a whole new perspective when you come back to the loom.

Valerie said...

PS...another aspect of those stripe you like is rhythm, which is very important in weaving...both in beat and pattern design. Bet you get to that topic next! :)

Life Looms Large said...

Peg and Valerie,

I think you're right - the things I'm learning about through Digital Photo School are really different design elements that apply to many creative endeavors....and that can be learned in many ways.

And yes, rhythm is the next topic!!