different kinds of simple

What makes something simple? Minimal colour, minimal texture, big details or small? Clean lines, perfect angles, closed shapes? Archetypal symbols, personal interpretations of symbols, no symbols? (That’s a non issue the “no symbols”: somebody somewhere is going to read something into it.) One swoop on a colour field? No flowers, frillies or lacies? One technique? Maximum  ℑ/⊇/ℜ**** techniques (that merge, don’t fight)?

This is simple:

Original Truths, detail 2, hand embroidery on cottons, natural dyes and rust processes, 20×31″

So is this:

Winter Prairie, detail, 2012, rust cotton, hand embroidery, 18×26″

And this:

Lady of Sky, indigo and Procion dyed cotton, ecoprinted cotton, naturally dyed and commercial threads, 9×24″, arlee barr©, in private collection

So too are these:

I find myself fighting with things, trying to be more direct. Ideally, the goal is that last simple dotted circle: THAT is the kind of minimalism i desire, but it’s not as easy as it looks, having a harsh Inner Critic.

Spent three hours on this today (base with minimal work SO FAR in photo):

To the left, i scattered three hot pink dots, and then ripped out four versions of stitching around them–flowers yes, but i want simple, not foofy. Sometimes i see too much in these, then overwork, then rip out, start again (or toss aside). How’d i let myself be distracted by all the jeuje-ing of colour and texture?

Actually, the above started like this:

Because what i WANTED to start with, i think i threw out when we did the Big Move downsizing in September and October of last year:

I’ve torn apart my whole studio trying to find it. I wanted to cut it into at least 3 parts, then use the offcuts in a fourth piece, but. But but but, the one i came up with is not even near what i wanted, or expected of myself.


Each interpretation/mistake/solution-change-fix though does usually lead to other work being “easier”. Maybe that’s the point.

****imaginary part/superset/real part symbol

4 responses to “different kinds of simple

  1. I think simple, or clean, elegant, is much harder to achieve and it’s often underrated. There’s nowhere to hide: the design and execution stretch skill to the limits. It’s that what you want to achieve? Stretching your skill to your limit? There more power to you stitching hand and tell that critic if it oversteps the bounds from critiquing to being downright nasty it can sod off.

    Liked by 1 person

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