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DISPATCHED FROM THE CROSSROADS

Kuba style designTextile Patterns

As I practice drawing "from life" these past few days, I've zeroed in on the patterns in textiles around me.

Dominant in my surroundings are carpets from Central Asia and Kuba cloth (squares of cut-pile velvet) from central Africa. I'm staring at them, trying to figure out the patterns. It's a good exercise in seeing and I guess it stimulates the right brain, which pays attention to patterns (as opposed to words). From what I've read, the women who weave carpets and embroider Kuba cloth are as literate and fluent in their visual languages as we are with text. I'm in awe of their skill. So I'm trying to get into their minds.

The design here is my version of a Kuba cloth. They start out by dividing the cloth into geometric compartments and then go wild in filling them in with shifting, border-blurring motifs. The best ones look like psychoactive drugs were involved. (They are traditionally done by pregnant women, so maybe it's just hormones.) The cloths tell stories, which appear in a dreams, but of course that part escapes me.

Anyway, my index card version is clumsy by comparison, but gets a little into the trippy spirit. I'll have to sit and try to reproduce one of the actual embroideries. I drew some motifs I saw in a carpet the other day -- way more challenging than I thought it would be, but fun -- like doing a jigsaw puzzle. Continue>>>

1.21.2009

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Passion And Peril

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