March 11, 2013

Two New Hooked Wool Drawings: Something New Inspired by Sophie Taeuber-Arp

2013 #4, hand dyed wool and egg tempera on linen, 15 x 12 in. 

I love when seeing art inspires me to do something different; Quattrocento Italian painting got me working in egg tempera (I wrote about it here); I started painting on calfskin parchment when I saw the stunning show of the medieval manuscript The Hours of Catherine of Cleves;  I began making prints after seeing the exhibition Print/Out at the Museum of Modern Art. I've always used paint in my hooked wool drawings to color discrete shapes, but one work at MoMA's Inventing Abstraction show got me thinking about using color as background, with these two new pieces as a result. 

Sophie Taeuber-Arp, Untitled (Composition with Squares, Circle, Rectangles, Triangles), 1918; wool needlepoint, 24 x 24 5/8 in. 

I loved this beautiful needlepoint by Taeuber-Arp; it was my favorite textile in the show. It has a perfect balancing of shapes and color. She worked on a deep blue fabric, adding needlepoint shapes onto it. I have been so used to thinking of my light-colored linen backing as the background color; seeing this piece was an ah-hah moment: I can paint the linen, leaving its light color as shape, surrounded by a colored ground.

2013 #5, hand dyed wool and egg tempera on linen, 15 x 12 in. 

This adds a whole new world of compositional possibilities for me in this series, gives me more to think about and to play with (and it is fun). 

2013 #5 detail

Here's a detail, showing the irregularity of the paint on the linen surface.

I was concerned that these new pieces would look very out of place with previous work, but it looks like they fit in. I don't plan to give up on making central images on bare linen, but to widen my range of expression. 


  1. I love color and the way it affects each of us. I see the plain linen backed works as serene and meditative, even the ones with movement to them. The pieces with colored backgrounds have a more active feel to them. Love the way you continue to explore.

    1. Thanks for your interesting thought about the color/linen backgrounds, Lori. I think you're right about that sense of quiet or activity.

  2. I find the Arp a bit too balanced. Like the whimsy of the first piece and the dynamism of both. Interesting to see them in the context of the others; they certainly engage with and alter the whole set!

    1. I'm glad you like the new pieces, Julie. As for the Arp, its composition pleases me, with the elements balancing around the central red square.