November 17, 2013

A New Textile: "Transparent Circle", and the Power of Color

Transparent Circle, hand dyed wool on linen, 13 x 12 in.

After finishing my last textile, Transparent Triangle, which you can see below or in this blog post, I was so interested in the character of the image and the feelings that it evoked that I decided to do a second similar work: two simple geometric shapes overlapping on a solid colored ground. I kept the circle, superimposing it on a square balancing on a point. The circle's color is yellow, mixed with the background green and with the red, yielding greenish yellow and orange.

Transparent Circle detail

In this detail you can see the direction of the hooking; random for the background, and following the outlines of circle and square. Since the circle is on top of the square, it takes precedence in the hooking pattern.

So what do I mean by the "power of color" in the title of the post? Primarily that the yellow circle seemed much larger in the finished piece than in my drawing study for the work. In the study, the balance of square and circle seemed more equal; the square seemed much larger in relation to the circle. Of course some of that is due to the fact that the pencil line for the square is darker, so has more weight. But once that yellow was added, an intense color even if it is a cool yellow, the relationships were thrown off. I even removed one line of hooking at the border of the circle, but it still seems too large. I wish I'd designed a larger square for this piece because I'm not entirely satisfied with it; it misses a "just-rightness" for me. 

Something else I noticed about color when placing these works side by side: Transparent Circle with its dark background appears smaller than Transparent Triangle with its yellow. When I first tacked the two up on the wall together I was befuddled: I kept measuring the new piece, making sure it was the same size as the previous one. I tried putting it on the right to give it more weight; nothing doing, it still looked smaller. The brightness of the yellow, even if it's a dulled ocher, along with the bright cherry red, pops that piece off the wall. It's as though one is a bold sibling and the other is shy. Here color is more than expression or mood, becoming a nearly physical manifestation in space. 


  1. These, I want to say recent ones, but they may not be, seem to be a jump across a divide...very nice.

    1. Thanks so much, r henry. They are my most recent works, but I'll be doing something different for the next textile.

  2. these last two do something delicious---I love saturated color, but I think its more than that---perhaps the illusion of transparency along with the rich contrast of the texture that completely belies that---like a stained glass window mated with a rug

  3. thanks, wolffland. I think about that texture when I sometimes ponder what it would be like to make a painting using the same composition as one of my textiles; then I realize that the texture of the hooking adds so much energy that would be hard to replicate in my style of painting.