Being a recent collage graduate, I am accustomed to not having much money to spend on the things I’d like to have. Being a bit of an art dork, all I want to spend my money on is art supplies. But with more pressing expenses, such as my big fat student loans and my car loan, I must resist the urge to spend every Saturday at my local art supply store, buying expensive papers and paints, tools and gadgets.
I have been focusing my time trying to make money off of my hard-earned education. Making artwork, however, costs money, and the prospects of making money from your artwork when you’re a lowly twenty-something with no connections or artistic reputation is somewhat bleak. I have one solo exhibition lined up for next June (oh so far away!), which will be at the Jonathan Trumbull Library in Lebanon, CT, and I’m working on setting up another solo exhibition in Avon, CT. At the Crown and Cringle, a coffee and pastry shop in Old Wethersfield, CT, I have two limited edition prints for sale. I haven’t made any money from my signs at Wild Geese, in Colchester, CT, but it’s only been a short while. Throw in a few small commissions, and I’ve made a few bucks here and there, but not all that much.
Long story short, my artwork is not making me nearly as much money as my day job. I must be frugal.
Here is where the “quilts” project came into play. I wanted to do a study on pure color, and I have been fascinated with American quilts, primarily Amish quilts. for the past few years. I wanted to make a few abstract pieces where I could look at different color relationships, in the hopes of improving my illustration skills. I didn’t want these painting to be just color studies, however, so I decided to piece together quilts from paper.
In the spirit of American quilting, I used “recycled” materials: my leftover figure paintings from my figure painting class last fall. Out of a whole semester of paintings, I really only painted two or three that I wanted to keep. Rather than throw them away, or let them collect dust for the rest of my life, I gave them new life, by cutting them up and sewing them into quilts. Once sewn together, I painted over them with oils. The translucent quality of the oils allowed the figures to peek through and the layering of colors brings another aspect of texture to the paintings.
I’m not sure how far I’ll push this project, but I’ll let it develop organically and see what happens. The nice thing is, it doesn’t cost any money, and my old artwork is not going to waste.