Shades of White

Sublimation by Deidre AdamsSublimation, 30 x 40 inches, acrylic on panel, ©2011 Deidre Adams 

After finishing the Anythink commission, which had occupied the better part of my time for about three months, I felt a little rootless. I tried working on another textile piece, but it just didn’t want to cooperate. So I brought out all of the paintings that I had started but not finished in the preceding months. During the contemplation of them, a couple in particular were calling to me more emphatically than the others.

Not unsurprisingly, when winter in Colorado sets in for the long haul, my mood turns away from color and yearns for something subtle. I love winter and snow; I love to go for a walk in snow, when everything is covered in uniform whiteness. And I’ve long been drawn to create what I think of as “white” work. Even though there are many colors in the work, on first look they read as “white.” Last winter, I started a couple of white paintings, but set them aside as other things became more pressing.

According to color expert Kate Smith, white aids mental clarity, encourages us to clear clutter or obstacles, evokes purification of thoughts or actions, and enables new beginnings.* White has connotations of purity and cleanliness, which could be a source of ironic comment in context of my own immediate surroundings, but putting that aside, what I enjoy most about working with white is how interesting and challenging it can be to work with subtlety.

 Sublimation, detail, ©2011 Deidre Adams

I’m exploring effects of depth by varying the transparencies of the whites and by adding layers of mediums and glazes in between. I’m also using small amounts of interference colors. They don’t show up in the photo very well, but when viewed in person, they create an interesting reflectance effect that varies depending on your point of view.

My fascination with whites goes back several years. My first “white” piece was Shades of White, done in 2006. I was thinking about the appearance of old walls that have been painted over with white in an attempt to obliterate something, but despite someone’s valiant effort, what lies beneath is often still visible like a kind of determined ghost.

Shades of White by Deidre AdamsShades of White, 48 x 48 inches, mixed media textile, ©2006 Deidre Adams 

This one also has a landscape feel, so it’s ambiguous. It could just as well have been a Horizons piece, but that was secondary to the white idea.

Shades of White - DetailShades of White, detail, ©2006 Deidre Adams


Here’s another one, not technically a “white” work because of the strong dark circles and a bit more color, but never miss an opportunity to show some older work, I always say. This is the first of what later became my Façade series, based on walls.

Façade IFaçade I, 38 x 62 inches, mixed media textile, ©2006 Deidre Adams

We’ve had what seems like a lot of snow so far this winter, but since it’s been in the high 50s for the last couple of days, it’s melting fast. That’s the great thing about winter in Colorado.

*All About the Color White by Kate Smith


2017-10-15T16:15:40+00:00 December 30th, 2011|Art, Painting|5 Comments

Evolution of a commission – part 6

Horizon XVIII: Plainsong
90 x 90 inches, acrylic paint on stitched textile – installed at AnyThink Library, Bennett, Colorado


Hanging a textile piece can be done any number of ways. Some people like to frame them, but I’ve decided that that particular aesthetic doesn’t appeal to me. I believe a textile should be free to assert its own identity, and it shouldn’t be forced to pretend it’s a painting just because that’s what people are used to. The wrong kind of frame (too ornate, or calling too much attention to itself) can also, in my opinion, reduce a textile piece to functioning as mere decoration, looking like something you might find mass produced for display in a model home. Of alternative hanging methods, probably the most common involves stitching a sleeve to the back to accommodate a wooden or metal slat which can then be nailed to the wall. This allows the piece to hang free, and it’s what I usually do for my larger pieces.

However, this particular piece needed something more substantial. For another commission I did a couple of years ago, I had custom canvases built to size and stitched the pieces to them. This worked great for 36×36-inch pieces, but due to the sheer size of the current one, the ultimate problem of transportation ruled out that idea. So I enlisted the help of my very resourceful husband, and here’s what we came up with.

This frame is built of light-weight but sturdy 1×2 (actual measurements .75 x 1.5 inches) hardwood. It was preprimed, so painting it black was very easy. The frame was built in two sections that bolt together, which meant we could fit it into our old Ford Explorer for transport. Library facilities men attached it to the wall.

To attach the quilt to the frame, I used hook & loop tape from Uline. It comes with or without a sticky back. I bought sticky hook side, which I stuck to the entire perimeter of the frame, and some strategic spots on the inner supports. I didn’t think the stickiness alone would be enough, so I reinforced it with staples about every 5-6 inches. I bought the non-sticky loop side to attach to the quilt by hand stitching. I had said in a previous post that I’d found one aspect of making art that I really don’t like – this is it. Nope – no fun at all. When I am rich and famous, I shall hire someone to do this for me.

Because the hook & loop tape works quite well to attach the quilt to the frame, it also tries to stick itself anywhere it gets a chance, even if that’s in a spot you hadn’t intended. So it took all four of us to do the final hanging – two getting it into position, and two holding out the bottom so it couldn’t stick in the wrong spots prematurely.

Lots of adjusting was then required to be sure it was in the exact right position to the frame.

Later that afternoon, the library held a small reception for all the people who had participated in the project.

Since the painting over the fabric made it difficult to see, I had also made a map showing where in the piece each person’s fabric was used.

People seemed to be having a great time picking out their fabrics and telling one another about the meaning each piece had for them. 

I had to say some “official words.”

Then there was an afternoon tea with delightful refreshments, and a chance to talk to some of my new friends once again. The high point of the day was when a young girl asked me for my autograph and had her friend take a picture of us together. I felt like a rock star!

2017-10-15T16:15:41+00:00 December 18th, 2011|Art|22 Comments