Here I am again as promised. Sorry for the delay of the next part of this story but I have been on a road trip for a week.

I hope I don’t bore you with these tales how I found my motifs and how I wanted to realize them with my own style and working techniques but I think inspiration can find its way into your head in many different ways.

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The reason why I am speaking about this is, that I often hear or read that artists have problems to find their deer. So I hope to spread some motivation for you – the reader – to try new things, open your mind and consider everything that you see as a potential motif and subject you can find in order to test your imagination.

Don’t let yourself be narrowed down to certain subjects or techniques. Anything could work – nothing should be omitted. Even ads on TV can be of help from time to time – don’t shake your head in disbelief. You would be astonished how often this can be the spark to a new project. But don’t let them know – they would be too enchanted (and don’t steal their ideas – copyright infringement!). But when I mention ads I mean it can trigger the idea to a new, completely different one. Many roads are leading to the imaginative routes in your brain.

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The “Apasara” motifs existed in my head a long time before I even travelled to Southeast Asia. Memories from the 70’s and Indian influences that flooded the western countries during the hippy era did already exist in rudimentary pieces in my brain. Through the years of travelling I developed a greater interest for the culture of the Khmer and I studied many photo documentaries in books and on film.

Although I have never been in Cambodia physically I got to know the country and its people through tales and contacts outside the country itself – many Cambodians still live in exile and have found new homes.

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And although the heritage of the Cambodian people is subject to the UN and their tasks to protect the world’s biggest human heritages, there is still a huge deficit regarding the education and support of the people. Suffering from decades of murder and suppression of the Pol Pot regime the Cambodian people just starts to re-define their identity and build up a new valuable life. But they still need help.

In order to keep up the memories about a culture that has been nearly extincted I decided to create this silk quilt.

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At the same time I wanted to be as authentic as possible without giving up my own way transferring images from my brain into my art work with my own working style.
So I kept close to the rather flat style of presenting figures as can be found in basreliefs and paintings. Intriguing for me was the incredible detail of the Apsara figures, the detail of their jewellery and clothing.

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I love details in any respect be it in paintings or photography. Details are often overlooked but they are the essence of the bigger picture. It means you have to look close in each direction in order to perceive the complete picture.

I tried to reproduce that same love for detail that the ancient artists had for the wonderful sculptures in Khmer art.

Please click on the following thumbnails to see more of the details from their faces and jewellery:

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As you have probably realized already the skin tones of the apsaras vary from very light to very dark. This was meant as a metaphor for the insignificance of human skin tones and races in general. Apsaras represent all human races and are meant for heavenly joy – therefore no skin tone or race is preferred in any way to represent the paradise.

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The back of this art quilt shows the hand applications of leaves and branches. This is just an additional adornement and has no further meaning besides pleasing the eye rather than a plain background (very much according to the traditional quilting art in America where many quilts have embellishments on both sides even if they are hung on a wall only).

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I also added a pic of the original drawing so that you can see the working process and how I tend to proceed which appears to me to be the best way to achieve what I planned as this kind of work needs a lot of pre-planning.
The drawing is life size and had been transferred to the silk as it is nearly impossible to draw in such detail on the cloth directly.

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It is quite strange. While other artists, coming from the media “painting” suddenly turn their interest into working with fabrics and textiles, in my case it was totally the other way round. While I may go back to quilting from time to time and test my inspirations on rather unusual themes and materials again, it was the creation of fabric images and quilting that brought me back to painting, that I stopped doing for various reasons many many years ago.

.apsaras12“Apsaras”
52″ x 69″, silk
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Especially this art quilt, I am presenting now, motivated me to try my hand on painting again. Maybe you can compare it (although that comparison really sucks 🙄 but I could not find any better) to those child’s painting pattern books, where the motifs are already outlined and the kid only chooses the colours to fill the forms up.

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The longer I think about this I realize painting quilts can be really pattern painting 😆 . Hopefully none of the real quilters will hang me for saying this.

You already have a form outlined with the quilting lines. Now you only need to fill out the forms. That’s how I started to paint the quilts. Later on – depending on the image – I worked the other way round: first finished the painting, finally did the quilting after that. But this is an entirely different story and the techniques are others than in this art work.

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At this stage I did still a lot of experimenting. First of all I had to cope with working on silk which is not only slippery but reacts to quilting lines completely differently than a piece of cotton or any other fabric. Silk produces a relief and does not stay flat, unless you use a stabilizer on the back, which is normally glued to the fabric, using the heat of an iron.
But I did not want to do that – I wanted the relief and those lovely shadows it would produce and I wanted that 3-dimensional feel.

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So painting on this piece of cloth was a real experiment, especially as I did not want the colours to flow beyond the quilting stitches. I did not want to use a resist either because then I would have had to wash the quilt again or would have got it dry cleaned which I did not want to do either. Each washing cycle or dry cleaning would take a little bit off the shimmer of the silk.

But with a special technique, painting with quite dry brushes, I achieved exactly what I wanted.

In the next part of this story I will tell you how I got to make this quilt, where the inspiration came from and what this is all about…
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(read the next part of the story soon…)

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