Rethinking Chaos

Back in my studio again! I have been winding down from teaching and I am gearing up to create a body of work. . Am I creating a series of new work or organizing what I have in my existing portfolio? My first step is to define for myself; what a body of work is.

Is a body of work a  series of new work or building on my existing portfolio?

I did a little research.  I saw everything from dictionary terms to  100 page guidelines for assessment in an educational setting.  According to the About Painting website  “A body of work is the term used to describe the collection of paintings an artist has done that are typical of their style, approach, or techniques.”  During my search I  came across a title for a book by Pamela Slim. “Body of Work: Finding the Thread That Ties Your Story Together”. I know an important part of my definition of a body of work includes the story I want to tell through art.

Another key part of  a body of work is a set of cohesive visual images. I have to look at what I have in my portfolio and see what tells my story to the world in a way that creates an identifiable visual presentation.

So I began by looking critically and my “finished” work as a group. Here is the list I compiled:

  • Color Scheme (Warm, Cool, Complementary, Analogous, Undetermined)

  • Technique

  • Center of Interest or Focal Points

  • Balance (Asymmetrical, Symmetrical or Radial)

  • Themes or Recurring Images

  • Finishing Techniques

  • Contrast (High / Low)

  • Length

  • Width

 I am not surprised to find that I had created a little bit of visual chaos, so now it was time to get to work!

The first I did was take a hard look at one of my favorite piece from a new series last year: a kimono called the “The Art of Letting Go”. Art of Letting Go I love this piece, but had to ask myself if this was what I wanted to work on for the next year or five years. It’s size, color,theme, finishing  and technique was very different from the rest of my portfolio. Was this a series worth investing my time and effort if I want to create a body of work? At this point in time; no.



Next I picked a quilt that was my standard for excellence. “Synchronized in the Sea of Love” was selected by Jane Dunnewold in 2013 for a digital portfolio, in a show at a local gallery and most recently is on display at a biennial show of art quilts called Artist as Quiltmaker at the Firelands Center in Ohio. It is the quilt that provides me with the best example of my style.


Now that I had made clear to myself, what I do best (at this time) ; I had to start looking at my portfolio of work and begin the process of bringing everything up to standard. I started with a  quilt called “Even Chaos is a Gift”. I am still in the process of reworking the composition.

So far I have cropped the image from 49 x 32 to 32 x 30. This improved the composition by moving the center of interest and created a more balanced rectangle. I also changed the color scheme from monochromatic (dominated by yellow) to a warm cool, almost a complementary scheme of yellow and violet. Paint and updated photo transfer increased the contrast. It is not finished (yet!) but it’s on its way.

Even Chaos is a Gift

Chaos is a Gift - Redo

Thanks for reading!


NEXT TIME: Making a statement