I’ve been using fabric extensively in my set-ups lately. I love the almost organic quality of the folds and the way the light and shadow plays across them. Instead of the fabric being a background to the other objects, it is an object worthy of study in itself.
In arranging the fabric, I find that I have both more and less control than I do when working with, say, a vase. A vase is a solid form that doesn’t change when I touch it. I can set it close to, or further from other objects in a set-up, creating relationships that I can control precisely. Most every shape that you see in one of my still lifes, whether it’s the shape of an object, or of a shadow, or the negative space between objects, is either selected or designed by me to contribute to the design. Nothing can be random. When I arrange a piece of fabric, however, things change somewhat. Fabric can take on innumerable shapes. Within limits, I can create almost any shape I want. I can’t, however, completely control it. Fabric takes on certain characteristic folds and forms according to its composition and weave. Most of the small shapes the fabric assumes are a result of the fabric falling naturally from where I have placed it. In other words, I have not directly designed all of the shapes the fabric assumes. They are, in that sense, accidental. Of course, if a random fold or shape displeases me, I change it, either by trying to manipulate the fabric, or simply by painting it differently, according to my vision. In that way, you can still say that I control everything in my paintings. So, everything must be approved of by me, but not all is created by me, at least not where fabric is concerned!