Audrey and her daughters, who blog at Skirt Fixation, have one of my favorite series in the sewing blogosphere — Living Skirt Art. In this series, they recreate visual art that depicts skirt-wearers. A couple months ago, Audrey put out a call for guest contributors, and I volunteered. Today’s post is the result. Once you’ve had a look, go see what Audrey and company did this month!
Back in 1999, when everyone was preparing to celebrate (or survive) the turning of the millennium, the Sara Lee Corporation (as in frozen pound cake) announced it would celebrate the millennium by making a huge gift of art to museums around the world. Before they were given away, the art went on tour. One of the stops was Oregon’s Portland Art Museum, and I went, and I was very taken with a particular painting: Woman Bathing Her Feet in a Brook, by Camille Pissarro. I bought the postcard version and have toted it around for 17 years, so far. The real version now hangs in the Art Institute of Chicago; in a happy coincidence, I live in Chicago now too.
In my admittedly untrained view, it is a technical masterpiece. But its real attraction for me is that it conveys complete restfulness. There is no question that it is my favorite piece of Skirt Art, and so there was no question about what artwork I would choose to recreate for this series.
Part of the attraction of this project, no surprise, was the excuse to do a bit of sewing. In the photo below, I am wearing a new white linen Sorbetto blouse (not really visible), a pink jacket I already had, a new brown double gauze skirt (Vogue 8038), and a new-but-not-intended-for-long-term-use underskirt that I made very hastily from a rectangle of unbleached muslin. I may blog further about the skirt. For now, I will give my whole-hearted recommendation of that pattern, a Very Easy Vogue pattern that I’ve now made three times (once in the short length, once in the long, and once in between). I made it with Kobayashi Dark Brown double gauze from Pink Castle Fabrics. I don’t have much to say about the blouse — I used the modifications that I’ve discussed before, and I made it in a very nice soft linen blend (Kaufman Brussels Washer Linen Blend) from Fabric.com, with a self lining. (The fabric was quite transparent otherwise.)
Planning this project and doing the sewing was a really lovely experience. I like having a focal point for my thoughts when I work on a sewing project. For gifts, that’s the intended recipient. Here, the focus was on the painting and on restfulness. I started thinking about other art that has that same restful theme. One that’s very close is the song Gonna Lay Down My Burden (Down by the Riverside). Another that I kept thinking of was the Compline service from the Book of Common Prayer, particularly its quotation of Matthew 11:28 (“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”). I’m sort of keeping a list now — if you have any to add, share in the comments please?
If planning and sewing were restful, photographing it was the opposite — challenging and stimulating. I have been amazed in the past by Audrey’s recreated paintings, which come so close to the originals. Now, I’m really flabbergasted. As you can see, I ended up compromising on almost every detail. Still, preparing for the photographs reminded me of things I’ve forgotten (chief among them, the sheer variety of stream banks) and made me look more carefully at my surroundings. Surely that is another virtue of art.
Modern technology can of course cover up many types of imperfection. So, I turned to pho.to for an “Impressionist” filter (see results above). The result certainly looks less like a photograph, but it’s quite blurry for a Pissarro, I think. Ah well.
Thank you, Audrey, for having me as your guest! I had a great time with this!