Artist Notes: Part 2

Posted on December 17, 2011


Gail Bolden – The Artistic Process Continues

Drawing Challenges

Each of the large tapestries had elements that were significant to that particular century and the desire was to incorporate each element into the design. During this century, for example, the American flag had its canton running from top to bottom instead of the design we know today, so the decision was made to highlight this. I opted to make these historically significant elements – the icons –look as if they were photographs bordered with a rope frame and tacked to the tapestry. The next two large tapestries representing the 19th and 20th centuries would have the same icons with the same gold border to complement the others in the series. After completing the tracing, I made a copy and mailed it back to Annapolis for vetting by the Project Historians.

On several occasions during the drawing process, digital photos of the updated drawing were sent to Hollis for advice. One challenge was St. Anne’s Church, which not only was misplaced on the Sacshe print that was provided; the Church also had a double steeple which was removed during the drawing process.

Several of the five-part houses (such as the Bordley-Randall House) were completely out of whack and needed to be redrawn, relying on other resources to complete. Oftentimes, the resources provided were of the building taken from one direction, and I needed to see the opposite side to complete. Most of these details, which were challenging to say the least, were worked out during the drawing process. The drawing then was sent to Annapolis for the vetting process. Any further changes would have to be done at the painting stage.

Yarn Color Palette

Upon approval of the drawing, my next focus was selecting the colors of the yarn. A wool card – which is a five-fold board chock full of over 450 wool swatches – is my color palette.  It is a work of art in itself, showing the colors of the rainbow and beyond. Usually, blues for the sky and water are chosen first, then the greens for foliage and land…all the while, considering how the colors complement one another.

Subsequent tapestry canvases will have a similar palette; however, as the City of Annapolis grew, so would the need for additional wool choices. Ordinarily, three shades are used for each color: one light, one medium and one dark.

For this project, however, I chose eleven greens to add variety in this sparse landscape. One or two greens would be introduced to the water, along with some bluer tones in the grassy areas. This would help fill in some of the empty areas and keep the element of surprise alive. Violets were chosen for the water for additional impact. These artistic ‘tricks’ also give the eye somewhat of a respite from the vast areas of the same single ho-hum color.

Gail Bolden, Tapestry Artist and Designer

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