Friday, November 19, 2010

Courage to create: Pistol Threads part III

An incredible, flowing silk gown: sheer slits with a hem that seems to move when standing still. Virgin colorless fabric dyed the color of the Caribbean. And now she prepares to paint it. Yes paint.

Painters usually paint upon canvas stretched tight on frames. Canvas often painted with a neutral color (sometimes not as in a friend who begins with a red canvas). But this canvas took three weeks to assemble, not counting the dream-time beforehand to design the dream. Calling this a canvas is a bit of stretch, but this designer who also assembles, becomes painter on a chilly November Thursday in her studio. Chicken and noodles simmer on the stove, the aroma comforting. Vivian the cat sits and stares at her studio companion, Christel Highland.

The painting begins. Six shades of blue-ish purple dye with a hint of green. She starts with the lightest hue. She starts…tentative. A stroke here, there, around the dress. It’s quiet. This is not the time for an interview. Observe this. She admits her fear, fearing she has no clue what she’s doing. But it’s in those times of an empty mind, when one has no clue, when art comes forth. And here it comes. She channels Jackson Pollock, maybe, splashing, flinging paint. When do you know when you’re done? She smiles.

In the background, racks of recent creations in the final approach of completion. Chrystal buttons. Some of the virgin cotton fabric will stay virgin like my favorite shirt in the line. A black one would be cool. I'm missing Laura Brody, Christel's recent collaborator who's now back home in LA. Laura would be beaming right now.

In the foreground, Christel’s done. She knows. Lunch is ready. Time to talk about this…this authentic line of Americana threads with olde-world crafting, this spectrum of design from elegance to incredible utility (the denim shirts rock)…this painted dress, picturing a barefoot woman on a yacht in the harbour of Monaco, cooking chicken and noodles for friends. My friend says time for lunch. Delicious comfort food contrasts with the tummy turning fear, uncertainty, that’s really called courage, having no idea what you’re doing.

Christel will unveil her line at the JavaPort gallery this coming First Friday, December 3…

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