A New Textile: "Yellow Shield", An Interesting Failure, And My Tip Of The Hat To Sergio Leone

 Yellow Shield, hand dyed wool on linen, 8 x 31 in.

I had it in my head that I wanted to do some panoramic pieces, with the proportion of height to width approximately 1 to 4. I don't know how this ended up at 31 inches, because I intended it to be 32, but so it goes. The idea was to have a very long stretch across the surface, while keeping the eye engaged, and balancing all the elements. (click the image to see it enlarged) The small color sketch I made looked good, as did the full sized drawing, but when the piece was finished it looked to me out of balance: the red had too much weight and the yellow shape not enough. A lot of work went into this, but it makes me very uncomfortable, as though I'm carrying a heavy weight on one shoulder. My eye gets pulled down to the lower left and has a hard time leaving.

Yellow Shield, cropped in the computer.

You can see that if I crop a few inches off the left side of the work, it immediately looks better; the balance of yellow to red is more even. If it were only as easy to do this with the actual piece. I should have stayed closer to its inspiration in its proportions: Sergio Leone's spaghetti westerns.  

 Sergio Leone, from A Fistful of Dollars trailer on Youtube.

 Sergio Leone, from A Fistful of Dollars trailer on Youtube.

Yes, I was thinking of Leone's brilliantly imagined scenes from several films I've seen recently in which a closely seen figure or object is dramatically juxtaposed to a wide view behind. He took the idea of panorama to a very different place. The final scene of The Good, The Bad and the Ugly is truly remarkable, moving from tight shots to wide panoramas (video here); and Morricone's music!

Utagawa Hiroshige, from 100 Famous Views of Edo, ca. 1856-58. From the Brooklyn Museum website. 

I can't help but wonder if Leone was familiar with Hiroshige's prints. Several of them play with dramatic shifts in scale, such as this one where we are looking through horses' legs and outward to a city street. They are a compressed version of Leone's panoramas. 

Yellow Shield, detail

To end, here is a detail so you can see the direction of the hooking. I chose to hook the red at a diagonal so it would move energetically against the dark brown. Interesting ideas....but a flop nonetheless. 

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