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Inspiration – really is everywhere

by Lucille Crighton

This early morning as I look out the window to my snow covered backyard, sipping coffee and clearing the cobwebs from my brain, there is a red fox walking along the fence top. I’ve seen this fox before, chasing the squirrels. Just as it nears the corner of the property, a bright blue bird swoops down and back up.

I marvel at this scene, happening in Toronto and in my sleepy state it feels like I’m watching a Disney movie. The scene stays with me the rest of the day.

Later, upstairs in the studio, I try to recreate the colours by playing with cones of yarn. White snow, not bleach white…is it blue white or yellow white? I’ll have to look at snow again. The taupe-grey fence. Maybe I’ll take some yarn outside later and see what colours the fence and tree trunks really are. What colour was the red fox? Red orange shading from rusty dark, through brilliant copper to white? And the blue bird? The colours were dazzling. Nothing quite works with the yarn today, so I file the information in my brain for another time.

Yesterday I finished weaving various lengths of fabric using wool, metallic, rayon chenille, and cotton yarns. I washed the material in preparation for cutting today. This is to be a pieced jacket. I cut the fabric and move the colours around until they look right to me. I line up the pieces like a jigsaw puzzle. My assistant shakes her head as she sews the pieces together. I know what she’s thinking. 3 1/2 hours later and the cutting/piecing is finished and the fronts, back and sleeves are actually ready to be sewn into a jacket.

Then, I choose the buttons and Sharon takes it home to sew. Last August, I travelled with a group of my long-time friends (and some new ones now) on an art trip to Italy. It was my first trip to Europe and as well as the art, food and friendly Italians, I was entranced with the colours and textures of Italy.

I made notes describing the rich dark black-green of cypress trees, grouped on the top of hills like upside-down fringe and the blue-grey, sage-green of the olive trees. I wrote the words to describe colour groupings that moved me…deep soft teal, bone and caramel coloured mosaics inside a chapel. I made simple line drawings of the meandering fields in Tuscany, where instead of cutting the trees down, they harvest around the trees creating graceful patterns. The strong horizontal black and white marble lines of the Siena Duomo, the mosaic floors in St. Peters in Rome, the marble pillars in Venice were all inspirational. I took photographs of grey and cinnamon tile roofs and eggplant coloured shutters, brick patterns on the roads, the fields from the aeroplane and bought meaningful postcards for my scrap book.

After a 12 hour workday, I decide this evening to put the photos of Italy in an album. As I slide the photos in the pockets, I see my pieced jacket. The green and pink marble, the rectangles, the horizontal stripes, the mosaics. It is the Santa Maria del Fiore – the cathedral in Florence. What I had photographed as a breathtaking monumental structure of Tuscan marble had returned subconsciously in another form. I’m still waiting for the fox and blue bird to reappear.