I recently completed this piece, "Stonewall with Iris" 30" x 24" and shared it on facebook. I got a lot of positive comments, but certainly the most common response was, "It looks so realistic." I have written here previously about how the stone wall is created from a photo printed on fabric. I have also written about how I make the flowers dimensional and hide my wires. Today I want to talk about what makes my art look "realistic".
A few years ago I was feeling very ill. It turns out that a vision problem was to blame. The short story is that I have gone through two years of glasses with prisms and vision therapy and I am feeling much better (not perfect yet but better). If you had asked me three years ago if I had depth perception I would have said, "of course". I always felt like I could tell what was close and what was far away. However, my eye doctor told me that I did not have good perception of depth- much less than "normal" people. As I received treatment, I began to get more and more depth perception. It was shocking! Shocking in an unsettling way to tell you the truth.
I have since gotten used to my new depth perception, and yet my doctor says that my brain hasn't full accepted the meaning of the information from my eyes and that I might perceive depth even more in the future.
All of this is very significant to my artwork, because I have the unique perspective of knowing truth depth versus perceived depth in a way that many people might not have experienced. Obviously this stone wall is not actually three-dimensional but your brain might let you perceive it as having depth. You are able to do this because your brain knows what dimensional things look like and fills in the information for you. Vision is so much more that what our eyeballs see. It has a lot to do with what the brain knows. People who have good depth perception know that shadows and angles and layers often go along with depth. So, when an artist like me creates a piece that has elements that normally have depth many people's brains allow them to "believe". My brain didn't know how to do that until very recently. In fact I used to think flat art looked too flat, so I almost always worked in sculpture. Now I am playing with my new perception and finding it fun to enhance photos with stitching to make them look more dimensional.
I am very excited to find out what I can do with my new visual skills in the future. I hope you will follow along- my work is on Facebook and Instagram (art_quilts) on a daily basis.
It is fun to play with vision and the brain, so sometimes I make optical illusions too. Here is one that will be in the Whistler House Gallery this summer. Stare at this full screen and you might start to feel sick!
Love, Dawn Allen