Sunday, August 23, 2009


Compositional Conversation it is a project involving 13 artists all working to develop one artwork. Each artists has an opportunity to place their mark on the work and then passes it to the next person. The work has now passed through the hands of three artists and this week we are seeing the hand of Beth Carney. To read the first two articles on this project click HERE.

Compositional Conversation: Stage Three

Comments by Beth Carney

I was very excited about being asked to participate in this project, loving the idea of having this conversation between the piece and the artists involved. All too often I struggle with creating a section of work that I love and then get stuck because I love it too much. Once I get rid of the concept of how precious it is, freedom sets in and then the work really begins to take shape. I felt this conversation would be a perfect step on that journey that forces the artist to keep the conversation alive and dancing.

I received the work on Saturday and on Sunday was busy for hours playing and creating. The first laugh was when I looked at the blog of Terry and Rebecca's comments and realized that when I placed the piece on my design wall, it was upside down to what they presented! Who knew??? (Beth received and began working on the project before the first images were posted.)

The shapes presented were large and flowing, but I wanted to connect them trying to create more depth as well as play with the positive and negative space possibilities they created. I did not want to remove anything because they did seem to be taking with each other, they seemed to want to be closer and so the red shape began to move all around the canvas till I found its home, which turned out to be exactly where it started. I rarely work in solids anymore, with the belief that more is out came the hand dyes and I created intersecting lines. Since I usually piece, I used Rebecca's freezer paper idea and attached the long lines with freezer paper so that could be moved around without falling apart.

I stepped back and thought I was done until I woke up this morning and found that I just had to break up the space more by adding the large black shape on the left. Each element seems to connect yet show individual voices.

Can't wait to see what happens next.


I love Beth's revelation concerning the positioning of the "top" of the work. Those of us who work with abstract compositions know that a tried and true way of "testing" a piece to see if it is balanced is to turn it and observe the results. I guess Rebecca and I did alright. I also appreciate the introduction of types of materials Beth loves and works with in her own pieces. They add a new twist and a new layer of complexity. Many thanks to you Beth for your participation and involvement in this project. Read on for more about Beth and her work.


For the past 8 years I have been exploring the fusion of my 2 worlds: visual and performing art, in a series of works called Structured Chaos. My love of color, movement, architecture all combine into these projects as I explore line and shape. They are inspired by the world around me, sometimes based on nature, architecture, places and personal experiences.

For more information please visit Beth's website.

Structured Chaos 26....44"h x 33"w...2008
Hand dyed cotton by artist with commercial cotton and silk

We welcome your comments and hope you will take time and let us hear your thoughts.

Next week we will see the contribution of Ohio artist, Shelley Baird.


  1. Woohoo, go Beth! I applaud your additions to the composition. I, too, love that you shared the story of hanging it "upside down." I think that was a great moment of serendipity.

  2. How interesting about the orientation - now that's what makes these conversations so intriguing. To me, the intimate conversation has become more global with your additions, Beth. I am also really drawn to the negative space created by using the black.

  3. Hey Beth, nice job! I love the addition of the black fragment which cooperates nicely with the other two pieces added previously, but also I love the use of your hand-dyeds, too, because they bring tension and movement to the piece. LOVELY!

    This is so exciting!

  4. Hi Beth, the use of the black fabric and those interesting strips that look like a discharged black fabric add a great deal to this developing work. And how fascinating that you reoriented it. I do have a question as to why you chose to crop the black fabric inside the junction between the green and red shapes so that sliver of blue/grey is still evident? My eye seems to draw to that tiny sharp straight edge division between the edge of the black and the edge of the blue/gray at that juncture. Part of me sees that it repeats the straight edges of both the red piece and the green piece; another part of me finds that tiny break disturbing. Perhaps that was your intention.

  5. What a wonderful concept, which plays upon the early concept of the 'quilting bee.' I'm loving how each addition is showing the unique flavor of each artist but also, so far, is creating a depth to the piece itself. I'm looking forward to seeing this piece progress.
    Beth, isn't it fun when you discover something while you are working, ie. the position of the piece and your relation to it. How exciting!

  6. Love reading all these comments. It really was fun to play with. Jeanne, I played around with where to end the black shape and decided not to make it predicable and cover up all the gray especially in that little corner. When I stepped back and looked I felt like it was a more organic looking shape that went with Terry's and Rebecca's shape. I alsowWas trying not to make it look like just background. It actually was a hard decision to make.

    I did not actually cut all of the black. It is folded over on the bottom and left side so that if anyone wanted to add to the shape or shift it around they could. The pieced lines were from fabrics where I used low immersian gradations of different black dyes.

  7. This is so interesting. I looked hard at that one area and wondered if I would have handled it differently. However, Beth's decision really allows the red, chartruease and black shapes to be very independent.

  8. When I came back and looked at the piece again tonight, I seemed more tuned in to the continuity of the black rectangular shape and my eye wasn't troubled this time about those areas where all the different colors intersect. And I like hearing that you considered this little junction and made an intentional choice, Beth. Somehow I felt that you did and that I needed to consider it as one. Isn't it interesting how one detail of a piece seems to dominate when we look at it one time and we get a whole other impression of it on the next viewing? What I love most that seems to be coming out of the first three choices is a great feeling of respect -- for the work and for the other artists involved. There's an intimacy that I feel from and with this work that seems to be growing, as though the work itself is becoming as much about connectivity as it may be about compositional choices.