Up until now, I’ve been using a symmetric design for the phoenix, a holdover from the original weaving draft. That had to be symmetric because I had only 24 shafts to play with, and needed the symmetry to make a wider design on a point threading.
But since I’ve shifted to using surface design, symmetry is no longer necessary – and too much symmetry comes across as boring and rigid. So I decided to design an asymmetrical phoenix. Not easy since my drawing skills are rudimentary at best. (Not to mention my 3-D spatial visualization, which is awful.)
However, with patience and pigheaded determination, many things are possible. I started by sketching a few preliminary ideas:
Because of the very long aspect ratio, I thought two birds might fill the space better than one. But after seeing them, I decided I wanted to stick with a single phoenix – the two-ness of the birds bothered me, because now the “story” in the photo was about two birds and their interactions, rather than the single phoenix.
So I decided to work with the single bird. I felt the tail was still a bit boring, so I tried a sketch with two curves in the tail instead of one:
This looked much better, to me at least – it filled the space nicely, gave the impression of a flaming trail, and was more interesting than a single curve.
However, some things still needed tweaking. The tail didn’t feel realistic – parts of it were flat, parts three-dimensional. I wasn’t drawing things with enough three-dimensional awareness. And the body felt too short in comparison to the tail. Back to the drawing board for some minor changes:
This one I liked, so I put it into Photoshop to see how it would work in the simulated version:
This works!! I like it a lot, and will start carving some stencils today.
Compare it with the version I started with:
While both have their pros and cons, the new version is much more dynamic and interesting (I think) than the old one.
Not bad for a day’s work!
Meanwhile, feline paws have not been idle. Fritz, for example, has discovered the joy of window screens:
Tigress, on the other hand, seems to be mellowing out from her tear-around-the-house rambunctiousness. Here she is on the bed, showing off her regal beauty.
Holly Shaltz says
I’ve been following your design process with great interest 🙂 Have been wondering why the tail feathers aren’t pointed at least a little. Seems more flame-like, as well as more feather-like. To me, the rounded tips seem blobby. Other than that, I have LOVED this design and concept from the beginning, and am fascinated with all the evolution it’s been through!
Tien Chiu says
I’ve thought about it too, and may yet change it back. Partly it’s because I’ve been thinking of the Chinese phoenix, which has rounded feathers in its tail. Partly it’s because bird feathers are actually rounded at the bottoms, though not to the degree these are. And partly it’s a technique issue. Stenciling on an unwoven warp tends to blur the edges, and I think rounded feathers will distort less obviously than pointed ones. But I may try it both ways on my next sample – I have enough room for two stencils so I rather think I will try it both ways.
Thanks for the suggestion!
Sharon Alderman says
I completely agree about making the Phoenix’s tail more dynamic. I wondered about making one wing curve inward but unless you imagined the other side of the bird a different color, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to depict.
Tigress is a wonderful odalisque! What a sensuous pose! But all cats are sensual creatures, aren’t they?
Fabulous inspiration…I love it. Now there is movement and drape within the design itself. Looking forward to seeing the sample…..
How big is the phoenix? It looks great. How much yardage are you going to stencil?
Tien Chiu says
The phoenix in the new version (I tweaked the proportions slightly) will be about 20 x 60 inches. It will be a wall hanging, not yardage – at least, that’s the current plan!