Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Late to the Tea Party

I'm a bit late to reply to your posts (is your tea cold?  Go make a fresh cup... I'll wait....) 
But that is no reflection on how much I appreciated your response to my artistic angst.  And in the meantime, while I was thinking about what you said, you had your own revelation (with help from Dennis) so I am lead to this conclusion:

It is hard to see our own voice in our work with our noses pressed up against it -- but it's there and apparent to others.

Perhaps we should print that out and post it on the walls of our respective work spaces. Really, I suppose the point is to relax and do what we love and our voice emerges.  But you have no idea how much I appreciate your specifying what you see in my pieces that reflect my voice.  And you have mentioned some of the things that really do float around the back of my mind as I am thinking about what to do for a challenge or a piece I'm working on.  (And thank you for reminding me about Kaffe Fassett being drawn to my quilts.  It still makes me very happy when I remember that!)

I like working with subject matter that is ordinary and humble.  My choice of dandelion as our first 12x12 theme was clearly motivated by that.  There's something about finding some meaning in items that people tend to overlook that appeals to me.

I like looking at things up close.  I'm more specifically aware of that in the photos I take -- and how much I love using my macro lens.  Honing in on some part of some small thing to notice its beauty or elegant shape or interesting texture is something I keep in mind when I'm taking photographs.  How silly that I don't specifically think of that with quilt making, but clearly that same impulse is there.  The photo above, which I took this week noticing my paint pan sitting on my desk, is an example of that.) 

And I love texture and pattern that comes from translating an image into fabric.

It is intriguing to me that you respond in terms of story.  It's not something I think about at all, in viewing or in making pieces.  And I think I should -- not as in "I am doing something wrong if I don't" sort of should, but in I think it might add to my own understanding of why I've been moved to do what I'm doing.

I also was struck by something I read in the Quilt National 2011 book.  One of the jurors (I have just looked -- it was Eleanor McCain in her Juror's Statement) talking about what she looked for in pieces as she was jurying them for the exhibit, asked "What about these works of art demands that they be formed from cloth and thread?  Is there a message and meaning that can only be revealed through this medium?  What in the quilt form is important to the art?"  Is that something you have thought abouyt as you've been making your pieces?  I must admit that I've never consciously thought about those questions, or linked the medium to the art content with that linear of a thought.  I'm aware of texture and pattern and developing both of those through the choices I make along the way -- but WHY is this a quilt as opposed to something else seems like it's worth consideration. 

I have written about this before on my own blog, I think, but I read about an artist in another medium who keeps a list of seven adjectives posted in large print on her studio wall. They are the words that describe what she wants her work to be, and when she is working on a piece, she runs through the list to check that what she's doing hits all of her "targets."

I have often thought about what my list would be, but (as is typical) I get distracted and wander off to something else before I finish my list.  So that will be my task for the week.

In any event, thank you pointing me back to myself.

And as for your most recent entry.  Wow.  I love the journal pages you've made and I suspect Nikki is very happy to know that providing you with that book spurred you to a creative burst like that.  (See?  Tell Dennis!  The right journal CAN work wonders!) 

Your beautiful pattern pages make me think, again, that there really IS something useful about that repetitive practice and trial that is at the heart of the City and Guilds process.  Experimenting and sampling can lead to exciting discoveries and it need not be playing with fabric. 

And it does rather demonstrate the truth that our own style/voice will emerge?  You've been doing a repeating symbol all along and didn't even realize it. 

I laughed at Dennis's reaction to the "mess" of paint and surface design work.  In the sketching/watercolor class I've been doing, we had several weeks where we were supposed to apply various substances to pages as backgrounds for drawing and painting. And it felt like such a mess to me!  I didn't like it much although it was interesting to see the different results.  BUT when it comes to applying stuff to fabric?  It doesn't seem like mess at all.  So, apparently, for me it feels messy if I'm working on paper but it's art if it's fabric.  Go figure.

If you had to come up with a list of seven words or phrases to serve as your "target" words for your art, what would they be?

I should note here that because of holidays and family things, I've not had a lot of studio time.  I've drawn some eggplants to experiment working with purples in the watercolor class for the weekly assignment.  I've pulled out my camera to capture the vibrant fall color in the yard.  

But I'm starting to feel the pull toward something I started a few weeks ago, so getting that done is at the top of my fabric list.

How has the revelation that you actually DO have a repeating symbol affected your thinking about what you're doing this week?



Terry said...

Have either of you read "Art and Fear"? It is a wonderful book and I'm not sure why the "Fear" part is even in the title. There was something in it that said something like "The art you like to look at is not necessarily the art you are meant to make." That thought really struck me and I kept thinking about it. I was always so frustrated that I wanted to make very crisp, clean abstract work and very representational stuff kept coming out. Helen's realization of a repeating theme or at least, an image was similar to my realization that I was unconsciously creating my own style. The next step was to embrace it and work with it.

I love this conversation you are having!

Kristin L said...

I love Eleanor McCain's statement. It IS something I consciously think about when creating my work. The textile work that I most admire also often has an element that "demands that it be formed from cloth and thread." I think I may be in the minority though.