Wednesday, February 13, 2008


This image is from a dye painted whole cloth quilt I made several years ago. When I dye painted it-- I hated it. The cloth sat, folded in a stack of things for many years, perhaps 5 or more years, and each time I came across it, I would look but still not SEE. Then one day, it clicked. I sewed some strips to the outer edges to make it larger and started quilting on the machine and then added, by hand, some varigated perle cotton stitches. Now. I love the piece and think it is amazing.

I think we need to be "prepared" and "ready" for art to happen. That's why I always do some sort of throw-away warm up piece before I begin on something important. I used to have a stack of 8 by 10 inch batting ready for little work. But then decided to use 12 inch squares because I like them better. They were too big. Too many decisions to make while covering the surface. Small is better and faster. Several of the artists in fabric and paint are doing six inch squares and that seems to work well. Small enough to go quickly and enough space to actually make something.

Series work. Now I sometimes simplify this even further to using the same little stack of materials and the same subject over and over. Picking out fabric for a project is a sure fire way to derail the entire project. I can waste a whole day picking out fabric and cutting it up and then changing my mind. That's why I use whatever I have on the floor or in the wastebasket. No big choices.

I like to make flowers. Tulips. I purchased Georgia O'Keeffe's 100 Flowers and look through the pages for color inspiration. I like to overlap thin strips of fabric over larger blocks of fabric to make a Mondrian sort of composition. I went to a Mondrian site and doodled some of his work into my journal. Just to note the division of spaces. To practice "seeing" that division. I think he used street maps. So I also began collecting street maps. I visit blog sites that have nice photos. Eye Candy.

I believe the brain is a very sophisticated computer. Data is collected. What we see, read, hear and feel. And if we can sit quietly and think, the data gets sorted into usable files. If we are constantly in motion, the brain has no time to sort and collate the images. I think this is the difference between the right and left brain people. The artistic and non-artistic. So when I am making the little "no brain" warm up work--I am sorting collected data -- and then I have "inspiration" to work with later on larger work.

In my daily activities I look at magazines with wonderful pictures and even blocks of text (even ones in languages I don't understand). I tear out the images I like best and will sometimes make a small eight inch square paper collage with them. Otherwise they are collected in a box (and I sort through them when I have nothing new to look at). I watch television programs that are visually interesting--usually cooking with all the colors and shapes. I stare out the windows into my yard. I look at the patterns in the street surface of snow, mud, sand and foot prints. I spend time alone and in the total silence of my home. No music. No television. No puppy. Oh, I do talk to myself. Quite a bit.

At this point in my life, I am sorting data. I am, I think, at a place where a significant change or event in my artistic world is about to happen. What I have been doing, is not making me happy. What I thought I wanted to do, is not working. My fabric closet-- so full -- isn't full of anything I want to use. I feel like Goldilocks. Too big, too small, too hot, too cold. I'm preparing myself for "just right".

While I wait for change, I am "pulling myself through the work" as one pulls a threaded needle through the fabric. Most of the time, having to tug on the needle and thread really hard to get it to come through the work. Harder than I have ever had to work. It has always come easy to me. Before. Not now.


Jeannie said...

Thank you so much for this post. You have put into words what I have been feeling for the past six months. Perhaps we are like the flowers, just waiting to unfold. Thanks again.

gema said...

What a wonderful, insightful post! Bwaaa, I must re-read it.
That quilt is incredible, I could sit and look at it all day....but I must do something very ordinary like to get a coffee cup is empty.