Tuesday, November 10, 2009

On Visions and Magic

First things first...here's this weeks quilt, Rainy Day (46.09). It was raining yesterday, and I was thus inspired. Actually, the fabrics really spoke to me of a rainy day. I'll say more about this later.

The more aqua pieces here were parts of a larger piece of linen that I deconstructed screen printed very early this year. I had about a quarter yard, fully printed, and I kept pulling it out and looking at it, couldn't decide what to do with it...until I ripped it up yesterday and pulled off all the color areas that I didn't like. It was much easier to work with in smaller sections. And the greener areas had always bothered me. Actually, they look great together by themselves, but didn't go well with the aqua and brown. Another lesson here: Sometimes you have to rip something apart to get it to work!

So, I've been thinking alot about my vision and finding my creative voice. My stated vision for SAQA's Visioning Project IS to find my creative voice, and I've been mulling it over for months, now. A day or two ago on her blog, Leni Wiener had a fantastic post about this very thing ~ I encourage you to read it. I can tell you that it really shifted my thinking, in that it made me realize that I already AM operating from my creative voice...I just need to listen!

And when I say I need to listen, I mean I need to have the courage to exercise my own artistic convictions and not cower away from the multitudes who do things differently or who think differently than I do, or might, about what constitutes studio quilting as an art form.

Being new to this medium, I have tended to take a somewhat dim view of what I've produced in this past year, because it is different from most everything else I see -- and I look at other studio quilters' work all the time. I have thought that with enough time and practice, I could produce work that looked like anybody else's work than my own. But the reality is, I can only produce my own work, it is what comes out of me, it is my voice. And with time and practice, it will be my own work evolved, still not somebody else's work. Really, this is a huge relief!

In her article, Leni said that finding her voice was as much about what she felt she did well as it was about what she wanted to leave behind. This, too, is a huge relief...because there are so many techniques that I don't ever want to have to master, so many tried and true methods that just don't speak to me. So focusing on how I enjoy working is tremendously freeing ~ and also part of my creative voice.

Right from the get go with art quilting, I felt that I wanted to "let the fabric speak for itself." Indeed, I started quilting because I was beginning to create cool fabrics that just wanted to be quilted. But so many folks say you have to tell a story with a quilt, or you've got to be ever so mindful of the proper components of good design, or you've got to have color contrast, or you need to make a political statement, or you have to have the proper amount of quilting on your quilt, or the hanging sleeve needs to be just so, or whatever! Those "shoulds" are just other folks' voices, literally and figuratively.

As with all art, there's so much of it that I just don't get. I see work in all media that just blows my mind...because in my opinion it's just so bad. Like, who in their right mind would pay for something like that, whatever it is, or even consider living with it in their home. And yet this thing is in a prestigious gallery or a museum. It's all so subjective.

So, I'm following my muse, which is my voice, and I'm going to do what pleases me. And if nobody likes my work, then so be it. I know that isn't true, anyway. But I'm just saying. I can't be anybody but myself. And myself loves making fabric, loves designing quilts around the fabric, loves quilting the organic designs on the fabric. And this is where the magic comes in ~ when I put a cool piece of fabric that I've created or a quilt top of numerous fabrics I've created on top of batting and a backing, and I quilt it, the fabric comes alive for me. The fabric tells its own story, like Rainy Day, above.

What else is it, really, that I need to say with my work?

12 comments:

Sue O'Kieffe said...

brava! *clapping wildly, whistling, stomping feet*
i love your work, Connie, and I love it for all the reasons you mention. i dont know a lot about studio quilting, but i know what you mean about following your bliss.
again, i say brava for being your own best true self.
~sue

Jan said...

I can only concur with Sue...please yourself first and the rest takes care of itself. Maybe not exactly as we had imagined, but there it is, and here we are.

Love your work, Connie. Would buy some of it if I could...

ARTSAVVY said...

I couldn't have said this any better. I am also feeling my way through the visioning project and feel my voice is my voice and it doesn't need to be found because it is not lost nor does it lay dormant. It has taken me a year to kill a corporate mind frame and replace it with my artist voice who loves to play and cares nothing whether others like it or not.

tiedyejudy said...

Do you remember the story of how Vincent Van Gogh tried to copy the masters, and he was constantly frustrated and unhappy with his results? Then when he cut loose and started painting what HE saw, he found his voice... same thing, girl! You are doing Connie's work, which is so very much better than trying to replicate the work of others...

Wen Redmond said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Wen Redmond said...

Nice comments. I agree with you- There have been many times when I started or tried a new technique, only to abandon it. Later, and sometimes years later- it became trendy!

Susie Monday said...

Looking at these pieces and your Flickr photos I think you have a good start on "your voice," and as others have said, you find it by following your inner nudging and listening to what you love. I have written quite a few posts on finding your voice -- that's one of the main things I want my teaching to be about. (Please take these in the spirit meant, I certainly don't have all the routes for this process, just have done a lot of thinking about it.) These links might be of interest in your visioning project (I'm on the quest, too, with a goal of developing some online workshops):

http://susiemonday.squarespace.com/journal/2009/1/20/finding-your-voice-your-path.html

http://susiemonday.squarespace.com/journal/2007/12/14/finding-your-voice-part-1.html

http://susiemonday.squarespace.com/journal/2008/2/9/finding-your-voice-part-2.html

http://susiemonday.squarespace.com/journal/2009/1/28/finding-your-way-in-media-and-materials.html

Edzellinni said...

Very well said about finding your own voice and ignoring the techniques and colors/patterns that don't speak to you and ignoring what you "should" do. I really like the rainy day piece, the softness of the color and the subtlety speaks to me, which is inspiring since I have been completely stuck on a piece and feeling like I don't belong lately.

frazzledsugarplummum said...

Thank you for your observations about 'finding your voice' from the article by Leni Weiner. I have been thinking about it for some time and appreciated Jeanne's direction to Leni. Rainy Day is wonderful..the colours and the feel of it. The more recent works coming out of really heartfelt fabric speak for themselves and you. A privilege to share. Thanks.

The Idaho Beauty said...

This post is a great 2nd step in your quest for art quilting happiness. The first step was when you committed to doing the work, creating nearly every day. It's the only way to find your voice.

Now that you have thought all this through (and like everyone else, I so agree with your conclusions, have traveled this same road), you should be able to move forward with more assurance in your abilities. The most freeing thing is when one can quit listening to the voices in one's head that are not one's own or one's muse!

Approachable Art said...

Connnie, you've just hit on the way things feel for me, too. I am also new to this medium, making a huge transition from painter to quilter (with no background or experience in sewing machines, stitching or beading) and I get scared when I compare my work to that of the people I admire- on that basis, I always fall short: my quilting is uneven and spotty; my free-motion is choppy and uninteresting; etc, etc, etc. This list just seems to go on and on in my head.

It's something I fight with daily.

When I was painting, I was doing so in a relative vaccuume- I had little to no exposure to other artists and wasn't exploring online venues or social media- I was just doing my own thing.

Once I started quilting, however, I needed guidance and came fully to the online community. That's when the negative voice began in my head.

I'll beat it one day, and on MANY days I am strong enough and confident enough to simply ignore it. But then there are other days that the voice wins...

Your quilts are beautiful, complex little gifts you're giving to the world. Try not to ever forget that... we both should. :D

Debbie Babin said...

Well said! You do speak for many of us. Some of those voices offer us guidance and some inhibit. It takes a long time to sort through and take from them what works best! This, unfortunately takes TIME! We must be patient and listen and sort simultaneously.
Good for you. I found your term "studio quilting" very intriguing...because for one, my domain name is "studioquilts.com"
I have owned this for quite a long time. I selected it because I was trying to communicate that I am an ARTIST (studio) making art (quilts). What do you mean by the term?
I am glad I found your blog. :)
Debbie Babin
see my work at:
www.studioquilts.com