I've been thinking about the yin/yang of working as an artist: finding a balance between competence and comfort with a certain working style versus the need/desire to push outside of that style and deliberately challenge oneself in a new way. Am I alone in thinking about this? I've been feeling it for a couple of years.
It may have started when I found myself attracted to the idea of making larger work again. I think my love for the Gee's Bend quilts coupled with the Modern Quilt movement got it going. How can I combine my love of surface design with all this? Where might it take me?
Interestingly, there are many people who were not terribly supportive of my plan to take this little side-trip in my work. Why was I doing this? What do I hope to accomplish? What about my "other" work?
Well, what about it?
Does this exploration mean I'm abandoning the "art quilt"?
I'm writing this stuff because I wonder if I'm alone out there in these things.
Look, maybe I do have a split personality when it comes to the work I do. I'm very comfortable with that. I guess I must have a multiple personality disorder if we take painting and mixed media into account.
When it comes to quilts, I began as a traditional quilt maker. I'm reminded of this as I clean out my studio to prepare for a major remodel of my wet space. I'm finding many "artifacts" from my earlier work! Not very prolific early on due to professional and family responsibilities, I began producing more work about 12 years ago when my family responsibilities changed. Coupled with my passion for mark-making with dye and paint it seemed a natural fit to make art quilts.
Frankly, it still does.
I know that my work will not evolve unless I am in my studio making art a regular practice. There is no substitute for just "doing the work": it is how the work evolves. I have interests other than my textile work, but there is no question that the textile/surface design/quiltmaking work is the main focus of my artistic intent. I love to paint, embroider, and do encaustic work (such a parallel to surface design work on cloth!).
I had a desire to explore new territory in my quilt work. I tell people I like to "poke a stick at myself" to see what shakes out.
I've been doing two new things this year: I'm studying with Nancy Crow and I am trying to learn how to use a longarm machine. So far both are challenging, and in a good way.
Here I am begin my critique, held at the end of week 2 in May. I am pictured with a portion of the
work I generated while there. I worked very hard and put in long hours, as did all my fellow workshop participants.
--------And then there is the longarm learning curve.....!
Loading my first "solo" quilt on the Bernina Q24 longarm machine...
Some of my free motion quilting.
These are my two newest artistic challenges. I do not mean to imply that I have mastered my other artistic pursuits: most of them continue to humble me on a regular basis!
I am interested in hearing what my reader have to say about this. If you have a few minutes to comment, I'm "all ears".