Tuesday, October 02, 2012

What is my problem?

I am adrift. I am uninspired and without direction. That bell tower that I made last week just does not work or make me happy or give me ideas or beg to be fixed. Eh. It is going in a closet for awhile. Maybe forever. So, what did it tell me, if anything? It told me that "loosening up" is not easy. In the end I was obsessing over perspective and fussily coloring my plain fabrics to give them more oomph. Not at all what I planned.

A couple of commenters mentioned my facility with patterned fabrics and that it was a strength. Well, maybe, but see, the thing is, I am suffering from just seeing too much of the same thing happening in my studio. It has gotten stale for me. I need a change that is me, but a different me.

Oh Lord, I just reread that and I have become Whiney Blogger. I hate Whiney Blogger, but hang with me here. I am working through something.

The other morning I was ironing a blouse to wear to a lecture by a famous art quilter. I was in my tiny utility room, ironing away and pondering my state of dissatisfaction and malaise. I looked up at the clothes waiting to be ironed (there is always a waiting line at my house) and an old striped shirt of mine caught my eye.

I have always liked that stripe. Well, I like all stripes if you want to know the truth. And I began to wonder what I would do with a bunch of stripes. And I remembered my very favorite quilt that I saw at the Houston quilt show. This one, by Gabrielle Paquin.

There was something so fresh and crisp about this. It has stuck with me. Not that I want to make butterfly quilts from stripes, but.........stripes? Woven pattern, as opposed to printed?

The famous quilt artist lecture? I won't tell you who it was. It made me so tired. She is deep into technique. Holy moly. She spreads yards of silk on snowbanks and sprays caustic chemicals all over it and she processes things with rusty bits and more chemicals and then she makes a lot of stuff that seems to be all about the techniques, and all look pretty much alike including some tortured hanging methods, which vary a bit from piece to piece. Way too tricky and technical and ultimately only interesting from a "how she did it" angle. So exactly opposite of what I am striving for. I was literally falling asleep and had to keep pinching myself, but our STASH group, who attended it together, went for a divine lunch after, at a beautiful spot and we cackled and had a grand time.

The next day I went to a thrift store, where you paw through piles of stuff that you pay for by the pound and brought home two bags of striped and stripe-ish shirts. I have been fileting and boning them (you know—cutting out the good parts) for the past three days. More to follow. Maybe.


  1. You are not alone. AND you are not whinning! You are thinking outloud. I have doing much of the same pondering. I am really excited to see what becomes of the shirts. I too really like the butterfly quilt. I think it is the graphic quality of the stripes and the unexpected interuption of the butterflys. We all go through periods of reflection and sometimes it is good to "cut bait". I often wonder about the artist who have done the same type of quilts for years. You know who made the quilt as soon as you see it, or it was made by one of their students. Don't they get bored? Wishing you a good hump day and fun with the shirtings.

  2. yes, I collect stripes. Join the club.
    Seriously though. Exploring something Very different might help you come back to doing your 'thing' loosely.

    RE:lecture. some people do what they do well, but not so good talking about it. I can see why all the fuss and bother didn't appeal though.

  3. I am looking forward to what comes after fileting and boning...

  4. Have you thought about setting limits? I will only use stripes or I will use only fabric and thread or I will use no more than one curve or...some limits that force you to work in new ways. I think that the stripes are a good start on that. Limits ,as you know, can be very helpful. Deciding what limit to set to challenge yourself seems to be the sticking point.
    Or maybe I am all wet. And who am I to tell you, etc. anyway, I wish you well in breaking loose again.

  5. Perhaps a change of direction is needed? Create a piece in colors that you do not use very much. Think about other subjects that you haven't made. Make something small. You can do it, you can, you can. We all have these moments. You go girl!

  6. I will be interested to see where this goes. Thank you for sharing. I am always somehow relieved when I am reminded that you "rock stars" of the quilt world struggle with some of the same kinds of things as I do.

  7. Ooh, stripey architecture -- that could be fun.

    Have you considered a complete change of media for a while? What if you worked entirely in watercolor on paper for a month or two, or paint using just a palette knife? Something that would force you to be loose. Don't show us of course, because then you'd be tempted to make it look pretty. Just something to give your way of working a kick in the pants. I don;t know if that would help and I realize you didn't ask for suggestions, but it's what came to mind.

  8. By the way, have you checked out Natalya's work recently? She's got a very loose architectural thing going on: http://artbynatalya.blogspot.com/2012/10/new-work.html

  9. Have you considered an exercise in something completely different than your usual representational style, like an abstract piece? Or how about a super-magnified view of a detail of some object? Then the piece is more about the design elements and less about the object itself.

  10. I think you are heading in the right direction with the stripes, because you do have a gift with working with prints and patterns.

  11. I understand your dilemma perfectly. I'm there too. After many years of creating a style, it's become boring and unsatisfying. I'll be following your exploration with interest. I'm rooting for you.

  12. My preference, when I am stuck, is to limit myself to whatever is in the workroom wastebasket. All those fabric pieces we cut and toss. No looking in the fabric closet. Some of my most inventive work has come from that wastebasket.

    I also will limit myself to size. these things have sometimes found a life outside the workroom, been recut into other work and usually returned to the wastebasket. No harm.

    I think I would be more productive if I was working on a theme or challenge--I wouldn't necessarily make something that applied to the theme or challenge, but I would be making something. Now I just need to find a way to get invited to participate in those challenges!!! Ha!

  13. wow...there has to be something in this fall air. I've been fighting with creative funk too and happy to turn to making functional quilts and have long wanted to buy up a quilters dozen of mens plaid shirts at Goodwill for the purpose.

    I will wait until next tuesday and be smug about my discount though...cant wait to see what you make of your stripes.

  14. Linda Barnwell2:36 PM

    Or how about just taking a break and doing nothing related to fabric art? Anyone who knows you in any way would attest to the fact that you are an artist to the bone, and an amazingly productive one too. Maybe it would be wonderful to just do other things, and resolve to stay away from your fabric stash and your sewing machine for a while. Maybe resist the temptation to go back even if you have a small pull or curiosity, and wait until that moment, which I'm sure would come at some point, when you just can't stand it any more and know that that you MUST go work on whatever it is that has been percolating below your consciousness.

  15. Anonymous2:38 PM

    I've found that when I get "stuck", I need to find something new to set me on a new path for a bit and then when I come back, I can see with new eyes. Doodeling is always a good thing to move me in a new direction.