Monday, July 18, 2005

Noticing - the Artists Block...

Being somewhat confined to home (although not totally, by any means), I find myself with more time to create, play, mess around, have fun - and get stuck... As the deadline nears for the PA National Quilt Extravaganza show, I have just realized that I do not have a new piece large enough to enter either category. Last year, "Going In Circles" was juried into this show and I had hoped to enter "Flaming Feathers" this year - at least until I realized it is too small! It's amazing what an extra few inches means at times like this!

But that deadline, aside from calling my attention to size difficulties, also did something strange to my sense of fun in the studio. I was surprised to notice that I was "afraid" to start quilting “Flaming Feathers” – especially so since I really like the machine-drawing-quilting best of all the processes in the art of quilt-making! Somehow or other, the deadline/jury syndrome entered my being and all of the sudden, my art work became just that – WORK. I avoided the quilt for 3 full days before today when I finally decided to quilt SOMEthing on it, anything – just to get it going. That worked, of course, and the quilting has proceeded relatively smoothly since then.

While I’m in the creative mode, I rarely consider anyone or anything else other than the piece with which I am playing. Often, I have many such pieces in various stages of beginning, middling, and ending – although one piece usually has my major attention. When I get stuck on that one, or have only a little time to sew, I’ll pick up one of the other pieces laying around and play with it to see what will happen if I try this or that or something else.

But the prospect of entering a show with a piece that has yet to be completed makes me freeze up like a cars’ locked brakes as it skids across a frozen lake. As long as I forget about showing my work, entering competitions, having the judges look at the back (!!!), and/or other such nonsense, I create happily, freely, and lovingly. I experiment, play, mess around and have a great time. But when the ‘judge’ comes to visit inside my brain, I falter and hesitate, stop, read, do errands or (heaven forbid!) housework – anything to avoid completing my budding creation. You’d think I’d know by now that even if I ‘mess up,’ it’s OK – life goes on and I’ll make more art, some of it good, some of it less so. And even the presumed ‘failures’ have given me something in return – I’ve learned what not to do, or that I moved too quickly without listening to the quilt and its movement, or that part of it can be salvaged and used in other projects, yada, yada, yada.

Well, now that I’ve given myself this little pep talk, maybe I’ll go back and sew. Thanks for being here…

7 comments:

mary m. said...

Pat,

I feel the same way. Which is why the two quilts I submitted for consideration at Ft. Washington I consider OLD Stuff. Although only maybe two years. I DO NOT like to feel rushed. I'd rather complete a project to my liking.

mary m. said...

Maybe we can meet at the Fort Washington show? I'm trying to arrange to meet also with Sue Reno, and my friend Mary Kay Price from Chicago will be staying with me also. We can all get together for lunch! (And anyone else on this web ring who is going to the show)

mary m. said...

And, if you'd like to stay overnight, I've got plenty of room....only 15 minutes from Fort Washington!

Sally Dunn said...

Wow Pat - I love your work! I think we all have artists block on occasions - I know I do! Well, I'm not ready to call myself an artist yet but I hope, think it could be close.

Thank you for the really encouraging comments you left on my blog - I was starting to feel a little out of my depth in the Quiltart Challenge. Thanks to you I now have my drawings nearly ready to convert into fabric. I'm still a little intimidated by some of the artists in the challenge, but, what the hell! If it's not good enough I'll just climb back into my shell until I am really ready to launch out into the public art world. Thanks again for you support adn encouragement.

Sonji Hunt said...

I agree with you about the pressures of finishing up. We all go through the same cycle, it seems.

Your postcards are gorgeous. I love what Virginia is doing. It has been very successful.

Congratulations for participating.

gabrielle said...

Pat, I know I am behind on this post but may recommend a great book, Art And Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland. They usually have it at Borders or Barnes and Noble...you don't need it because your work is going well..but it does offer some interested insights.

Susan said...

I hear you about the 'being judged' issue - it brings up so many old demons of feeling not good 'enough' from our pasts...

BUT - I have a few ideas for you, since these same issues plague me:

a) enter challenges and contests where only an IMAGE is being displayed - not the actual work itself - lots of the QA challenges are like this - no one looks at the back, and you can send them a detail shot of your choosing!

b) follow Melody's lead and fuse your backing on AFTER the quilting is done. This idea is saving me MANY MANY gray hairs all by itself!

Best wishes, and keep up the good (and important) work of creating art and recreating yourself!

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