Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Learning Curve

Kristin here. Wouldn't it be great if each time we had an idea we were able to execute it perfectly; just as imagined? Yeah, it doesn't usually work that way, especially if the process is not with one's usual medium.
I was recently invited to participate in a group show at the art center to which I belong. All the works are to be in paper. The artist who invited me was inspired by my Army Wife show, so i thought it would be a good idea to continue somewhat in that vein. Everyone there "knows" me for my aprons, so I wanted to make a paper apron. In my head it's an apron woven out of security envelopes in a businessy type of pattern (houndstooth in this case). More paper would be used to make a lace-like border and accordion folded and fanned ties. It looks great in my head! But after hours and hours and days and days of cutting strips, glueing, and weaving, I realized that I had made many mistakes in the weaving, and each time I tried to fix one, it exacerbated another. Also, the weaving was not lying as flat and clean as I wanted.

These are problems that could be fixed by starting over. If I made several pieces I could work out the kinks. Practice makes perfect. However, this has a deadline, and it is not the only project I'm working on. Nor is it the only one with a deadline. I realized that I was spinning my wheels trying to make this work straight out of the gate. My time would be better spent saying no to this particular invitation, and getting back to my usual work.

It's frustrating to turn my back on something, but I hope to return to it when I have more time to trouble shoot and refine my process. I'm afraid it's also easy to stay with what one knows in order to avoid just this conundrum. How easy it is to stick with the nice safe process and materials we are already familiar with. I'm excited about my cloth projects though. I don't want them to suffer because I spent too much time trying something new. So it's a delicate balance between staying on the path we know and finding the place and time to branch out. When I've finished the art quilts in progress now, I will return to this paper idea. Plastic bags are calling to me as well. I'll miss this paper deadline, but I'll make some other art quilt ones. All in due time.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Closed Doors vs Open Ones

Carol here.

I don't know about all of you but after I have a big push to reach deadlines, I have to take a break.

Literally I have nothing to offer.

I  just completed two articles for the same publication (with only two weeks to write them both) (my own schedule blocked me into that corner) and I am so very wrung out.
I feel like I couldn't come up with one bit of inspiration at the moment.

But I still crave the daily creative activity that I am used to.

What is a girl to do?

I read for a couple of days or at least until my vision was blurred.
Then I watched a couple of good movies followed by a couple of really bad ones.

But I couldn't sit still much longer and not do something.
What I really wanted to do was draw or work in my art journal.

I don't know if you can really call one of the handmade books that I write/draw/collage in an "art journal" but I guess that's the best description at the moment.
Sometimes it feels like an "art" journal but other times it feels more like a regular journal.

It's a huge book that I made in a workshop that I took a few years ago.

I certainly learned my lesson there about making Big Books.

I prefer the smaller ones that I can complete easily or the "theme" book that I can carry on trips with me.

I have a "Colorado" book that I work in while I am visiting friends and teaching there.

I also have a "Charleston" book that I carry when my husband and I venture to The Holy City.
I used a printed copy of a rich beautiful painting by Robert Henri called "The Green Fan (Girl of Toledo, Spain)" that is owned by Gibbs Art Museum in Charleston, SC
One of my favorite paintings.
She stands 41 inches tall
and commands any room that she is in.

My Charleston Book (aka Book of the Holy City).
"The Green Fan (Girl of Toledo, Spain)"
Robert Henri

Having a book like that makes it really simple to decide what to carry with me when I travel.

But back to the Big Book.

She is almost six inches thick, holds a lot of pages and even more words and drawings.
Lots of room for random mark making.
I turn to her pages when I have that desire to draw (or write) and have no idea or concern for the outcome.

I opened her up yesterday morning, grabbed a couple of pens and set to work (while watching one of those bad movies).

Here's a sampling of the pages that I marked up.

A colorful owl that started out as a curved doodle.

I had stitched a doily/sun shape into my page
before I stitched the signature into my book.
Yesterday I journaled deep, dark secrets on the page.

Ah, more secrets.
I'd have to kill you if you read them.

Ideas for simple, yet engaging journal doodles.

You can see the progression in this page.
I love adding the tiny details to finish the doodle drawings up.
I'll go back in later and add journaling.

I also add in single pages with ideas for thermofax screens.

More blurring to make you wonder why I have
so many deep dark secrets.
Most of it is aimless pondering of a bored woman.
Like this one -
"We never consider death before it considers us"
"Dead men do tell tales albeit quietly".
I am a fountain (a deep one) of thoughts.

So you can see that I have an expanse of fertile ground on which to practice my trade.
In other words- I have a big ass book that I draw and write in.

The Muse may be out at the moment but at least I left the door open for her.

Do you find that you close the door completely or do you leave the door open for ideas to flow back in?

You gotta leave room for the entry of creative ideas.
You also need to spend time with these ideas every day.
If you keep showing up and opening that door, they will show show up as well.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Fallen Prey to Comparison

Liz here today sharing how yet again I have fallen victim to that nasty disease 'comparing'.

My  friend Jill Berry invited me to create a map of 2014 for a fun project she called Mapping 2014 Artfully. I thought it would be a fun way to plan out my year but once I started seeing the maps other artists were posting I decided that I couldn't possibly post mine! Mine was hardly artful. It is a vision board map...a bunch of words and pictures cut and pasted to a big board. Though I took great care to paste well so it wasn't too lumpy and wrinkled! It certainly couldn't hold it's head up high compared to all those other beautiful artful maps everyone else was producing. My work isn't as good or as pretty as theirs! Those other artists are more talented than me, nicer than me and probably prettier than me too. I bet their studios are always clean and they even have a clean house too!

I decided I would quietly slink off into the night and say I was just too busy to finish the project. OR maybe I could paint over parts of my map and make it prettier. Yeah, I tried that but, I just couldn't change my map. It is meaningful and just right for me so I would go back to plan A...slink quietly off into the night.

Then I realized a couple of days ago that this map is a collage and aren't I a collage artist?

Duh!Of course I chose collage to express my goals and dreams.

I also realized that this map fits my way of being in the world. There are no straight line progressions from here to there, no detailed schedules, charts or plans. That is not my experience in the world....although I am trying to plan more and work from a base of intention this year.

My map is different from everyone else's map. My art is different from everyone else's art and my life is different from everyone else's life. My map for 2014 fits me and that is what matters. I love looking at my map to remind myself of where I am going.

Maybe my style of map will fit you too and give you permission to create your own unique map of 2014.

Lesson learned (yet again) about comparing myself to others.

You can see everyone's maps on Pinterest or follow the links from Jill Berry's blog.

Join me on Textile Evolution to read about my Stitch Journeys and play in our free book studies!

Friday, January 3, 2014

fooled myself

Happy New Year! There is nothing like starting the new year with a realization that I have managed to fool myself yet again.. Natalya here and here's the story:

Back in 2007, inspired by Jeanne Williamson I started a weekly journaling project in which I explored different techniques, experimented with recycled materials and generally didn't give myself any rules except for size. I kept this going for two years and then got bored and decided to do a daily sketch journal. Sketching turned into experimenting with collage and painting and printing and doodling all on the pages of the said journal. Then in 2010 I got all fancy and did monthly diptychs based on my sketches from the year before. The following year I embarked on a very ambitious project of daily journaling on fabric. I had it all figured out: monthly prompts, experiments, binding into monthly books and then....I fizzled out and quit. Yup, quit. I thought that was the end of my journaling. Got it all out of my system, no need for more.

What I didn't even realize was that I hadn't really quit, I had just changed my media. You see, back in the beginning of  2009 I started something silly and frivolous on my blog called Wordless Wednesdays. It was really just blog fodder for when I couldn't think of anything else to blog about. I copied the idea from a bunch of other bloggers, sort of fell into a trend. Without even realizing it became a habit. Somewhere in 2012 the Wordless Wednesdays became more and more architecture based, only natural as my artwork was concentrating more and more on architecture. And they became not so wordless too somehow... In 2013 I gave myself a real challenge of making Wordless Wednesday an experiment in Photoshop using photos of NYC only.

So call me slow...but it was only this week as I planned out my Wordless Wednesday challenge for 2014 that I realized that I had never quit journaling! I just changed my journaling media... Isn't hindsight great?

So what's your journaling story? Weekly, monthly, everyday? Textile, paper or computer? And how has it morphed over time?