Tuesday, May 10, 2011

and I continue

I found myself really in a quandary between doing the kinds of work I like to do and listening to all those in the know.  The messages about having "one body of work" was coming to me from all sides. I like to work in both geometric formats which are really design exercises for me and then I also like to work in a very organic manner. I enjoy working in both ways. I guess the organic work flows out from me whereas the more geometric work tends to be more from the head. I like to make pleasing pieces, I love to explore how color relates to another color, I love line and being able to manipulate it in various ways.

So, I needed to get a portfolio out to art consultants and galleries in order to carry on with my professionalism. But all of a sudden, I had serious doubts about what I was doing. People I know and respect were very encouraging and saw nothing wrong in the way I worked but I fell victim to all the "talking heads" in the art world who counseled that it was necessary to stick to one style and if one did other types of work, keep it to ones self. So instead, I found myself stuck. Both feet stuck firmly in the quicksand. I really began to feel that I needed a mentor but had no idea who to turn to.

And, of course, doing nothing got me no where....

On the positive side, I have continued to make work consistantly  and I have done some good work. I have gone back and forth between the geometric and the organic styles and have enjoyed what I was doing although I was not getting it out.

About the best I could do was to participate in an collage swap that Karen Stiehl Osbourne did and to contribute collages to Virginia Spiegel's ACS fundraiser.

The doubts continued for the past two years. Questions of if my work was really good or not....was I just fooling myself....was I a pretend artist...who was I...what was my voice....etc., etc.

Now during the past two years I landed a job in Switzerland and taught there for five days and enjoyed the company of several of my Swiss on line students. And then I spent a week by myself in Lyon, France. It was during that time that I slowed completely down. I sat at the cafe and just watched people, when I missed my bus, I just waited two hours for the next one, watching the people. I was able to get away from myself and just absorb all that was around me. What a gift that was. But when I returned, things were still drifting for me.

I can't tell you what has happened but I have felt a great burden lifting from my shoulders. At 63 I should be able to just do my work and not worry about trying to please anyone (I haven't before) or to try to make sense of what my voice is, etc.

For the past two weeks I have been working hard in my studio and have been creating a much more welcoming place for myself. I now have a second 4 x 8' table, and just got a used leather recliner with a small side table. I can't tell you how much I have been appreciating that chair during the past week. Most of the work I do, except for machine quilting, is done standing up. My knees  are bad so after a while I can barely stand. Today I worked for a couple of hours, sat down and read for a little while (about art), worked some more and then sat down and did hand embroidery on new work that I have been doing.  Hand work....me....hard to believe but I have been finding that since the work I do is not precise that I can have fun with it. 

So, what kind of work do I really like to do? I have been giving this a great deal of thought. What I have come to realize is that the Japanese esthetic is very important to me and I had not realized how much of that I had absorbed from my time in Japan. I like things that are asymmetrical. I like clean lines. I love organic lines. I love something that is understated. I enjoy minimalism. I enjoy the expressions created by the movements of lines. I love the act of making art. I love the various processes that I engage in. I love the problem solving involved in designing art work. I love to work by myself and enjoy spending entire days by myself.

Ah, but then I need to come up for air and socialize with others, especially other artists.

I belong to a small critique group with some very special artists: Alice Beasley, Claudia Comay and Robin Cowley. All are very good artists and we have been very supportive of each other. This has been important to me and it is with them that I am able to discuss concerns that I see in the art quilting world. The art quilt world is so very different from the art world.  We are going through growing pains and since so many of us came to this type of work through quilting rather than art, many have a lot to learn about art...but that is an entire other topic for discussion.

Enough for tonight....my thoughts are still coming and I appreciate being able to put them out there and am open to any feedback....


Judy Warner said...

Hi Liz,
I am 63 too so I can relate in some ways. You certainly write as though you know what you enjoy - passion shines when you create what you are interested in. We have lived far too long to worry about what 'the experts' say is proper. If your work speaks to people, there will be galleries and consultants that will recognize that and embrace it.
Just a thought on a beautiful spring day.

Anonymous said...

I believe one should do work from the heart and then it will be your voice that shines through. If you do both geometric and organic, I say, GOOD FOR YOU!!

carrie said...

What a lovely thoughtful post. I enjoy your work however you do it and some will sell and maybe some wont but you wont know unless its out there. I would imagine the right discerning gallery for you will take whatever you can produce; it's just a questions of finding that gallery (or their finding you)

Jeanne Marklin said...

I can only say, me too! A very thoughtful post. I think most artists have periods of self doubt and we need to push through it. Maybe make work for ourselves, and see where it leads us. The process is our satisfaction, even when it's a struggle. It looks like your liturgical work is giving you a lot of satisfaction. Follow your spirit...maybe it's leading you somewhere new.