Sunday, October 9, 2011


The faith I am talking about is not giving up on a piece when you are about 2/3 done.  With about half of the art quilts I work on, I reach a point where I am sure that it's not worthwhile enough to finish. I am certain the concept is pedestrian and the execution haphazard.  I have persevered sometimes only because I am too cheap by nature to see the fabric go to waste! 

Most of the time, though, when I actually do finish the piece, it is somehow transformed.  I can see clearly the thoughts and emotions I wanted to express when I started and, while I have never made a mistake-free piece, it has somehow come together. 

Faith is believing that the work you do is worthwhile, that the effort to put your visions into concrete form produces art that communicates those visions to others.  Like a lot of other things in life, halfway through it can look not only unfinished but impossible-to-be-finished.  The peaceful, settled feeling you get when a piece is finally done is the proof that perseverance powered by faith is often the right, if not the only, choice.

Sunday, September 18, 2011


I have begun taking one piece to work each week and hanging it in my cubicle.  People come by and look and comment.  Occasionally the comments are very perceptive - make me see my piece in a new way, or suggest directions I can go with the idea.  One response I get a lot, though, puzzles me.  "Where do you find the time?"  I don't know what to say.  It feels like a suggestion that doing this work is somehow optional.  That's not how it feels to me - I feel impelled to do it.  So their comment is true in one way - I have to actively plan to have the time and it's not always easy.  When I can't work on it for a period of time - a busy week or traveling or fatigue - there is a gnawing uneasiness, a feeling that I am ignoring something of great importance.  This to me is the core of self-identifying as an artist.  It's not whether what you do is critically acclaimed, whether it's successful on Etsy, or even whether anyone understands what you are trying to communicate, it is whether it is essential to you.  The communication is a bonus - a huge bonus - but at bottom it's not why I do the work.

Monday, September 5, 2011


Don't over think.  I have to tell myself this regularly.  Over-thinking puts the rational brain in front of and in the way of the creative brain.  If you overthink the design of a piece, it may never see the light of day.  If you focus on making each part of the overall composition perfect, the full composition may never get done.  If art for you is frequently an expression of emotion - if the self-expression is as important as the craft, then overthinking is your enemy. 

This is distinct from craft and technique, though.  There are pieces I make that are not "practice pieces" but are experiments in technique or for improving the actual"work" of quilting, so that I can create from instinct and emotion when I need to.  Thought here helps - how can I make it so the craft does not impede the expression?

Mid-project angst

Frequently I will find myself in the middle of a piece being assailed by misgivings.  "Great idea - can't get it out ofmy head and into the fabric!" "poor fabric choices - need more contrast/less contrast, different colors" on and on.  Advise from experience! Ignore these feelings.  Trust your instincts.  The piece existed in your head long before you mader the first cut.  You've refined it, changed it, adapted it to the fabric you had, to the feelings you had along the may not look right now, but it will improve immensely as it is completed!