Part of being an artist must be knowing who we are in our creativity and how we process creativity. I know I am a “finisher”, a product person, so I think I will have to allow the product creation to be a part of the practicing. I do not enjoy just playing with sketching or painting or fabrics without some sort of end product in mind. Or, at the very least, while I am trying a new process or medium, so many creative projects pop into my mind, that I have a great deal of trouble just continuing to practice and play with the materials. My focus has gone to the product I’d like to create. Further, once I begin a product, I can’t seem to move on to other products until I have worked through the creative process to an end point. I see this as neither a plus or minus, just my “work dance” as it seems. As I have been mulling over these thoughts, I have read a couple of books on other topics. Still, the content seemed to speak to my thoughts.
Having read Sarah Brokaw’s book Fortytude with her message aimed at the 20 and 30 (and beyond) somethings as they approach 40, I found she spoke to these thoughts. I am definitely in the “beyond” category, but still thoroughly enjoyed reading about the process that she is describing and recommend it to you. At one point towards the end of the book where she is discussing spirituality, she describes learning to surf and being disappointed that she didn’t become an expert after just a few tries. She didn’t enjoy the embarrassment she felt when the waves tossed her around, and she lost her surf board from under her. After all, she had always been athletic! What she said about being a beginner caught my eye. What her surfing instructor told her was that
“I would enjoy myself a lot more if I consciously embraced being a beginner and with it the wonder, thrill and anticipation of trying something new.”
Lyric Kinard, Professional Quilter’s 2011 Teacher of the Year, is such a wonderful mentor to so many of us. She writes and talks to us about identifying ourselves as artists. She teaches us that everyone has the possibility to be an artist. When I hear those words, I am very encouraged, but I immediately leap to an advanced level, visualizing Van Gogh, Picasso, or Matisse paintings that I would love to create in fabric. After all, “I am” an artist! (Always the optimist and enthusiast!) Keeping the surfing instructor’s worthy words in mind, I am going to take a step back. I will try to claim the identity of artist as Lyric advocates, but I must also allow myself
“… to be a beginner” in the world of art and to “embrace” the newness of the experience with anticipation of where it may lead me.
That doesn’t mean I haven’t been working at developing as an artist. As I said, I am a “finisher”. I started by sketching a pineapple and am working in a series of pineapple themes, trying different media for each one. As I visualize an end product, I allow myself to let the product be a practice session. The product doesn’t have to be perfect, and I do want to learn during the process. I created the pattern and made the first fabric applications. Now I have completed the surface embellishments and in the process have learned that I would probably most like to claim to be a “mixed media” artist. I enjoy all of the processes, but need to focus on practicing just a few of them at a time. For the surface embellishment, I used machine embroidery, hand embroidery, stenciling and fusing processes. Laura Wasiloski’s article in Quilting Arts Magazine (May, June 2011) was an inspiration and her completed works have made me see the value to working in a series. I have researched her web site and watched her videos as I have tried to imitate her process. So much time has been spent on this that I have not done any sketching, but new sketching will probably always result in some sort of product initiation, so it will become a part of my process and not an end result in itself. Whenever possible, I will do some sketching exercises such as from the book 52 Creative Exercises to Make Drawing Fun for Mixed Media Artists by Carla Sonheim.
The surface embellishment progress can be seen in the newest pictures above. Next, I will add the borders and then will do some machine and hand quilting that will further enhance the background and the pineapple details. Practice. Process. Product. Progress. Four “P”s to provide a guideline on how to move forward.