I love art. But the thing about art is that there's so much of it! There are an infinite number of styles, methods, techniques, ideas, and ways to combine materials. This is a great thing. And at any given moment, someone is giving birth another new idea, often with amazing and breathtaking results. It’s literally impossible to think that one can possibly know all the new ins and outs of art, but I, apparently am so far behind, I might be described as being in the Dark Ages.
Let me illustrate: When I was at the quilt show I noticed a new (to me, anyway) technique that was really making its way around the hall. I had never heard of this technique before the quilt show, but it seemed to be everywhere I went with very inspiring results. Everyone else seemed to be completely “up” on this new thing, but I had never even heard of it! It was then that I realized that “hipster” me (as I like to think of myself) is actually a quilting dinosaur - while the rest of the fiber art world is moving at the speed of light, me and my pea brain are plodding slowly through the fabric jungle, waiting for the creative meteor to hit. Yikes!
Rarely do I know about trends and techniques in the quilting world. This is further illustrated to me every time I actually make it to my quilting bee. I just don’t know where these women get their 411! They seem to know about everyone and everything, from fabric to techniques to machines, thread, notions…the list continues while I sit there, woefully ignorant and completely unschooled.
“Maybe I need to take more quilting classes,” I think. “Or do more internet searches…or order more magazines on quilting…” (Come to think of it, I did order a magazine on machine quilting at the quilt show, but for some reason it hasn’t shown up yet - perhaps I had better check up on that sometime. Especially since it was one of those unintended purchases that put me over my spending limit, and here I sit, not getting one iota of knowledge or enjoyment from it – shame on me!) But I never actually do it.
I did join a Textile Arts Guild in Austin back in October, thinking it would be a way to learn new things, but have been unable to remember to go to any of the meetings thus far, which makes me think that perhaps this was not such a bully idea. (Past experience tells me that if I don’t actually remember something is happening - like a once a month meeting - I actually have no interest in it.) So I’ll let that membership lapse, although I’m sure there was a lot I could’ve learned from the experience.
I want to learn more, become better, truly I do. And I know there are many people out there from whom I can learn a great deal. But still, I seem to resist. I wonder why…
First, I must say that it’s not as though I have any trouble coming up with projects even in my state of ignoramus-ness. I’m full of ideas, in fact. There are several sketches, notes, lists of ideas, etc. waiting to be turned into reality in my studio right at this moment. And many of them, as I have pointed out before, are more than a bit ambitious. I definitely learn as I go on many of my projects, which may mean that I am wasting time inventing a technique that is already in service – hmm - doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, does it?
On the flip side, in this world of instant info, there is so very much out there to learn, see, and know – the danger of becoming overwhelmed with intentions and actually not doing anything is a very real one, at least for me. In a Willy Wonka world with too many choices and where everything looks fun and delicious, I want to try it all…but I simply cannot. I guess one way of not flat-lining is to just not know about it – that way I won’t feel like I’m missing something.
There’s another reason, too, for my lack of expert knowledge, if I’m to be completely honest (and of course, I must). I have to admit that while I love to go to the quilt festival and be inspired by the beauty and innovation I see there, I like to try to come up with stuff on my own – to not be too influenced by new trends, but to just let my ideas bubble up organically, with no “fad fertilizer.” How cheeky! “Who the hell do I think I am? “ I ask myself. Well, it’s not exactly just arrogance – allow me to explain myself to me (and you.)
It’s not like I don’t realize that none of my ideas are inherently original; I feel like my connection to life and other human beings precludes that, but if I’m not so “in the know,” then I can feel like they’re developing from a place of creativity inside me; from my consciousness - which come to think of it, doesn’t really work for me either, because I believe my consciousness is connected to everyone else, anyway, in a way.
“So,” you might say “what’s the difference?” Well, as it turns out, for me -- that’s where a lot of my creative enjoyment is derived – coming up with a ridiculous or fantastic idea and finding some way to make it a reality. Part of the pleasure I get is from actually not knowing what I’m doing! Now, not having all the skills and the knowledge to make my dreams three dimensional might (and does) lead to disaster or failure at times, but I guess that’s just the way I like to do it -it’s part of the journey for me.
However, I’m still gonna make an attempt to be a little more informed – you never know when – or how – creativity might strike, and when it does, it does help a lot to have the skills to turn that creative idea into a living, breathing piece of art. I’m going to look things up on the internet more, and try to stay more informed on techniques, etc – in small doses. (I learned from Augustus Gloop in Willy Wonka that too much of a good thing can indeed be bad.)
Ahh - suddenly (Satori!) I realize that having skills and knowledge is not going to stop me from coming up with ideas - in fact, often understanding leads to greater freedom - freedom to go wherever my little dinosaur brain can take me. It’s not about waiting for the creative meteor to hit - it’s about the steps you take before it hits. Then you’ll have somewhere to go afterwards.
Well, like I said, it’s a journey…