My measure of success on a piece of art is that I like to sit and look at it; it makes me smile or gives me that "happy" feeling every time I walk by it. If it's something I've created, then I might get a feeling of "Yeah, that's it - that's what it was supposed to do." And I just don't feel it with these two quilts.
Actually, let me amend that - there's a third quilt, the Glacier quilt that I shared previously, that I've actually decided to scrap - the first one I've given up on ever - it just wasn't working. I still like the idea, but I just didn't execute it very well, and I don't want to spend any more time on it - I want to move on. I'll start with this one.
The idea was inspired by Alaska, where my excellent brother spends the summers guiding hikes in Denali, heli-hikes in the tundra, and hiking/rafting trips in the rivers near the park. I've been lucky enough to visit him a couple of times up there and once we went on a boat ride to see glaciers. These glaciers are achingly beautiful, and even though they are mostly frozen water, they are anything but colorless. I was hoping to capture the spirit of these glaciers with quilting rather than color, so I bought a few different kinds of white fabric, cut them into jagged pieces, sewed them together and started quilting them heavily. I tried to add some thread shadows for depth. Here's what I did:
As you can probably see, it didn't work. It's boring and messy. If I examine why, I think in this case I just don't know how do do thread painting, for one, and maybe that wasn't the optimum way to try to convey the shadows, either. And even though I used beautiful, almost iridescent white thread for the quilting, you can't really see it, so the many hours I spend on it simply didn't produce the beautiful representation of ice I was going for. Humph.
So what can I learn from this? I mean, the sketch looked pretty cool - of course it was done in pencil which I smudged to look like shadows. I guess I need to research and maybe take some classes on creating shadows or thread painting...I'd still like to try it again sometime, but I'm not going to work on this piece anymore, there's no saving it. And that's okay. I greatly improved my quilting skills and control on this piece, so it's not a total loss.
The second piece I'm disappointed in is the Colorful Blocks quilt I shared recently in my ":Lessons Learned" post. Here's what it looks like:
I'm not sure why this one leaves me cold, either, but it does. I don't like where I put the colors in the binding; it's too uniform and I meant for it to be more random. It bugs me.
I do like the effect of the lines radiating across the quilt in different directions, though. That seems to work. And I love the colors...but it's just not right, somehow, can't put my finger on it. I will say it does look better in person - I'm a poor photographer. Still, I just don't like it much, don't even know why. I already shared a couple of blogs (Lessons Learned) ago what I learned from it, so I won't repeat, but again, a good learning experience.
Last one to examine is the one I'm just finishing up. I call it "Different Paths." I was really excited about the design of this one, as I thought it had some good ideas and was an appropriate way to use some of the fabrics I got from the Marcia Derse collection of fabrics I got at the Houston Quilt Festival in November of 2011. But this one is a disappointment, too. Here's what it looks like:
My critique of this piece: First of all, I do like it a lot, really. But there are just some things that I think I could have done better. I chose the wrong fabric to frame the squares. ( I know, I know!) It's a beautiful fabric, but it's too much and it really takes away from the squares, which are supposed to be the focal points. Originally I was thinking of using one of the gold fabrics for the sashing, but when I tried it, that definitely didn't work. I didn't want to use brown, but I probably should have done, because I think the red really swallows them up. Shoot. Also, I messed up on some of the applique. I won't tell you what I did, see if you can figure it out. But that surely ticked me off. And I should not have outlined that damn circle in gold fabric- it annoys me, too!
I do like the stones and the feet, though. And I love the squares - they're cool, if I do say so myself. And lastly, I like the quilting I've done on it - it's subtle but it adds to the overall effect. I think "Different Paths" has some decent value but overall it just doesn't give me that feeling...you know, the one I'm going for.
My husband thinks I'm too critical, and that it's bad juju to publicly point out what I don't like about my creations. But I disagree. It doesn't hurt, because I'm learning from my mistakes. And while I know that every single thing I make isn't going to be 100% perfect, and I'm probabaly never going to be completely satisfied with anything I create, if I can learn something - even humility, then it's worth it.
So there they are, hanging out like some hole-y underwear, my foul-ups, for everyone to see. And oddly, it doesn't feel too badly to show my intimates - it's just another part of the journey. I don't know exactly where I'm going, but at least I realize when I've taken a wrong turn or a detour, and knowing that - even though it might add a little time to the trip - makes it all the more interesting.