Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Schizophrenic Quilter?

Sometimes I wonder if I have a split personality.  If I look at my work, it doesn't seem to follow any sort of style at all.  For example, I just finished this quilt top:

It was inspired by a mid-century modern design I saw.  I used brighter modern fabrics, but interestingly, the result still fits in with the overall feel of the era.  I’m really crazy about mid-century art – there’s something about the colors and shapes and sensibility that really appeals to me.  They are optimistic, I think, and kind of space age-y too. 

Then there’s this piece, Aurora Borealis:

This piece has a completely different feel, to me.  It’s far less fussy.  But I love it too.  I blogged about it last week – it was inspired by some photos I saw of the Northern Lights in Iceland. 

Then too, there is this:

This one is an improvised piece that I call “Stones From the River. To me, it is completely different from the others in sensibility, color – it has a natural kind of feel to it.  I absolutely love it, and actually made it for myself – I’m nuts about that fabric that is in the border – wish I’d bought an entire bolt of it. 
Here’s yet another organic-type of piece:

They are inspired by Andy Goldsworthy’s art.  I guess these are similar, now that I look at them. 

Here’s one that has a different feel..  It’s called Glacier:

Finally, here are a couple that are sort of graphic:


One thing you might notice is that there are very few quilts (actually none in this gallery, come to think of it)  that have repeated blocks.  I’ve made a number of those, I must say - mostly other people’s patterns.  It’s not that I’m against them, but when I get inspired, it just doesn’t seem to come in blocks.  So be it.

This is a small sample of my work, of course. There are many more around including several that use African fabrics which I can't get to the pictures of at the moment (dead computer) but I think these illustrate my point.  I'd tell you to go check out my webpage, but I still don't have a web page complete (STILL!  And yes I still hate computer stuff and I just can’t figure out my site on godaddy.com.  I’m seriously considering just scrapping it and finding something a little more user-friendly…)  Once I do, I am hoping to have a photo of every piece I've ever made to look at, just for fun and to see if there is any progression at all.  I don't think there is, but maybe I just can't see it.

I designed and made them all, really I did.  But they all seem so very different from each other to me.  I have to wonder if a person would be able to tell, looking at my work, that it is mine.  If I didn't know they were made my one person, I don't know if I would believe it.  Not that I care, really.  It’s just interesting to explore.  I mean – who the hell am I?  I don’t know if you could tell by looking at my art – it seems to me like it’s all over the place.  One might think I’m a little nutty…but it’s like I said – I just like a lot of different stuff!  Surely that’s a good thing…and I don’t really mind that I don’t have a signature style, not where art is concerned.  I just sort of go with the flow.  So far I've really enjoyed where it takes me, so why not?   

Thursday, November 13, 2014

It's Simple, Really

Things are a little more back to normal around here, and I have finally gotten back to work. Last week I created a piece I'm calling Aurora Borealis. 

It's a ridiculously simple piece, inspired by some pictures of the Northern Lights in Iceland. Even though it isn't technically complicated, I feel like there is still a strong visual impact with the different shades of blue against the gray and the quilted wavy lines which represent the "bent" light. 

I really like it (although it isn't completed yet - I ran out of the gray so I'm waiting to get some more for the binding).  I could easily see this hanging in someone's office, kitchen, dining room, bedroom....for me it evokes a certain feeling - peaceful yet energized - that I like.  There's also, to me, a kind of "hip" vibe I get from it, which I also like.  But I must admit I feel a little defensive about it, because it is so simple.  I feel like I have to defend it, to point out that it is worthwhile, even though it wasn't difficult to construct, to justify its creation, as it were.

All of which makes me wonder a little bit.  What is it about art that makes it "good" art?  Is it the idea, the feelings or vibe it brings out or projects, or the technical skill behind the making?  I've been looking in different places for inspiration lately, and something I have noticed is that when something appeals to me, it isn't necessarily because I realize it was obviously a time-consuming, skill-developing, painstaking something to make (although I can certainly appreciate that about something).  It may be that I have a strong visceral response to it, or I can see the thought process that's behind it, or maybe it's the use of color, or a graphic element I appreciate.  Sometimes, there's just an elegance or simplicity to which I respond in it.  Or it's just, plain, beautiful!  To me, there are so many ways that not just a piece of art, but anything - even a beautiful line on a pot, or the movement of water as it flows from my refrigerator into my glass, or words strung together on a page can be breathtaking. mesmerizing...inspiring.  

Take Alexander Calder, for example.  He's definitely one of my favorite artists.  I pretty much love everything I see of his - paintings, wire art, sculpture...there's something about his sensibility that really speaks to me. Just looking at his mobiles makes me catch my breath with joy. But most of it is visually simple, really.  I'm not saying it was technically easy to make; I wouldn't know or presume, but there is a simple elegance about it - yes it makes a statement, but it's not yelling at you, it's dancing...whispering... singing...flying...ahhh - I'm swooning just thinking about it!

Here are some of my favorites for you to enjoy, too!

People have all sorts of reasons for creating art, I know - sometimes it's a social or cultural statement, sometimes the purpose is to expel personal demons, to wake people up, to express anger and frustration, to effect change, or just to document the beauty they see. Well, I know my purpose.  My art is created with breathless joy, excitement and anticipation which hopefully spills over into the creation itself and into everyone who sees it. At least, that's my goal.**

I know, it sounds almost putridly goody-goody, but I don't care!  I really want my art to spread joy to the people who see it.  I want them to get a positive, peaceful, happy, exhuberant or "cool" feeling whenever they look at it.  I want them to swoon with joy, too.  

Which leads me to this thought about myself as an artist:  While I like to push myself, skill-wise, (which I constantly do because I'm mostly self-taught and I don't know any of the shortcuts or simple ways to do things), I also sometimes just have a feeling I want to express, or colors I want to use together, or something really graphic I want to create just because it makes me happy to look at it.  It may not end up being a challenge to make, skill-wise, but still, it was my idea (in that it came from the universe through me), I  took the time to create it from my vision, and well, isn't that enough to make it worthy or "good?"

I realize that there are as many different ways to respond to creativity as there are people on the planet, and I'm not only cool with that, I think it's wonderful, fantastic, lovely. But -  I'm going to try not to feel like I have to justify my creations anymore, be they simple or nail-bitingly complicated.  They come to me from the creative universe, and I'm lucky enough to have the (overwhelming, really) urge and ability to turn them into something others can see and enjoy and respond to as well. I hope with all my being that's the result. It's that simple. Really.  

**In the spirit of full disclosure (especially for the people who live with me or know me well) - sometimes I find myself frustrated and cursing, etc. (as I've shared before) when I'm creating, but I truly strive to keep it to a minimum because I figure that negativity may creep its way into my art.  In fact, I've begun a little discipline with myself; if I'm feeling negative and frustrated I will tell myself I have to walk away right now or let go of it, because I will not create in a negative space.  Usually all I have to do is remind myself of this, because I don't really want to stop working, I just want what I'm doing to work, dammit!  And once I realize this and take a few deep breaths, I can go back to creating with the correct mindset.  If not - well - it's time to do the laundry or clean out the car or exercise or do something infinitely less appealing than creating art.)