The Power of Limitations
After the very deep work last week, this week’s assignment is a relief and a validation. I’m in a very intense period of evolution as an artist, developing strategies, focus, and beginning to make long range plans. A lot of things are falling into place, and it feels like waking up.
I jumped the gun on organizing the studio during Week Two of CST. I just couldn’t stand the chaos anymore. As you know, I’ve found it challenging to go ahead and call myself an artist, and I felt pretentious about calling my workspace a “studio.” I devised the term “work room” to use instead. (So much easier to “justify”!)
The room was like a midden from a civilization that had gone through distinct stages in its development. There was a layer reflecting my beginnings as a craft quilter, my development as a home sewing garment maker, my evolution as a fashion designer, and my journey into art quilting and surface design. I have not given up any of these things, but not all are flourishing actively now. It was time to let the room reflect what I’m doing NOW.
I bought three shelving units and got all the boxes and bags off the floor. I put up a bulletin board and a little cabinet for thread. I have TWO work tables that are cleared off. I got rid of a few bags of fabric and patterns. I removed the garment rack that was taking up space and no longer served a purpose. I was able to make sensible arrangements of my supplies, and the shelves are not mercilessly stuffed with crap; there is room for works in progress as well as things I’m not yet sure about. More sorting and culling and organizing can certainly be done, but I created a highly functioning environment that makes me happy and excited when I walk in. There’s no other place I’d rather be. And something else happened. I just started called this room my “studio,” as if it were the most natural thing in the world.
It no longer feels like I have too much stuff. I do have lots of things for making all the things I’m interested in, and at some point I’ll be deciding to permanently let some of those interests go, but not yet. What I need, however, is to create a schedule and decide exactly when I’m going to do the projects that now feel peripheral, like making clothes, bags, and bed quilts.
Here is the other validation I got from this week’s lesson: content over tools. Shortly before taking this class I decided to stop taking classes in an arbitrary way. Now that I’ve been making art quilts for a few years I can slow down a bit with the skills acquisition phase. I don’t need to take a class that will just generate more unfinished objects. I decided that vision is more important than technique; developing content is way more important to me, and way more important for developing work that is meaningful and interesting. I would rather have an interesting idea, then figure out the best way to bring it about.