Make Time, Take Time
I had read Jane’s published article on going big or obsessive after returning from a quilt show, and I had to agree that the pieces I had liked were very detailed or intensely focused, or simply very large and awe-inspiring. I suspect that my favorite pieces were made by people who repeated their theme or technique to reach a very high level of focus and development. I haven’t yet worked in a series, haven’t let myself dig deep into a single subject or style. Each piece has been very different from its predecessor.
I consider myself a relative newbie with a lot of territory to cover before I start deliberately cultivating my “voice.” However, a mentor recently pointed out that I seem to be on the verge of getting very deliberate, and she suggested that it’s time to consider working in a series. I’m ready! I’d like to go deeper.
However, because I feel that I need to spend some serious time working on fundamentals, I decided to take an online composition class. So now I have to make a quilt every two weeks, which is an unprecedented pace for me. I’m making lots of time for these projects, two to seven hours a day. I spend a week or so trying to figure out what I’m going to make, and I do this by drawing and painting until a workable concept solidifies. Then I put everything I’ve got into getting the thing sewn together. I am very very slow. So far, each quilt is very different in style and construction method, so I’m having to try a lot of techniques that are new to me. I then feel more like an engineer than an artist! So I end up with a completed exercise that I consider to be a rough draft. If I were to try to make another version of one of these quilts, I could allow more intuition to enter the construction process, to get obsessive.
My journey into art quilting started with intuitive piecing, and until recently that’s been the primary way I work. I tend to start with the compelling aspect of the quilt I want to make and work outwards, without knowing where I’ll end up. Those beginning places of the quilt can get very picky and detailed as I try and work my way toward the rest of the composition. This is true of transitional zones in a quilt that wants to expand, and I don’t know what to do next. Sometimes this leads to major frustration and feeling stuck.
This is why I wanted to take the composition class, so that I could internalize some design concepts that would allow some underlying structure to creep into my intuitive quilts. I hope this plan works. I look forward to looking at a pile of quilts when I finish my composition course, and I’ll have lots of fodder for further exploration.