This assignment has been difficult for me to focus on; it will take more time. So what I submit here really is a placeholder for the continuing work. My problem might have been that the inventorying process sent my mind out in many different directions.
When compiling my skill list I included general character traits that I believe help me in my work, but I wasn’t inspired by any of that. Then I listed skills that I didn’t think were directly applicable to my art. Writing and literature, for example. Journaling and reading are clearly important, but I also realized for the first time that I might do more writing about art, and further, I might think about incorporating the written word into my visual art. I had a new insight about some of the other non-art skills on the list too, like birdwatching, gardening, travel, etc. Everything I do is fodder for my art—as thematic content. This is obvious, I guess, but I never thought about it quite this way. Though this process opened my mind to more content possibilities, I decided to let that go. Obviously, any creative idea that comes to me is the result of everything I’ve done or experienced. Continuing with the fiber-specific skills I realized that I’ve learned a lot in the last few years, and I was very happy to realize that.
The wannabe skill list contains things that will be fun to explore: more surface design, printmaking, photography (and applying this to quilt making), color work, and certain piecing techniques. I don’t know that I can actually pursue all the things I’m interested in without diffusing any focus I have developed so far. The wannabe list made me anxious because there’s so much I’d like to learn, but I want to balance the learning with developing my voice—at the same time. I think the wannabe list will be used to work out what I need to know in order to make the next piece.
What does perfection look like?
I am still in student mode right now, but on the cusp of finding my “voice.” People tell me that my work is very distinctive, even if I don’t think my pieces relate in a cohesive way (yet). I’ll have to get very analytical about that. The voice thing is going to be a real challenge for me, I think. I have so many interests that I don’t see myself sticking with any particular content for long. However, this is part of perfection for me: being in a prolonged state in which ideas are plentiful and intriguing. I hope I don’t lose the spirit of exploration, even if that means my technical expertise is not always at the pinnacle of achievement. The more work I do, the better I get, and the more interest I have in refining my approach.
Below is an image of the quilt that drove me to take a composition class. What generated the piece was the mood I got from some of my hand dyed fabrics; I’ve been on a quest to figure out how I’d like to use them. I started the quilt in a workshop, and I was encouraged to start with the center and work out. I had the toughest time figuring out how to work from the first pieces to the rest of the quilt, and I got very bogged down with some random piecing. When I finally moved beyond the problem area I was much happier. I had a tough time trying to work with abstraction and a figurative idea simultaneously, and I think the quilt shows that struggle very explicitly. The critique checklist is very helpful for analyzing what actually resulted from the process I engaged with, and I’ve learned a lot from this piece.