Things are getting more and more eccentric at Casa de la Swain. Changing styles in my textile work, falling in love again with painting and photography...and then there is the ever illusive quest for continuing creativity through working with Eric Maisel. Still on the road teaching, posting now at the Ragged Cloth Cafe and taking the pledge to keep handmaiden up to date.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

A Response to Mel or the Reason We Make Quilts

First, of all let me correct a mistatement in the prize money Sharon will only will $23K if she gives her quilt to the museum. The Best LongArm award is not a purchase award and is only $3K. I stand corrected. Now to the blathering...this do every technique you can, use every fabric you own and all crystals is a phase that started about two years ago. It will be a cycle that will hang around for awhile and then this too shall pass. Quilts that win best ofs are always aberrations in one way or another. They all share a common quality of excellent technique but then we are all doing the best technique we can because craftsmanship at this point in our careers is pretty much a given.
Speaking only for myself, I only make the quilts I want to make....imagery I want to explore, color I want to work with, composition I find fascinating. I have never made a quilt just to enter in a show; much less to win money. To do that is a crap shoot at best because you never know what the competition will be. How can you ever know what will happen?
I have never been in Quilt National and enter when I have quilts that might suit that venue....which isn't every year....but I never expect to get in with the odds of 80 out of 1200 or 1300 entries. However, I would still have made the same quilts. Shows and money aren't my motivation. I make quilts because it is my chosen media for my art....although I am enjoying the painting, it will never outweigh my love for fiber.
Mel is right there is an incredible pressure to produce in our business but that is all self-imposed. Pushing the envelope, exploring new composition, trying techniques are all aspects of our own desire as artists to work in new ways or just play with something we want to test. I have been lucky to win some awards but they were always a big surprise, never expected. No one makes us enter but ourselves. In fact, I know several artists that never enter but do incredible quilts.....there are lots of us who don't travel and teach and do nothing but make great quilts; there are also many of us who travel and teach so much that we never make quilts to enter in shows but instead are working to share with our students.
There are many paths for us to follow....we all choose our own, but in the final analysis, the only reson for making art is because you are driven to do so. Dear Mel, you don't have to prove anything to anyone. Again speaking only for myself, it is icing on the cake if someone likes my work....a great compliment, but it isn't my motivation and in the final analysis doesn't matter if I am doing the work I want to do. As to making money, I am a working artist...this is my career. I actually need to make the money to live in the style to which I have become accustomed....and then there is the son in law school. Long story short selling work, teaching and ocassionally winning a few prize dollars is just part of the business. If I was an accountant, I would want to make money for time spent on the work; as a working artist I hope for the same. End of blathering.
Hey Deb, I am on my way to be your stunt double. It will be a honor to be you for a photo op.
Yes, Dianna, those are crystals all over the back of the quilt....which is quilted in black thread. The quilting motifs are very original and incredibly well-done.
We spent the day with the big quilts yesterday; off to peruse the small quilts today. We also visited the Museum, which has several great shows.....Canadian quilters, Anita Shackleford's antique red and green collection, the Dresden Plate contest and a new gallery of minatures. They have made the Best Minature and purchase award so this gallery will be growing as the years go by.
The Yeiser Art Center has Fine Focus 2006 and it looks spectacular combined with a local painter and sculptor who does great work. Congrats to all in the 2006 show.
Off to eat more not on the diet food and see more great quilts.


Diane D. said...

Gabrielle, if you get a chance please say "hi" to my quilt too - it's called "Grotto" and it's in nontraditional wall (I think). I wrote to you last year to ask about prismacolor pencils when I was making it - I used them for some shading. Glad you liked FF06 - I've never gotten to see Fine Focus in person and always wonder how it looks.

Gerrie said...

Thanks for your insightful commentary on quilts made for shows vs not. I like your attitude!

Mrs. Mel said...

Me too. I like your attitude and your serenity in all that hubbub.
I realize that ALL my angst is self induced. I make these pronouncements to cement them in my consciousness (swiss cheese that it is) and hope the newly uncovered concepts will stick.

Sonji Hunt said...

I am in ageement with what you have written, Gabrielle. I must go and read Mel's blog now, so I can see where it's all coming from.

A friend emailed me about how she froze up creatively because people were pressuring her about this show in Philadelphia she was entering. She ended up never making any work for it. She went on and on about only wanting to create out of love for creating. I totally feel that way and I know that my best work is the stress-free, no expectations work because I can explore what I want to, the way that I want to. The business of art and art quilting and crafting can be very stiffling sometimes.