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.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Sewing Seeds (no pun intended)

First, I cannot thank you all enough for your encouragement and compassion from your comments and private emails. Everyone meant another break through in the thin ice I was skating. If you are still out there reading this from time to time, here's the latest update.
First, it was total exhaustation that started everything. Followed by catching a bug from one of my darling granddaughters that laid me out for almost two weeks. But there was more, as always, internal stuff to dig through that was brought on by the period of not being able to work.
Since all y'all are used to my self examinations none of the following will be a surprise to you, but some of them actually surprised me.
Let's just tick them off in no particular order:
What's the point? Is my art going to change the world? Rather I came to the conclusion that it is meant to change me. However, again because it is my career as well as my passion, I found myself trying to create to please others or to get into shows. To follow the marketing agenda that permeates the business side of our art. Major philosophical crisis to follow.
I don't want to work toward any other artist style. While I want to be influenced by everything around me, don't think you can help from being effected by anything to which you are exposed. I see too many textile artist doing derivative work. How can I keep this at bay? Really had to think through this one. Again, as if I haven't regurgitated this a bazillion times: art is meant to be evocative. What it evokes in the viewer is out of my hands.....all I can do is make the work.
Then there is the marketing: this where many art quilters (not all, this is a broad generalization) and I break ranks. The idea that the marketing of your work is far more important than the work itself is a neurosis that is effecting our entire society. Huge manufacturers spend billions of dollars on marketing believing that they can sell anyone a product, whether that product is of quality or not. I try to swollow this pill but it is a bitter medicine. For me it must always be about the work, marketing be damned. I have no desire to pull the wool over anyone's eyes just to get sold.
I didn't become an artist to be rich and famous....and luckily, that hasn't happend. Imagine that? I became an artist as a meditation, a place of solitude, a place of freedom where I did not have to follow anyone and their restrictions. That was the major reason behind my leaving the theatre...egotistial artistic directors, equally fragile actors and the whole concept of team creativity sent me running. I wanted to give make meaning. Right, right, that sounds pretentious but it is coming from a place within not from some external need for attention. Still wrestling with this question but coming out the other side. To be honest, at this moment it would not bother me if no one ever saw my work but me...but I know that is also folly.
To draw this all to a conclusion, I am back in the studio but I am also taking photographs, exploring more sculptural work, and still painting from time to time. I know as artist we are all subject to these periods of highs and lows, plateaus and peaks. Guess this one just hit me in a weakened state from being physically vulnerable.
Will I always be a quiltmaker? Probably....is it all I am going to do...no from time to time I will stray from fabric. Will I continue to seek and scramble to make everyone see what I do? Sorry but that answer is no. I want to move to a place that is quiet and internal...dancing occasionally with the world but stepping lightly so as not to get caught in the mud.
We all know it is a lot easier to talk about art than it is to do it. There are several online venues that discuss art continually but that is all a head trip for me. Certainly knowledge of art history or design principles is vital to an artist but it leads to more thinking than doing. Them than can does; them that can't talks about it. I include myself in both groups....loving to talk and loving to do.
If you have made it this far, know that I am now physically well...a big plus...being ill was a real bummer for this old lady. I am more spiritually open and waiting for whatever is to come.....and creatively raring and ready to go but on my own schedule, at my own pace, not agonizing over the fact that no work was done today.
The flip side I am putting myself out there at market and festival, both teaching and having a booth at both. I know the work needs to be seen but don't want to work to a formula where every piece is made by rote. I am not speaking of working in series which has changed my life. I am speaking of the dolldrums we get into when you just start cranking out work thoughtlessly.
Thank you all for being there while I was traveling this roaad...destination still unknown but at least now back with a "ticket to ride."

17 comments:

jenclair said...

As long as you have a ticket, Gabrielle! That alone is a big step to moving on with your life and work. So glad to hear from you!

Karoda said...

Gabrielle, you shared some of your soul in this post and I would love to be able at this moment to comment in kind, but I'm feeling to light, so I'll just say we're riding the "friendship train, get on board...."

Deborah said...

Hooray! I am so glad you are feeling "well" in every sense.

Joanne S said...

My art--my talent--is pure and intuitive. I couldn't explain it if I tried to, even with an art textbook in hand. And I studied Fine and Applied Art. You are positively correct--it's in you or it's not. The struggle is to get it out. Not explain it. Or sell it. Just get it out.

I show my work, sell it once in a while. What I like is when someone likes what they see. that's it.

Deb R said...

I'm glad to see a post from you, Gabrielle, and to hear more about where you're headed.

cfent said...

wonderful to hear from you again. glad you're feelign better. you're a smart cookie adn will land on your feet no matter what....
hugs

Gerrie said...

Missed ya! darlin'! So glad you are well and in the studio.

mehitabel said...

Gabrielle, your work has inspired and lifted me, and helped me to be a better quiltmaker. We all have to travel the bitter roads sometimes and I am glad to see that you are on your way up from the temporary blockage!

Mrs. Mel said...

Yay! Hurray! and Yippee!
I am so happy you are back. I am so relieved you are back.

And of course I felt your pain and know the morass you were in. And Now it is the dawning of a new creative day. Whew! Again Hurray!

Debra said...

So glad that you making art and writing about it. I've missed you wit and wisdom.

Jan @ silly hill said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jan @ silly hill said...

just this morning I was pondering along these very lines Gabrielle ... and it occured to me that I must cast the seeds in order to grow anything ...

been following yours and other 'material girls' blogs since I took the creativity course at Asilomar with you this spring

made some big changes in my perspectives and creative life in general since then

we all have to travel the valleys in order to climb the mountains

sometimes I just forget that simple fact

elaine said...

I am so happy you are back! I use quilting as therapy. It is for me, mine, it heals my spirit and brings me peace. Through this last couple of years of unrest at home in my marital life, I am now divorced, quilting and hand sewing caused me to slow down and relax and breath. My therapist encourages it almost insists upon it and I don't argue. Do it for you and we will surely enjoy the results whatever they maybe.

Scrapmaker said...

Welcome back Gabrielle, I really missed you. I'm glad you're going to be working again. Jen

Terry said...

Glad you're back! Looking forward to pictures.

Valeri said...

Good to see you back.

Caitlin said...

Sweetie, so good to see you back on the road! The journey's the thang, hon...