I’ve been thinking about how one improves…yes I know! practice! but how difficult it is to practice when you only make one of something every 2 or 3 months. We are really handicapped as quiltmakers by having such a lengthy process. I’m sure you’ve all been in the position where you’ve laboured over something for months and at the end hated the dratted thing!! I know I have. The secret to improve is being able to practice something over and over…but how can one do that with something so large and time consuming as a quilt?
Thinking about the making of large oil paintings, I realized that many of the old masters (and mistresses too I’ll be bound, not that one usually hears about them, alas) made many studies and drawings before they began work on The Main Opus. And nowadays we treasure those drawings and studies as works of art in their own right. In fact, they are frequently enjoyed and loved more because they are fresher, more natural, more experimental than the finished large work. There is a spontaneity in the studies that is very appealing. Furthermore, they often address the essence of the piece without a lot of the extra detail. Now it so happens that the kind of work I love is very spare – even though my own voice has often been overly taxed with detail, even (puke!) whimsy, in the past, what I am drawn towards in the work of others is economy. Everything said with a few strokes or lines. Bach’s unaccompanied cello works speak more to me than any Beethoven symphony (though I do confess a sneaking enjoyment when in certain mood for Carmina Burana!).
So where does this lead me? I’d really like to figure out a way to make those studies…smaller pieces that address either just the essence, the main lines….or a particular interesting detail of the entire piece. And will I make the entire piece? well perhaps…when one of the Carmina Burana moods is upon me…
So I’m off into not a “brown” study…but a blue and green and red and yellow and black and white one!
If you have been, thanks for reading…and do share with me how you have addressed the problem of the inability to make many pieces and thus have reducing opportunity for practice. Elizabeth