I just read a very interesting article in International Artist, a magazine written by practicing artists in most traditional media around the world. At a large conference, artist teachers were asked what they felt were the most important things to tell their students about art. Many of them at first responded with “traditional knowledge” – the craft of painting. Looking at the roster of classes at any big quilt conference, you can see that this is the focus of many quilt teachers too. Piecing, applique and machine quilting are always very popular. Basic dyeing and fabric painting also.
Nearly all the art teachers felt that, whatever the medium, drawing skills were essential – I made a mental note to try to include some drawing practice each day! If only I could draw while I walk or bicycle!! Maybe I could go on a total liquid diet and draw and suck up nutrients at the same time!!
An interesting comment by artist Michelle Dunaway was that she felt that teachers often overlooked the thinking process that she felt it was necessary for an artist to maintain while creating. She states that: “the artist must balance passion and patience while [working].”
In his book The Art Spirit (well worth reading though not I think at bedtime unless you are an insomniac seeking a cure!), Robert Henri wrote: “the brush stroke at the moment of contact carries inevitably the exact state of being of the artist at that exact moment into the work”. Have you ever noticed this? If you are deeply into some strong emotion (even that rendered by listening to a powerful audiobook) somehow it imbues itself into the quilt you are making. I could never look again at a quilt I made while listening to Schindler’s List and was very glad when somebody bought it! Somehow I had unconsciously included all the anguish and fear into the piece.
Dunaway feels that you can often screw yourself by being too worried about a piece as you are working on it, your worry, tension and frustration will then appear in the work. If you can think in a more orderly and harmonious way, then that would be reflected. Hmm! I think I want to make a wild scrap quilt, I’d better play my CD of Carmina Burana !!
More on this topic later, as the computer is in demand by the chef! I’d love any art quilt teachers reading this post to give their views as to what they try and do in the classroom. All comments very graciously accepted! And, if you have been, thanks for reading. Elizabeth
P.S. my class Working in Series begins at quiltuniversity.com this Friday, there are still a couple of place open if you're interested. This class is aimed at helping you find your own voice in your quilt making. Don't worry if you would like to take it but can't now, I'm sure they'll be offering it again later this year. See you in class!!