Saturday, August 23, 2008

How to make better work

I know that many of us in the art quilt world have as our chief goal that of making better work – improving the quality and impact of the quilts. It’s not very satisfying to keep making the same piece over and over even if it is in different colour ways or with slightly different arrangements of the main themes. We want each piece to be stronger than the one before; we hope that one day the golden vision behind the eyes might actually be realized on the design wall. But it’s hard to think how to get from vision to actuality. Friends can be sympathetic and supportive but do get fed up of continual moans of “but it’s not good enough”!!!

I’ve found two possibilities – I’m sure there are more – please add them to the comments!!! I’m all for interactive blogging!

First: you’ve got to be working at it every day – think of it like trying to be a concert pianist or an Olympic athlete– they have to train and practice for hours each day. So however little time you have – devote at least a few minutes each day to practicing your craft.

Second: pick one specific weakness and spend more time on it. My father was a classical guitarist and would drive me mad by repeating one bar or phrase over and over and over until he got it right – but that’s what it takes. So take a good hard look at the latest piece. Where are its strengths and where are its weaknesses? Is it colour? Did you put too many different colours in? or stick entirely to one value or temperature? Is it boring? Is it chaotic? Is it unbalanced? Is it too trite or predictable? Etc etc. Gradually work through a checklist of design principles (there are lots of books on this – I personally have found some of the older books on painting by people like Edgar Whitney to be the most helpful).

Having found One weakness (this isn’t confession!! You can’t get the lot sorted at one go!) – then address that exact problem very specifically. Perhaps you tend to consistently use a mid range of muddy colours…then it would be worthwhile practicing building colour schemes – or review the stash and see if it needs some amendment. Then in making the next piece, really focus on getting that particular difficulty right. The golden vision isn’t built in one day but you’ll be more likely to get there if you don’t change horses till you’ve reached the bridge you want to cross!

And, if you have been, thanks for reading!!

And – please check out my website, I put up a couple of new pieces!


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