Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Overlook

I don’t know about you but  I tend to eat sleep breathe and live quilts…it can get hard to step back and get an overall view and plan. I get obsessed and I'm often right down in the ditch with them, rarely looking up over the sides!  I’m thinking "hmmm I’ve got this idea to piece, this quilt to bind, that one to quilt, dye fabric for another.".pretty much constantly at the coalface. So it’s good to take a week completely off to refresh and I'm doing just that..on the beach in South Carolina.  It's very quiet, a perfect time of year for thought and contemplation.

(I'm the one in the middle!)
So I'm reading, and thinking.   Where  do I want to go with my quilts ?  What are my overall plans as opposed to the specific ones I have for the current ongoing crop.  What are my goals, what new things do I want to try?  What shows do I want to enter?  What teaching do I want to pursue? I need to look ahead  and plan.  I'm taking a breather on the pathway, stopping at the overlook examining the view…behind and ahead.

I'm  getting up onto the overlook platform...where have I come from? and where am I going?
Somebody emailed me and asked me "how do I get moving?"  My problem is more how do I stop moving to allow myself to think and plan!  Keeping moving isn't always the best idea, it's important to review.  Looking back, is my current work stronger than that of several years ago?  If it's not, then why not, what is missing?  Am I repeating myself? or getting stale? or becoming too predictable and stylized?  I've definitely see that happen to other people, but it takes a bold person to wrench oneself from a comfortable mode into a new venture.

Looking ahead, I really would like to see some changes, I'm not sure that minute improvements in what I'm currently doing would be very exciting.  So, I must walk on the beach and think about what does excite me?  What sort of work really engages me at every level?

Like many quiltmakers, I teach as well as make quilts.  The goals there are more straightforward.  When I started teaching I thought I would just do one or two 5 days workshops a year, however I've found that I really enjoy the interaction with the students in the class.  The enthusiasm is so energizing..so I definitely know I want to expand the teaching a little, but not too much.  And I've  discovered that 3 day workshops can work very well too.  Looking ahead, I want to try different places, different parts of the country - I don't want to repeat myself.  I would like to develop some new classes.  If you've always been looking for a class on something and havn't been able to find it - then let me know!!!  Also if you've thought "why isn't she teaching such and such" that would be interesting to contemplate building a workshop on too.

Re entering shows: I'm beginning to doubt the value of many shows plus they are just plain getting very expensive - between entry fees and two lots of shipping you can easily be out $100 for just one piece in one show.  And there are now so many shows....I've had very few queries re purchase of a piece or teaching possibilities as a result of shows and I've been lucky enough to get into quite a few so that thrill of "congratulations, your piece has been accepted" is not the same it once was.  Like cocaine, it's the first few hits that really count!

 so, if you never have...then give yourself time to visit the Overlook, and think....and now to get back over the dunes to make myself a nice cuppa tea!   from the beach....thanks for reading!  Elizabeth


MaryAnn@SticksAndBroomstraws.com said...

Elizabeth, I read your blog every day, so I'm sure there are others that do the same and don't often comment--just like me. Just so you know--we're out here. I enjoy what you write because you make me think about my art. So, related to today's post, is it necessary to have a plan? I seem to be attracted to all kinds of projects and don't feel I have any earth-shaking concept to communicate. I just want to create something beautiful that uplifts the viewer...and me. I am a very organized left-brained thinker, so maybe I rebel unconsciously against being that thoughtful about the course of my work. Or
does your desire for planning come
from having concrete goals you want to reach? Does art have to have a goal beyond pleasure?

mad elena said...

Maybe the world is divided into two types: those that pause to reflect on where they’ve been, where they are, and where they want to go; and those that don't. I use to wonder why some people would just careen about like a ball in an arcade game. But then I'm in both camps depending on which aspect of life we're referring to. Perhaps the determining factor is what I deem important. So if you don't mind, I'll join you at that overlook, take in the (re-)view, gulp in fresh air and chart my course.

Elizabeth Barton said...

Thank you MaryAnn for your thoughtful comment! and I'm glad to know you're out there. I think it does help to know what your goals are...but there's nothing wrong with having pleasure as a goal!! Especially if you have other activities that require Progress. Actually while I have significant goals for improvement in my quilt making, I do tend to potter about pleasurably with the watercolour painting and not worry about anything more than trying to make something beautiful - or even mildly attractive would be good!

Elizabeth Barton said...

Thank you Mad Elena for your comment.
I definitely agree with you that you can be goal oriented with one activity and not with another...see what I wrote in reply to MaryAnn. I do think it's good though to know what is in your mind and not be just bounced around as you say...just think of the intracranial damage that would do!! As I see it, I've got one chance at this life and I want to make the most of it!