As you know I teach quite a few classes online (link and info on side bar)- which I've thoroughly enjoyed by the way - and frequently I hear from people - "Oh, I was unable to finish the course because Life Got In The Way". Don't worry! It happens to all of us, I battle it daily and in fact this last month for me has been crazy with a nasty ankle injury and two shows going on. (I have 25 or 30 quilts at La Conner Quilt and Textile Museum in La Conner, WA and 6 at the Athens Academy Gallery (Athens GA). Both shows up till the end of the year). So I've also been trying to battle the life getting in the way problem and have come up with a few ideas - if you have more please do tell!!
Use your eyes to Really LOOK. Even though you have no time to actually DO art, you can think about it as you drive to appointments, prepare meals for guests, sit in waiting rooms and clean the toilets. After all look what Duchamp achieved looking at a toilet! I love this "fountain" dress by the way based on Duchamp's inverted urinal.
Okay. I can hear you saying, what can I LOOK at?
Let me count the ways (Elizabeth Barrett Browning):
1. Your eyes are open and you can see images, is there any juxtaposition of shapes that would make an interesting composition?
If you can hold up your hands in two L-shapes to frame the view. Try it now!!
2. How about the shadows? What's the light pattern like?
Does the sunlight streaming in through the waiting room window make any intriguing designs.
3. As you drive down to pick up someone after work, is the low light at the end of the day limning the chimneys or roofs of the buildings around you? If you're driving through trees, notice the pattern of light and shade...how the sunlight makes the edges of the trees glow.
4. And while we're on trees, look really look at the trunk and the branches - are they really all one colour all the way round?
5. Look at the light and color on that wall ahead of you. Notice how it's never flat...there's always shading in one direction or another - and yet how often do we use a flat background colour when we make a quilt? Why?
Carry a little notebook or a piece of paper folded in your bag or pocket, with a small pencil.
And always have a doodle pad by the phone for those endless "holds" - many artists have made great things from their doodles!! It always amazes me how people can just sit staring into space! Look at the wonderful drawings of Gego.
You can improv with a pencil just as easily (actually more easily!) as you can with fabric and everyone loves improv!
If not doodling, then think of your favorite letter in the alphabet and make a little block unit based on it...from this little seed maybe a gorgeous flower will grow!
Use the internet as an art resource. Of course this is totally addictive!! Choose a topic that really fascinates you, say bumble bees and search for "images of bumble bees". Don't just look at the pretty pictures, but consider each one as a possible start for a quilt design.
Another great thing to do on the 'net is sharpen your critical skills by researching for horrible ghastly badly designed work!!! Look at the winners at a major quilt festival and really critique them - don't just marvel at the dedicated work that went into them and think I could never do that!!
Read art books and read artists' biographies. The more you know about the art world as a whole, and about life in art, the better equipped you are for making your own art.
TALK Stuck in a conversation? Don't discuss the weather or, even worse, ailments!! Instead, ask the person what they think about art. What is their favorite painting or why? If you're with fellow quilters ask them about quilts they've seen that they always remember.
Stitch. Always have handy a little scrap of fabric and some thread, let the needle direct you!! Actually you don't even have to look as you sew - that will loosen up your stitches!
Make a cup of tea! But as you make it consider the arrangement of the implements on the tea tray, can you improve it? would the spoon in the sugar look better pointing in, or point out? While you wait for the kettle to boil (or the microwave - yes some people actually do make tea in the microwave as unbelievable as it may seem!) crouch down a little so you're looking at the arrangement of objects from a different angle.
Do please comment with your ideas...and now I shall go and engage my guests in meaningful conversation while rearranging the breakfast table in a more harmonious way!
And, if you have been, thanks for reading!! Elizabeth