Saturday, May 05, 2007

Iside my head

is a dangerous place to be when there is nothing stimulating to hold the old brains attention. Thus was the case with my brain this morning as I sat quilting on a relatively uninspiring piece. A top that I have put off quilting for months although I know I will need it for my exhibit of 30 plus works next year to act as a foil between two of my floral pieces.
When I need to quilt one of my flowers I follow the shape of the flower to contour it or I quilt following what would be the natural veining. These quilting lines add shape to the image and visual dimensionality. Quilting like this is entertaining. But when I quilt something non representational, traditional just shapes I have a hard time deciding on how to do this interestingly for both me and the viewer.
I do have a repertoire of stitched lines I use which really are no different from a lot of other machine quilters however I find that I do lean toward a select few, they being the in and out square and what I call a rail fence effect. Occasionally the in and out circle. Then there are the imperfect circles that eat up a lot of thread, but I so love sewing them.
Once my brain got going on this inventory of stitches I took a mental and then actual stroll through the house when I needed a quilting break to see what I had done with other pieces that are hanging on the walls and found that I do follow the lines in a pieces of fabric when appropriate and I do, do some free flowing type curves for fillers in the background of my nature pieces at times.

When I went back to mindlessly quilting my thoughts again wondered all over the place and finally came to visit the word PLAY as many often call what we do when we go in our studio spaces or sewing rooms and I came to the conclusion that I do not PLAY. Thinking further, I concluded I don't know how to play with stuff that can be made into something. I remember playing on the play ground or at the beach but nothing creative came of this playing. I remember playing kick ball but for many children there is line that is crossed from when they are playing kick ball and when they begin practicing Soccer. Playing I have concluded does not produce tangible results.
Possibly there was a time in my infancy when I played with my mother's pots and pans that I can not remember. however I do know that I never played with my own when I got them, only cooked. I never played with flour for instance. With flour and and other ingredients , what I did under my mothers tutelage was practise making cakes and biscuits and gravy until I could make them well. I never found a love for cooking so I can cook and bake but just well enough that I and my children and husband did not starve.
In order to play the piano, I practiced but not long enough or hard enough to be a pianist but still I did not "Play" with the instrument.
Instead of play, what I want to do in my studio space is explore the medium of quilt making and the different media that can be used. But I can not bring myself to play with the fabric or the sewing machine or the paints and the thread. What I want and do is weight the possibilities, consider what if, reflect, ponder, think, consider, examine and plan. But none of this is for me is playing. Making quilts for me is not play. It is my work, my vocation not unlike when in an earlier time in my life I was a Nurse, no matter how much i enjoyed being a nurse I certainly did not PLAY at being a Nurse I practiced being a Nurse, I worked at being a Nurse. I was a good Nurse. And now I work at being a Quilt maker and I practice the skills and study what I need to be an Artist.
I teach too and what I have concluded after years of doing so is that there are many many who want to be good quilters but who do not want to put in the work that is required to be good. They say they love quilts and love making them yet they want good even greatness instantly. When told they need to put in the time, to practice, to study, to explore, they say they can not. They say they don't have the time. They say there is this and that and the other that they must do instead.
Then in the mist of all these heavy brain thoughts, the stranded Bobcat in the back yard passed through my brain and I wondered when if ever the landscaper will come again to do something with the yard. If only the God of rain would hear my prayers for a week of sun, gentle winds and only light rain once the grass seed is sown.
For those of you who do not know it I am a native Louisvillian, born and raised there and this is the first year in my life that I have not been in Louisville for the Derby and I really truly miss not being in the city today.
I'm off, got to get back to work on the quilt until the Derby race runs and I can scream for the horse, "Any given Saturday. " big better that I am, I've got $2.00 on his or her nose.

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1 comment:

Rayna said...

Juanita - a very interesting dialogue on the concept of "play" as related to our work. Yes, it is work - it's hard work and can be very frustrating when you're not making headway. But I think there is a difference between playing and playing AT something. To me, the word "play" means a feeling of freedom, of experimenting, and of letting your imagination go; asking "what if?" and then trying it. Play means having fun - and for me, if you can't have fun while you're working, what's the point? Not every minute in the studio is fun -hardly that! But a sense of enjoyment is always there or I would not be doing it. On the other hand, playing AT being an artist is something else - it implies a lack of involvement, a superficiality, and no sense of commitment. Thinking out loud here - but what you say is good food for thought and discussion.