I have an Artist's Reception this Friday evening at my art show The Every Day Project. I am thinking about how to answer the question, "So, tell me about your art?" Right now, I imagine myself saying Um's and Ah's. This inarticulate response is not for lack of thinking about my art because I do all the time. The difficulty for me is to put a visual medium into words that convey the "spirit" of the individual piece or my art in general.
When people ask, "So, tell me about your art?" there are the easy answers and the more difficult answers. The easy answers are about my process, the "What do I create and How do I create?" answers. My first answer would be that my color and design choices for my fabric art are intuitive in that I follow my instincts in the moment but based on 17 years of experience. I call this improvisational creating. My materials are Kona cotton fabric and cotton thread. I make six-inch fabric art squares every day starting in April 2015 and continuing into 2016. I sew each day of my 25 day series in consecutive order into a larger 30 inch square. Some of the larger pieces are posted on my website gallery page.
However, the real discussion starts with the more difficult answers to, "Why do I create? Where do you get your ideas? Why do I create every day?"
Why do I create? I could answer like the famous mountain climber George Mallory's response to the question "Why do you climb?" when asked about his attempt to climb Mount Everest in the 1920's. He said "Because it is there." I could say "Because I like to create." Like many people in the world, self-expression is a driving force in my life. People are influenced by things they have seen or heard and pursue that interest with curiosity. I knew fabric art was my "thing" when I started daydreaming about fabric art designs.
Another difficult question is "Where do you get your ideas?" I actively seek inspiration every day, kind of like "Inspiration hunting." I don't just wait for inspiration to arrive on its own accord. I let my imagination take over when I see a shape or color that interests me. I ask "What if I used this color or design with...?" I keep a digital notebook of ideas I might want to pursue. Oftentimes, a design decision just clicks into place like cogs falling into place with interlocking wheels. When I feel that click, I just go with it.
Stephen King in his book On Writing talks about his Muse, or source of inspiration.
He's a basement guy. You have to descend to his level, and once you get down there you have to furnish an apartment for him to live in. You have to do all the grunt labor, in other words, while the muse sits and smokes cigars and admires his bowling trophies and pretends to ignore you...It's right that you should do all the work and burn all the midnight oil, because the guy with the cigar and the little wings has got a bag of magic. -Stephen King in his book On Writing
I haven't thought much about what my Muse looks like. However, after reading about Mr. King's Muse, I am going to start thinking about mine. As for now, my ideas communicate more through whispers and nudges. But I do know when a right idea appears and everything clicks into place. I can have an idea of what I am going to do and then a completely new idea comes up. I can drop the old idea and forge ahead with the new idea and feel, of course, this is the way to go now. I follow when I feel that click into place. I have learned this is not indecisiveness but just following the ideas. I listened to the whispers and nudges in designing my current 25 day series called Hot and Cold with all cold colors on one side and hot colors on the other side of a variation of a traditional quilt block called Log Cabin.
Lastly, Why do I create every day? Simply, I am happier when I take time to create fabric art. So I do it every day. If I didn't start sewing these ideas into my fabric art, I would be very frustrated with the build up of ideas in my head.
When you ask yourself "Why do I create?" you might surprise yourself with your answer.
The answer may be as simple as "Because I like it."
To see my daily squares, follow along on Instagram @blueskyquilter.