Wednesday, December 8, 2010

work in progress

I've been working on quite a few different things these last couple days.  I'm in the middle of various projects and have ideas for others that I'm trying to fit in.  It's sometimes hard to decide whether I should begin something new or finish something that's in progress.  As I've mentioned before, I am not always good at finishing things.  I think part of it is because I want to grab hold of a new idea before it gets away.  Something that is almost finished or well under way is not going anywhere.  

So today I started something new.  Something I'd been kicking around as an idea for a while as I looked through my fabric stash.  I want to do some more patchwork.  There are a couple projects (small ones, not another quilt, not yet) that I want to do and I pulled fabrics that I wanted to play with.

I watched the birds at the feeders through the french doors while I ironed.  Ironing fabric is calming work.


As soon as the fabric was on the floor, a certain kitty had to help.



I am really excited about my fabric choices and I'd forgotten how much fun it is to prepare fabric for patchwork.  Ironing, slicing pieces with the rotary cutter, watching the strips and squares pile up.


 It was getting dark by the time my strips were all cut.



I started cutting the strips into squares, but am nowhere near being finished.  But even that time-consuming task is calming and satisfying.

I also spent some time working on some more paintings.  I'd been wanting to ever since I came back from Cleveland, but hadn't really had the chance (or maybe, hadn't made the chance).  I was so encouraged by a comment the other day from Sam who writes the blog A Simple Melody, that I felt doubly determined to get back to experimenting with paint. 

When I sat down and started painting I felt that familiar conflict.  Those internal voices that tell me I don't know what I'm doing and the moments of panic where things aren't working out quite right.  But I worked through those fears and doubts, just kept going.  After today's work I have four more paintings in progress.





The second one really should have dried more before I started working on the foreground.  If it doesn't end up working out when I go back to it, I won't be too upset.  All of this is just part of my learning process.  And I feel like I'm learning a lot, though the most important thing I've learned is to keep going despite the fears and doubts.  As soon as I started in on the first bottle I realized that I was starting too low on the paper.  Oops.  I was going to scrap it, but I just kept going  And then there was a weird tear or flaw in the paper that absorbed the paint in a line that I couldn't work around.  So I decided I'd paint the bottle a second time.  Although the second one doesn't have any paper anomalies and is more carefully rendered, I think I like the drama in the first bottle better.  Again, it's all learning.

I was thinking today about all of my works in progress and I was thinking about how life itself is a work in progress.  I'm still learning every day.  I'm still figuring things out.  Figuring out what I want my life to be and how to make it happen.  How hard that can be.  And sometimes the purity of knowing is so simple, even if that knowing can't be put into words.  Sometimes the "answer" is so obvious.  Through Art Every Day Month and also various other cruisings through the internet I have encountered lots of people who are in the middle of making their lives into what they want them to be.  I've read memoirs by people who have changed their lives, taking risks, taking leaps.  Yesterday I talked with a new artist friend who lives down the road who pointed out that this area of Wisconsin that we're living in is full of people remaking themselves.  And then today I received an email from my brother who has just reached a point of clarity about what he wants.  He came to the realization that his dreams really aren't so far fetched.  It really is possible to be what he wants to be, to do what he wants to do.  How exciting is that?  But also, how sad.  Not about him, but about us all.  Why is it that we don't just become what we dream of becoming?  Why do we have these fears and doubts?  Why do we grow up thinking, you can't make a living as an artist/writer/etc.?  But maybe we need to take circuitous routes.  Maybe we need life experiences and wrong turns and detours.  Maybe those very things are the fuel for our dreams.  Would we still be dreaming if we weren't doing something other than what we're dreaming about? 

I started writing some poetry the other night before going to bed.  I think I need more poetry in my life.  I've been thinking so for quite a while.  The elegance of words carefully chosen.  The slowing down that's necessary to read a poem.  I was inspired by reading Tammy Vitale's poems on her blog and poetry by a few other bloggers during AEDM.  I hadn't written any poetry for years and kept putting off both reading and writing it.  Finally, I sat down with notebook and pencil.  Words flowed.  I've never considered myself to be very good at poetry.  Although I majored in creative writing in college, I didn't write much poetry then.  I felt most comfortable writing (and compelled to write) short stories.  But I think there's something valuable in doing things that you're not very good at.  I realized something else while working on my poem.  I used to hate revising.  I'd write something, do some minor editing and then it would be "done."  Now when I write things I spend more time revising than I did with the initial writing.  The poem I'm working on could take months to finish (I hope not that long).  But I think my process is telling.  And isn't revising linked to recreating our lives.  Isn't that what we do every day.  We revise a bit here and there working to make our lives more right.  There might be eraser marks and crossings out, but those things are necessary to get to the "finished", polished piece. 

3 comments:

  1. a poem doesn't have to be finished, final to have a voice which speaks, a whisper, a giggle, an exclamation, a song.
    a phrase can be enough

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  2. Your patchwork for your quilt is stunning! The colors in it would get me excited on working on it. And the paintings are looking very beautiful. Don't let doubting and fear keep you hostage. Let yourself delve into what your doing. Then it will come out great! No one would be searching for a painting thats painted without emotion. That would be very dry. So it's great that you are allowing yourself emotion even when it may be a bit stressful. I think that great paintings are the ones were they let themselves into to it! So just dive in! And really, your paintings look so wonderful. And I like how there is a certain style from you thats been evolving. I love seeing your new projects and I can't wait to see more!
    One more thing, did you ever finish the tomatoes in the bowl painting?
    LUV that one! ;)

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  3. I kind of wish I were doing a quilt. Or pillows or curtains or something decorative with all the lovely fabrics. You'll see soon what they're becoming. ;)

    Thanks for the encouragement on my painting. And I haven't forgotten that you love the tomatoes.

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