Remembering, repeating, renewing

Been thinking about what it means to repeat oneself .  When is it an exercise in solidifying knowledge and exploring a deeply-felt theme and when is it a monkey catering to the market (hoping to streamline a labor-intensive process)?

Recent influences:

  • the Slow Cloth idea (delineated on Elaine Lipson’s blog Red Thread Studio);
  • Arlee Barr : “sometimes one needs to look at older work as a refresher course…”
  • Jude Hill moving on from dots and circles to squares;
  • seeing one of my earliest village quilts and loving it (unlike many of the later ones, which I cringe at);
  • reading the quote about Stieglitz shattering a vase given to him by Georgia O’Keefe because he didn’t like it (forget the gender dynamics for a moment), with the idea being that the presence of mediocrity is never a good thing for an artist.

When Jude, at year’s end, said she was moving on from an intensive exploration of circles to squares, I was shocked.  I thought of her, at least in part, as the ‘dot lover’.  And close on the heels of that, I wondered, also with surprise (sorry if this is sooooo remedial) — you mean, I could be DONE WITH HOUSES?!!

  • I want to give away half of my inventory — just get it out of the house.
  • I want to explore poppies again, with renewed verve, not to re-produce something I once deemed successful.
  • I want to be able to lay my hands on what I want to lay my hands on, downstairs (this goes more to REMEMBERING, than renewal) — as in, where is that gardening book with all the great pictures of poppies?
  • Lastly, I am still mulling over how to pay homage to master quilters, here and in my studio, without it being an exercise in pure copying. .. without it feeling like I am constructing roadblocks to the discovery of where MY mastery lies.

PS  This poppy quilt, made in 2004, was one in a series of about ten.  What I like about it, even today, are the layers created by the organza and tulle.  I think the poppy itself is rendered well.  What I hate, are how the words are made.  The words suit me just fine, but I don’t like the look or feel of them.  That could be this week’s challenge.  Maybe it is time to master gel medium transfers (something that has NEVER worked for me), to get away from the inkjet.

9 thoughts on “Remembering, repeating, renewing

  1. arlee

    It’s wonderful to see and be influenced by other’s art, but in the end, if you can go back to your own and pull the elements that worked, it’s your voice getting louder. It’s dangerous in the world of the internet in a way–too much influence and inspiration!
    Your poppy is sensitive–i’d love to see that with some of your new script work and the figure element.

  2. Dee

    thanks, arlee — the work with journals is what the poppy to mind — it is such a good symbol for both memory and forgetting.

    things go in cycles, don’t they? I only started reading blogs about a year ago — I felt like a kid in a candy store, esp. because I’m not someone who treats herself to a lot of beautiful magazines — but now I am beginning to see the strain of too much looking.

    when it’s this cold, it is always easier to sit down at the computer than to go into the cellar and work — and I’ll cut myself a little slack for that reason.

  3. Victoria

    Great post. Due to the huge amount of “modern” style quilts that are currently being made, and which I tend to favor, I have recently made a more conscious effort to not look at anyone else’s quilts when I am in a “gathering inspiration” mode… I just don’t want to be influenced, and it’s hard not to be. Instead I am looking at antique textiles for reference and the land around me for a personal connection… I am amazed at how refocused and energized this has made me feel and how it is taking my work in new and personal directions.

    I say explore those poppies, if that is where your heart is taking you, and express them in a way no one else has before so that when I see them, I can feel a bit of what you must feel when you see them…. does that make sense? (hope so!)

    As for gel medium transfers… I used to be big on mixed media, and was enthralled by what others, like Lesley Riley could do with it… all I ever succeeded in doing was making a big ‘ol mess! Hope you fair much better, (what about hand stitching the words?)

    xo V

  4. Dee

    Thank you for such a thoughtful comment, Victoria… I’m glad to discover that others find the plethora of images online overwhelming at times, too…

    Your advise is well-timed and appreciated — many things could be subbed for antique textiles, I think — paintings, or African masks, or nature photographs… and getting outside more, well that is just plain good sense and something I have to continually remind myself to do, esp. this time of year…

    I’ve never had any luck with the gel medium transfers, either — or the packing tape transfers… the only thing I’ve done successfully is the rubbing off of a certain kind of xerox copy with eucalyptus oil… but I don’t have easy access to that kind of copy, so it’s not a great solution.

    I look forward to seeing your new directions!

  5. Dee

    good point Jude. .. in a very real way, the work speaks for itself… and this tangle I sts. make with my thoughts is just static, or dryer lint….


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