26 Apr

Facing Reality

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here. Rather than bemoan my sporadic writing and promise to do better, I’m going be honest with myself and admit that I’m just not that into it. Blogging is great for longer stories than Facebook or Instagram, but it’s not as immediate or accessible. And to be truthful, I don’t have longer stories these days. I don’t think that I actually need a blog anymore.

When I started working part time at The Pine Needle Quilt Shop it was a job that I figured I’d be good at, it would be convenient, and if I practiced self restraint it could help pay for the home improvement projects I wanted to do. Being part time, I could still work on my studio practice, and hopefully even learn to utilize my time better and become a better artist. In the last year and a half I have come to the realization that I get so much more satisfaction working at the quilt shop than I do trying to make connections with my art. Every day, I am utilizing my love of color, my 20+ years of sewing and quilting experience, and my enthusiasm for the craft.

Back on the artistic front, I realize that I just don’t have the drive to do the marketing and proposal writing that it takes to promote one’s work. Sure, some people can put their craft or their artwork on social media and it will practically sell itself, but that’s work that is demonstrably brilliant, or scratches the right itch at the right time. Merely adequate work like mine requires far more effort to get out into the world, and I’ve come to the realization that I’m just not hungry enough to work that hard. A week or two ago, I made a “who wore it better” list, comparing three of my favorite art quilts with similarly themed but more widely recognized quilts. Some I’m not too proud to say are better executed than my ideas. Others have something magical that I just don’t have. Earlier in the month I had several instances where I felt passed over or ignored and it drove home the feeling that my artwork is good, but not great, and just doesn’t connect outside my small circle of friends and peers. When I’ve felt this previously, I’ve told myself to just get off the pot and do the work, but with a “real” job that gives me such satisfaction, I figure I should go where the joy (or at least competence) is.

Of course, makers gonna make, and I’m going to create things when the urge hits. But, I’m not going to worry about getting them exhibited, or if my bouncing back and forth between more traditional quilts and mixed media textile art is confusing to potential followers. It’s OK for me to be a hobbyist and I realize my limitations. I don’t need to try to be a studio artist. So, I’ll post stuff on Facebook and Instagram because they’re convenient and it’s fun to share what I’m working on, but I’m letting go of the idea that I should be any sort of serious artist. This website and blog will remain as a journal I can refer to, and maybe I’ll occasionally add new works if it seems appropriate. But I can safely say I’m done with regular posting and trying to provide interesting content to grow followers.

29 Jan

A Creative Funk

It’s been a tumultuous week on the political front and my desire to stay informed and engaged is in direct conflict with my need to accomplish anything. I’ve been jumping from outrage to outrage, trying to peel the layers back and determine what is actually normal and/or true (but not necessarily my cup of tea), and what is just plain nuts. It’s exhausting.

I want to express my confusion, rage, frustration, and my votes and letters to representatives in government seem rather meaningless. And this week, I’m feeling like my art is rather meaningless too. There is so much beautiful, impactful, art on social media, and I see it reaching and connecting to so many people, that I figure anything I do is lame. I commented as much on a friend’s post, but then decided to delete it because it was self-centered and whiny, and not appropriate for someone else’s post. So, I’m saying it here.

Maybe I’ve already said enough. ‘Murica, my US flag made of tessellating gun shapes speaks to the intertwined relationship between America’s self image and guns. Death Shroud for Democracy is my commentary on the tearing apart and dismantling of American democracy. In my opinion, we’ve been functioning as an Oligarchy for quite a while, and the new administration appears intent in meeting it’s campaign promises to metaphorically burn the place down. Most recently, I finished #notnormal, which tries to draw attention to the normalization of Donald Trump’s antics. I had assumed that these pieces were the beginning of something. That I could keep going. But this week, I’m not feeling it. I’m not up to the task. Everything I consider has been done before, and done better by others.

Another friend reminded me that my black and white scrap quilt is pretty awesome. That was a perfect smack upside the head. Yes, it is awesome. And maybe it’s perfectly OK to retreat into a year of scrappy medallion quilts and samples for work which are all about the process of making, or the pretty colors and patterns, and perhaps a perfect escape from the tedious reality of parsing news from fiction and real outrage from outrage merely for the sake of drama or distraction.

29 Jan

#notnormal

This is not normal. And yet I find myself trying to normalize it. I’m outraged, and then I have to double check and find where so much is just the usual transition from one party’s administration to the other’s. But it’s all mixed up in the truly unusual, and it’s nearly impossible to disentangle one from the other.

Notnormal web

#notnormal, 2017, 32″ x 48″

Up is down and down is up in this new era of alternative facts, and reality TV as reality.

I created this quilt with SAQA’s Poster exhibit in mind. Originally, I was going to make something completely different, but after November 9th this begged to be made.

The gradated background and jumbled piecing of the border represent the topsy turvy feeling of current politics. There are 50 stars, 20 white ones for the states Hillary Clinton won and 30 orange to black ones that Donald won. All have raw edges because many Americans are feeling pretty raw. Scrawled overall are tweets and statements from and about Donald, which fall into the category of being “not normal.” The sad thing is that this graffiti is already dated. Every day there are more statements I could add. Perhaps I will add more. Perhaps in four years this will just be a tangled mess of threads.

Notnormal detail

14 Dec

#notnormal

Like so many people, I am overwhelmed. There are so many things I see happening that I can’t figure out what action to take, or if it’s even worthwhile to take action. Every day it’s some new outrage. I’m trying to put myself in others’ shoes, to see things through other eyes. Not everyone sees the country the same way I do and that’s fine. So, I want to respect the needs and beliefs of my fellow Americans. But a month after the election I’m having a hard time seeing how this is going to be OK.

“Give him a chance,” people say. “Checks and balances,” they reassure.

  orange“His bluster and “straight talk” on the campaign trail was just that: bluster. He’ll be more Presidential if he wins.” OK, but a month on, he’s lashing out via Twitter at SNL, newspapers, and a union boss for not gushing over him. Businesses and offices can probably handle the backlash, but individual people are not prepared to fend off the consequences of targeted vitriol (see last year’s college student who asked a reasoned question of the candidate and received not only a crude response from him but also a year of online harassment from his followers). I don’t see a move towards either Presidential behavior, nor any effort to bring Americans together as he promised.

“He’s so rich he won’t be corruptible. He doesn’t need to be in this for the money. He’ll work with the average worker in mind.” OK, but before the election there was no evidence of altruism. He still doesn’t show us where his money is or what he does with us. Not long after the election, he said he was working with lawyers to disentangle his conflicts of interest. I actually told my cynical husband that this was movement in the right direction and we should give him the benefit of the doubt. But, a month later, there’s been no discernible effort to distance himself from his money. In fact, it actually looks like he’s putting his ducks (children and business interests) in a row to take advantage of of his and their positions of power to guide policy and decision making for personal financial gain. Oh, and he’s put off until after the electoral college casts their votes, his public explanation of his intentions vis a vis conflicts of interest.

not-normal-1

Heal the divide? Not gonna happen with continued Tweet storms or nominating cabinet members with nihilistic tendencies towards the cabinets they’d head. Don’t like the appearance of Pay to Play? How do his big donor advisory picks and cabinet nominations look?

The backlash (mine included) against him can’t merely be sour grapes. This is not the first time my candidate has lost, but this is the first time I just can’t wrap my head around why the other candidate won. I swear I’m trying to suss out the ways his election will address the issues people say they care about, but I just can’t see it yet.

“Government is corrupt and has done nothing for me. We might as well burn it all down.” Ah, now here’s something I think he can deliver on. Unfortunately, I just can’t bring myself to believe that a scorched earth approach to governance is good for the American people. This is not normal…

not-normal-2

…but I fear that it WILL become normal.

26 Jun

Meet Me on IG?

In May, I was lamenting my lack of blog posts. Since then, I’ve blogged a couple times, but not really picked up the pace. I’ve been paying attention to my social media use though, and invited readers to follow me on Instagram and Facebook.

I’m now thinking the answer is a shift in focus. For over ten years, my blog has been my main story and then Facebook, and more recently Instagram, have played supporting roles. But I’m finding that I like the immediacy and accessibility of Instagram. I can take photos of whatever I’m doing and post it right away, all from my phone. I find that things are much more current on my Instagram feed, and I’m happy with the balance of personal and professional inspiration. I won’t be ditching my blog altogether, but I think that Instagram will now be my main story, and the blog will play a supporting role when I need something that can be more verbose, or contain links, or do whatever it is that blogs do best. My professional Facebook page has it’s merits, as does my personal page, so those will live, but I’m trying not to spend too much time there. (By the way, if you’ve friend requested me and I haven’t responded it’s probably because we’ve never met in person, which is pretty much my criteria for my personal Facebook page. However, please like my professional Facebook page — that’s where all the arty stuff is anyway.)

So, please follow me on Instagram, because I think that’s where it’s at for me right now.

IG Feed

19 May

Follow Me

Thinking about yesterday’s post and what to write about, it dawned on me that now might be a good time to remind readers that I do post shorter, but more regular, images and thoughts on my professional Facebook page, and even more so, on my Instagram feed. So, between sporadic blog posts, I encourage you to follow me:

Home is Where night Follow me on Facebook! This is my professional page where I post information about what I’m working on and where to see my work. No cat or food photos here — just art.

Shroud WIPFollow me on Instagram! Here are my creative endeavors and what inspires me. It’s mostly art, but there’s a good amount of knitting and home renovation as well. Plus the occasional pretty flower, cat, or food pic.

16 May

The One About Nothing

I hate it when the first thing I read on a blog post is, “I can’t believe it’s been x months since I last posted,” or “I know I’ve been away for a while but this is where I renew my commitment to my blog.” Just blog or don’t blog — no need to explain or apologize. But I find myself in exactly these shoes. I have the best intentions of blogging, and then other things take precedence, or more likely, I can’t think of anything to blog about.

I was wondering the other day what has changed in my life that I no longer have anything to write about. The obvious is that I’m not going to cool German fests, or exploring exotic Hawai’i, but that doesn’t mean I can’t write about my new locale. There’s certainly a lot going on in Portland. No, I think my biggest stumbling block has more to do with expectations. My expectations. I am constantly influenced by what I see on social media — mostly Facebook and Instagram — and most of it is beautiful and curated. I get that it’s branding. Consistency is good. I get that the people posting are known for the kinds of things they post. And I have to admit that I like the way pretty scenery or carefully staged projects look. They are putting their best foot forward and I admire that.

I think that subconsciously (or maybe pretty consciously), I’m not blogging because I don’t have anything finished or aesthetically pleasing to post about. I can’t post weekly if I’m not completing things weekly. The home renovation projects are inching forward, but who wants to see a new light fixture next to the same old sink with no faucet? The embroidery progresses, but who wants to see another word in condensed san serif type when the last thing I posted was a word in san serif type. I’m working on a commission, but it’s in it’s ugly experimental phase and not ready for prime time. I’m making samples for work, but they’re not complete yet.

So bear with me while I sort out how to tell stories on my blog in an era of quick (but seductive) glimpses on social media. I feel like this space deserves better than just copying my Instagram photos, but at the moment I don’t have anything cohesive.

08 Jan

The Ubiquitous New Year Blog Post

So here’s where I sum up what I’ve accomplished in the past year and lay out what I hope to do in the new year. But I’m not doing that this year.

Everything changed in 2015. Well, maybe not quite that dramatic, but it was a year of transition for sure. My husband was medically retired from the Army, where he had served, and I have followed, for nearly 20 years. For the first time in two decades, we got to choose where we wanted to live. Needless to say, there was much soul searching (mostly on his part) as to how we/he wanted to see ourselves/himself. We decided to move first and find employment later and long story short, we purchased our very first home and moved across country to be closer to our families.

So now that we’ve been in Portland, Oregon for nearly six months, we’re settling in. For me, the biggest change is probably home ownership. We bought a 65 year old fixer upper and it will suck every ounce of time and energy I have if I let it. So, art has taken a back seat to home decor and renovation. And I’m OK with that.

I joined the SAQA Education Committee in 2015 and have been doing some writing for exhibition catalogs and venues. I need to continue to make time for that.

I had considered starting a new business, making custom quilts from military uniforms. I have the samples and the bones of a website ready, but the move, the house, my computer dying, my web host screwing things up, and now my camera in hospital, have all conspired to delay this project. Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself. I just might not be the entrepreneurial type.

Finally, and maybe most importantly, I was feeling a little guilty about all the plans I have for the house and how to pay for them, so I decided that maybe I should get a part time job. And wouldn’t you know it, a job practically plopped right into my lap. I’ve now been working at The Pine Needle quilt shop for three months and I love it. Making art is fraught with angst. I might like what I create, but does anyone else? Have I communicated effectively? Has anyone else done the same thing before? Of course they have, and done it better too.  I’m always doubting myself. My making art is a negative cash flow too. I can’t seem to sell enough work or somehow monetize it so that it pays for the supplies and promotion. Case in point, I was invited to send work to a show in NY and now the unsold work is on it’s way back to me. The shipping costs are just a few dollars less than my percentage of the one sale. Getting work into group shows is a money loser too since I have to pay to enter and pay shipping. In contrast, I’ve caught on quickly to the systems at the quilt shop. I get along well with my co-workers. I love helping customers choose fabric, and I enjoy being part of combining fabrics for kits and bundles. I can sew samples if I want — thus playing with patterns and fabrics without expenditure or increase in stash. AND I get paid to do this! Imagine that — instead of me paying others hoping they’ll like my artwork, my boss is paying me for doing a job I enjoy and do well.

So I’m going to let 2016 unfold in whatever way it chooses. There will be art making, but there might be more house projects. And there will be work at the quilt shop. I’m donning the social media hat there, so I’ll be blogging my own story here and on Facebook and Instagram, but I’ll also be sharing gorgeous fabric and fun events on The Pine Needle’s blog, Facebook, and Instagram accounts.  I’ll share details as I get things up and running.

2016, show me what you’ve got.

TPN Katya