11 Aug

My Comfort Zone

While considering whether or not I had work suitable to submit to Beyond Comfort, I thought about my own artistic comfort zones. Usually I’m up for any style or technique that suits the message I want to convey, so I was thinking that maybe I didn’t have a comfort zone in the sense of preferred colors, styles, or techniques.

I am supposed to be working on my next Twelve by Twelve challenge piece. I am procrastinating like crazy though. I decided that I needed to try a collage-y, printed, layered look that I so admire in other artists’ work. I made notes in my magazines, gathered supplies, bought more supplies, made silkscreens, cut masks, and am still not sure where I am going with this.

I am finding that I enjoy starting with a pile of already colored and patterned fabrics. I like that I can add and subtract with sewing and cutting. I am comfortable in my process of piecing and occasionally painting or dying fabrics to be pieced. I feed my stash and my stash feeds me.

What I am not comfortable with is the planning by way of cutting masks or making screens, combined with the element of serendipity that comes with the unconventional use of those tools like using wet media to transfer crayon color, or dried dye, or newspaper clippings. I’m annoyed that I need to prepare my fabrics with soda ash if I’m going to use dyes, and that I need to make only as much as I plan to use before they spoil. I don’t like that I need to seal my silk screen with duct tape and I don’t have any at home, or that I have water soluble crayons for one technique but not the soft gel medium with which to disperse them. There’s so much to plan and purchase for. I know that if I try these techniques and like them, then I will have the supplies on hand and not be so frustrated, but right now all the prep work is engendering procrastination.

I’ve come to the realization that my comfort zone is my boxes of fabric that I can reach into at a moment’s notice and combine in any way that my thread and needle allow. I like the direct. Pencil on paper, blade on fabric or paper, hook to yarn. Much more than that — preparing the ground, mixing the pigments, determining layers and masks — is generally outside of my box.

5 thoughts on “My Comfort Zone

  1. Very interesting. I think this is very true. I know a lot of work that I love and admire, but I just can’t execute it. I do like the mess, the pigments, the dyes, that what ifs.

  2. You bring up some very good points. I personally love the mess. I guess it is because I didn’t have a chem set as a kid. I love the what if element, the mad scientist in her lab. I started out with embroidery hoop + sheer fabric screens and no tape. I used freezer paper stencils and used it as my well. Now I have the screens and other supplies, but I started out slow. It is funny, when I think of artists I would like to emulate, You come to mind. Whatever you decide to do, have fun doing it.

  3. that is so true… (and I always feel guilty for the all the stuff I buy… use once or twice and let die on the shelf after that…)

    There’s safety in fabric. (and wool for me too).

  4. I think you definitely have to give this technique a go since you’re so drawn to it. Ah, but all the supplies and tools … this is definitely the drawback to starting something new.

    I keep seeing new things that I want to try but I don’t want to add yet more supplies to my studio’s closet shelves when I still have yet to get to some of the older stuff.

  5. I think I’m just the opposite of you Kristin. I love making lots of samples of my own fabrics, without a specific goal in mind, then I have them on my shelf when I want them. I also like to think of something I want to make, then run thru all the different ways I can get the effect I’m looking for with the techniques I know how to do.

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