29 Jan

Tenacity

Plan D -- whipstitching the perle cotton

Lets hear it for persistence (and inspiring blog friends)! Plan D worked a treat and now my trapunto flowers will contrast nicely (but not too much) from the leaves and teardrop shapes. Thank you Jude for your “What ifs” — #64 in particular — I may have stopped at the couching without your inspiration.

I am nearly done with the straight line quilting too. Then it’s on to the free-motion stuff. I’m feeling very good about this whole quilt now and know that, not only will we be warm snuggling under it, but I’ll enjoy looking at it on our bed as well.

I’m still a bit perplexed though about how one might set about to create a “show quilt” and be confident that the end product will be worthy. I suppose it’s because I have a tendency to just jump right into a project without a lot of planning, but even if I did manage to get through the piecing of this quilt without mishap (like wrong angles on diamond templates) how can one be certain they won’t #@*&! up the quilting? It’s not that mine is so bad, but the stuff in the ditch has jumped out every so often, and I certainly wasn’t about to pick out a whole row of stitching and re-do it each time that happened. Ahhh, therein lies the answer, doesn’t it?! On the other hand, I’m pretty sure that the slight puffiness of the trapunto is going to hide the slight ripple-iness of the corner squares that are not actually squares due to the aforementioned wrong angles. That’s making me very happy.

This is probably as good a place as any to think out loud about decisions I have made that are starting to walk all over each other. It’s a bit of a follow-up from the last post (and maybe too lengthy, but here goes).

When I went to Art Quilt Tahoe in 2005, I was starting to feel pretty good about my art quilting and thinking it might be time to share. A fellow student encouraged me, suggesting that if I liked my work, then I should show it — no waiting for that elusive “perfect” piece. Saying one’s intentions out loud has incredible power, because I lined up a solo show in a gallery for the end of 2006 and joined SAQA with the intentions of taking myself more seriously as an artist. Needless to say, I worked very hard that year, but felt that I was neglecting my family. I decided last year that I wasn’t going to pressure myself or my family with deadlines. I’d be flexible and go with the ever-changing rhythms of our life. I would also make things for the pure joy of making them — not worrying about a body of work or any particular theme (unless it spoke to me). Besides, I have learned that if I make any plans based on what I expect to happen in any particular time period, they will surely be thwarted.
Now comes the part where my tendencies towards tenacity (good description, Gerrie) are biting me in the butt. I can’t seem to let go of the side of me that wants the validation of getting into shows and treating my hobby as something more “worthy” than a way to fritter away the copious leisure time I have on my hands ;-). Yesterday I started preparing my entry for the European Art Quilt Foundation Exhibition V and realized that since no entry can have previously been shown, NONE of my work of the last two years is appropriate. Of course, if I had worked on creating a new body of work last year, I’d have a few pieces, but noooooooo, the same work in progress has been taunting me on my design wall for about six months. Sure, I could probably adopt a faster method of working, but again, I like my slower ways and ties to the traditional world from whence my art quilts sprang. I could probably hire a nanny to take care of the cleaning and laundry and meals and homework and tucking-in and ferrying to play-dates, etc. (because it IS much more than just a few hours a week of house cleaning that distracts me — or any other parent — from studio time), but I committed to being a parent and feel the need to honor that commitment.

So I want it both ways: I want to be sensitive to my family’s needs, but I want to be able to focus on the work I feel compelled to make. I want to work at my own pace, but I want enough work (and good work at that) to be able to enter a half dozen shows a year for the validation. And these all seem like good ideas, so I’m unwilling to let any of them go.

I’m going to have to work on that. I’m not going to be a full time studio artist. I have to keep telling myself that I don’t need to do the things that full time studio artists do. I just need to do what I’m compelled to do, and let go of the rest. Just let it go. In the mean time, I AM going to finish “Beat the Blues” even if I have to allow the kids more than their allotted hour of screen time per day to do it.

8 thoughts on “Tenacity

  1. I wonder if you could do it any better – I’m always in awe about how you manage to do it all… being inspiring, being a wife, a mother and an artist.
    No need to be a full time studio artist. What for? You ARE an artist, your work is amazing and beautiful, you and your work are admired by many people… Why hide in a studio?! 😉

  2. Kristin, looking at your life through your blog I’d describe you as a serious artist with a great flow to your work. Sometimes the definition of “serious” is way too narrow…nothing ever runs smooth all the time, but what you’re doing seems to be working for you which ever you choose at any given moment in time.

  3. Dang, I think I have those “tenacity tendencies” as well, and I feel all the same types of pushing and pulling from many directions as you. Frankly, you’re much better at balancing it all than I am from what I can tell, which I think is really important. I hate to use a cliché, but there’s a time for everything (though it feels like there’s never time for anything, I know). That being said, I have a hard time not wanting it all, just like you (not just both ways, I want it all 😉 ).

    And just for the record, when setting out to create a show quilt, I don’t always know that I won’t #@*&! up something along the way. At some point though, diving in and doing it is the only answer, and even if it all goes just a bit wonky or not as well as I’d hoped it would, what is there to do except keep going?

  4. Your quilt mama says, be patient. You have so many years ahead of you and you have sooooo much promise. I have none of the excuses you have and I can’t seem to get a body of work together that is cohesive and would make a solo show. I feel extremely scattered and interrupted all the time. And yet, I am extremely happy doing what I do. I hope you are, too.

  5. I’m with Gerrie. I know this sounds so cliche, but you will not believe how quickly your children grow up and are gone. I know you don’t want to miss that. Balance, balance, balance–it’s so hard, but the key to everything. But why listen to me? I’ve been at this for so long and still don’t have a really cohesive body of work to show either. I’m still balancing. But, as you know, I am still trying to get my “button gear” and when I do I’ll probably get “a round tuit”!

  6. ditto, ditto, ditto….. I feel your pain… 😉 in the same boat here! How do I balance parenting and the “need” to be a “serious” artist? well, I guess I’ll take tips from you, that’s fer shur!

  7. Um, balance? There is such a thing? For me the balance has been about letting my house get to the point where I’m pretty sure the health department is about to condemn us. As other commenters have said — there is no perfect answer. You’ll figure it out — and if the dust bunnies become elephants? Oh well — the dust will still be there later :0).

  8. I agree with Gerrie (your quilt mama) and Terry G, Kirsten you can’t do it all at once but you seem to manage to do at least 80 percent most of the time, we are adults for a long time and our children only take a few years out of that adult time, you can still make art quilts in 10 years from now but your children will be teenagers then not children, I was going to entre the European Art Quilt Foundation until I saw it meant a whole new piece of work then I thought ‘do I want to make just for one exhibition’ and decided no, I do not want to finsh up with 50 odd quilts in the spareroom as I know many exhibiting artists seem to have, btw your ideas for my Amaryrilis quilt are still in my head and will be tried on the quilt before easter ~ and I don’t have the reason of not having done it because of the children any more,

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