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.

13 thoughts on “Facing Reality

  1. You could just post pretty pictures. ha ha. All kidding aside, I’m in the exact place you are… well, not exact, that would be impossible, but really close. I totally understand your situation. Good for you Kristin! Good for you.

  2. wow… I don’t know what to say… here goes some blubberish – firstly you’re not just adequate, you’re brilliant (and not just because I’m a friend); while I am sad that you are declaring yourself a studio artist no longer (who am I gonna look up to??), I also understand how hard all that promotion and etc stuff is, and I can appreciate the relief you must feel in giving yourself permission to not have to do that. And what a joy it is to discover that you love your job! That’s fab! So whether you post pretty pictures here or on IG or FB, I’ll follow you everywhere still!!

  3. I enjoy your work – and I too have rather lost the faith – especially having worked on the other, nastier side of art – museums and galleries. Marketing and internet following/popularity isn’t my cuppa either… I haven’t been able to wrap my head around my current feelings about ART yet, but the urge to make is still there and things still happen (though I don’t share the “good” stuff!)
    But I like seeing what you’ve made here and I also like the home improvement stuff!

  4. I am glad you are enjoying your job at the quilt shop. That was my career for many years and I loved it too. Your work is none less exciting just because you aren’t fighting to get into shows (that have so many entries and so few that actually get in). You need to be comfortable in your own skin and if it means more craft and less art at times it is OK, and really more than OK. Please post now and then with just a sentence or two and photos please of things you are making that make you happy. A post doesn’t have to be long. I like your remodeling photos too.

  5. Life has “seasons” I’ve found. I’ve been through a few… good to step back, see where you are and what is resonating at the moment and follow that for awhile. Don’t judge the quality of your work, though! Lots of us are pretty excited and inspired by what you do. But if you need to think of it all in a different way that can be a good thing. Personally, I discovered that when I stopped TRYING SO DAMNED HARD I felt much better and, oddly enough, things I never expected came my way. You might find that too. Enjoy what feels right—you know….

  6. I think you have experienced the withdrawal of not living in the Army environment any longer. You are a very engaged artist and you had been on the fighting lines with your husband and family for a very long time, and you had drawn from all those experiences to produce wonderful art. But now, you are retired too, like your husband and things have changed and obviously settled down. I would say, you are in transition, and the “mojo” will come back and probably be different. What was important to you before will seem strange to you and you will find new lines of interests. I too “retired” from the Army and it took a while to settle. Funny you should write today: we just discussed the 12X12 at bee (all former Army, Navy and Air Force wives) this week and decided to go another round, our third, in the spirit of you 12 ladies to try to capture our own “mojo” back.
    Good luck to you in the hope you find peace.

  7. Kristen, as you know, I love your work! But I also know we need to do whatever feeds our soul and as Terri wrote, there can be seasons. I bet you get daily validation at the quilt store because of your knowledge and creativity and that feels great. I hope you’ll keep making work and posting it because I would really miss being moved by what you say with your work. Politics is driving me crazy too so I’m doing work that gives me a respite from thinking about it.
    Eating lots of chocolate is another possibility:-)

  8. First of all: if I had to make a list of the ten most inately talented artists I have personally known, you would be there. (And keep in mind I worked with professional artists(graphic, illustrative, photo,etc for 35+ years.) BUT I totally support your decision. You find expression in everything you do: walls, clothing, life drawing,fiber. The enjoyment you get far exceeds the joy others may get with gallery success. May you love trying the new. May you relish the personal expression. May you take joy in instilling the joy of making into others. You are successful, whatever the hell that means. Love to you from a fellow dilitant and maker.

  9. Love your honesty. Thanks for helping the rest of us be ok with being wonderful hobbyists. If others are interested enough to buy, that’s great but if you can find joy in just the “doing” that’s even better.

  10. I too have switched my focus this year . . . from “shows and sales” to “service.” Time, talent, and materials being used to make sturdy quilts to donate to programs that support women and children at risk. This is me, being political, the only way that feels right for me. And there’s a new calm to my days, a deep satisfaction. I hope the creative juices will begin to bubble up again for textile/mixed media work (which I won’t make to sell but just make because I have to) but until that time, this is right. This feels true.

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