…for those who are interested in motivation for their continued artistic pursuit, for creative minds alike. AKA: Art Quilt Campus 2020 – the virtual morning edition.
This is the week a group of keen artists from across Canada would have gathered in Muenster, SK at St. Peter’s Abbey. Instead we are diligently practicing social and physical distancing to “keep the curve manageable”. Great hopes by a handful of former participants to engage in a virtual AQC option were thwarted about six weeks ago when the majority of those asked to provide a simple “yes” or “no” did not arrive in my inbox. With just six people providing feedback I decided to cancel. You may or may not remember the post where I announced my decision which was not reached easily and caused some sleepless nights.
All last week I was mentally packing the items I would normally take to the masterclass. One of the most important tools for that endeavour would be a couple of books that help me plan the daily morning gatherings to inspire and kickstart the creative flow for that day or even the entire week. I love providing motivation in any workshop or seminar. It sets the tone!
I was at loose ends till last week when an invitation to partake in a photography webinar popped up in my feed. I checked the time and decided that Monday morning was absolutely the best time to engage with my favourite photographer, Chris Orwig. The topic was centred around creating authentic photographs.
Authenticity in my textile art has always been the ultimate goal. I tuned into the seminar earlier and was immediately drawn in with what Chris had to share. I love his quiet enthusiasm and his message that has remained constant over the years I have followed him.
What does photography have to do with textile art? While there are a few crossover skills required to photograph one’s artwork when submitting to a gallery the most poignant information is to embrace creativity! While taking notes I realized, his message is one that touches anyone engaged in the creative process. Before the seminar was over my decision to share some key insights with other creative minds on my blog was made.
Let’s get started: I have transferred Chris Orwig’s key points to “telling stories with the camera” to our realm, we attempt to tell stories with our textile art. Do you agree?
One statement that resonated with me right off the top was that when we hold the camera in front of our eye the noise in the world stops and we are fully engaged with the subject matter through the lens. How true! And how easily transferable that becomes to our own creative practice.
We take a pen or pencil to make sketches or put key words of inspiration to paper. No matter the noise around us we are transported to our own world, a little bubble! We are suddenly able to tune out radio voices, traffic noise or idle chatter surrounding us. If you have trouble shutting out unnecessary noise start by removing yourself from the situation: just few minutes a day will help you hone that skill to withdraw to embrace creative thoughts. Soon you can do it anywhere.
As artists we seek to tell stories. I am reminded today of countless artworks AQC participants created during the many years of getting together: Landscapes from across Canada, Baba harvesting berries in years gone by, butterflies caught in the grill of a car after traveling across the prairie at high speed, natural history reflected in lichen growth on ancient rocks, travel memories from photographs transformed to fabric using various techniques… I could go on forever as the memories are flooding back. Others explored dye techniques for days to capture emotion and passion.
We learned every time we engage in our art practice. At AQC we learned as individuals, we learned from one another, we learned as a cohesive groups where anyone’s opinion and insight was freely shared and accepted with an open mind. It was a safe place to come to! We also learned to open up our minds: ideas and thoughts timidly considered in our home studio and quickly dismissed as too outlandish or impossible to pursue became realistic and tangible in the master class setting. Nothing was impossible and the space became a hive of creative activity for five days in late August each year.
In photography we are encouraged to figure out how to make photographs anywhere and anytime. Hmmm, can we really transfer this to textile art? You bet we can: Always carry a little notebook. Jot down ideas in point form to help jog your memory once you get home to the studio. Or, make a few (what I call) “chicken scratches” on paper to hold on to a simple starting point at the moment it enters your mind. A small notebook in your purse is better than a napkin at the restaurant, but sometimes all we have access to is that napkin. Many great novels and textile art pieces started on a napkin. 😉
In the studio consider this: Every time you are near your machine, threads or hand stitching tools don’t think about how much time it would take to engage in a new piece of art. Place some pieces of fabric or small (8×8″) quilt sandwiches made from left overs and threads close by. With only 5 or 10 minutes available reach for these and start to experiment with stitches, techniques and fabric manipulation. Before you know it you have a library at your finger tips which can be used as quick reference when engaging on a large scale art piece.
Once we figure out that we can create art or listen to the inspiration for art we quickly move from good to great!
We so often hear about developing one’s voice or personal style. That is good advice but it takes time and constant practice, especially at the beginning of one’s art career. We need to explore various techniques and styles before we can move forward on a path that feels authentic and comfortable.
This post is beginning to get long. Check back tomorrow for installment 2 where we explore the development of style in one’s art.