Saturday, July 31, 2010

12 By 12 (Number Three)

Here is my fourth project in my 12 By 12 challenge. I feel in love with these batiks and so here's the end result. 

Feeling a bit uninspired this weekend to make another little quilt. I think I will have to pull out some of my art books and see if anything lights a fire. I'll let you know how things go in a day or two. Wish me luck!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sisyphean Tasks

Poor Sisyphus

This is Sisyphus painted by Franz Stuck, a German symbolist/Art Nouveau painter. Sisyphus is one of my favorite Greek mythological figures. He managed to piss off the Gods and they condemned him to rolling a large boulder up a hill. Just as poor Sisyphus was getting to the top, the boulder would roll back down the hill and Sisyphus would start all over again.

There are days where I feel as if I am living the life of Sisyphus. Those mundane tasks, laundry, dishes, cleaning, working at your paying  job, scooping kitty litter...they never end do they? Just when you think you're done someone dirties another dish or one of the cats leaves you another present.

But these tasks give order and stability to our lives. No matter what craziness is going on we always have these reliable and trustworthy tasks ahead of us. Even if my life seems 'out of control' or I am overwhelmed, at least I can wash the dishes!

So when I get stuck for an idea. Or when I am feeling uninspired (read unmotivated) I use the predictable and mundane task of cleaning my studio or doing the laundry to focus and clear my head. Though one must be careful not to do this too much, as you will end up with a very clean and tidy house, but no art!

So even though these tasks can get in the way of us doing our art, with balance I think they can help to keep us centered and steady as we move through the creative process. The tasks themselves may seem a bit pointless in the grand scheme of “art” but the doing of such tasks is a necessity. At the very least I can find my scissors when I need them!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sunday Evening Blues

Oh the weekend is over! I cannot believe how quickly it vanishes, and with so many things still to do. I was somewhat productive, worked on the blog a bit. I am so new at this blogging stuff and learning all the various things a blog can and cannot do takes a lot of time.

I am fortunate that I have a full-time job but only work Monday through Thursday. But even the three day weekend never lends itself to getting all the things done I want to get done. I suspect everyone is like this. Time management is something I have to really work on.

I like to look at other art blogs for ideas and inspiration, and there are so many out there! So many people doing such wonderful, innovative and beautiful work I am over whelmed at times. My time surfing the blogs gets sucked up and before I know it I've been clicking around the internet for several hours. 

From now on I am going to set my timer and limit the amount of time I spend being a voyeur. I think this can be time well spent, but I have to put a limit to it. Do you have the same issue? What do you do in order to manage your time? Ideas anyone?

Saturday, July 24, 2010


I’ve been thinking about routine and discipline a lot lately. Primarily due to my having finished Twyla Tharp’s book “The Creative Habit.” She is unequivocal about artists developing routine in order to maintain discipline with their creative. I know this to be true for myself. I am far more productive and creative when I'm in a routine and somewhat regimented with my schedule. Over the last two months, however, I appear to have fallen off the routine bus.

I am typically an early riser, getting up and out of bed by 5:30 a.m. for daily meditation. But I've been staying up till 2 or 3 in the morning and not getting out of bed till 7:30 or 8. This has thrown me off completely. I am trying to get myself back into the swing of things, like forcing myself to go to bed by 9 pm; but I've been working so much in the studio and working on projects that I am really enjoying so going to bed is the last thing I want to do.

Can't beat myself up for it...I may just have to find a way to work like this until my brain and body wants to switch back to the “early to bed, early to rise” routine.

This is my third little 'quilt.' I liked making this one a lot.

Reach - July 2010 (10 1/2" x 14 1/2")

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Creative Habit

(Twyla Tharp)

I just finished reading Twyla Tharp's book titled “The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life.” Good read with lots of interesting personal anecdotes.

In case you are not familiar with Ms. Tharp, she is considered one of America's greatest choreographers. With over 130 dance pieces to her credit, she has worked with the Joffrey Ballet, London's Royal Ballet, Mikhial Baryshnikov, David Byrne (Talking Heads) and created the Broadway musical “Movin' Out” based on Billy Joel's music. Anytime I see her work I am mesmerized by her innovation and originality.

In her book, she emphasizes the importance of routine and discipline with regards to creativity. At first this seems like a terrible contradiction. Isn't the act of being creative untamed, chaotic and spontaneous? A flash of creativity appears out of nowhere. It is transient and ephemeral. At least that is how my creative moments manifest. But Tharp begs to differ.

Tharp writes “ Creativity is a habit, and the best creativity is a result of good work habits. That's it in a nutshell.”

A suggestion she has for developing a creative habit is to create a ritual of preparation. Tharp states, “It's vital to establish some rituals-automatic but decisive patterns of behavior-at the beginning of the creative process, when you are most at peril of turning back, chickening out, giving up, or going the wrong way.”

I've taken this suggestion and started creating my own creativity ritual. One ritual is working in the same space at the same time during the day and week. I find this has been working for me. I carve out specific times of the day and week where I literally shut myself in my studio. No phone calls allowed. No checking email. And I don't come out until my time is up!

This is how things get done.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

12 By 12 (Number Two)

Bug - July 2010

Sometimes what starts off as a great idea in your head gets mangled in the translation to fabric. This is one such case. Initially, the bug was to be only one-third of the piece. I don't exactly know what happened. The bug grew to three times it's conceptual size, and as you can see it takes up the entire piece. I think while I was sketching I unconsciously made it larger because my brain knew intuitively anything smaller would have been difficult to cut and manipulate.

Regardless, I am less than happy with this piece. But I only have one more day to complete it, so I am forging ahead. If I didn't have this self-imposed time constraint I am certain I would have tossed it into the “useless, but I can't throw it away” bin!

So here it is. I like bugs. I'd like to work on another composition incorporating a bug or two in the future. This one, I think is just plain, flat and uninteresting. Ah, we are our own worst critic are we not?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Henry Darger and "The Realms of the Unreal"

Over the weekend, looking for some creative inspiration, I streamed an interesting documentary on Netflix. The movie is titled "In The Realms of the Unreal." It is based on the lonely yet insanely prolific life of Henry Darger.

Here was a man born in the late 1800s and suffered through an apparently difficult and sad childhood, who ended up creating, in his one-room apartment in Chicago, a 15,000 page novel with thousands of drawings. He drew on anything he could get his hands on, old phone books, cardboard.

It's amazing to me the amount of passion he had to create, as if he could do nothing else. I wonder if he had had a "normal" childhood with friends and family, if he would have produced the same art?

(Darger's Apartment-Photo Credit: Michael Boruch)

(One of only three photos of Henry Darger.)

(From Darger's "The Realms of the Unreal")

Thursday, July 8, 2010

12 By 12 (Number One)

Emilio Pucci Fabric
Using a Buddhist quote as inspiration, "The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step," I am beginning a long over due artistic journey. Where I will end up I have no idea, but I believe it more important to focus on the actual journey rather than the destination. Otherwise you can miss out on quite a lot.

I begin with a personal challenge: to make 12 small "quilts" in 12 weeks, hence the project's title, "12 By 12." The idea is to get the creative juices flowing and prevent myself from 'thinking' too much about design and create for the sake of creating. The project also gives me an opportunity to try out new techniques and mediums. Should be fun!

The first piece is based on the fabulous and psychedelic fabric designs of Emilio Pucci.

Number One - July 2010