Inflamed

I’ve spent the last couple years trying to find my artistic voice.  Ultimately, this is a lifelong journey – an artist finds her voice, people recognize her work without having to read a sign or look for a signature on a piece and then, somewhere down the line, just like happens when people grow from childhood into our teens, the voice alters.  If she’s lucky, elements of the “known” voice remain and people still recognize her art as Her.  Or in this case, Me.

Finding one’s voice is tricky.  It’s not like looking for Easter eggs behind the shrubs and among the high grass.  It’s not even like looking for your keys when you just know you put them right here.  The eggs have color working in their favor and keys always seem to turn up, even if in the most unlikely place.  The artistic voice is illusive.  The more you search, the quieter the voice becomes.

And that is downright frustrating.

If you were to look through my gallery (click the link in the menu), you would likely say, yeah, she’s right, her work is all over the place.  There’s no unifying element of design or color or theme (the crosses were part of the voice search – a start but ultimately just a theme, not my voice).  On one hand, I’m okay with this disparate body of work.  I’m still new to my artistic career and I’ve only earned a small chunk of the 10,000 hours needed to become an “expert”.  I’m also okay with always learning.  In fact, I think “expert” is like “perfect” – a ridiculous notion, both of them.  A little humility and imperfection is better for the soul.

But on the other hand, I’m an impatient woman.  I want what I want and I want it NOW.  The universe laughed at me for that.  Loudly.

So, I researched and read and asked other artists how one finds their voice.  And this is what they said:

Narrow the focus.  Limit the technique and the size and the color and whatever else it takes to have as close to a singular focus for your work as is humanly possible.

This too was difficult.  I have a series of sketches, all abstract, odd shapes.  Doodles, really, but fun shapes for my art.  I rebel against square, don’t forget.  I planned to take those sketches – clouds, I thought – and create my next series.  Within the outer boundary line of each sketch, I drew a circle, a spiral, three stripes, and one other shape.  I thought, “This!  This is my narrow focus!”  And then I created a piece with all those elements and it was a crashing disaster.  It did not work.  At all.  Horrible composition when I took it off the page and into the studio.  A lesson from the genius that is my muse.  I paid attention and learned, which is really the best outcome when something for which you had high hopes goes sideways.

Back to the drawing board I went (the one in my head).  I muddled and pondered and grimaced and grouched and begged the spirit that sends me ideas to help me figure out just what the heck those sketches were, just how the heck I was supposed to narrow them down into something that might just turn out to be my voice.

The artistic spirit who hangs around me stepped up (it took a few days…the universe is always trying to teach me patience).  I was reading a book on my lunch hour.  I don’t know what the passage said.  I don’t know what triggered the revelation, but suddenly, exactly like the proverbial spark of inspiration, I realized I was not drawing clouds in those little sketches.  I was drawing FEELINGS!!!

A light went on.  And I knew how to proceed.

The sketch became “Inflamed”, a feeling of passion, of ire, of pain, of pleasure.  The tight, narrow focus to my work now is the feeling each sketch evokes.

Finding my voice might be closer than I think.  It’s certainly closer today than it was a month ago.

Constructive criticism and comments are always welcome.  Please share your thoughts!

Inflamed (link to poem)

Inflamed - Copyright

Inflamed - Detail 03

No. 01 Orig Sketch

The original sketch, for comparison

There’s no poem for this piece.  To me, the piece IS the poem because feelings are always poetry to me.

Next up: I’m working on the design for the next feeling in my sketch pile, but first, I have a stepson graduating from college.  He needs a gift.

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Airport Layout Plan: Houston Hobby

I build airports for a living.  My day job, since the 1990s, has been in aviation construction management, working in the finance side for massive construction programs.  My first art quilt was the airport layout plan for Austin-Bergstrom.

Austin-Berstrom Airport

Airport Layout Plan: Austin-Bergstrom and what I think construction plans should look like

I’ve hung that piece in every office I’ve had.  I’m on my 3rd airport construction program (these things run for years!) and, when I re-embraced my inner artist, I knew I would make art quilts depicting the airports on which I’ve worked.  Houston Hobby was my second stop, where we built a new concourse for Southwest Airlines.  I’ve always thought the building looked like a stealth bomber.

This is my colorful, abstract take on Houston’s smaller airport.  It’s not my best composition, but it’s still fun!

Constructive criticism and comments are always welcome.  Please share your thoughts!

Airport Layout Plan: Houston Hobby (link to poem)

ALP: Houston Hobby (c)

ALP: Houston Hobby - Detail 01

ALP: Houston Hobby - Detail 02

ALP: Houston Hobby - Poetry Label

I owe you a post about the glorious fabric stash a co-worker brought me from India and pictures of my new studio.  I haven’t forgotten.  Promise.  I’ll get it up eventually.

One of these days, I’ll get around to creating my 3rd airport – O’Hare International but until then…

Next up: I’m on a mission to find my voice.  I’m going to make what I’m calling a cloud series.  Stay tuned.

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Screen Door (formerly Summer Garden)

Back in the early days of office computers — sometime after Windows became the standard operating system — I would find myself opening the accessory program, Paint, if I found myself with a little down time.

I loved Paint.  I would pick the fat little brush tool, any one of the colors, and make wild swirls across the stark white background.  Then I’d pick another color and do the same thing over the first color.  Then another color and another and another until the computer screen canvas was saturated with this great jumbled abstract “painting”.

Sort of like this, although the old ones I used to draw didn’t leave any room for the page to peek through:

Abstract

A quick demonstration of Paint

When I returned to art quilting, an abstract work, reminiscent of playtime in Paint, was one of the first things on my design idea list.  When I received word that my SAQA region would be hosting an exhibit entitled “Stitched Together”, I knew the time had come to make an abstract piece to submit for the call for entry.

I grabbed all my strips and some of my scraps and some ribbon I had stored away.  I began laying them out in a random pattern on a piece of muslin.  When I was satisfied, I fused all I could, then turned to the machine to stitch the pieces down.  I also used a few different stitch types — satin stitch, T stitch, buttonhole — for variety to produce random chaos.

Once quilted and stitched, but not finished, I discovered this work disturbed me on a visceral level.  Looking at the wild splashes of color, my OCD self itched.  I was not sure I liked what I’d made so I posted a photo on Instagram and Facebook, admitting defeat, which is big deal because I always finish my work (my OCD again).  The response was interesting.  One person suggested turning the piece 90 degrees, which did improve the piece but then didn’t fit the dimensional requirements for the call for entry.  Another (my Mom) suggested adding black and white.  A third said she loved the piece just as it was…it reminded her of a carnival or fair.

I took my Mom’s suggestion to include black and white.  The older I get, the more I listen to her.  Funny how that works.  🙂

Once I’d completed the additions, I realized the piece had been salvaged.  I posted another photo, received more comments, and came up with the name for this piece when one person wrote the black and white additions made her feel she was looking through a screen door at a summer garden.  Another viewer wrote the piece reminded her of Piet Mondrian’s work, which I really appreciated because I like his work and in fact, have a few photos of his work in my design idea folder for inspiration.

I’m going to enter this piece in the call for entry.  Accepted or not, it was always worth making.

As always, I’d appreciate any input or constructive criticism in the comments.

Summer Garden (link to poem)

 

Summer Garden

The completed piece. What do you see?

Summer Garden - Detail

A detailed shot

Summer Garden - Poetry Label

The poetry label

Next up: A piece about living a bright life