Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Improvisational Art

Happy New Year to me!  My health is settled, my family is settled, at least for now, so I'm ready to start my delayed new year and seem to have that fresh-start boost of enthusiasm.   I've started working on my word of the year "Simplify" by doing some much needed studio clean out.  Now to begin my new projects.

One thing that has become increasingly clear to me over the years is that I'm not too interested in doing anything but intuitive art.  I remember taking early quilting classes and being very excited to see the first 8 or so blocks join together and discovering the secondary patterns that formed.  Then once I had a good idea what the final quilt would look like, it became mechanical and boring.

Same with realistic painting classes.  I liked the challenge of learning the techniques to make something look realistic, but as soon as it did, and I knew what the finished painting would look like, I lost interest.

I really like doing improvisational work where all decisions are formed in the moment, when one stroke informs the next, when one shape determines what needs to go next to it, and without any idea what the finished product will look like.  It feels a little dangerous since you never know where you are going, and there are many things that don't work out along the way, but it keeps me feeling alive, and that's the whole point of doing art for me.

This approach works well with painting because I can easily cover something up or move it, but the approach is much harder to apply to stitching.  I really don't want to rip out a week's worth of handstitching to move a piece over 1/2" when it's throwing off a composition.  Still, I've decided my stitch project for this year is going to focus entirely on intuitive stitching and responding to what is already there.

I'm starting with 7" neutral background blocks and am stitching on the same one everyday for a week without any, or at least much, of a preconceived idea what they will look like.  I'm sure this will produce plenty of horrendous looking, ill-composed blocks, but maybe they'll highlight the good blocks when they are all joined together?  Or maybe they will end up in the trash.  I'm starting with a fairly neutral palette, but will take it where ever it wants to go.  Just to give myself a little grounding point, I'm going to start with my favorite shapes of X's and O's in mind.

That's the plan for my 2018 stitching project, but in a true improvisational nature, I'm allowing for the possibility that I'll abandon it all together after a pile of ugly blocks.  We'll see how it goes.

First week started with a scrappy X:

Second one with a blobby circle:

No comments: