Saturday, January 01, 2011

Refocus


I admit to being more of a glass half empty than glass half full personality. It must be why I think back on 2010 and mostly see what didn't go as planned, why I only think of the diversions and not what actually got done. I started off with a resolution word of "focus" in the hopes of being "more efficient overall so that I'll have time for more of my interests, and the luxury to focus on handwork." I was optimistic about 2010 and where it would lead me (see this post). Focus was going to get me there, and I did pretty well the first two months. Then I started dealing with one medical issue after another. It wasn't until the year was 3/4 over that I even remembered about resolution words, and thought, wow - I really did lose focus - and I never really got it back, except for a few brief stints as deadlines loomed. As December rolled along, I declared 2010 a hash and demanded a do-over in 2011! Rather than continue with the same resolution word, I've adjusted it slightly. I think my goals are pretty much the same as last year, and I think I can achieve them, if I just refocus. So there it is, my resolution word for 2011.

But wait, was 2010 as worthless in terms of creativity as I'm working so hard to convince myself? Last year I didn't do an accomplishments tally, but this year I decided I needed to. As a friend gently reminded me, a comparison of where I was at the start with where I was at the end might leave me pleasantly surprised. And it has. For someone who remembers nearly every venture into the studio an effort, full of struggles and less than satisfying results, for someone who truly lost her creative vision for awhile, I did actually accomplish some amazing things.

There was the wrapping up of the row robin challenge with my WI/MN friends - completing rows for the last two exchanges (here & here). June and I were continuing our own creative challenge which pushed me to complete 4 new 12 x 16 art quilts (here, here, here & here). Without these monthly deadlines through the first part of the year, I would have been hard-pressed to have any new work for exhibits that came later. Mid-year I turned to the scraps and trimmings from finished project that littered the work table and started working small, finishing 7 fabric postcards before the year was out (here, here, here) . As a progression, I made several other "miniatures" without actually finishing them out as postcards, the light bulb moment coming as I pondered how to frame these little pieces for an exhibit (see here). Then there were the two art quilts born out of my imagination, no help from challenges, although upcoming exhibit themes helped them along (Dance & Willow). Willow, actually, was conceived during the worst of my vision loss and represents a turning point where I started seeing again in the old way. That was pretty scary, committing to an exhibit with no inspiration, no clue what I would make. I'd been finding nothing but fault with most of what I'd done for months, but this piece made me believe in myself again.

For someone who was going to cut down on exhibiting, and did forgo the major local art event of the year, ArtWalk, I couldn't resist the siren call as the year progressed. Most of what I finished ended up in 4 different exhibits. So much for a low profile.

And then there were the padfolios...17 in all! These gave me an outlet for all the photo manipulation play I was doing (and I did spend hours on the computer running photos through filters). I took the leap and bought a pigment ink printer with capacity to print up to 13 inches wide, and printed out my own designs on fabric for many of those padfolios (see samples here). Wow, that is something I'd wanted to do for a long time. I suppose if I'd done nothing else last year, it would have been a success. I also pieced 4 huge intricate stack-n-whack blocks, over 300 half-square triangle units for an antique reproduction top, made the annual block for the nephew (designing and printing it out on the aforementioned printer), 4 blocks for a charity project in the wake of the New Zealand mine disaster, 4 simple bookmarks and a tote bag for gifts. Oh, and machine quilted a small string quilt. Well, I guess that sounds like quite a bit.

What about my 2010 desire to find time for handwork and other interests outside of quilting? I guess I'm discounting the former because I don't have finished work to prove it. But a look at my engagement calendar where I record my sewing activities reminds me of the hours I put in completing the hand quilting on the queen-size Lone Star I've been slaving over for years, the weekend retreat in Minnesota where I added quilting to a Suzanne Marshall applique quilt, the afternoons sitting out on the porch in warmer weather appliqueing squares on the first Azalea Mosaic quilt, even some hand applique on sashing strips from my cousins quilt. I had hoped to finish at least one of these and more likely two, but they all remain UFO's at year's end. Still - I DID make some progress on them and I must give myself credit for that.

As for the other interests? I really did pursue them, although it ended up being at the expense of time in the studio, being so unfocused and visionless and all. But they were wonderful diversions and I can't believe I forgot they were part of my priorities for 2010. In January I fulfilled my desire to practice the drawing skills I'd begun to learn by doing a drawing a day. I coupled this with a sudden fascination with bookmaking - making little accordion booklets to sketch in (see here and here). I took up knitting again, and learned how to make a moebius scarf, knit or crocheted quite a few prayer shawls for friends, family, church. I guess I kept my hands pretty busy after all. And reading....I did lots of reading, titles from my own lists, titles suggested to me, from books lent to me, things I'd never have discovered on my own, stories and topics to tantalize and stretch the mind and simply delight. I am so lucky to have so much time to read.

Lest you think all these activities make me nothing but sedentary, well, you would be somewhat correct, and I did something about that. Some lingering effects of a virus earlier in the year left me with issues that only exercise could remedy. In August, I got off the flat bike trail and did some hiking that left me in awe of this area (even more than I already am), and puffing and panting. In September, I leerily tried yoga, and found it the rest of my answer to recovering my health.

I still find myself fighting the disappointment I feel at things not achieved, unfinished business still unfinished, ruing the time lost to illness & doctor appointments and the accompanying lack of drive. Although much that's been stacked on my worktable found its way into projects, I swear there is more there now than when the year began (fishes and loaves syndrome, I call it). The nephew's Lone Star quilt is still awaiting the finishing touches. Those stack-n-whack blocks did not get set into a top, the half-square triangle units sewn into a scrappy arrangement. No play with purses or totes (save the last minute Christmas gift) or those wonderful "It's a Wrap" fabric baskets took place. Even the reduced number of blog posts tells part of the tale (143 compared to 194 & 221 the previous years). But for Pete's sake, I really need to shut up about 2010 being a year when I got nothing done. The evidence right here on this blog certainly says otherwise. I'll refocus my efforts on what I hoped to accomplish but didn't, but keep reminding myself I had a great artistic year anyway. My friend was right, I am pleasantly surprised. Hand me that half full glass - and Happy New Year!

5 comments:

The Happy Apple said...

Happy New Year. As an interested "passer by" and blog reader, it seems to me that you have been very very busy indeed! You are always doing something, exhibiting, making, planning, and I have long had you down as one of life's do-ers! Your glass, to me, seems not half full but positively overflowing!

Kay Lynne said...

Sometimes--life just happens and we don't get done what we think we should. I've felt that way to and checking back on my blog--it tells a different story. We all need to look at the positive :) Will be looking forward to seeing your finished projects as you can get to them! Happy New Year!

The Idaho Beauty said...

Oh, thanks, Annabel - I try to keep up a good front! I don't know why my head didn't want to admit to how full I was keeping that glass - sloshing over as you suggest. Yes, Kay Lynne, I was definitely a victim of life just happens. My friend's counsel was so good - I need to quit comparing one year to another and concentrate on the progress made from beginning to end of the current one. Thank goodness for blogs that tell it like it is as it happens!

June said...

Amen, woman, amen! Raise high that glass and congratulate yourself!

Linda said...

I'll share your glass half-full! But then - if 2010 didn't feel like that good a year creativity wise, what will you do in a good year!

I've decided to keep a (Paper based) record for 2011 so that I can look back as you have done in the hope that I can also surprise myself!!!