Yesterday my faithful dog was at the vet for a little minor surgery so I took the opportunity to spend the day out and about, something I haven't done for a long time. Yes, there were a few errands to run, but I also wanted to incorporate a little "artist date" into it. I've really been neglecting that, coming up with one excuse after another for why I didn't have time or wasn't motivated to stop by galleries, do a little fun shopping or give myself a different view to gaze off into. I didn't want to admit it, but it's been hurting my art, stifling me a bit, making me pulled in and small when I should be open and expansive.
I had about 6 hours to do whatever I pleased, minus an hour for a previously scheduled haircut. Well, I shouldn't dismiss the haircut like that. The gal who cuts my hair is such a character and such a kick, and is so different from me in the way she dresses that an hour with her is always fun and exhilarating. And I always look so good and feel so much better after she's done with me that I hate to go straight home, so usually go wander through some shops or galleries. So even though I packed up my swim gear with the thought of spending the afternoon at the city beach, cooling myself in the lake and reading or sketching, I ended up just eating my picnic lunch there, then heading to main street and those shops & galleries.
I ducked into a used book store to peruse for nothing in particular. I fingered the fabrics, drank in the colors and textures at several clothing stores. I hit several venues displaying Artwalk I works. I've been avoiding this, I realized, because I lost my nerve, talked myself out of submitting anything to this juried show. I won't bore you with the reasons, but because this was the sort of thing I expected to be involved in here, and now wasn't, I'd subconsciously convinced myself I didn't belong in this circle of artists. So I didn't want to go see it and have my suspicions confirmed. Better to go on deluding myself. So went the convoluted logic. But I also knew I'd hate myself if I didn't see at least part of it before it closed, and I was running out of time.
Sometimes, I think you have to be in the right frame of mind to do something, and I'd gotten myself in the right frame of mind to see these works. A lot of variety both in type of media and styles, some things I liked, others not my cup of tea. More than a few that made me wonder how in the heck they were accepted. That was the beginning of the realization that my work really is good enough and appropriate to show with what else is coming out of this area. When I ran across an art quilt, I knew for sure I'd made a mistake. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't spectacular either, and more derivative than original. I was kicking myself all the way out the door. Now if I can just remember this feeling when next year's call for entries appears...
Last stop on my tour was one of my favorites, the local artist coop, Art Works Gallery. Right off the bat, I was drawn to the pottery display of Coeur d'Alene, ID artist Matthew Hulse (Mountain Thrown Studio). There's something about a hand thrown mug that feels different in your hand, and here were several with stylized herons incised into the design. I hefted, I studied, I put back, and continued to the other displays. Deeply rich wood turnings, stunningly beautiful watercolors, soft Alpaca wool yarns and scarves, glittering crystals and stained glass. And then the heron on the mug came home with me. It can be my Monday coffee mug, the symbol of rebirth in my hand to start off each week. (See this post for the heron connection.)
I've been so blocked on this angel quilt, and I've tried all kinds of ways to identify what the problem is, or better yet, the solution. When I awoke this morning with such a clear idea of the next step that had been eluding me, I couldn't help but think yesterday's change of scenery and routine, coupled with relief at getting the dog taken care of, had worked its magic of unblocking me. Perhaps allowing me to risk seeing other's work to assess how I measure up, and finding it to be favorable, also unlocked a fearful part of me, reinstated confidence lost or shaken. Of course, I have yet to try out my idea on the angel quilt. Perhaps I will be as frustrated and disappointed with it as I have other great solutions I've come up with along the way. But I'm hoping that's not the case. I'm so close to being at the end of this project, this particular journey, and I sense it is holding me up, holding me back, having a negative effect on several areas of my life. It needs to get resolved, get out of my face. I need to master it, learn from it and move on.