Thursday, May 06, 2010

"Lights of Las Vegas" Revisited

Hang out with people who stretch you, make you doubt yourself, hold you to a higher standard than you hold yourself, are kinder on you than you are on yourself, that can remind you of your brilliance and your blind spots. Find these people and invite them along to play.

I have several friends who match the qualities in the above quotation. June Underwood and Judi Kane who I visited last month are two of them. It is why I took along the finished but not finished challenge piece from February to show them. Something about putting it in a black frame like the rest of the challenge pieces didn't sit right with me. I auditioned different fabrics in different colors with the idea of binding it. I stumbled across a fabric that's been in my stash since near the beginning of starting a quilting stash and thought it met all the criteria I'd failed to find in other fabrics I'd tried. I was quite excited about it and eager to show June especially, but Judi too. I took it with the idea of getting their approval and sewing on the binding that weekend.

June immediately warned me off doing it. She gave compelling reasons, I countered with what I hoped were just as compelling reasons. June did not back off. Judi did not necessarily side with either of us but came up with her own take. I was confused, deflated, but value these two friends' opinions enough to say, "Well, I see your point. I'm going to have to think about this some more."

The next day at Judi's house, as we settled in to sew, I got it out and thought about what June had said. Judi wanted to know why I was letting June's opinion sway me. She asked specific questions, why was I resisting this option or that. Those questions helped me get to the bottom of my confusion. I let June's opinion "sway" me because I value it. It comes from more years of creating art than I have under my belt. It comes from advanced art classes, and reading, and critique groups. It is based in solid information more than on opinion, although it is difficult for any of us to divorce our opinion from unbiased analysis. I could understand her reasoning and had to decided whether to follow up on it or trust my instincts and follow my desires. I admitted to resisting the various options presented because I was tired of going a certain direction, wanted this piece to be finished differently. Not stuck in a black frame. Not bound in black (may as well just stick it in the frame then). But maybe this fabric wasn't the best choice. Maybe it was too busy. Judi helpfully pulled some fabrics from her own stash so I could see how a different color, one I said wasn't in my stash, would work. I could understand her reasoning, too. I could feel my resolve crumbling.

The experience of "inviting these two friends along to play" left me conflicted; this was not the right time to make the final decision. I folded up "Lights of Las Vegas" and worked on something else. Have let it sit on my work table since getting home. Have only briefly opened it up to contemplate it, quickly folding it up again, unwilling to face the decision. Until today. Time to quit avoiding it and make a bold move. Time to cut that fabric I was so excited about into binding strips, sew it on and see how it really reads on the quilt. Yes, I am stubborn once I get an idea in my head.

This is totally reversible, and I've just pinned it around to the back. Before I tell you my reaction, I'm curious about what you think. Come along and play. Does this edge finish add or detract from the quilt? If this were your quilt, how would you finish the edge? You can click on the pictures for a larger view. My apologies for the uneven lighting - the top is a little bit in shadow.


Terry Grant said...

I would finish it without a binding. It is not that I am opposed to bindings in general, but here is my take on this piece. This design radiates out from a center point. It has a sense of depth and space and energy. All those lines that go out to the edges of the piece imply that they continue indefinitely, adding to that dynamic sense of space and depth. The border brings the energy to a screeching halt and boxes it in.

The Idaho Beauty said...

You've been hanging out with June, haven't you? ;-)

June said...

Oh dear. I'm always dismayed to hear that I'm taken too seriously. I guess in my hubris, I think everyone is as arrogant about their own opinions as I am about mine.

That said -- I'm with Terry.

But -- BUT -- it's your work, your eye, your art. And if anybody would less be able to comprehend what you wanted/needed/felt was right for your art than I, I can't think of who. We are so diametrically different in our approaches and insights into our art that you should think of listening to me like you would listen to a talk radio show host that you absolutely disagreed with. It's always good to hear what the other side has to say, but in the end, you generally have to stick with your basic gut reaction.

So, m'dear, do as you darn well please. And epate the bourgoisie. [that last probably isn't spelled right at all, but you might get the idea ]

The Idaho Beauty said...

Yes, & no, June. Yes, ultimately it IS my work and only I know what is right for it. But no, you should not be dismayed that I take you and your comments seriously. Go back and carefully read the quotation. You do all those things for me which stretches me, just like (I hope) I stretch you. And through this exercise which caused me to doubt myself, I've finally figured out why, on this particular piece, we are seemingly diametrically opposed about the edge finish. Will share the insight I woke up with this morning soon. Suffice it to say, Terry's observation, so nearly word for word the same as yours, kept me riled all evening, was the last thing on my mind as I drifted to sleep, and thus gave my sleeping brain its assignment for the night. I am at peace, finally, on this issue. I know WHY my gut reaction is what it is.

June said...

Good evening, Sheila,

You _were_ incredibly flattering about my comments and ability to see, a bit of a surprise to me, since I think of each of us as comrades and equals. I know my limitations very well and I see your strengths (in areas very different from mine). So it hadn't occurred to me that anything I said would be taken really seriously. It's so easy to give advice; I don't have to follow it, except when I give it to myself

So carry on, friend, and I'm looking forward to seeing what you've arrived at and hearing why you got there. But please, remember, advice is only as good as the results that come from it (and usually has little to do with the source from which it emanated).

The really odd thing is that I don't remember the particular question or conversation about the border, although it clearly was important to your decision making. It's what I've noticed over my years of being in critiques and classes -- that what is said has different degrees of importance to the parties involved. I take other people comments quite seriously, at the same time that I don't think mine are very important. I often miss the impact of my own pronouncement, although I'm very aware of what other people say about my work and often it becomes a focus of much internal discussion.

So I can safely say that whatever you decide will be greeted with interest and delight on my part -- unless you decide to trash the work. Which would make me really upset, because I think it's one of your best pieces.

The Idaho Beauty said...

What, I can't gesso over it and use it as a base for a new work like you do? VBG

I don't suppose you remember screwing up your face into a squint looking at Emily Carr Skies and my worried reaction either. Or what you were thinking at the time. I was pretty curious about what you were looking for/at in that one because there are definitely things I would do differently if I tried it again. Whether or not a take your advice, whether or not I agree with your take, I always manage to learn something from you. Apparently, we are both kinder on each other than we are on ourselves! So yes indeed - carry on we will.

Shirley Goodwin said...

Thanks for dropping by my blog! I'm going to the Isle of Man to stay with fellow blogger Loulee (manxgirl). All the travelling however, reminds me that I'm 55 and not 25 - it doesn't help that I picked up a nasty cold virus on the plane over. Hoping to get over that soon.

Terry Grant said...

Yes, Sheila, perhaps I have been hanging out with June. Though I must tell you that June and I do not always agree on everything! Just ask her. ;-)
Back to your piece. I can think of several things I might consider doing with the edge *if it were my piece* And, of course it isn't, and, of course it is you who ultimately must feel right about what you do with it. But here's another bit to chew on. Perhaps in leaving off a border you see it looking too unfinished. And it is true that some of the things I said a border does--stopping the flow, etc--also might happen to some degree just by any edge, even the clean, unbound edge. I would be tempted to give it an uneven edge, an edge where some of those "stripes" extended a bit beyond others and had a softer, more organic edge rather than a precisely cut edge. If you have a photo program you could do a little experimentation.

Maybe I have stirred the pot after you have come to a final decision. If so, feel free to totally IGNORE this latest comment! June's current post brought me back here and the ongoing discussion got my mind working on it again.

June said...

I do remember screwing up my face (actually squinting, which I learned from a book by Richard Schmidt who recommends squinting not at art but at the landscape). Unluckily (or not:-)) I can't remember what I was thinking. I was surely appraising it, but what that appraisal consisted of escapes me. It's funny what I remember and what I don't -- and what you remember, too.

You can take some solace in the fact that I'm now struggling with the border question myself.