Monday, January 16, 2012

Bright Ideas vs Reality

The vision gap that kicked off last week continued no matter what I picked up to work on. Compared to the previous week when I felt I was making great progress, in week 2 most everything I tried had to be taken out, redone, and maybe that taken out too. I redrew my guidelines on the beaded piece, tried different spacings and colors of beads, unbeaded and rebeaded until it was time to set it aside for more thought. I happily switched to the idea from the Palouse sketch which I didn't think should pose any problems - I even had the thread picked out. I basted the main lines as you can see in the above picture, quilted two lines of quilting and pulled them out. The thread simply disappeared on that heavy-weave silk, even though it was heavier than traditional quilting thread. It took some clever mind games to keep me from feeling defeated and convincing myself I'd wasted the week. But in truth, I think I've hit upon a plan that will work for the beading (after three tries) that is better than my original idea.. And I've picked out a new set of threads in a darker color that I think will work on the Palouse piece. I think I've learned a lot through this process, things I would not have learned if not forced to assess and reassess. The week begins with optimism (fingers crossed).

This gap between what the mind sees and how that plays out in the real world is not unlike the gap that often exists between the goals and resolutions we set and what we actually accomplish, I've decided. The notebook where I jot down my monthly goals has other things recorded throughout it, including a list of quilt ideas a page and a half long. I think that list was made before I moved to Idaho which would make it about 6 years old. Yes, I've completed some of the quilts on it, and others are in process so have a chance of being finished some day. But I fear for the rest, quilts I still think I want to make, ideas I still want to pursue, but the problem is, new ideas don't just stop materializing because I've started a list. It's a handy thing to have around though, for those rare times between projects when I'm wondering what I should work on next. The reality may be, though, that I will never get to them all, mostly because the newer ideas intrigue more and are fresh in my mind.

Also in the back of this notebook is a list of "book recommendations" which I see includes some dvd titles as well. I've even paperclipped reviews cut from magazines to this page. Frankly, I'd forgotten it was there, and while some of the titles still intrigue, I've changed my mind about the need for some of them, even on a lending basis. My book shelves have no room for more books & I have quite a few purchases from the last couple of years still waiting for me to read through them. I think I would be better off saving my money for thread & batting & frames. The gap between books I thought I needed and what I actually need to add to my collection is pretty big.

Finally, I was very surprised to come across my Goals/Resolutions for 2007. This would have been just a few months after I made the big move to Idaho which also signaled my big move to focusing on art quilting. I guess then, I shouldn't be surprised that this list takes up an entire page. It includes everything from "process & organize new fabric" and "finish putting up design wall fabric", to "contact local art quilters/art organizations, follow-up and GET INVOLVED" and "have studio open house". As I scan the list, I can see it is very focused on ways to become more professional with my art quilting - making contacts, identifying juried shows, beefing up blog content, revamping my documentation filing system. Only a couple of items refer to the actual making of art: This was the year I made monthly journals quilts with friend Judi & that shows up near the top of the list. There are references to upping my hours spent creating and how to schedule that, and an admonition to continue exploration of surface design techniques.

The check marks tell me I didn't do too well reaching those goals in 2007. I didn't actually do much with the "contact local art people" until 2008 (and a note in the margin indicates that was only somewhat accomplished). Many things are still waiting for me to complete (and I just may someday), while others, like the identifying juried shows to enter aren't on my radar anymore. Yes, my vision that year certainly exceeded reality. Yet look at what has happened with that GETTING INVOLVED goal. Several years down the road, I started exhibiting more frequently with the local arts council, and eventually was invited to join the visual arts committee at a time that was much better than if it had happened in 2007.

Wasted effort then, these lists and goals and resolutions we make? I don't think so. There's something about getting an idea out of your head and into this visible reality that is useful, even if it is off. Just like my beading, or my quilting that I thought was set and ready to go, these lofty thoughts once written out and considered can be revised and reworked and much learned during that process. New connections can be made leading to a better set of goals, a process that may not happen while the thoughts are just floating around in your head. And rather than remaining in the ether of our imaginations to be forgotten or blown out of proportion, here they are, a record of our thoughts to be revisited, smiled over, considered again, because these thoughts are where we thought we wanted to go and where we may still want to journey now that we are reminded. If not, realizing that helps clarify the direction we need to take, want to take. The trick, I suppose, is to remember to use lists and goals and resolutions as a tool, not to let them use and rule us.


Connie Rose said...

Right on, Sheila!

MulticoloredPieces said...

Hi, Sheila. Thoughtful post. I find it interesting that you talk about a vision gap...I would say it's more of an enhancement. For me the reality usually exceeds the idea in my mind and I delight in discovering things along the way. Of course, maybe that's because I start with just a vague thumbnail sketch (at best). Anyway, thanks for getting it all down on paper. Good way to start the new year!
best, nadia