Friday, January 06, 2012


Today was pretty grey but yesterday the sun made a stunning appearance, lighting up the willows I can see from the front porch with a shimmer I couldn't explain. Beautiful, unexpected, difficult to capture. A lot of life is like that.

With all my mutterings over the last few posts, I haven't talked much about artistic direction, although I hinted that I thought I might see a common thread amongst the quilts I want to work on this year. That common thread is thread, and mostly applied by hand. I find that interesting, primarily because I love hand quilting and other hand stitching, but often deny myself the pleasure because of time constraints. Here I am, definitely dealing with time constraints, and all my thoughts lead to projects requiring the slowness of hand work. It makes me smile.

At the beginning of last year, I was doing very minimalist work with very little stitch of any kind. I'd closed in on myself and it was all I could do. With only a few exceptions, I couldn't muster the energy or patience for much handwork, was unconvinced of my ability to do good machine work. As the year progressed, I sensed I needed to start working larger and put more quilting in my work but it was slow in coming. That need for expansion and complexity was confirmed as I viewed the quilts at the APWQ show in Tacoma back in August, and mirrored the personal expansion I was feeling in my life. As I stood before one incredible quilt after another, I knew that was where I wanted to go with my work, a return to a type of expression that would be more demanding but also more rewarding. A few tentative steps have been taken, and now that I have begun the hand quilting on Masks, I feel myself getting comfortable again, setting doubts and nay-saying aside. Yes, my direction this year is definitely toward more stitch, and I'm hoping to up the size too. Some of my ideas definitely need to find expression in a larger format.

I've also realized that I want to create some art that will surprise those that have gotten comfortable with my nature-themed art quilts. Masks will be one of them, I think, the discharge piece another. I've always had the odd quilt that has caused those who know my work to doubt it really came from me. But those ideas are in there too, with the leaves and the birches and the mountain landscapes. They perhaps challenge me most of all and are the most rewarding...when they work.

I'm counting on my resolution phrase, "balance and harmony", to help guide me in these old but neglected directions.


Connie Rose said...

Those photos are fab, Sheila. Re: handstitching, seems as though many of us have been drawn to that recently. I've done quite a bit thus far...and now my wrists are bothering me so I either have to slow down even more than I have lately, or do less handwork. I'll likely opt for taking it more slowly.

Re: your email re: my other recent comments, I didn't mean to make you feel you need to defend what you're doing in any way. Sorry about that. I think it's that being who I am and where I've come to in my life, I find myself advocating for not pushing ourselves so hard anymore. You have the prefect right, of course, to do whatever you want to do, however you want to do it!

Have a great weekend. xo

Michele Matucheski said...

Exquisite! Thanks for capturing these moments in time!

The Idaho Beauty said...

Actually, Connie, one of the reasons I blog is for the kind of feedback that makes me stop and take a closer look at why I'm making the choices I am. I think it is good to have to defend one's position from time to time. Things change and sometimes we're not all that attuned, just going along as usual, convincing ourselves the same arguments still apply. I like having a firmer rationale than "it's what I've always done" or "it just feels right." And if my explanation starts sounding more like a rationalization than sound reasoning, then I know a subtle shift may have occurred that I need to face up to. This sort of back and forth conversation always leaves me in a better place, with more clarity. So no apologies needed. Thanks instead!

Take care and enjoy your weekend too. xo

Tracy said...

For years I have beaten myself up, making lists of things to do, trying to juggle job, workshops, house renovations and still finding time for the studio, but this year have decided not to make a list of any description, approach each day as it comes and then reflect on how much I have actually achieved. So far it's working! I actually get done far more than I realise, rather than looking at a list, usually unrealistic, and feeling disheartened by what I didn't achieve, it's far better to look at what I did get done, even if it is treating myself to a couple of hours reading a book. Hope 2012 is a great year for you.

The Idaho Beauty said...

Good for you, Tracy - this sounds like an excellent approach. Lists can be a great aid to productivity but they can also result in the kind of despair you describe - or be forgotten altogether! I've experienced all, and will be posting soon about a list from 2007 I ran across. A whole lot of stuff on there that I still haven't addressed - lol.