It's a 3-day holiday weekend in my country. Some will be heading out for the first camping trip of the season. Others will be heading for cemeteries as the holiday is meant to remember our war dead. Still others will be taking advantage of the ubiquitous sales that are now the standard of any holiday in this country. Me? I'll be getting this batch of carefully chosen plants into pots that reside on my deck in anticipation of the joy and smiles their blooms should bring me throughout the summer and into fall. And I just might tackle shampooing my rugs as well . . .
Maybe you will find yourself with a little extra time for reading, so I'm providing some links to articles that have caught my eye recently. First, I'll direct you to an interview with David Bowie titled David Bowie Offers Advice for Aspiring Artists: “Go a Little Out of Your Depth,” “Never Fulfill Other People’s Expectations”, which really is the perfect summary. It includes a video of an interview from the 90's with Bowie but a good text read as well. Two things that stood out for me: "Never play to the gallery." and "Go a little bit out of your depth. When you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting.” I'm pretty much working on both of those this year.
A Painter's Key letter entitled Self-delusory Avoidance Activity has some advice that seems similar to me. It starts off with “What happens with you when you begin to feel uneasy, unsettled, queasy?” wrote American Tibetan Buddhist nun Pema Chodron in her 1996 book, When Things Fall Apart. “Notice the panic, notice when you instantly grab for something.” For artists, we may make sense of the discomfort of creative inquiry by giving it a name and influence. A genuine self-delusory avoidance activity is better known by its power-handle: “Block.”, then continues with ideas for getting beyond it. "For one month, tell no one what you plan to make." and "Set no production goals." are two at the top of the list. Again, I think I am on this track, doing some of the things in this list, not so much because I feel blocked but more because I sense something lacking in my work, something that could make it better and more satisfying. Looking at this list, I can see how some of these things would take me a little bit out of my depth.
Finally, here's an article that's been making the rounds on Facebook, Annie Albers on How To Be An Artist. I should be but am not very familiar with her work and nearly did not read this. Yet within it I found some interesting viewpoints I could not argue with. I was particularly drawn to her advice to listen to your chosen material. I so often feel that those working in textiles do not do that, try to force the medium to do things it's not best at and ignore the things it could do that no other medium can. “The more subtly we are tuned to our medium, the more inventive our actions will become,” she wrote. “Not listening to it ends in failure.” And I'm sure she was not thinking about quilting in particular in this next quotation, yet I immediately thought about the long war that wages between traditional quilting and techniques through to the most modern of art quilting: “The more we avoid standing in the way of the material and in the way of tools and machines,” she wrote in “Design Anonymous and Timeless,” “the better chance there is that our work will not be dated, will not bear the stamp of too limited a period of time and be old fashioned some day instead of antique.” There's a whole section following this where she discusses embracing new technology and tools in our exploration of the raw material we work with and where it can take us artistically. I realized she was right and I often push back against the newest thing, only to find a way of embracing it later.
It's all a journey. And I've given you plenty of material to keep you busy and thinking over the long weekend. Hoping it will ring bells or offer solutions for wherever you are on your creative journey.