I got an email a few days ago from a reader asking me if I could explain to her how I go about designing my art quilts. I asked her if she would mind if I talked about it in a blog post, she said go for it, so I am.
To be honest, my first instinct was to say, "I don't really have a process." But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I kind of do. Its a bit whacked but it seems to be a recurring method of the way I work so it would seem that I do, indeed, have a process.
I'm not one of those artists that sit and ponder a piece for months and sketch it out and measure and angst about everything being perfect. I have respect for these people but I just can't work that way. I start with either a piece of fabric that I like or an embellishment and go at it.
Not every element is thought through prior to beginning. If there is one aspect of the piece that I know what I want to do, I tackle that and then when its done, I move on to the other spots and work to pull it all together.
Its pretty much like intentionally backing yourself into a corner to see if you can get out of it.
See? Told you it was a little whacked.
Does it always work? Nope. Sometimes all I end up doing is giving myself a headache. Take these, for example:
The fact that these are residing on the floor is not a good sign. Its kind of where my art quilts go to die. (It also allows me to step on them in revenge when they frustrate me.) If they are stationed on the floor, that means I'm having major issues with them and have decided that I just need to stare at them for a while. I move on to other projects that like me more and just wait to see if something strikes my fancy.
I've been staring at these for at least a month now and finally decided to give up last night. Not entirely on working with these images but with the format that I have them in. Its making me cross eyed and I have considered pretty much every option (including gasoline and matches) but nothing makes me have that *aha* moment.
So they will get tossed in the box I have reserved for works that have gotten on my last nerve and will most likely be recycled into a different form in the future. I have a new idea for these images and will pursue that and already I can feel the *aha* working its way into my brain.
I pretty much tackle every work this way. That's how Red Bird started too, a much more successful result.
I had the three bird linocut prints that I had made some time ago and started fiddling with inking them and it went from there. The blue is one of my hand dyed fabrics and it reminded me of a moody sky. I stitched down the images, did the strong stitching around the edges and then left it alone for about a week. The rest of it filled in almost on its own. (This one rested on my ironing board, not the floor. It felt easy so I knew it would work, no floor for it.)
I wish I could say, "I do this and then I do this and if you do this then you can do it too." Its just not that simple. Everyone works so differently that its impossible for me to really explain every step. What I can tell you is that I really feel its important not to over think things. Of course there is thought put into each piece but if you chip away at each element one at a time, then you'll be surprised how it will come together and your brain won't hurt. At least that's how I do it.
I don't know if that helped...it may have just been a very long ramble...
And just for the record, I have tried these methods with knitting and crocheting and let's just say, all that I ended up with is a very healthy respect for knit/crochet designers. There's that math thing in those arts that simply has no sense of humor at all.
In case my explanation disappoints, here's another adorable picture of Dooley to distract you:
He sends hugs and cuddles to you all. *smooch*