We all want to find meaning in our lives. For artists, that’s probably the single most important motivation for making our art. The thrust is first to understand ourselves. When we approach our work we are, consciously or not, seeking to bring forth something fundamentally truthful. By following through on those things that inspire us, all of our accumulated knowledge, skills and vocabulary coalesce in an attempt to bring order to the chaos of life. The work of our artistic journey is the development of the artist and through it we reveal the mysteries of self. If we’re any good at it, we make visible that which was unknown or previously invisible to us.
Turning 65 can be very freeing for artists! Before, struggling with simply trying to make a living to get by from day to day and raising a family took priority over artwork. It’s really only now, without scattering all my personal resources, that I can seriously focus on myself and my art. Halleleuia! We are all always in the process of becoming. But now, I can begin to summon everything I’ve learned so far and from moment to moment, set it aside! I am now free to allow my creative self to speak!
So, I’m taking a retrospective glance back to discover evidence of a voice emerging from my works and I’m struck by the strength of voice I am suddenly able to see! In chronological order I have brought up an array of quilts that have an inherent grid style that’s present, in varying degrees, in most of my art. Subject matter remains fairly constant as well – they all have nature and/or natural forms in common. Similar color choices predominate.
The most frequent difference between them is technique and construction methods. While some are entirely pieced, some are partially fused. Some use all commercial fabrics while others use hand painted, printed and dyed fabrics. They vary in size from small, medium to large.
Yet, I’m surprised that a singular voice is clearly evident from the oldest to the brand new!
A grouping of four still lifes show a greater range of disparate styles, each of them exploring different techniques, yet all of them do share a similar vocabulary.
“Tea For Two,” the first one, and “Steaming Hot” both have tilted cups giving off a similar energy. Espresso, has fluctuating lines in the fabric giving it movement. With no cups in the picture, “And Still” relies on a layering of elements and added hand stitching and overall texture to give it vibrancy and energy. It also appears to have learned a lot about what not to do from the previous quilt and perks up quite a bit from the second one. “And Still” looks back at Tea For Two with fondness but shows a maturing vocabulary. I can see the influence of Pam Allen here, and yet, “And Still” clearly has the distinctive marks of its maker.
And so, as we play, we explore. We manipulate our materials until we learn the make-up of our individual puzzles pieces – our inner life comes shining through. It takes shape – many shapes, actually, until at last we find it, piece by piece, day by day. We finally see it, know it – own it.
The day comes when we can finally identify it as a piece of ourselves – a shape, a line, a texture that speaks to us, of us and how we fit into the world around us – our own, unique world with our own unique vocabulary. Our “words” take shape, become our art, the inner self manifests itself into being on a whole new level. When all the practice, memory and education step aside we are left free to speak in our own individual voice!
Linking up with Nina Marie’s Off The Wall Friday.