01 April 2008

My Changing Aesthetic

As I have been practicing mindfulness in my creative work, I have noticed a change in my aesthetic. I started quilting simply because I loved playing with color and shape. Even before I knew about quilting, one of my favorite things to do was to draw interconnected patterns with my crayons. So discovering quilting, which at its most basic is just playing with color and shape, was like finding a piece of myself and clicking it into place.

My early sampler and applique quilts were the result of lots of play--cutting out and auditioning fabric in different positions and combinations. I loved the challenge of combining different fabric colors and prints to create a beautiful and dynamic quilt.

My love of color transferred to embellishments--I discovered how threads, yarns, colored pencils, and beads add additional layers of depth and beauty to my work. Soon I began to look at the fabric as merely a base for further additions.

I started collecting boxes full of ribbons and yarns, chiffons and tulles, fleece and fibers. My stacks of embroidery and embellishing books soon towered over my quilting books. Heavy machine quilting and free-motion embroidery became essential elements of my quilts. I would stand in awe in front of the most heavily embellished pieces at quilt shows.

But in my practice of mindfulness I am finding less can truly be more. We are decluttering our home and lives to reflect a more thoughtful and simple lifestyle. And the quiet contemplation I am engaged in is now changing my creative work.

I find myself returning to my roots and simplifying. I'm less interested in commercially-printed fabrics and more interested in batiks and hand-dyed fabrics. (In fact, I am really interested in learning how to dye my own fabric.) While I still love machine quilting, I am becoming seduced by the idea of using hand quilting stitches to provide a "hands of the artist" touch to my work. And, at the Lancaster Quilt Show, I found myself standing in awe in front of simpler quilts using only fabric and stitch to create a composition.

I am comfortable enough with who I am as a quilt artist to recognize that my own aesthetic goes through stages. My changing preference is not a value judgment on the relative merits of different styles of quilting. But it's intriguing to me to see that the effects of practicing mindfulness and simplifying is not limited to my personal life, but that its changing my relationship to my creative work as well.

No comments: