I started the Early Morning Club as a way to create lots of pieces and meet my crap quota. Each morning I get up and spend 30 minutes or less composing a 6" x 9" finished vertical piece. Here are the pieces from the past week.
Monday, August 18th
I wanted to play with different type of backgrounds. This piece is a collage of rust and gold fabrics moving from light to dark. I covered the piece with 4 different colors of tulle and free-motion quilted flames in different colors of thread. To me, the tulle flattens the texture and dulls the fabric colors. My thread colors also lack contrast and vibrancy. My stitching and embellishment choices need to be more interesting.
Tuesday, August 19th
I wanted to continue working with collage-style backgrounds. Here, I chose three colors--blues, greens, and rusts--in values ranging from medium-light to almost dark. It feels vaguely like a landscape, but I didn't overlap the fabrics from front to back to reflect the depth perspective of a landscape. I used different quilting motifs for the three colors. I think that the parallel lines in the blues are the most effective and interesting.
Wednesday, August 20th
During my first week, I made a couple of pieces playing with the idea of river rocks. I love river rocks and have a small collection. I love their soft and worn appearance and how they feel cradled in my hands. So I wanted to play with a river rock collage and possibly use it as the background for a rune shrine. I had fun searching through my stash searching for river rock fabrics. It was not a big surprise that I had many fabrics that would work.
The scale of the rocks was too large to work as a rune piece, so I kept it simple. If I had more time, I would have added more quilting lines to each rock to give added texture. I also think that fabric paints, fabric inks, and threadwork could be used to add dimension through shadows and highlights.
Thursday, August 21st
Thursday's piece came out of my head, rather than my heart or gut or muse or whatever you call the place where art arises from within. Late nights watching the Olympics started catching up with me, so when I awoke on Thursday I had no creative energy. I remembered a movie scene fragment that I had sketched and decided to try to recreate it in fabric.
As I was thinking about the piece, I had thoughts (not images) of a forest city, with skyscrapers grown from trees. I came up with the the title "You Can't See the City for the Trees," which is a vaguely amusing pun. Without a clear vision for the piece, I was left to work with the words and thoughts in my head. And the lack of inspiration shows.
The one thing I do like about this piece is the way the stitching breaks outside the fused gold and green shapes--it treats them as a unit, rather than individual shapes.
Friday, August 22nd
Given how frustrated this piece made me, I am surprisingly pleased with it. I stayed up far too late on Thursday night watching Misty May and Kerry Walsh win a gold medal in women's beach volleyball, continuing my Olympic sleep deprivation. The lack of sleep and various other things threw off my morning routine, so I didn't get downstairs right away. And when I got in my studio, I again found myself in head space, rather than in creative space.
So, there I was, faced with a blank 6" x 9" space that needed to be filled. I wanted to expand on my idea from Wednesday and had a sketch. But I just wasn't in the right mood to create. It took almost 10 minutes just to settle on the three main shapes in the composition. And then I couldn't decide what color to use for the background. So I decided to try something different and grabbed my watercolor crayons. I grabbed a brownish-looking crayon and without reading the label, I began coloring the background. Imagine my surprise when I began brushing it with water and it turned plum.
I panicked and ran upstairs to wash the color out, setting the unfinished piece in the sink and rubbing it with soap. I could only get so much color out, but the background stayed pink. I showed it to Kevin and told him how frustrated I was. He told me to put it aside and that maybe it would look different later. I took his advice.
I worked on this piece again on Saturday because I wanted to see if I could salvage it. I added the plum color back to the background, fused on the gold and green shapes, and quilted the piece. Because I didn't care about it, I was able to take risks and try things I might not have if I been working on a piece I liked.
And it turned out that I do, in fact, like this piece. It seems very feminine to me, perhaps from the curvaceous shapes, the plum color, and the spiral stitching motifs. Again, I'm learning to go outside the lines with my quilting.
Saturday, August 23rd
I worked on Saturday's piece before I finished Friday's. So I started it feeling fairly dejected and completely uninspired. I was in a blue and gray mood, so I grabbed those fabrics and made this background set. It reminded me of the my rune shrines, so I grabbed my symbol book and thumbed through it. "The Rune of Ice," also known as "The Rune of Waiting" is for patience during periods of stagnation. That seemed appropriate given my mood, so it became the title.
Sunday, August 24th
Last week, I tried creating a river carving through a canyon. It didn't work. It was more a river plopped onto a background. My work earlier this week inspired me to try again using the collage method. I was also inspired by photos of a rafting trip through the Grand Canyon that a sales representative showed us.
The collage method worked--the river is carved into, rather than plopped onto, the canyon. I played a bit with lights and darks to create shadows and highlights in the canyon walls. I'm pretty happy with this, considering at the half-hour mark I stopped fiddling and started stitching.
This week was interesting. Last week, several people mentioned to me that they liked my pieces for the week. My brother even told me, "I'm no art critic, but I think you're getting better." That was high praise indeed.
As I began this week, I intentionally wanted to try different things and remember that the purpose of this process is to grow as an artist, not necessarily to make lots of pieces that earn me praise and compliments. (Because I do so love to be praised and complimented.) So even though I would love to make lots more runes, I decided to put that idea aside for a bit.
Then, I hit the wall midweek. I learned how essential a good night's sleep is to being in the right state of mind to be creative. As frustrating as it was, I look back and am glad that I worked through it and didn't abandon the pieces, even though I wanted to. I also learned that I can't think my way into art--that it arises from someplace deeper within.
I also learned the value of taking risks and trying things. And honestly, there is no risk to trying something on these pieces--the worst that can happen is that I make an ugly piece, which is no risk at all. Because in the end, I learn something from each piece I make. And maybe I learn more from things that don't go well than from things that do.