For 2010, my theme was Bliss. This was an odd word to choose because it's not one that I use nor think about very often. Yet, when I was choosing a theme this time last year, Bliss popped into my head and wouldn't go away. So 2010 was the year of Bliss. My goal was to discover my Bliss, that thing in life that makes me jump out of bed each morning desperate to begin my day.
I never really defined what Bliss meant, nor what steps I would take to find my Bliss, which meant that 2010 ended up being a fairly scattered year. I didn't really have a plan for what I wanted to achieve. My only goal was to find my Bliss, whatever that may be. And looking back, I can see how that lack of a serious plan limited me. I don't have much to show for my year in art. There is no pile of completed projects in my studio or box of UFO's tucked in a corner. I'd be hard-pressed to name a significant piece of art that I completed in the first 10 months of the year.
But, the one thing I did do this year was play. I started making paper-cloth from fabric, torn paper, white glue, and acrylic paint as shown in Kelli Nina Perkins' Stitch Alchemy. This is where I found my Bliss, in spilling paint and tearing paper, in mixing colors and spattering ink, in making beautiful, saturated, rich paper cloth. And that's the one thing I have to show for this year: a wonderful selection of paper cloth.
Other than, I don't have much to show in terms of art accomplishments for 2010.
What I do have instead is internal--a complete transformation in how I think about art and myself as an artist. Since I started quilting 10 years ago, I knew that I loved playing with color and shape to make something beautiful out of nothing, but I never really embraced the word "art" to describe what I did. I would call myself a "quilt artist" or "fiber artist," but in a more self-conscious way. I'd call my sewing room my "studio" but feel kind of sheepish about it.
Realizing that art is my Bliss completely changed how I think about it all. Somehow, playing with paint and loving it gave me the freedom to see myself as an artist. I accepted, even embraced, that inner view of self as artist. And I have begun thinking about and creating art in a more serious way.
For 2011 my theme is Serious Art, which means approaching art in a deliberate and contemplative way and making sure that it becomes part of my daily routine (regardless of how hectic life seems). I'm developing a course of study for the year, for lack of a better term. My path for the coming year consists of the following steps:
- Work in a series. This fall I began a series that combines paper cloth with improvisational patchwork. I have two completed pieces and ideas for five others. I commit to completing at least nine pieces in this series. I am also remaining open to beginning another series if I am called to do so.
- Keep an art journal. Over the past year I have found a way to keep an art journal that captures everything I think, see, learn,and hear about art. I want to continue this process.
- Keep a sketchbook. This is a little different from an art journal. The emphasis is on improving observational skills--how I see the world--and expressive abilities--how I communicate what I see.
- Study artists. How do you look at an artwork and have a dialogue with it, with a focus on their expression through the elements of design and techniques of their medium? By developing an understanding of other artists' work I hope to improve the quality of my own work.
- Study process. Over the past year, I have been inspired by the blogs of Lisa Call, Elizabeth Barton, and Kathy Loomis, among others. They write very thoughtfully about the process of making art. Over the coming year, I'd like to expand out and read more about process from different artists in different media.
- Take a serious class or two. I've identified a couple week-long classes that I believe mesh with my goals, vision, and expressive voice. I want to commit to at least one and possibly both, if I can find the time and money.
- Identify shows or contests and submit work. This is probably the most intimidating goal on my list! I can see getting to the point where just making a piece and putting it in a pile with other finished works will not satisfy me, where I will need to get my work out in public and see what people think of it. I am not there yet, but if I can submit a piece or two this year, I might just learn that it doesn't actually hurt!