It is a while since I wrote last, but contrary to possible speculation I have not been doing nothing. At the very least I have been thinking. Thinking, unfortunately, does not necessarily offer evidence of the activity, nor does it necessarily yield results!
Thinking has not stopped me actually doing things. I continue to have at least one stitching project constantly on the go. My mind still throws up various ideas for ‘doodles’ which please me more or less, … but I feel somewhat limbo-ish nonetheless. I don’t think that the new images that I’m currently developing are actually moving my work forward – whatever that means. And I guess that’s what is bothering me: I cannot fathom at present what direction to look towards.
Meanwhile, a bit of organisation always helps. I am on a general life project to downsize possessions, partly so that as we become more decrepit and literally downsize to a smaller dwelling, we will not suddenly have to cope with a mountainous task. Today I decided to sort my threads.
Happy conjunctions present themselves when taking time over the sorting of stuff. One problem is that I have lived through several eras of need. For instance when I was working freelance in publishing, teaching abroad, and writing a publishing manual I needed filing drawers – not only for files (remember paper files anyone?), but for paper, flimsy, carbon paper, tippex (!), and other stationery. One cherished piece of filing furniture is my bright red Habitat set of drawers. Just right to accommodate threads.
Bit by bit nearer to some kind of Chaos control even if I’m not much nearer finding any coherent direction for my work.
I have reached a point at which I feel the need for an assessment of what I’m doing, why, and of what I want to do. Amongst other things the work I’m making at present is too slow to keep up with my ideas, and that is having a dampening effect on the excitement of those ideas. The stitching element is taking up time which I want to devote to print making. And I still have vague ideas of trying out three dimensional work, somehow.
I now think I want to eschew external influences which are constraining. I’m giving up thinking that my work fails because it does not fit into a size category, for instance. Indeed I don’t want to think of being in any category at all.
I think. Well, I have quite a bit to think about. I am certainly not thinking about giving up working in some way; it is an essential part of living as far as I’m concerned. But I have vaguely thought about giving up this and the Threading thoughts blogs. As I say, it is to be a Year of Big Thinking.
Seduction comes in many guises. I am seduced by books, for instance, but they largely reward the desire which they arouse. There are many more questionable enticements, however, and one such for me is the promise of organisation. This originally came in the form of stationery, and indeed I still find notebooks, pencils, pens, filing methods, etc. seductive. Now there is the added enticement of a nice shiny new blog with which to organise my work.
But each method of organisation has to fit its circumstances; what is for private consumption and what can also work publically – especially when the public is widespread and largely unknown. Realisation of this quickly led me to close this blog from public view while I tried to sort out my thoughts – organisation needs to be organised! Now, however, I am ready to try again, to see where this can go.
The subject of this first post of the reopened blog is my recent donation to this year’s SAQA Benefit Auction. Size matters very particularly in this case, as the donated quilted piece has to be 12″x 12″. I find it difficult to work exactly to size. I miss out on many – maybe even most – exhibitions because my work is either too small or in one case too big for the entrance criteria. I have donated squares previously by cutting down larger printed pieces which as luck would have it were not working for my own purposes. But with no such ‘mistakes’ of which to take advantage, no donations were made for a couple of years.
Then, I was sorting through my remaining small stash of bought fabrics and came across a little piece of shiny madras cotton, bought many years ago in New Hampshire – another result of seduction: I had originally gone in to buy wool, and I came out with far more than planned! Looking at the colours it struck me that they would not only complement this piece, but that for once this was a piece which could stand – perhaps even be enhanced by a border. It so happened that the proportions, everything worked out so that I was happy with the look, and so serendipity has led to another donation to SAQA.
What I produce has a tendency to get out of hand because so many balls are in the air at the same time – that’s obviously one of the reasons I am attracted to the juggler image. The consequence of this is that elements slip through the cracks of progress. Designs lurk in their digital files for years, ideas are not noted and thus fade into lost memories, and work can float in limbo at an interim stage.
Now that I am attempting to keep track of my workings through this blog I must likewise look at means to organise my time. Over the past year or so I have stitched many silk pieces, but have not finished them all. I know why this has happened: I am working on a very large quilt which is taking months of work, and sometimes I want a break in order to finish something quickly (or at least less slowly!). But as soon as the small piece is complete as far as stitching goes, I return to the big quilt. Meantime the divan in my sewing room is accumulating too many layers of pendings. I can feel the need for a timetable and discipline.
In my salaried career I responded well to an element of self-imposed discipline. I prefer to work with lists with priorities and short-term deadlines, thus separating the balls which I’m juggling. It means relaxed concentration on whatever I have to hand because I know at the back of my mind that I’ve accounted for everything else. Sometimes of course life gets in the way, or the system needs revisiting – or, as I feel now, the whole edifice needs a good sort-out.