It has been some time since I wrote a post, mostly because I was out of town teaching–in the warm and sunny southwest–ahhhh. Home in time for all the snow and freezing temperatures. Great stay inside and work weather.
Today I want to talk about taking classes and buying books. Don’t get me wrong, I WANT you to buy books, take classes and watch online videos about different techniques from a variety of teachers. But I always caution students to remember that each teacher presents her technique in the way she (or he) has found that makes the most sense to her (him). Since we are all different, we all do things differently–and that is true for art techniques, as well.
There are many well known art quilters (I don’t like that word, but that will be the topic of another post) whose work I greatly admire, but whose process makes me want to scream–I just couldn’t do what they do the way they do it, it would simply drive me insane. The things they fuss over seem much to detail oriented for my taste. However, often people will ask me how I have the patience to cut all those little pieces of fabric–but that is the process I enjoy. That is the point, it is all about personal taste and working preferences.
Which brings me back (as I often do) to finding your voice, which is related to this discussion on taking classes and reading books. Part of discovering who you are as an artist is deciding how you want to work at your art. Often in my classes, people will ask “is it ok if I do that a different way?” and my answer is “absolutely”. When you take classes, read books and watch videos (like The Quilt Show) keep in mind that it is not only ok, it is better if you take a little from here and a little from there and throw out the rest and add in what makes sense to your working style and the end result you desire. I find that even a teacher whose end result isn’t what I do may have a tip or a trick or way of doing something that I like and will incorporate into my work; and even those teachers whose work I adore will do things in ways that make no sense to me. Absorb it all, keep what works and replace what doesn’t with ideas from other teachers or your own ideas. This is part of making your work a reflection of you. It is not only recommended, it is critical to your growth as an artist.
So take it all in, and then edit. There is no right or wrong way to make art, it is only a function of what works for you and what you enjoy. Remember that if this is another source of stress in your life, you probably don’t need it. The process should be enjoyable from start to finish, it should center you and bring you peace. That means finding a way of working that incorporates all you have learned from others and what you prefer in the end.