I know I haven’t. I read an article by Sarah Ross Thompson in which she spoke about “excitables.” I am an “excitable” – she explained – “some people are naturally excitable and explode with ideas…. they find it hard to know which path to follow when so many things rock their boat. That’s me!
So, I have enrolled on an online course with Sue Stone, Chair of the 62 Group of textile artists, care of www.textileartist.org. I had done one online course before which I did not enjoy as it was very pressured with new videos arriving every day. This one, however, I would recommend. You are given a year to complete the course and can work at your own pace. Participants are set a series of projects and the choice is yours as to how much time you spend on each module, creating as many or as few samples as you wish. The first challenge is to work only using running stitch and only using horizontal lines. Each sample contains a block of four pieces 5cm square and I have so far created five.
Even though this course is obviously about stitch, I can already see how useful it will be in other areas in that the message is to take an idea and push the boundaries of what you can do with it. Setting a limitation, either in terms of media, or by reducing the option for a methodology of working, is in fact helping you to think more creatively within set parameters. Although I am a very organised person in everyday life (where would I be without my lists?!), in my Art practice I like to work intuitively responding to each moment. So, with the exception of the rigid patterns above, I did not think. I chose my thread, put my needle in and started without knowing what I was going to do with it. This way will not suit everyone I know but it suits my loose style of working – I have always said that I can’t sew and I can’t create beautiful embroidery or make clothes but luckily I don’t want or need to be able to do those things. What I do want to do is to make interesting “marks” whether that be by using a pencil, pen, inks or stitch and I am already learning loads about how I can do that. Thank you Sue, Jo and Sam at http://www.textileartist.org!
So, why don’t you think of something you would like to do, set yourself some strong boundaries, and play. And, carry on playing until you really feel exhausted – I can’t tell you when that will be but maybe you need to spend at least a month on that one project. I’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback if you have done this!
I have long been fascinated by decay, distress and general wear and tear in surfaces. My eyes are drawn over and over again to rock, stone, wood, paper or any material where the worn and battered winks at me and asks for further inspection. I love torn edges and scruffiness.
Taking up more and more room in the house, I have an embarrassingly large collection of found objects that reflect my preferences and I am still struggling to find a clear way forward to use these within my art. I am unable to pigeon hole myself as a “painter”, “printmaker”, “textile artist” or some other moniker – I like all manner of techniques and media. The saving grace is that there is a common need – to make use of the found and to conform to my idea of what is aesthetically pleasing as outlined above. I realise that to some/many my taste is bizarre and that anything I produce will have a limited market with the majority doubtless seeing only “rubbish.” I also need to distinguish myself from what I see as twee – sculptures and assemblages made from pieces of driftwood for example. They are just not me – not dirty enough, not raw enough, not scuffed and damaged.
Some of what I produce will be fragile (I have some beautiful charred paper from an incinerator); some will have a shorter life than “traditional” art because it will continue to erode and spoil over time. But I will persevere with my ideas that involve the found, the rusty and the burnt. I have workshops coming up in 2018 with the inspiring Debbie Lyddon whose textile work I simply love and also with Elaine Bolt who I hope will take me down a new route considering ceramics and they can help me display my found objects. I was delighted to discover her although a little sad to see that my ideas are not entirely new – ideas rarely are! – and that she is producing far lovelier work than I am sure I will manage.
I am currently thinking about my collection of found brushes (some are shown above) – I have already started to experiment with embossing and “printing” with the handles and would like to try making ceramic handles in the form of these found brushes. I have a collection of “bristles” that can be fastened to the handles and yesterday rescued a whole pile of lovely rusty, “been through the bonfire” bendy metal from which I can form ferrules to adjoin the handles to the bristles.
Here are a collection of my other “from the fire” objects which I hope to use in future work. I’d love to know if anyone else “get’s it”!!