This is suppose to be my post on "backgrounds" made during my fourth and final week of doing nothing but make "complex cloth" intended for a new body of work. It isn't that post.
I can't post the backgrounds because I only made one. I have been working very, very hard....but not on backgrounds. I have learned several important things about myself and about the way in which I work. I have had to face a few facts, too.
I started making art about seven years ago. I don't have a background in art, and this is a fact that still haunts me. Like many, I've always suffered from an incredible lack of self esteem. I've always worked harder than most people I know in order to compensate for what I lack in every other area. I rarely feel like I'm good enough. My "artist's statement" centers on this concept.
I've also been blogging for over a year, reading other's blogs, admiring all sorts of interesting work, and often feeling rather stupid. I worry about asking idiotic questions; for example, I didn't know what an "embellisher" was...everyone else seemed to know...I didn't ask...if I had, I would have owned this wonderful machine long ago. I was afraid of sounding "dumb". It's silly, I know. My fears of inadequacy are very powerful driving forces...I always get a lot done, but I never think it is enough.
Also, I always look at other ideas as being "better" than my own. Hence, when an artist I greatly admire suggested working in complimentary colors, I immediately set up this task. It was interesting, but I also assumed that her way of looking at and making art was infinitely better than my own way. This too is silly.
I set about making backgrounds for a month because it seemed like a "good idea", i.e. "someone else's way of working that just had to be better than my own". At first, the plan went along beautifully. Later, however, I found myself wanting to get side tracked, to MAKE something, finish ANYTHING, explore another option. Stubbornly, I kept my eyes on the goal until...last week.
I just can't do it anymore. I'd become utterly frustrated. Finally, I had to admit to myself that I work best with a plan that allows deviation and conforms to intuitive actions. I had to admit that I will never manage nice, evenly spaced machine stitches. I will never have a perfect "zigzagged" edge. I will never get fabric or paper or anything else aligned to one another or anything else. I will not follow directions. I will not even remember that there were directions. I will use straight stitches and French knots 98% of the time. I will never learn the names of more complex stitches...much less how to execute them. I will substitute materials freely. I will estimate everything before I measure anything. I will make on-the-spot decisions at the blink of an eye and never ponder other possibilities. I will use whatever color that catches my fancy. I will jump in before I have a clue what to expect. I will probably do all these things no matter how hard I try to be "correct" or "take my time" or "follow a plan".
What's more, I will probably always doubt myself...but, from now on I'm going to work on the assumption that my personal approach is likely the best one for me.
This isn't to say that I'm giving up on my plan of making "backgrounds". I'm just giving up on the notion that this is all I ought to do for a month. I need more variety...and days in which something "new" gets started and something else gets "finished". Experimentation is great...but working in one's comfort zone is also quite nice.
So, last week I decided to switch gears....even media. I finished one of two altered books using my digital images of genuine West African art and artifacts. It's called (how perfect is this title?) New Song in a Strange Land. There are over eighty spreads. Alex and I are already at work making a video.
The other altered book using much of the same material is Black God. There is no additional text in this volume. Unbelievably, I found 130 postal stamps from Africa to use in it instead...found them on the bookshelf in collections both Steve and I had as kids! I've only got to iron, wax, and photograph the pages. I'll post images later.
In order to tear into something other than a "background", I also worked on two hand stitched projects. One is nearly complete. The other actually uses one of the "backgrounds" I made last week...at last!!! I am going to love USING the backgrounds...so I will continue making them...just, no pressure!