Friday, October 26, 2007


(Above: About sixty Christmas ornaments!)

Ever since I finished the work for my exhibition at Francis Marion University, I've been in a strange sort of "funk". I am thrilled to be working toward another solo show with Blues Chapel, but I was looking for a new approach, a new body of work, something "significant"....something I still can't quite define and haven't found.

I tried a systematic approach...make backgrounds for a month. While I created many things with which I am pleased, it didn't solve my problem. I never found the "new body of work" in which to immerse myself. I tried working with my new embellisher...thinking that the machine would trigger something novel. Again, pleasant parts and no whole. Basically, I've been trying to "force" a new series into existence instead of quietly working until it reveals itself in the stitches.

I've also been struggling mentally. There are so many techniques to be attempted. It's overwhelming...and then, I spiral downward into thinking that my work isn't "good enough". I see all these great possibilities and I think, "Susan, you're light years behind". I'm so tempted to try everything....hoping the in these new techniques is some magical answer to the new work I think I'm destined to make.

When I got back from London, I had my hand Elements in Blue. I have several waiting to be stitched; but, I do my hand stitching in the home. What was I going to do in my studio? I didn't have anything going...generally, there's at least three projects in various stages on which to work.

One recent comment really triggered my thoughts (in a very good way!). It got me asking myself, "How are all the visual "treats" seen in London going to influence my work, even subtly?" I really don't know.

Yet, this last trip was honestly the first time I looked at quality fiber art and didn't immediately want to "try this" or "copy that idea" or think "I could do that". I just looked. Hopefully, this is a good sign. At least, I'm taking it that way. I am hoping that the experience will influence me with follow my own path, do my own thing...even if what I'm making really is "bad" because the PROCESS of making art is what is important to me. The thing I'm looking for is "vision", a concept, a way in which to relate something about me and/or my life through fibers with needle and thread. All the wonderful work I saw in London was done by people doing just this...communicating.

So, went I got into my studio I picked up a really ugly piece of felt onto which I'd embellished some dreadful yarns and snippets of other felt...all in blue...with the idea to use it as a background for some unspecified piece for the Blues Chapel exhibit. I just embellished...letting the barbed needles purr through the material. I was worrying about Alex (grade cards are due on Halloween) when a hair brained idea struck...cut this into circles...then make Christmas ornaments.

(Above: Ornaments of Tree of Blues)

As I worked, I remembered that I volunteered to create a Christmas tree for a charity event that benefits the local Children's Hospital. I even bought a pile of blue trimmings two years ago...for Alex's tree (yes, he donates too...I pay for the "stuff"). We didn't use the blue ornaments or the artificial white tree last year. Instead, Alex used about 200 old men's neck ties and made "A Gift for Dad" Tree. Somehow, making this year's tree revolve around Blues Chapel just happened. Now, this project (which could easily have become some anchor weighing me down as the deadline approached) is all but done. (Alex is making a "table top" tree on his own.)

Next, some of the "backgrounds" just NEEDED to be made into ornaments...merchandise! The best thing that just "happened", however, was that the scraps of blue cut aways turned into an embellished piece, The Blues. If all this isn't serendipity, I don't know what is. Once I stopped trying so hard, things fell into place. Okay, I still don't have some great "master plan" and I don't have the slightest idea what I want to "say" with my stitches...but it will come. I have faith...and some nice ornaments to sell in the meantime!


Nikki said...

It is so easy to try too hard and make life a bear instead of a joy. You have a beautiful voice--trust it will sing.

I love the ornaments. What a wonderful idea. I'm always trying to think of gift ideas this time of year and ornaments would be perfect.

katelnorth said...

It WILL come, really. I love your ornaments and your piece The Blues - Serendipity indeed.

Doreen G said...

Susan never doubt that your work is not good enough because you do incredible work.
I just love you circle ornaments they are beautiful.

arlee said...

Sometimes we overanalyze where we're going and what we're doing--the ornaments were a perfect way to just stitchplay --and makes some money, always a good thing----they're lovely.
I bet too somehow the exercise will help you in a way you didn't expect, however "mindless" they were!
I greatly admire your art and your articulateness about doubt and fear---and am astounded that with all your accomplishments that you still feel these. Complacency and arrogance may stultify you--keep searching and exploring---you give us all hope!!!

jonio said...

Oh Susan, you know that we are our worst critics. While others look at the beauty we create, we think about that one more little bit we thought it needed. RELAX!! Everything you do is fantastic. I love the multicolor ornaments especially. I am still looking forward to the exhibit in Pickens!!
Just take a deep breath (or 2, etc), relax and let it flow from your fingers - it's there, you'll see.


Micki said...

Love the ornaments. It is so hard to accept that ones work is "good enough", but you should never doubt yourself. You do incredible work and are an inspiration to us all.

Anna said...

Susan - your work is beautiful- I wish I could see it first hand at an exhibition - how I wish I lived in the US

Aussie Jo said...

I love the blue ornaments and your blue embellished piece.
I have a walk I do most days down a very quiet lane and I find that the ideas just come to me as I walk (it's my thinking time). Great ideas also sometimes come in the early hours, when everybody else is still sleeping and I get up and sketch and make notes.
I'm sure your next project will be just as sensational as that collection!!!

sammy said...

Your ornaments are amazing and your house of Blue is outstanding! Now off to see if I can find pics of your studio... got to see someone's whose is as bad as mine... :0)

Dianne said...

Oh Susan, I think you're incredibly talented - nothing could possibly keep you down for long..... The ornaments are fantastic, what a great way to find your way again.