A few things you should know.
I am not God. I am a seeker just as you are. We are all on this journey together.
While we are all traveling down the same road, some of us are further along in the journey—Hence some of us are teachers and some of us are students. It is good to tell yourself this when you enter a new space of learning.
We all learn from each other. I learn from you. You learn from me. In fact, by the end of our time together, we may discover that you are further along the path than I am. You, instead of me, are the teacher. This is OKAY. We find our teachers and our students in the most unusual places. The point is to find them, identify them, and learn or teach with them.
Check your ego at the door. Open up your center to pain and process, to making and stitching, to vulnerability. It is in this space that the greatest works are made. It will all happen if you are open. Say yes to this.
It is not easy. If it were, everyone would be doing it.
I cannot know what you do not tell me. I will be listening and watching to learn about where you are as a student, and where you want to go. I will be looking at the work you put on the wall. I will be listening to what you say about your compositions. I will be observing your process—by process, I mean the WAY you build a quilt. I will be watching your body language and expressions for feedback and understanding. And I may get it all wrong.
Floundering happens. And when you are floundering, I am failing. We are in this difficult moment together.
I will frequently tell you things that you will not hear. I will tell you them again, and I will tell you them again. I will tell you things through images and words and actions. Trust me and eventually it will stick—you will hear and see what I am saying.
Construction is an issue that must be contemplated at EVERY step of the way. I will say that again. Construction is an issue that must be contemplated at every step of the way. It is one thing to have a vision, it is something else entirely to build it. Adjustments and adaptions will be made and the sooner you embrace flexibility, the further along your journey you will travel. You can also choose water colors or acrylics—construction is not a problem with these mediums.
We are building the surface. Connecting bits together with the dream of making something whole and beautiful. Starting from scratch we stitch into the unknown. Be fearless with your sewing machine. Be mindful with your iron. Be loose with your rotary cutter.
Piece work involves color, pattern, and repetition along with the craft of cutting, stitching, and pressing to perfection. We must hold all of these things together at the same time. This is a lot to carry. Practice will make it easier.
Not every idea will bare beauty. If you can, try not to think of these compositions as failures or mistakes. Instead consider them to be new knowledge and potential.
It is okay to stare at your quilt for a very long time. It is fine to walk away and return. It is perfectly acceptable to steal, borrow, and manipulate your materials—but please do it with honesty and respect for those who have traveled this road before you.
Like I said, I’m not god. I am a seeker, and these are just a few notes from my journey.
PS- These images are from the workshop Abstraction of Place held June 16-20 2017 at the Wrangell Mountains Center.
My students went deep and the results were truly amazing. All three participants were beginning art quilters, and their work blew me away. Mark your calendars–I will be doing this again out here in McCarthy in June 2019.