My mother pulled out the first thing I ever sewed on a sewing machine the other day asking me to stretch it or frame it so that she can hang it up in the house.
I actually created it for a final project in a painting survey in college. Looking at it now it is so bad, but it was so revolutionary for me at the time.
When I first started art school, I really wanted to be a painter, but I favored watercolors, and the painting faculty at the university kind of had an antipathy toward the medium. So, I decided I wanted to be a printmaker, which I quickly found out required me to spend too much time (and money) at the school. I liked to work from home, so it just wasn't a good fit.
Then, I took a textiles class and fell in love. I had always been fascinated by fashion design,fabric, and pattern creation, to the point where I toyed with the idea of being a costume designer. But, I didn't know how to sew. That survey class taught me how to sew by hand, but I still had limited abilities. There were so many cool things I saw other people doing: fabric manipulation, free motion stitching, and I couldn't do them. It was disheartening.
When I enrolled in the painting class, I was incredibly frustrated. I consider myself a decent painter, but nothing I did was ever good enough. The composition wasn't right. My use of the materials wasn't proficient enough. And it drove me nuts that the grad student teaching the class was really more of a mixed media artist than a painter. So I decided that for my final that was what I was going to do too. And since it was going to take me forever to do it by hand, I was going to learn how to use a sewing machine to do it.
So I bought one, and I sewed line after line after line. Then I bought a darning foot and sewed circle after circle after circle. Eventually, I had a collage of blueberries using acrylic, watercolor, organza, wax paper, and stitching. And amazingly, the teacher loved it.
Looking at it now, it is a completely terrible piece. The stitching is clearly amateur and I must have had tension problems I didn't know how to properly fix. But I did it, and it opened a bunch of doors for me.
The piece is spread out over one of my chairs in my living room, and I have to look at it all the time. Even though it isn't the greatest thing that I have ever made, I can't help but being inspired all over again.
I decided that I needed a fresh start.
If you've been following along, you may have noticed that I deleted all of my previous blog entries. Why? Well, I spent a lot of time over the summer thinking about life in general. I haven't done much of any thing in the way of new work since I left grad school, mostly because I haven't had the motivation to get things done. It's not that I've been lacking ideas. They've been there: a lot of them, but my will to create has been intermittent. And when it has been there, it has been crippled by fear.
Fear? Yes, that overwhelming sense that I am not good enough and will never be good enough. The sense that all of my ideas are garbage. The feeling that what people want to see is not what I have to offer them. The idea that handwork gets you no where in the end, you just have to be really lucky. I left grad school with a bang, or so I thought. And despite all the sketching and planning and sampling, in the back of mind I have been thinking that there is no point in going on. I can never do better.
And most recently, adding to that pile of insecurities is one little thing that my boyfriend mentioned to me quite a long time ago: that what I do reminds me too much of his mom (who quilts) and that isn't the most attractive thing in the world. Imagine, trying to find the will to go on when so much is expected of you, only to be told that the one thing you love to do more than anything else in this world is a real turnoff.
So I have struggled. And I have cried. And I have been mad at the world and the way it works. But mostly I've been disappointed in myself. Disappointed in my lack of motivation. Disappointed that I let fear overwhelm me. Disappointed that I have disappointed others.
So I had a frank talk with the aforementioned boyfriend about all of these things and he actually gave me good advice. First, that I'm awesome (which apparently I don't realize). Second, that he loves me no matter what and that regardless of whether both his mom and I like to sew, we are two different people and he's not going to stop me from doing what I love. And last, that artists don't just work until they create something great and then stop. They keep on creating. Some things may be pure garbage. Some things may also be great. And some things may be better than great, but they never stop.
And that's what I need to do. I can't keep defining myself by what I did in the past, I need to move forward and keep making. So I decided to take a deep breath, and start fresh, jot down all of my ideas and just start making. Some may be garbage. Some may be great. And some may be better than great, but in the end it is about the act of doing itself, not the product.
This new blog is a part of my fresh start. I am burying the past and starting a new future and I plan to document it here.