Friday, November 11, 2011

The questioning artist

All artists ask the same questions -- do I do good work? Is my art something others like? Do I like my work? How can I improve? Could I have done more on this piece? Should I have done less?

Stefan Baumann
Artist Stefen Baumann (Isn't he a hunk?) says all artists are ultimately skeptics asking -- do I have talent? Does my art have feeling or meaning?

He offers that these skeptical conversations create barriers between who we are and what we are capable of creating. Artists often allow these barriers to affect their confidence in their art.  We are generally our own worst critics.  Family and friends will often fall in two separate camps, those wanting to please and only saying nice things or those who just don't feel comfortable with our work and may be critical just because.  My husband is one of those latter critics.

When the answers in our own minds are negative nothing will convince us that our piece is good. Then it is time to let that piece cool. I can tell you that I have a lot of pieces "cooling" .

The aspect of questioning our talent and work doesn't need to be negative. But you knew that! How do we get there though when we, and most likely others as well, have offered negative thoughts about our work and undermined that confidence we need to have. I am part of a cybergroup who have made it clear they don't consider art quilts as quilts. When I began to experiment with that venue, it was quite a blow to see those comments written about my work.

Joining an artist's guild, outside our regular quilt guild, may be the answer. Some groups offer a contemporary slant that may be more compatible with your ultimate vision. Or one where members experiment with techniques or materials. I like being part of a fiber group where there are many varied types of art being done. The artists there tend to be less critical of "different" because they are doing "different" themselves. When visiting or joining such a group it is, of course, important to see the differences in the work of others as a joyous and exciting thing, not a negative statement of your own style and body of work.  The internet offers a lot of opportunities for experimentation.  Or form your own!  If you are looking and wondering you know there are others out there too.  Put a notice in your guild's bulletin.  Generate interest from two others and you have a group!

Set some times to meet over coffee or lunch and discuss where you want to go with your art.  What do you want to try that you just need some friends to stand beside you and give you a push?  Perhaps some fellow artists who want to step out of the "normal" state of quilting and need the synergy of others to fly beyond traditional boundaries.

So, what about you? Are you questioning your talent negatively? Do you join in with others who have different styles and openly receive their work?  Do you wish you had such a group to play with?


1 comment:

  1. I used to look at everything I did through negative eyes. Because of that, I never let my creativity out of the box. Everything I did was by the book, inside the "normal" box. I have no idea whose definition I was using, but it really kept my creativity stunted. Three things happened that really turned my creative life around. I found a life coach who is an artist. I couldn't afford to work with her more than the one month special she was offering, and one group session, but she really helped me accept that I could learn to identify the root of my negative voice and turn it off, most of the time. I was working in pastel and collage at the time. The next thing that happened was rediscovering my love of quilting and finding the wonderful world of quilt bloggers. Then I discovered 15 Minutes Play. All of these things have helped me figure out that it is okay to make whatever I want as long as it makes me happy. I get back into the negative voice when I forget that, and try and do things that are "acceptable" by others. I am in a very traditional guild where my quilts are so foreign, nobody knows what to say. It bothered me at first, but now I just figure I am educating them about another way to do things. I also belong to a guild of people who are like me and are just having fun. I enjoy the Modern 8 group and 15 Minues Play. I also enjoy making semi traditional quilts. The key for me is to just keep making quilts I want to make, trying new things without allowing negativity to color my experiments, and finding joy in what I am doing. Sorry this is so long, but you hit on a topic that is near and dear to me. By the way, I love your work.


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