This was created with sumi ink and watercolor. The play between negative space and bold color was an interesting balance to maintain when composing the design. The size of the file is meant for your smartyphone:)
Hope you enjoy it!
Detail of Quilt
After dyeing the fabrics (linen, silk, cotton) with plant dyes Logwood and Osage Orange, the quilt top was pieced together. The pieces were geometric in nature, but they weren't exactly uniform. The fabric yardage amount was prepared by twice the amount that was needed. The folding of the pleats made it necessary to have double the amount. Although, I remember when making this that I should have added extra!
Yikes blue pencil! Even though this was a fabric pencil there were parts that didn't come out. This was to mark the points that were meant to be stitched together. The needle with thread would travel together between the top layer and the bottom, for concealment.
After placing the quilt in the washer (what a scary moment:) the quilt was super wrinkled . Steaming the piece helped the creases become sharp again and helped the overall shape.
Check out the book that helped me so much in figuring out the smocking technique - The Art of Manipulating Fabric
I've been having so much fun with these doodles! Something I picked up from my figure drawing days, begin with a drawing warmup. The point is to be quick and reactive. Just so your'e not attached to the end result. Helps to loosen the hand and the brain! For some extra fun, try it with your left hand (or if your'e a lefty, use your right) to get those lovely gestural lines going:)
What I love about these, is that you will naturally draw with a firm hand. The under used hand is not accustomed to much, and will give a wonderful heavy line. Which helps in making it look intentional and confident! yeah:)
When finally leaving the school apprenticeship phase I felt so woefully ignorant. Sure, many hours were spent crafting and creating, but I didn't take responsibility for learning other topics such as finance, time management, and the importance of persistence.
I wish I had come across these books 10 years ago! How does the saying go? when the student is ready the master appears? I must have been plugging my ears with my fingers. I hope you find these books helpful and inspirational for your creative journey.
The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles Written by Steven Pressfield.
First of all, where has this book been hiding? So compelling. He shares the dark side of ignoring your creativity, especially when you insist on doing things that don't suit you. He also explores the ideas of the importance of discipline, how we let resistance (fear of making) dictate our creative habits, and how to be mentally sturdy to counter any negative thought either internally or externally. Excruciatingly true, embarrassingly direct, and heartbrokenly moving.
Mastery written by Robert Greene
This book was created by someone who loves research. The richness of this book is revealed in how he delves into this topic and presents a wonderful dynamic landscape of wisdom. A kick in the pants that it takes dedicated practice to achieve mastery.
Thats it. Simple right?
While this is possible, and Greene presents historical figures who have achieved this, there are important concepts to consider. To create meaningful work requires "great discipline, self control, and emotional stability." This book will inspire you to grow as a person.
How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds Written by Nicholas Boothman
Lets face it, artists especially visual, artists aren't exactly known for being socially skillful. Sure, we're sensitive, imaginative, empathetic but more often then not, we don't know how to communicate well. Great advice on how to consider another persons point of view, how our powerful imaginative ability can be used for us or against us, and how to think more in terms of what you do want rather than not. Great strategies on how to create meaningful lasting relationships.
The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business Written by Josh Kaufman
Not just a typical book about finance, but the complex psychological reactions that come into play when building a business or when wanting to be a self-employed artist. The importance of self evaluation, what could be improved, and how is your product/service different? The biggest take away for me is the idea of reciprocation. I think artists have a tendency to shy away from showing their work. People love to feel included when you show studio or in progress pics.
What To Do When It's Your Turn And It's Always Your Turn. Written by Seth Godin
The premise of this book is to light a fire under your arse. Yes, we as a culture have learned to patiently wait in line for our turn, to wait until we are in a specific class to create the thing we want, to wait for that dress to go on sale, to wait to be picked (all habits of the consumer spoon fed culture). Godin addresses this paradigm of complacent waiting to getting what we want out of life. And how this actually doesn't work (surprised?). This book is a call to action to start, to make the things you want to make (even if no one cares) to try a different approach (even if its never been done before) to start acquiring clients (even if you don't have any outside approved qualifications). If you want a life that provides safety, approval, paying your dues, reassurance, then this book is not for you.
The Art Of Non-Conformity Written by Chris Guillabeau
Another great slap in the face kind of book. Main message here is, we all must take responsibility for ourselves. This book will inspire you to take your goals seriously, to work better, and to better construct your time. My favorite take away, is that you don't have to be especially intelligent to achieve something, in fact, smart people tend to over complicate things. And, how it's much more important to start then wait...for when your idea is perfect, or that perfect job, or until you're done with school. After reading this book, you can't help but re-consider everything you believe.
Great short films to watch...
Humans of New York Brandon Stanton is a real salt of the earth, humble as pie professional creative. This interview with photographer Chase Jarvis (and founder of creative live) is full of no-nonsense practical advice. I won't give too much away as its definitely worth the watch.
Here are some of my favorite take-aways:
When first starting out, Brandon took his first project idea and ran with it. He didn't wait to flesh it out first or wait until people asked him to do it.
When first experiencing success, he asked himself "what can I do to stay centered? - "By continuing to work everyday and improving my photography." What an incredible level of self awareness.
"No matter how famous I get, I want my pride to be that I work harder then everybody else." Brandon S.
I think the most amazing thing is that his nonexistent "art education" background is obvious. He wasn't trained to be hesitant with his work AND he knows he'll get better with time.
For me, these are things on some visceral level I was craving to hear. It's been too easy lately to get caught up in all the noise of being a creative professional, the marketing, your personality is your brand and your brand is your personality, and don't forget to show what you know ie. create an online course.
What about the work itself? what about trusting yourself? These are things I have left on the side lately. Feeling the self imposed pressure of getting up to speed...so I can be taken seriously? I'll settle for worthwhile:)
One of my very favorite self-talk quotes:
"Do I like my work? how can I make myself like my work more?
It seems like its been such a long time since I really asked myself that and that doesn't only apply to the art I make. This shift began to take place in my life when I went to Australia - and it didn't turn out the way I thought it would (story under Australia category). One particular attribute that I have to keep in check is my people pleasing behavior. A few customer service jobs are good for you, but more than a few...will make someone crazy.
I love the level of commitment Brandon showed his original idea. I love the way he showed up everyday not knowing if he would be able to continue living in NY. I love the way he loves his work.
I had been aware (I say that loosely) of HONY before, but this insight into such a genuinely sincere person was so captivating to watch. That I can't wait to fiannllly check it out.
Plant dyed fabric, with silk, crepe de chine, organza.
In my traveling bag of tricks, there buried were my old samples of plant dyed fabrics! They unearthed my love for foraging, experimenting, and boiling cauldrons of questionable murky liquid. Oh, and forgot to mention the enveloping vapors that fill the entire house when boiling several pots! Yes, I love the whole process.
Methinks, I will go gather some Eucalyptus leaves soon...
I've been thinking a lot lately about how much I've been missing being creative and what that actually means. What is it that I've been missing the most?
When I am busy making things, my mental perspective becomes focused. It's having focus that I miss. My brain can think of a million different variations, outcomes, errands, emails, all the normal crowding thoughts. When I'm making something, all that noise disappears and I can just focus on what's outside of myself.
My creative relationship with my creativity is changing and evolving. Much like any relationship. I now have less pressure on perfecting something in the first try. The hardness with perfection, is the belief that the outcome is more important then the process. A perspective that I am trying to kick.
The joy of process, is where I'm trying to live.
My experience of going to art school, specifically the Savannah College of Art and Design. Is something that I'm still reflecting on. While I learned valuable things like, how to roll with the punches (class critiques), how to develop a concept, to stay focused on that concept, the value of experimentation, to refine a design, and how to verbally express my work. With that, there are still some negative factors that I'm trying to shed, how not to refer to current trends for "inspiration," to distrust your first idea, and to think that I need some sort of outside approval to create. First the approval of the professor, then by some boss in some random job.
My time since art school, has been spent frustrated with not getting the "door opener," for approval to be creative. Waiting for someone to declare "Marisa, you are worthy of making really cool shit!" Can you imagine my disappointment when that didn't happen?
Along the way, I've researched artists who were making a creative lifestyle work and am inspired by their first obstacles and difficulties in getting to where they are now. Their words became beacons of light for me in my dark landscape of the repetitive motions of daily life.
It was necessary for me to break away from the life that I had created so carelessly. These artist poets were my life raft out of old habits that didn't serve me. By focusing on what I actually feel inspired to do, on a daily basis was a way to define "me" again.
A few noteworthy people include Elizabeth Gilbert, for her sensational metaphor of having a creative "genius" that is outside of herself. To not be so held responsible for the ebb and flow of creativity, was a freeing thought for me. Oftentimes, it can be too easy to put pressure on cranking out the next perfect thing. A team of sisters run Blockshop a scarf company based in Los Angeles. They create contemporary designs and work with a traditional printing studio that's based in Jaipur, India. I love everything about them. Their sisterly partnership, their beautiful designs, the natural plant dyes that are used in the production of their scarves...It's difficult not to love them and I'd rather not try.
Another great resource, is design blog The Design Files. It's full of insightful interviews, beautiful photos of artists studios, and their work. This was a breath of air for my soul and helped me become motivated again, to just do it. "It" being making things.
I have always loved the idea of having a mentor. You know an experienced individual in your interested field who shares gold nuggets of wisdom? I've been collecting people, by this I mean their websites, and it's an ambition of mine to have the courage to reach out and write an appreciation of their steady determination to create work. Not to have any sort of intended result, just to reach out and say that their work matters to me. This will be my next project on continuing to take myself out of my comfort zone.
I have been enamored with Ruth Asawa, when I first learned of her work in a sculpture class at art school. Her sculpture embodies the two most attractive pair of contrasts for me, strength and delicacy.
She grew up in California as a daughter of farmers in a family of seven children. With minimal education growing up, a small part of that schooling were art lessons. Where she learned about space, negative space, the importance of line, and creative expression.
After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, her life and the lives of her family were drastically affected. With the sudden disappearance of her father by government officials and the rest of her family forced into camps, through this ugliness, shaped Asawa into the artist she became.
In the internment camps, art had a way of finding her, through art teachers who encouraged her to continue to paint and draw. When she turned 17, the government allowed high school graduates a paid for college tuition to the school of their choice, the only stipulation being it's location, it couldn't be near the coast.
During her college years, she went to Mexico City to experience art school and was exposed to a larger art world then she was experiencing in Milwaukee. Her time in Mexico was significant, as this is where she learned the basket finger knitting technique. The turning point in her education was when she learned of Black Mounatin College in Ashville, North Carolina, where she eventually began her sculpture work.
"The piece does not hide anything. You can show inside and outside, and inside and outside are connected."
Her mentors and friends included, Imogen Cunningham, Buckminster Fuller, and Josef Albers. All served a part in shaping Asawa's world view. She eventually made a home for herself in San Francisco where she was involved with the community, raised her family, and where she continued to make her art.
It's the same thing that you don't change a person's personality, but when you combine them with other people, other personalities, they take on another quality. But the intent is not to change them, but to bring out another part of them."
I am inspired be her resilient mentality of surpassing her limitations. Having experienced challenging experiences in childhood, and with racism later as an adult, she didn't let herself dwell in these outside limitations. She was determined to not be defined by any outside beliefs or circumstance. A powerful realization that proved to benefit her in her life. I was fortunate to stumble upon her hanging sculpture when turning a corner at the De Young Museum in San Francisco. It was like running into an old friend.
Cornell, Daniell, et al. The Sculpture of Ruth Asawa: Contours in the Air. Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and University of California Press. 2007. Print.
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