Lisa Call's exhibition and gallery talk were fantastic. Her series of Markings textile paintings have a wonderful energy, and it's great to see her meticulous execution of her ideas up close. In spirit, though not in appearance, they brought to mind the formal and closely worked grid paintings of Agnes Martin:
(Lisa gave me permission to upload one of her images here, but technology is not working with me, so do visit her site.)As mentioned, I was also eager to hear what she had to say about her process and how she gets so much done. Here's what I gleaned:
- She's very ordered, and she does the work -- apparently without drama and angst.
- No television. This hit home; I use television as filler and company far too much when life is difficult, and it's become an unproductive habit.
- It sounds like she has a well-paying day job that she's good at, but can leave behind at the end of the day.
- She sets her intentions and is open to how they'll manifest.
- She stays connected to a community of artists working in all media.
- She writes about her work.
- She works in series and stays with her ideas.
She doesn't have a fancy studio or a fancy brand-new sewing machine. And she's a single mom.
A couple of things that she said were of particular interest to me. First, she started with traditional quilts and misses making them, and says she looks forward to a time when she can leave her job, and her days can be spent on her art and her evenings spent doing traditional quilting.
Though I'm reluctant to use the division of art and craft, this made sense to me, in terms of focus. How do you want to use your studio time? You've got to know who you are, decide your priorities and schedule accordingly. Do you want to enter the realm of artist, or are you happiest making things that nourish you and bring enjoyment to others without the pressure of artist aspirations? This is not a better-than scenario, just a matter of prioritizing.
It takes some self-discipline, indeed, to come home from a full day and begin creative work and not check out. Helps if you don't have a television, I guess. A real profession that pays well during the day is good. If you're working all day and still have constant money stress because of low pay, you'll just feel completely exhausted and drained.
And if you're working all day at something that is not your real passion, but not doing your passion when you get home, well, years can go by and you wake up scared. This is the worst-case scenario - saying you'll be an artist and failing to do it, yet always wishing you were. If this is you, you're not alone by any means; a lot has been written about this very dynamic. Some resources I like:
- Eric Maisel, Coaching the Artist Within
- Twyla Tharp, The Creative Habit
- Rick Jarow, Creating the Work You Love
- Steven Pressfield, The War of Art
- Gapingvoid.com, How To Be Creative
The Artist's Way has also helped many, many people. I've done the morning pages; I think all journaling techniques are useful, and there's nothing like reading your past journals and grasping your patterns of discontent or hope or longing or avoidance.
Next, more of what I'm learning about sustainable apparel and textiles, and some good resources for those who want to know more, and more Slow Cloth/Authentic Cloth inspiration. THANK YOU to everyone who visits this blog, and thank you especially for the very generous and thoughtful comments.