At the end of September (2011), I attended my first meeting of a group (called an "Advanced Independent Study" group) with Jane Dunnewold and a group of really talented fiber artists. We met for three and a half days at the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft in Louisville, Kentucky. Each artist in the group has what we in education call an "individualized education plan." I can share my plan with you.
I have done traditional quilts using a pattern for most of my life, so I am pretty good at most traditional techniques. Because of that, I just didn't feel challenged any more and felt like something was missing. I needed to make a change. Then in the last couple of years, I made a few original pieces--very few. Some were traditional and some would be considered "fiber art." I worked through Lyric Kinard's book, "Art + Quilt," and posted the results here on my blog. I learned a lot by doing this, but when it came time to move from doing lessons and taking workshops to actually producing original work I was paralyzed. (It is a scary thing to venture out on your own.) I had real trouble starting to work on new pieces, because I couldn't focus on one theme, method, or technique. I admit I am a "technique junkie." I am like a "kid in a candy store;" I like everything about fiber art--traditional, non-traditional, primitive, contemporary, surface design, embellishment, beading, dyeing, painting, etc. There just isn't any part of it I DON'T like. This makes it VERY difficult for me to find a focus to my work.
This AIS Group really fit the bill for me. In this group, I was required to define my artistic strengths, weaknesses, and what I like to do. Jane then told me that to get started I have to align my strengths with what I want to accomplish. For now, that means I must narrow my focus--I have to make some decisions. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I actually have a style along with the beginning of a series of work. I showed three pieces and, to my amazement, Jane saw a distinctive style within them. She (and the group) helped me see what I wasn't able to see myself.
So...I'm embarking on a new, scary adventure. I'm making original "art." (I won't totally give up making things that aren't my own original designs. Sometimes I NEED the repetition of following a pattern to calm me. It serves as sort of a meditation to me--much like hand quilting, well any kind of hand work, does for me.) It is much harder and more time consuming than I thought it would be. It is tremendously hard to "put myself out there," but I think doing this scary thing is good for me. I'll keep you posted on my progress.