It is an interesting thing to look back at one's artistic journey. I have had to do that this week, because I'm doing a program for the Picking Up the Pieces Quilt Guild near Memphis. I have been asked to talk about my journey from "traditional" quilting to "art" quilting.
I know the talks I like the most are talks that have a visual attached, so my program will be a trunk show of sorts. I have quilts to show from every aspect of my journey--large quilts, miniature quilts, seasonal quilts, hand-quilted quilts, machine quilted quilts, quilts made from patterns, and quilts made from my own designs. I have gone through many "phases" in my quilting journey.
I have two "big-ass" pieces of luggage that I can't really use any more (because of the 50-lb weight limit on planes). I decided to use them to pack up a bunch of quilts for the talk.
I realize I have come a long way! I remember the point when I felt like quilting was no longer a challenge for me. I knew I could make any quilt from a pattern, and I was bored. So, I started to alter the patterns a bit. (I'm generally a rule follower, so changing a pattern was a pretty big deal for me.) After my initial tentativeness, I found that to be very freeing.
I still needed something more, though. About that time, I took a class from Kathy Loomis. I brought blocks I had made in a class I had taken with Margaret Miller. I HATED the blocks. In Kathy's class, she said to cut them up and make something I like. Well...it was like a light bulb went off. I could make something that no one had ever made before; I could make something of my own. That little quilt isn't my favorite design wise, but it is an important milestone in my journey.
About the same time, Kathy invited me and some of my friends to a LAFTA meeting. LAFTA (Louisville Area Fiber and Textile Artists) struck a chord with me. At first, I was totally intimidated at the meetings; calling myself an artist was just beyond me. As time went on, I became a bit more brave. I took some of the classes offered by LAFTA and enrolled in a 2-year Advanced Independent Study workshop with Jane Dunnewold. I even entered a couple of pieces into the annual juried LAFTA show. Both were accepted, and I was TOTALLY shocked! Since that time, I have entered several other shows and have had pieces accepted into most of them. I have learned to not take it personally whenever a piece isn't juried into a show and to not let that keep me from entering others. I think the biggest thing I have learned is that it is REALLY hard work to be an artist, but I won't let that deter me.
I'm thankful for the people who have been supportive along the way, and I'm thankful for the encouragement and inspiration I've received from other fiber artists. I still have a lot to learn and a long way to go on this journey, but I'm finding it to be just what I need at this time in my life.
(Since I wrote this post, I have given the talk to the PUP's quilt guild. I had a GREAT time and hope the guild enjoyed the program as much as I enjoyed doing it. I have received very nice emails from several of the members for which I'm very appreciative. I'll be writing a post about it at a later time. I hope to be able to show some pics from the program (if I can get them).)