about the artist

Searching for Inspiration

I have really lost my way. I think a few things have conspired to make me lose my confidence. I have gotten too many rejections. I am looking at my work and wondering if I took off in the wrong direction with the aspen pieces. Should I go back to doing more abstract work? Then, I get hung up when I attempt to start a new piece. To make a long story short, I have just felt lost in my studio for some time. Except for my little fiber sketches, I have been catatonic. I probably should take a look at some of those for inspiration.

Anyway, I decided that I needed a fiber project that was non-threatening. Jane LaFazio posted about coasters that Alisa Burke made from some scraps that Jane gave her. You can see her tutorial on her blog. I made mine slightly differently than Alisa.

I knew there was a reason for hanging on to these denim pieces I cut off my Mom Jeans this summer.

I made 4 pieces of denim background from the two cut-off legs. I then covered a piece with fused scraps and ironed them down.

I then revved up the Janome and free motion quilted the whole piece.

At this point, you could cut the coasters and finish the edges, but Alicia had the great idea of covering them with tulle and stitching again – in a straight line grid. I did this, too and very much like the effect. I used red tulle and black to white gradated thread.

I will zigzag the edges to finish them. I think it would be nice to leave some of the denim showing, as Alicia did. This would work very nicely with a felt base. Lots of options.

Yesterday, Robert Genn, in his letter, had 3 solutions to fighting the blues for a Scottish artist:

The sherbet cure. Like sherbet after the main course, take a couple of days of de-briefing. Intense influence has scrambled your cerebral neurons. You need to re-boot. I’d take a long walk in the heather and top it off with a few single malts. Near Inverness, I know just the places.

The solitary confinement cure. While any sort of intensity and learning is great, an artist also needs a private vacuum in which to gather thoughts and re-unite with personal processes. In the words of the writer Annie Dillard, “You need a room with no view so memory can meet imagination in the dark.” Leaving your intense experience and exciting environment behind, your work must now come out of you. Too many lambs spoil the haggis.

The forced beginning cure. This is where you puff yourself up, squeeze paint and dig in. Awkward at first, the processes that sustained you before, augmented by what you have recently learned, will gradually take over and you’ll be your old self again. You must know that people have risen again in their studios after a bout of major trauma. It’s been done before.

So, I tried the forced beginning cure tonight. However, I kind of like the first one that involves some single malt.

I had a full day today of getting some things checked off my to do list. And then an evening in the studio. It was a good day.

9 Responses to “Searching for Inspiration”

  1. reva says:

    “Too many lambs spoil the haggis.” I’ve always thought so.

  2. Jeri says:

    Gerrie, there is a time to allow the field to lay fallow, so that any future plantings can grow richly and produce…..it is just good husbandry or stewardship if you will. j

  3. Sheila says:

    Well, Gerrie, you weren’t kidding when you commiserated with me the other day. Yup, this has been the story of my year. I’ve heard these suggestions for jump starting, but not with the Scottish twist – brilliant! Yes, you and me and a couple of single malt sounds like a great cure. In fact, it wouldn’t have to be a single malt, it could be a chocolate malt!

  4. Kristin L says:

    As Leisa said, this too shall pass. Just keep moving (be it ever so slowly). How about a period of working on fun, things that don’t need to be big and meaningful, like coasters, gifts, sketches — just to enjoy the process and chase away the stress. When teh muse returns, you’ll be in a better frame of mind to meet her. Single malt and a long walk with Scooter couldn’t hurt either. 😉

  5. Leisa Rich says:

    Gerrie…I feel that way every, single, solitary day. I can truly empathize with you! Thanks for letting us know how you feel in an honest way, and that we can share struggles. I am sick and tired of this thing (especially in the South) where everything has to be “nice” and “happy” all of the time, and people don’t want to know what is REALLY going on. We are humans. Life is not easy. It is great, and not-so-great. Art is no different. When this came in from you I was thinking about selling off everything and quitting, I am so dispirited. Let’s hang in there together and know that…..this too, shall pass….

  6. Connie Rose says:

    Great ideas, Gerrie, thanks for sharing them. It’s okay to do nothing for a while!

  7. KathieB says:

    Hang in there, Gerrie. I think everyone goes through inspirational lulls. At any rate, the coaster project looks super.

  8. Francoise says:

    I think I am going to try this forced beginning cure too!

  9. Helen Conway says:

    The malt may well be a good idea but you wil not be taking any long walks in the heather around Aberdeen at the momet. Not without a huskie and ice crampons anyway.