Taking a different course this month as well, let’s think about if it is feasible for quilt artists to take a sabbatical. Can someone in our fast-faced, production is everything, you are only as good as your last quilt world take time off? Other artists working in different media do so frequently. Some artists think you should never do so. Robert Genn, a painter, has an interesting take in one of his open letters titled Artist for Life.
Mr. Genn’s take is filled with along list of things to get you back into the studio. The final advice is to continue with self-education and go to the studio.
Great information but let’s focus on the self-education. To learn, explore, experiment might take you away from the direct work. For myself and June, our fearless leader, exploring has brought delving into other media. Speaking only from observation, June is exploring painting. My exploration has been in both painting and photography.
This time of “self-education” has been creative time, but certainly, not quilt making time. Potter Dick Lehman has posted an article on taking a sabbatical to develop new techniques in his article, Planning a Potter’s Sabbatical. Mr. Lehman sells from a retail location. His concerns deal with being an employer as well as needing time for education. While most of us don’t have to deal with what to do with the store, we certainly have to face the “falling off the map” concept.
Does the heart and spirit of sabbatical apply to us? For my two cents, taking time away from the work to explore other media has brought great reward. There is a new sense of appreciation and new imagery to explore that would not have happened otherwise. Sabbaticals provide renewal time both professionally and personally. However, the question still looms, can we afford to take sabbatical?
One possible sabbatical would be to keep your foot in the water while not making quilts. Blog, attend conferences, whatever comes to mind so that folks in your chosen media still see you. Tell them you are on sabbatical and explain what you are doing during that time. By doing this, you will still be in touch. The word sabbatical has a mysterious air to it. Explaining what you are doing will generate interest in the work that will follow.
Below is one of the photographs, manipulated via Photoshop, taken during my sabbatical. What will it bring back to my work? New considerations for color, possibilities for abstraction, and most of all a day of observation. An easy sabbatical for anyone is the “artist date.” A day of simply seeing the world away from the studio provides us with so much material. Imagine that day being more than one. What would it offer to you?
My conclusion on the subject was to take the time off, regardless of what the results would be. My sabbatical was to renew the work with greater energy. What would your sabbatical be? Or do you feel it is not possible for us?
photo credit Gabrielle Swain .
©2001-2008 Gabrielle Swain
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