Sabbatical and the Quilt Artist (gabrielle s.)

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 reading ‘Sabbatical and the Quilt Artist (gabrielle s.)’

Picasso: The Blue Period and Comments on Working in Series apologies for the late post. Taught and lectured in California last night and went brain dead when I returned to the motel. However, tonight I lectured again on working in series which got my wheels turning. There are numerable quilt artist who work in series and whose work is known immediately upon viewing. On the other hand, there are far more quiltmakers who jump from image to image, style to style than those who do series work. Continue reading ‘Picasso: The Blue Period and Comments on Working in Series’

Louise Nevelson….Independent and Innovative

Happy New Year Cafe visitors! Sorry to be a little late but only realized last night that the first Wednesday was 2 Jan. In that vein, I decided to re-visit one of my favorite artist. I have long admired Louise Nevelson’s work…..and more than once wondered if I could re-recreate this style in my art quilts.

There is both a hard edge and soft organic shapes in her work that appeals to me. Her work is truly timeless…but enough of my admiration….let’s take a look at Louise and her work.

Nevelson is known for her abstract expressionist “boxes” grouped together to form a new creation. She used found objects or everyday discarded things in her “assemblages” or assemblies, one of which was three stories high: ”When you put together things that other people have thrown out, you’re really bringing them to life – a spiritual life that surpasses the life for which they were originally created.”

Untitled 1950

Continue reading ‘Louise Nevelson….Independent and Innovative’

The Creative Personality by Gabrielle Swain

For this week’s post, I thought we might look at the creative personality. Are the old “saws” true? Do you have to suffer for your art? Are we all a little mad from our obsession? Basically, are we in some way different from the others? Is artist a magical gift/curse that is only given to a few?

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Sunflowers Vincent Van Gogh

Certainly Van Gogh suffered from isolation and rejection; and probably some sort of physical or mental disorder. However, the art he made gave meaning to his life. It may have been the only meaning in his life. To quote from”Creativity for Life” by Eric Maisel based on the Schizophrenia Scale of the MMPI studies: “Let’s ponder for a moment the sorts of questions that distinguished between artist and schizophrenics. Asked if they preferred daydreaming to doing anything else, they tended to say yes. Asked if they felt understood, they tended to answer no…… These are only a few items on the scale. Among the remaining questions are one that probe for eccentricities, delusions and the like. It does not surprise us to find that artist tend to show slight elevations on the scale. For the artist is intensely involved with her own thoughts, feels occasionally misunderstood, injured, and isolated enough to begin to climb the scale.” Are we to assume from this we are a different breed?

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Spirit of the Dead Watching Paul Gauguin

Gauguin felt so encumbered by his family and the society in which he lived that he left them all to travel to Tahiti. There he felt he could be dedicated to his art in a way that was not available to him in polite society. He was allowed to explore imagery that gave him hope for a new way of life. Of course, he abdicated his responsibility to his family, felt no one understood what he was trying to accomplish but now he is lauded for the work. Have any of us ever longed for this type of isolated, intense period of work? To thumb our noses at the accepted norm for art and do only the work that is important to us? Are we so worried about getting into shows that we do only what is in vogue with jurors or collectors?

These are just two examples of rebellious artist. The list is long: Picasso, Pollock, Cocteau and on and on. However, my feelings are these are still issues we are dealing with today. To create a style, solid body of work, there are times we must isolate ourselves in the studio. We are required to daydream, to become lost in our own thoughts in order to discover the imagery that reveals us as artist. Occasionally, we must go against the accepted norms of the times we live in to give meaning to our work. Indeed, making meaning for ourselves is the ultimate responsibility for an artist….there are already enough Thomas Kincades.

While we would all love to constantly get acceptance letters; we must go through the rejection letters from shows, galleries or our own peer group. Is is possible that we have more in common with the rebels than we realize?

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The She Wolf Jackson Pollock

For all his success, Pollock was never secure. Thinking he never measured up, he was driven to drink. His addiction effected his ability to produce work. No matter how Lee Krasner tried to save him, he was driven to self-destruction. Is obsession a good thing? Possibly if he had been secure enough to ignore reviews and trust his own vision, his obsession would have turned from negative to positive. Certainly clinical obsession is a disorder that needs treatment, but the drive to create is an obsession we all live with daily.

After some thought about this “divine madness” of being creative, my conclusion is that we all share a taste of these conditions. We are obsessed, driven. We need to daydream even in the presence of others. Being isolated in the studio feeds our soul and brings forth new work we might have never created. Going against the grain of society is our responsibility, if not artist whatever their media who will. Just some food for thought

Richard Diebenkorn: A Master of Spatial Relationships

(April 22, 1922March 30, 1993) was a well-known 20th century American painter. Diebenkorn was born in Portland, Oregon; his family moved to San Francisco, California when he was two. In 1940, Diebenkorn entered Stanford University. At first, he painted and drew in a representational style that was in a large part influenced by Edward Hopper. However, during the late 1940s and early 1950s he lived and worked in various places: New York City, Woodstock, New York, Albuquerque, New Mexico, Urbana, Illinois, Berkeley, California and he developed his own style of abstract expressionist painting. Abstract expressionism had captured worldwide attention having developed in New York during the 1940s. After the Second World War the focus of the art world shifted from the School of Paris to the New York School. In the early 1950s Diebenkorn adopted abstract expressionism as his vehicle for self expression.

The paintings shown above cover the range of his work, but most of all they show how effective he is at putting everything in the right place regardless of the subject. After studying his work for several years, the Ocean Park series remains my favorite (see middle painting). The wheels started turning as I wondered why we don’t do minimal or abstract expressionism in textile work. Is it because we are so accustomed to the opulence of fiber? Or, speaking only for myself, is it because we have not give enough attention to the simple elegance of spatial relationships? Continue reading ‘Richard Diebenkorn: A Master of Spatial Relationships’

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