Saturday, February 12, 2011

Back in focus

I sold a quilt two days ago, the personal delivery of which was the reason for that drive-by-shot at finding the statue by Marg Moll which I wrote about here. I was jubilant and very happy, and treated myself to that art search and a little stop at Lake Wörthsee south of Munich, with a gorgeously sunny day glittering on the ice that still covered the lake.

Lake Wörthsee, south of Munich, still covered by ice
This is the quilt I sold, it is also featured on the ‚November’ page of my eternal calendar:

Play of Lines XIV (2009)
The next day, I received a rejection of the second quilt I had entered for the German Patchwork Guild’s travelling exhibition „Tradition bis Moderne“, which I had written about in my German blog
The jury had only invited one of my two entries to be sent in for closer inspection by the jury to begin with, but I had thought this one might have a good chance. The judges’ commentaries regarding the criteria according to which the quilts were judged to me clearly prove that my points of criticism mentioned earlier apply indeed. The quilt was entered in the category ‚innovative’ and it seems this category was judged according to exactly the same criteria that applied to categories ‚traditional’ or ‚contemporary’. So why set up a division into those three categories at all, if these categories are not judged under a different set of criteria each?

The initial disappointment has already disappeared, and I may consider entering the quilt for another call of entry, which is why I don’t want to publish a picture here at this point of time.
However, it shows that success and disappointment can be so close together that they almost overlap. Would it have made a difference if they had appeared in reverse order, first the disappointment and then the success? I don’t know.

In any case, it has resulted in a radical boost of focus.

During the first weeks of the year I have done a little bit of sewing only, spending quite a bit of time launching (and completely outselling!) the first collection of the first year of my fabric club, and starting preparations for a textile market that I will be attending in early April, hoping to acquire a few more subscribers to the fabric club. Here is a picture of the color selection of my first collection:

January 2011 collection of fabric club

And here is a picture of the stack of colours which I have dyed so far in preparation for the market (more in the making in the next couple of weeks):

Colour circle with dilutions (appr. one third of total),
prepared for textile market in April

I was focussed indeed - on the business of the fabric-club. 
This immediate succession of success and disappointment regarding my quilting, however, has resulted in an sudden release of ideas that have been brooding and that will give me plenty to do working on the sewing machine in the next couple of months. I have drawn up two ideas for entering at Ste Marie, and I am thinking about submitting quilts for the Festival of Quilts at Birmingham, which I had already written off, and there are several other ideas pretty far developed which only need to be realized.

The interesting thing is that I had started to write a post on ‚focussing’ around the third week of January, as I had read several posts by other bloggers touching on exactly that same topic. These include Deidre Adams on Dec 18, Teri Jarrard-Dimond on January 15, and focussing is also a topic which appears repeatedly with Lisa Call. That post did not get finished, and I am not going to try and update it right now. But I do want to include my personal reply to Deidre, which had initiated my attempt at writing on ‚focussing’:

In a recent post in December Deidre Adams mentioned a state of mind (or should we call it ‚modus of mind working’?) when she is not working under the pressure of some deadline. I am quoting her a little longer than that single sentence I refer to here, which I have marked in bold:

Even with a rather full plate of graphic design work in the 
past couple of weeks, I’ve been very focused on getting some 
paintings done. I’ve settled into a routine: Wake up, go 
into the studio and contemplate what I did the day before, 
then put on some more layers. Then, while those are drying, 
go downstairs, get my coffee & cereal, and do design work 
for a few hours. Then maybe exercise on those days I’m not
 successful in talking myself out of it, and then after lunch, 
reward myself with studio time. The paradox for me is that 
the busier I am, the more I’m able to concentrate in the 
studio. If I have nothing much else going on, I tend to 
procrastinate and waste time on the computer instead of 
staying focussed.

Staying focussed on your work in general, i.e. not taking too many detours trying to avoid having to face yourself and your work in the studio is certainly an important issue in any artist’s life. But is it really necessary to put so much pressure on oneself all the time? And: times without immediate pressure may actually turn out to be gestation periods for new ideas. For me, it seems right now that the past few weeks, during which I have not been trying to force myself into constant production at the sewing machine, but was occupied with other things, have given my mind enough time to slowly cook up a number of things of which I wasn’t even really aware that they were ‚simmering’. It may be useful not only to step back from one’s work and take a look from a little distance, but to even turn your back and walk away from it for just a little while.

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