The Power Of Limitations

 I’m sure you know how it is when something’s bothering you but you just can’t put your finger on what it is?  Upon re-reading The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron I experienced one of those distinct ah-ha! moments.  I’ve been having some difficulty choosing imagery for use in my fiber art. Even after poring over my photo and imagery archives, I’m still indecisive. Nothing seems just right.  Or I start working with it and then nix it and start looking for something else. Ms. Cameron points to the need to refresh the well and yes, that’s it – immediate insight! I’ve been way too isolated – not getting out enough, not going to museums or taking enough new photos. I’ve turned into a studio recluse. Stagnation has been setting in and I need to break this.  Yet, this seems to have some advantages as well. It’s forced me to reach further within and trust the imagery I create that only comes from within myself. Allow me to explain.
A coincidence (?) this week is that Wen Redmond nominated me to join in on the 7 day art quilt challenge on Facebook.  I was surprised at how few new pieces I had finished recently. Quite a few were/are slow embroidery work and still in the act of becoming.  Also due to one of the introductory exercises in the Creative Strength Training workshop with Jane Dunnewold, I’ve been spending a lot of time cleaning and organizing…the ongoing chore that at once grants you access to all your tools and the space to use them.   It’s a necessary evil and it does take time. Time away from the practice of creating. But, of course, these events are not why I have so little work ready to show.
Back to the 7 day challenge -the first few I posted were easy.  I have shared them before and I have no doubts about them. Over the past couple of years my art has slowly but surely been evolving, ever since I added deconstructive screen printing into my repetoire of processes.  After just over a year,  I’ve happily come to some comfortable terms with how to use these cloths in my art.
And now this year, I learned how to do natural dyeing and printing.  This has also made a huge difference in what I have to offer.  Yet, this has also meant that I’ve invested much more time in the learning and discovery phase and in the making of the end product, the fabric itself that I now use.  I stand here at this moment in time in a new place on my journey, one with some dilemmas in problem solving and  decision making. Now, how do I use these in my art?  What new work will come out out of this?  How do I treat them?  How well do these new techniques and looks play with one another?  What, if anything, might I have to discard?  And so on.
An artist is vulnerable with every action she takes, with each mark and line and shape.  You expose yourself whenever you share your art with others. But at these fairly decisive moments in time, she is sometimes so vulnerable she can be like a startled deer in headlights. Frozen in her own tracks.  That’s how I’ve been feeling.  And that’s part of why I had so little new finished art before me.
Breathe my dear…breathe and listen.
Hear the tender voice
Of one who’s vulnerable.
~Janis Doucette~
So I went into a finishing frenzy. I forced myself to quickly finish some pieces I was near completion on but also not so sure about. It didn’t help that the first one I posted called “The Last Waltz” was just rejected for inclusion in the – Fantastic Fibers 2016 Yeiser Art Center exhibit, my first submission there. Still, I really like it.
One of them – Five Degrees of Freedom – came to life as I began to lift up the outer layer of skin and examine underneath a bit trying to see clearer some of the inner workings going on underneath that leathery protective layer. And, this is among the first few pieces where I’m using my new stash of botanical printed cloth.While this piece went from conception to finished art in only about a week or so, this internal process all happens slowly over time as we live and evolve.
Five Degrees of Freedom
Five Degrees Of Freedom
But, the CST workshop I’m taking is providing an added boost to move me along on this continuum! Because I’m doing the morning pages that Jane recommends, I’ve been able to more clearly articulate the direction I’m already moving in. Although my confidence was not very strong about some of these, I pushed through my own fears and off they went into the universal web to live with whatever judgements or reactions that may occur.
I like them but I didn’t expect much appreciation from others.   I posted a  abstracts that insisted on coming into being despite my insecurities. And others that fall right into this same category. And I’m really surprised. I’ve never received more positive comments on FB about any of my other work.  So, the one pretty important problem I was having turned into a positive force!  And I realized (yes, more insight) that this is the same effect that imposing stringent limitations on your processes can have. It forces you out of your own box and with that, comes a new freedom to create!

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8 thoughts on “The Power Of Limitations

  1. You’re doing great work Janis and it will all come together eventually. This constant questioning of the process is what fuels our growth. Keep doing what you’re doing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I loved reading this! And, I think your natural dyed fabrics are beautiful and create a most peaceful mood. Remember that rejection from one show is not rejection of your work, but simply that it was fitting in that show. I am going to look into the class with Jane that you mention. I am very much in a year of discovery and learning.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We couldn’t be any closer in our situations right now – though that’s not really news, is it? I’ve felt that many times over the years. Anyway, congratulations and well done! It’s always uplifting to hear a fellow travelers’ unique experiences while on similar paths. xox


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