The semester’s winding down, I’ve decided to take only one unit in Summer Session, and I’ve been re-learning knitting and crochet over the past two days. I mean, it’s been two days with minimal studying.
I think I’m ready to get back to my Zen & Art project, although I haven’t been in the mood to read. What I may take away from this project, though, may be the idea of making art for the process, instead of focusing on achieving a planned finished product.
That is, I’d be focusing on the method and whether I enjoy the method (and the quality of the method), not necessarily the goal. By that, I mean instead of striving for perfection as regards an ideal finished product, just let the process be what it is and enjoy it. (Kind of like focusing on the process of exercising, as versus just trying to get through it so I look better…when the first method is more effective at helping my posture and appearance.)
I never did take a picture of my workspace (a.k.a. the “craft table”), but I need to clean it up, anyway…I have little drawers which are full of creative tools. Maybe I should photograph it after I fix it up.
It’s taken me a bit of time to realize this, but I believe I am still in a learning/sampling mode where it comes to my own art. By that, I mean that I’m still searching for a favorite medium, which affects me in that I don’t want to invest too heavily in one art form just to find out I don’t like it.
I’m hoping Watercolor isn’t going to be this way, but to be real about it, I got into watercolor because I like playing in colors (and I just like the way watercolor disperses and floods the paper and is easily mixed and diluted), not so much because I want to paint things that already exist.
The issue I’m having is that I’ve established an identity as a creator, but have gotten so detached from my own core identity, that I’ve had to reclaim it in order to empower a creator identity. It’s easy to slide under the radar as “normal,” but I think in any artistic endeavor, you’ve really got to be willing to put yourself out there if you want to be honest in your work. Without honesty (however that can be expressed), it’s extremely difficult to say anything…that I would want to say, I guess.
Maybe art hasn’t always been about self-expression, but for me it is; and this is why I’ve chosen not to get a job in Commercial Art. This is also why I’m getting the Library degree, so that I won’t have to make things I don’t agree with and don’t actually support (or which contribute to harming people), in order to stay alive.
What I can say is that it’s hard to say something authentic when you’re afraid to say something authentic. The issue is that when you have to create or you don’t feel whole, that then gives you a choice between being a messenger of whatever good you serve, and/or using your talent to route money to a business or political cause. I would rather be the messenger of the Divine than replace that message with something that is designed to make someone else rich and powerful.
There are a lot of artists who work spirituality into their art, including one of my past Art teachers (whom I remembered while incidentally watching a show on Mediumship, last night). Today I saw a minor exhibit at a quilting shop (who knew quilting shops existed???) and it was really inspiring, especially with the Artist’s Statement which related material about visions, spiritual connections of the artist’s work, and being spoken to by the materials. This person was heavily into quilting, so much so that her work was art, more than practical (and was priced as Art).
And I’ve realized that different methods and strengths (and loves/passions) are needed for different art forms. For example, knitting and crochet are very tactile and involve a lot of repetition and high attention. Painting deals more with intellectual problems of composition and subject matter than I am altogether comfortable with…although I’m a color nut and so I am attracted to the colors just because they’re intermixable colors… Quilting seems different from both, but I haven’t gotten deeply enough into it to be able to tell you what it teaches me.
To bring in another contrast, I can mention relief printing, which deals a lot with drawing and carving, and the fact that hand-pulled prints are all unique even though they are taken from the same block. I started to do this, and even got the knives and blocks and stuff for it, quite a while ago. I just haven’t been back to it, and I don’t know why.
What I do know is that if I continue dealing with fabric and fiber, I will be able to block-print onto fabric. But that’s in the distant future, right now.
Because it’s almost Summer, I’ve been expending more on creative materials. I can see the chance to use them, on the horizon (this is as versus spending very little, except on necessities and books, during the semester). I think I may be celebrating in anticipation, though, instead of waiting until Finals are over and then planning to celebrate.
Lest I forget, the creative materials I’ve bought over the past few weeks include materials for quilting, watercolors, and needlework (this is a misleading term; I mean crochet and knitting, though I have still wanted to get back to embroidery as well. Then there’s also garment construction [sewing]).
The big common thread that all three of these have is color and color play, something that got me into beadwork as a youth, as well. Today I went to a yarn store which I didn’t even know was there (my folks found it for me) and bought actual nice yarn. Like wool yarn that isn’t scratchy.
It helps that I have some experience in this already and knew I was looking for DK (Double Knitting), Worsted weight, or Bulky yarn, and something which would hold good stitch definition (i.e. which would show the stitches) and not untwist as I worked it (this has been an issue with some 2-ply Fingering weight yarn…which I now know is irritating for me).
Yarn weights in the U.S. have specific names; from largest to smallest, they go something like this (I’m not totally sure this is accurate, by the way, but to give you an idea):
- Extra Bulky
- DK (Double Knitting)
Basically, I had too much lightweight yarn (Numbers 5-7) and barely anything with any give to it which was midweight or heavyweight (numbers 2-4). This matters because heavier yarns work up into fabric, much faster. It’s also easier to learn on heavier yarn. I think some of the first good yarn I ever bought was this light laceweight stuff, and I didn’t realize that lacework was:
- best suited to experienced knitters/crocheters/tatters (it’s not that easy), and
- took forever, because you’re generally using a tiny hook or tiny needles, and that vastly magnifies production time (unless you’re doing a lot of openwork; that is, making something with a lot of relatively large holes in it).
Given that, I’m not entirely sure why the laceweight stuff is always in the front of the local yarn stores…
I also didn’t know to use bamboo needles (not steel or aluminum, which are both too slick), as a beginner; or not to use acrylic yarn to learn on (acrylic has absolutely no give to it, so when knitting, it can be difficult or impossible to force a needle into a loop that’s too small. It’s also a very poor insulator).
Anyhow, I got on here tonight with the idea of sharing the swatches I’ve been making, but I’m not sure I am all that capable of keeping my mind clear enough to photograph, edit, and then post the images. But I have three swatches I made today, and more than three which I made yesterday (I’m just not overjoyed with some of the ones beyond the three I mention).
I also now have a sizeable stash of decent (a.k.a. nice, a.k.a. pleasure to work with) yarn. If I wind a few hanks into balls, I can free up a lot more space in the yarn box, too.