As you read in my post on Thursday, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about art and commodity exchange and have decided to try an experiment. If my art is a gift and not a commodity, then I can’t put a price on it. So, I’m going to post one piece of art a week for a 72-hour auction on eBay. We’ll see what happens. Each piece goes on the block Monday at 9 AM ET. If you’d like a reminder email, you can sign up here.
The first piece, “Rainbow Strips” is up for auction now.
I had an essay already written and all typed up for this month’s newsletter when I began reading The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World by Lewis Hyde. (Thank you, Carol, for the introduction to this book.) Reading it has been so transformative that I felt like I needed to shelve my plans for this month and write about it. I have been really struggling lately with my plans of making a living as an artist and the reality of doing so. This book has helped me to understand why this has been such a struggle.
Hyde describes two different economies: the commodity economy and the gift economy. In the first part of the book, he delves into anthropology and history to describe the development of both. But, my basic take-away from the first part was this: I have participated in a commodity economy for more than 25 years. From my first minimum wage job at 14, through salaried work and now highly-paid but still hourly consulting work, I have been able to directly equate one hour of work with a certain amount of pay. Art doesn’t work this way. An artist participates in a gift economy in which she or he receives a gift of artistic talent or inspiration and then creates a gift by making the art. The artist gives the gift to the world and is compensated indirectly through another gift. It’s a circle that continues but one in which there is no way to directly correlate hours worked with a ROI. To say that this is a foreign concept to me is a complete understatement and I’ve realized I have to completely shift my thinking about what it means to work and about compensation. I have no idea yet how to do that, but it does help explain why this hasn’t been working.
Most of the quilts I work on are complicated and intricate; I like a good challenge. But, this past weekend I went away for my guild’s Spring Fling, 3 days of basically non-stop sewing near Lake Winnipesaukee, NH. For that kind of event, I leave the complicated projects behind and focus on fun, easy, colorful projects. Here’s what came out of the weekend:
Doesn’t get more colorful than this, does it?
The second project was a fusible kit by McKenna Ryan (Block 5 from “In Full Bloom). These kits are great for retreats because it’s just tracing, cutting, and fusing with very little thought involved.
The fourth quilt in my Arabesques series has been sleeping the winter away in a heap on my work table. (I last posted about finishing the top in June!) I’d done some basic quilting over the summer (?) in the fall (?) but put it away after that. I knew that it needed more quilting, but I just had no idea what so it sat. . .and sat…and sat until yesterday. I can’t explain why yesterday was the day when inspiration finally struck, but it did. I drafted up two quilting designs, found that I even have the thread I need (It’s a miracle!), and am ready to get started quilting over the weekend. Here’s one of the designs:
I know that sometimes quilts need a little time. I wouldn’t have thought it needed all of the fall and winter, but it did. I also can’t explain why yesterday was the day the quilt finally decided it was ready to be finished, but the months of hibernation did give me some experience working with more complicated quilting designs and led me to the books where the design inspiration came from. I guess sometimes a little hibernation is just what it takes.
I’ve just added a few more quilts for sale in my shop. Now all of my favorite art quilts are available for purchase, including “Circles,” which I created last year.
Last year, among many other things, I decided that I would take on the project of “finishing” the rooms in the house we moved into two years ago. The plan was to tackle the list of “need a piece of art here, need to reupholster a chair here, this room needs painting, etc.) and knocking them out one room at a time until each was done. How’d that go? Well, I fell off that wagon at some point during the year. But, I hopped back on this week and tackled the basement. It was just painted white before and though we had some things on the wall, I still had other stuff to hang. Now, it’s painted a cinematic charcoal gray (“Stormy Skies” to be exact) and is worthy of being called a “Media Room.”
It’s Creative Play Date Day! How will you spend your play time? We’re expecting snow so I think there’s a good chance I’ll be playing with Popsicle sticks with my kiddo on a snow day, but I’ll keep you posted.
I’m in the process of posting some patterns to Craftsy and they could really use a few more sets of eyes to review them. If you’d be interested in reviewing one of the patterns below, please contact me with your email address and I’ll send you a copy so that you can take a look.
Here’s the last of my homework from the sketching and watercolor class with Jane LaFazio. This was due weeks ago, but I hadn’t gotten to it. But, my tardiness gave me the great opportunity to paint some flowers for a dear friend’s birthday card and then have it do double duty as my homework. So, here are the calla lilies I painted for my friend:
What is Creative Play and why do I keep talking about it? Well, I keep talking about it because after many, many years of fighting it, I have finally realized how very important it is. I stopped playing at about oh, two years of age. That’s probably a bit of an exaggeration, but not much of one. My mom has told me that I was the most mature five year-old she had ever met (and I think she really means “serious” when she says “mature”). My sister can vouch for what a stick-in-the-mud I was as a kid. Needless to say, I carried that into adulthood too. I love reading, but I read mostly non-fiction or classic, serious fiction. I took up quilting as a hobby initially because it resulted in something useful and was something that I could do while watching TV and thus otherwise “wasting” time. Honestly, it’s amazing people wanted to spend time with me!
I started playing in 2008, at the ripe old age of 33. That’s when I started my “Creative Play” blog and I went into the studio each week with the sole purpose of playing. During that time, I tried out many new techniques and I learned a lot. The most important thing that I learned from that experience, however, was how play feeds creativity. That period was one of the most creative times in my life, precisely because I was leaving room for creativity. I was just playing around to see what happened and what happened was some of my best work.
Fast forward to today, when after a hiatus from playing and after having fallen back into my old pattern, I am again leaving some time for creativity. A few weeks ago, I decided on a Friday to not make a To Do list. I decided that I wouldn’t work on any of the projects on my work table (unless I really felt moved to) and that I would just see what the day brought. I had barely finished my first cup of tea when I started thinking about the BirdZeed challenge word for the month. It was the 27th of January, four days from the end of the month, and I had had no intention whatsoever of doing the challenge. The word was “line” and I had not been inspired. But, on that day that I had left open, I decided to take up the challenge. An idea came very quickly to me and I made a good start on the piece. After buying some supplies, I finished it up before the end of the month. I had no plan to create this work, but because I gave myself some play time, my creativity flourished and I created one of my most heartfelt pieces to date. Read more about what it means to me in my blog post.
Line in the Sand, 2017. 8″ x 10″
Read last month’s newsletter article.