Wednesday, September 28, 2011

My first step towards growth

Well, I am back, much later than I meant to be. The fall is such a great, but busy school time around here still and I have to be more careful with my time.

I HAVE been working in my studio, rather more diligently and regularly than I have in the past, but I haven't taken the time to post what's been going on. I will have a number of projects completed soon, and will show you lots of photos!

The reason I am writing now though, is because I have just started on a very exciting, somewhat scary art journey, and in addition to keeping an art journal about it, making my projects, and attending my classes, I thought it would be fun to share my experience with my online artist friends as well.

I finally took the leap and signed up for a class that is very... well, famous around here actually. I personally know many people who have taken this class and have heard them speak in hushed tones about how intense it can be, how challenging, how thought-provoking. These same people have also exclaimed loudly, in no uncertain terms, that this class was a life and art changing experience for them.

According to the teacher, my friend and a fiber artist who is well-known in the art quilting world, Heather Thomas, friendships have been made in this class that have lasted as long as she has taught this class to others: 13 years! That's a lot of pressure going into it!

What is the class? It's a 13 month long journey, called "The Language of Color and Design", and it's very title always sparks discussion around these parts! My first class was this past Monday morning.

I have taken a number of classes with Heather since moving here to Colorado and I love her teaching style. She is witty, funny, intelligent and down-to-earth. She encourages without being condescending and she guides her students honestly with her candid humour. I know that this class is a huge step for anyone wishing to take their work to the next level. I also know that Heather is the only teacher I could imagine taking the leap with!

I have wanted to take this class ever since I heard about it, at least a couple of years ago. That's saying something, since I have only been in Colorado a little over three years. I really had to be ready though. Thanks to Heather's blog where she has generously shared an incredible number of machine quilting tips and tutorials (, and her series of articles in Quilting Arts magazine this year, I feel like I am ready. As ready as I can be, that is!

I have been practicing my machine quilting and working on projects to hang on the still-mostly-bare walls of our home. I have dabbled in this and that, but the first thing I made and hung with intention is in the dining room. I used some design elements from things in the room and used colours that were similar to the paint colours. I used some of the leftover curtain silk. I used symbolism. And I made a LOT of mistakes. It's hanging and will stay there, at least for now. I like this piece for what it is.

But here's the thing. I feel COMPELLED to create. I have so much to say and I want to say it with my work. I want to fill the walls with my original creations. I know that I can do better if I can just manage to grasp some basic concepts of colour and design. At this point, I have no delusions of becoming famous or even being able to sell anything I make. I am not even sure I want to go in that direction.

This is about being able to create pieces that more accurately translate what I am thinking into the end product. I want to gain confidence in my work, I want to feel more capable. I want to display my work in our home with pride and without being nervous that someone will ask me about it.

We are required to produce a finished project for each lesson, and present it for Show and Tell the following month. This project is ideally supposed to be original and is designed to show our understanding of the lesson. I know everyone in the class probably feels the same way as I do: nervous! 
Making something original and then presenting it feels like nothing less than baring my soul!

I had a time in my life where I had to be brave and really live outside of my comfort zone. I had no choice. What it brought me was a world full of wonderful at the end of all the scary. It was SO worth the terrifying moments along the way.

Since moving here, I realized I have put myself into a comfort zone and have found myself reverting back to my bad old habits of not putting myself out there and making excuses for it. I let myself forget how much reward there can be in stretching yourself, being vulnerable, in taking chances.

So this is me: stretching myself. Being vulnerable. Taking chances. Wish me luck!