Much of the last few years has been spent feeling guilty about all the quilting supplies and other “stuff” that I have that I don’t use, and when I do work with it on Inchie quilts (thinking “I should really finish all that because I have ten new Inchie quilts completed ready to pattern…”) or some of the other ideas I have for quilts, I get overwhelmed pretty quickly by all of the things I’d need to do to get back into the “business of quilting.” The patterning, marketing, teaching, social media mixing and many other things drive me away from my studio before I ever really get started on much.
I tend to create in fits and starts, with long periods of ambivalence in between. Sure there have been outside issues that have contributed to this cycle of short-but-wild bursts of motivation interspersed with longer bouts of near-apathy (lack of time, health issues, family things) but at bottom, it’s a problem in my head and heart more than anything else. The longer this continues, the more I miss the creative energy and motivation that used to be a part of my daily life.
I do think about making quilts for show again because I enjoy the challenge greatly. Many of the quilts I’ve enjoyed making the most are those I’ve made specifically for show. And then I think about that Misery Quilt, and having to finish it before I start something else because that’s what it was for. I’ve fiddled with it and worked on it here and there, but there are so many issues with it–the quilting is too detailed for the space being the largest one. If I did it over again, I’d do it differently, which makes it difficult to put in the large amount time and effort necessary to finish it, when I know that it’s not what it could be. It all comes full circle–I might want to quilt and I feel like I should be quilting or at least doing something with all of this stuff, but the things I feel like I “should” be doing aren’t fun or have other issues, so I do nothing and I look for other things to do, like drawing or gaming or whatever.
Lately I’ve been looking around at different video courses about drawing and other sorts of art in general, which in typical Internet fashion means I end up looking at all sorts of other things, some related and some not. I looked at some courses and sites about artists block, about making all sorts of other art (vs. fabric or quilting arts), even about career/life coaching (in the “What do I do now if I don’t really want to quilt anymore?” vein). During this latest jaunt through the Interwebs, I looked at a couple of drawing/design courses about typography and hand lettering. I was thinking about that and what phrase I might use if I were to create a hand lettered poster of some sort. At some point, something like this popped into my head:
The journey only ends
If you stop moving
and it was one of those moments where everything just seemed to stop. I sat and thought about that for a long time.
Of course, I haven’t been moving with any consistency on much of anything artistically for years. It’s been more of a fitful slumber. I suddenly realized that no amount of reading about art or artist’s block or career coaching or any of the other bits of things that I’ve looked at or done or thought about to try to figure out what I really want to do now–with quilting or not–means anything at all. Nothing is ever going to fix anything if I’m not actually creating things and making art.
All of that merged with this Misery Quilt that I started working on in 2002 or 2003 and have suffered with and cursed at for most of those years, and I decided that the best way to move forward was to do what I’d thought about doing over a year ago–cut it up and make something else with the pieces. Last year I thought “I’ll make stuffed animals out of it because I don’t know what else to do with it” but when it came down to cutting it, I couldn’t do it. I told myself I’d finish it for showing as I’d planned, because anything else seemed like admitting to failure because I couldn’t finish it or didn’t want to.
This year, I thought “I’ll make this as is a reminder.”
The journey only ends
If you stop moving
Tread your own path.
Her name is Journey.
Perhaps the road won’t lead to more show quilts, but at least this show quilt is done, and the road is clear.