In a previous post. I discussed taking a reasonable risk to find your passion. There are many ways to do this, but I encourage you to accept a challenge. Now whatever your interests are, you can find a way to challenge yourself. Perhaps you could sign up for a race, enter an art show, take a new class, join a group, or create a blog (lol). Each one of these involves a risk, but why are we afraid to do that? Is it that others will see our work? Or that others might comment on our approach? Or that we are not sure we are good enough? So many reasons to avoid those new challenges and risks.
So .. what did I do? The NWA Modern Quilt Guild often has members suggest a new challenge. This year, we were encouraged to design an art inspired quilt. This challenge came at the right time for me… I had just visited Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas and was so inspired by one painting, The Tree, by Helen Lundeberg. The artist painted this beautifully woven tree, with one side in the dark and the other in the light. She included a slice of earth on each side, again, one dark, and one light. This sent my mind in a million different directions. I began to think about the light side of life, and the dark side of life, for my own life was quite a tumult in the previous 18 months. But I concluded that there is beauty in the ups and the downs of life. Every experience carries a multitude of learning opportunities. And often the dark sides teach us as much, if not more than the light sides. So, with that blank canvas in my brain I began to think about my quilt.
The pictures above show the front and back of that quilt. I wanted to use the bright colors of the color wheel, but I also wanted those colors shown in contrast with a light background and a dark background. Our eyes see color in context, not just as a stand alone color, and to me, all colors are beautiful. So … I went to work. First I began the design on paper, sketching and resketching. Then I went to my computer program for creating quilts, EQ8 to create the design on a grid. It took me days of playing until I finally saw the quilt I wanted. Now, of course, this particular design required many small pieces of fabric and some complex piecing, but away I went. Once the design was pieced, I had to decide how to quilt it (quilting is actually the stitching that you see on a quilt that goes through to both sides). I had yet to try free motion quilting on a real quilt. And I wanted my “tree” to reflect the texture of bark. So away I went to accomplish this. And I loved that process. The gray rectangles of my quilt reflect the earth as we often see it now, rising concrete structures in shades of gray with color thrown in…. so I quilted that with small rectangles to resemble the exterior walls of many buildings. Again, this was very time consuming, but so fun. One the back of the quilt I took the scraps that were remaining and created an improv tree! And I even succeeded in getting the quilting on the front “tree” to line up with the back “tree.” I was so excited. Then I had to pick a name. My love for music is also important to me… and it reminded my of a Judy Collins song from long ago, “From Both Sides Now.” Thus, the name.
However, my challenge did not stop there. We were challenged to show it at a guild meeting to all of our members. Now that was a risk! But, I did that and was quite pleased with the response (now remember, I did not expect a response!) But the final challenge had not happened yet. One member suggested that I enter it into the Quilt Expo Mini Challenge. So I went home, took pictures, and submitted it! Now that is huge for me. I rarely show my work to anyone! Reminding myself, it is the process, not the expectations!
So … what did I learn by accepting a challenge and taking a risk? In the quilting process, I learned to become more free with my design and approach. That was so exciting and inspiring. My mind is now filled with ideas. And I also learned that sharing with others is not really that scary. I always love seeing others beautiful creations, so I felt like I might be inspiring just one person to try something new. All in all, new is good for life!
So…. Go Forth. Mix a little acrylic with your watercolor. Start training for that race. Take the guitar lessons that you have been dreaming of. Write a poem in a different setting. Find a challenge and take a risk.
Sew Much Love, Mimi.