Saturday, March 13, 2010

Assessing the Final Product

When I was in art school, I always looked forward to critiques. These were a chance to show off my work, talk about my intention and receive feedback from my peers. Maybe that's why I enjoy blogging!

The rush to finish the quilt, and the ill-considered attempt to bind the piece with a beautiful but evil polyester brocade, left me with no time or energy for elegant photo-styling. I tried a little video (see previous post) because the quilt looked so beautiful in the sunny breeze.

Some ideas came immediately - how I would like to try a translucent quilt a la Yoshiko Jinzenji or Chunghie Lee. How much I had enjoyed the hand piecing and maybe a yo-yo quilt wasn't completely out of the question after all. The modular, symmetrical blocks lend themselves to more experimentation with back and front, hmmmn. How could I bring more spontaneity to the rigid format?

The gently moving quilt also offered a chance to reflect on the process of making it. I saw the block I began with - the single one bordered in purple. I had no plan for layout when I began, preferring to work with the question "What does it Need?". (This is the process I use for the Buddhist patchwork quilts, simply starting with two pieces at random and building from that nucleus, always asking "What does it Need? A balance in colour, texture, movement, line? What feels right?")

The inset blocks I used to square up the edge were fiddly, and not called for in the design I used as a basis for my own. I think they were an improvement as far as allowing a continuous border so the piece would drape better, and ensuring the durability of the quilt.

In the Lynda Barry book "What It Is" she advises not looking at a finished piece for at least a week, so as to avoid the conscious ego/left brain chatter of "Is it good?" or "Does it suck?". Sometimes I try to circumvent this waiting period by hanging a piece and walking away, then trying to catch a glimpse of it out of the corner of my eye. Just trying to get a fresh view or bit of distance. Sometimes I come across some of my work out there in the world and am surprised that I made it. Often I think it's much better than I remember feeling about it at the time.

What strategies do you use to assess your work?

7 comments:

  1. Heather this is gorgeous - the colours are so rich and warm, one could never feel cold underneath, and what a joy to wake up to! Think you must be a very patient soul to consider making a yo-yo quilt, I'm sure I never could. Look forward to seeing it. Sue McB

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  2. Your quilt is beautiful. I make quilts too but the crochet ones.

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  3. Anonymous11:31 PM

    Another masterful quilt. When you are you going to have an exhibit Heather? Your work shouldn't be limited to Lasqueti.

    Jean-Pierre

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  4. What a wonderful quilt!

    (I'd take it in an instant if it would fit my bed... ;-) )

    How do I assess my work? Since I am not an artist but just someone who sews (knits, corchets..) to her own liking I never really thought about that. I make mostly clothes for myself, so I don't have to ask anyones opinion. I like it and that is enough. Usually I start with an idea or more often a need. (Like "I need a garment for a special occasion" or "If I don't make a jacket now I will feel very, very cold next week.") Then I pick what I think will give me the desired result... and go on.

    If I think about it... the result is never what was planned in the beginning, so I probably assess my work constantly and if I don't like the next step I'll just change to something else.

    But for an artist this is surely different, my stuff has only to please me, no judges, no clients,..

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  5. Lovely quilt! As Linda Barry suggests, I always need some time away from a piece (writing or art) in order to assess it. This was a problem with a couple of the haiku I wrote for the Sawa exhibit, as I wrote them the night before we hung the exhibit. I will probably regret making them public by next week. The collaboration was fun, though!

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  6. That's a beaut of a quilt!

    I've got a short attention span, so a piece is done when I am bored with it! :) Of course, it depends on the medium though...I think it must be easier with pottery than with quilting because quilting requires a kind of sustained effort that pottery doesn't.

    For me, the challenge is to value my work at all stages of completion and not let the crazy little editor convince me that it's wrong at all stages.

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  7. I'm partial to the pink-red combo -- such a Japanese look. I was an art student and feel the same way about critiques. Blogging is a nice way to get feedback but it's rarely critical. Posting photos on Flickr is also useful because just watching what gets noticed teaches me a lot, but again, all the comments are positive. The only criticism comes in the form of silence. Anyway, I've just discovered your blog, so I'm off to look some more. Congrats on finishing this project!

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