Sunday, April 7, 2013

Why do I bother? Everyday Artist.

I've been thinking a lot lately, which, given my proclivity to worry, is not a good thing.  Maybe thinking isn't the right word...more like mulling.  Yes, that is it...I've been mulling things over.  Recently while sewing I have found myself asking why?  Why am I doing this?  I spend the very little spare time I have and the non-existent extra income we earn to fund a pretty expensive and time consuming endeavor.  Why?  What am I getting out of it?  Is it worth it for my family or am I just being selfish?
These are the little thoughts that are going on in my head late at night these days as I try to finish projects.  As I try to focus on finishing, finishing, finishing.  As I try not to look too closely as the stitches made by my machine because, lately, they are not looking as clean and beautiful as they once did.  No amount of cleaning or oiling is changing the fact that my machine just isn't running quite the way it once did.  So what am I to do?  When I consider the money and time I have set aside to attend not one but two hands-on talks by two amazing Modern Quilters in the month of April.  How much energy can I devote to this with three little girls and a government job that I could potentially lose at any time given the state of our economy?
I keep debating this over and over in my mind.  Money is extremely tight, I would really love a new sewing machine, and I can barely keep myself from dreaming up new projects requiring new fabric, new fabric I really can't afford.  I admit that I have to make some serious changes in my habits to keep this need of Making alive.
But, I also need to be fair to myself.  As Annabella so rightly pointed out to me through a comment on my last post - you have to enjoy the process.  This isn't just about the finish line it is about the journey.

I pulled all these finish photos above to seek justification in whatever time, energy, and money I spend to make things.  It wasn't until the other day in the car that I began laughing at myself when I realized that everything I make these days does have meaning.  Each item documents a given point in my life at that moment.  Fifteen years ago I silently rebelled with an eye roll against my fiber arts Professor who pushed us to make art with meaning, something that made a statement.  The prolific struggle between Art and Craft.  While I, at 18 or so, kept pushing back with the thought that I just wanted to make beautiful cool stuff and have fun making it.  Fifteen years later, and a lot more life experience, I now realize the joke is on me for failing to see the meaning in what I do.  

Everything I make now, without even consciously doing it, is a statement about my life.  I am documenting my children's lives with everything I make.  A pillow to guard away night terrors, a laminate bag for swim class, a last baby quilt for the baby who is going to daycare because I can't afford to stay home from work.  No it isn't a political statement.  No it isn't likely to save lives.  I am not claiming world changing creations here.  

I am making for my family.  More importantly, without intending to, I have been documenting our lives.  I am making art about the everyday.

Hell, isn't that what textile artists have been doing for centuries?  The everyday artisans reflecting their culture, their customs, their beliefs into each woven textile, each dye bath, each hand-blocked repeat pattern, every sewn quilt?

In the end I really need to give myself a break and a pat on the back too.  I am going to take a stand here by acknowledging all of the work and effort that goes into documentation by Making.  No, I didn't enter into the art world and I am not trying to make money by Making but I do love my life and each choice I made led me to today.  I should enjoy the journey and celebrate it in my own way.

From now on I owe it to myself to acknowledge each Make I create.  I am an Everyday Artist dammit!  I am starting with Miss E's rainbow quilt and the unique label I made for her to remember the why, when, and the who of it all.
A little envelope label with the cutest little button that matches the binding and my daughter's personality perfectly.
And yes, even at age 4, she really does say "leave me alone so I can do what I want".  See?  If I don't document that no one will ever believe it!

Here is to all of us *everyday artists*  Enjoy your process.  Enjoy your big makes, your small makes, the I-never-even-realized-the-significance-of-that-until-later makes, and especially the I-finally-finished-it-10-years-after-starting-it makes.  Take a stand for yourself.  Document your work.  Acknowledge its significance.
When you do I hope you will hear me applauding.

- rebecca lynne


Annabella said...

Beautiful post Rebecca...can you hear me clapping?

Ann said...

Wonderful thoughts and insights! Thank you for sharing and giving me food for thought!

Anna said...

It is a wonderful post. I look at my quilts and they are like memory boxes, I can feel the memories of when, why and how they were made. Keep in making!

Catherine said...

Brilliant. Well said

Di said...

I agree with what you have said. I also like incorporating fabric from old clothes as this too stitches meaning into my work and is thrifty. Di x

Kelli said...

I love this post, and can I say.. BEST quilt label EVER. ;) And the cutest button. So perfect. *tear* And sweet. Well said!

Kelli said...

p.s. I have a giveaway on til Tues. for a gift cert to a great online modern quilt shop.. come enter! Maybe you'll win some free fabric cash! :D

moira said...

brilliantly (and eloquently)said. I think also it is important (for me) as a working mum to have something to do that is my time. I struggle with this as I want to spend as much time as I can with my wee boy and my partner but it is all to easy to lose your sense of self amid the family hullabaloo (not matter how enjoyable) and, for me, sewing provides that balance. Sometimes I think of it as an indulgence, sometimes it feels like a chore (I stop for a few days to get my appetitie back) but I think it does me good.

Farm Quilter said...

Rebecca, what a beautiful post! Enjoy your journey, each day is priceless and never to be repeated. I love how you are documenting your life through what you create. Your quilt label is fabulous - care to do a tutorial on how you made it??

Jacque said...

(Standing up and applauding) I'm cheering for you, Rebecca Lynne!!

Anonymous said...

As I read this I was formulating my response - encouraging you to continue quilting, talking about the legacy of quilting, the connection your quilts will provide for your family for decades...and then you said it all better than I could.

I love the quilt label for your daughter's quilt - and I have that exact button!

Catskill Quilter said...

What a fabulously insightful post! Thank you!

Lisa said...

WOW! You said it baby! I am an artist with every burp cloth I make! Sometimes it seems more work than play but is who we are. You get an A+ for creative writing! The label is excellent wish I had thought of it but I will use it on my David quilt I am working on. Such a great way to document a moment in time at eighty she will look at it and remember what a great mom she has, we are living longer. Pat, pat on you back for all your great deeds. I mean it! I hope you feel better!

Archie the wonder dog said...

Hear, hear!!

P.S. I adore that label and the envelope idea, you're clearly a genius!

Leanne said...

Maybe you have captured the reason that I enjoy blogging. I love watching what you make and you are right, it is every day art and it is also useful and beautiful and fun and lovely. I will keep clapping, you keep making.