Monday, April 23, 2012

un thinking

I spent most of the weekend with a needle in my hand, finishing up three pieces. I love stitching.
Stitching gets me up in the morning. I look forward to spending that quiet time with my self. A time of un-thought. The gentle hand motions often lead me into an inner wisdom. Or a decision
On Thursday a friend and I attended an opening. Two floors of huge autobiographical photo transfer and oil paintings faced us, most done in the last year. The artist stood and told the crowd that she had just spent one week with a master printer, and made 63 mono prints, about half of which were in the show.
Yet I hold on to this extremely slow and domestically tinged way of making marks. Which one of us is the lazy artist?
The answer of course is neither. To paint abstractly or realistically is an activity that demands full attention - all the time - to every brush slant, colour tint, or compositional decision. It's an intense and urgent activity. Exhausting.
Stitching is almost the opposite. After design decisions have been made, it's all about the time. Breathing rather than birthing.

29 comments:

Claire said...

So true.

henrietta (aka ani aka zani) said...

some whisper and some feel the need to shout - but who's voice is heard is the question...who's words are remembered. gently we go.

9:36 AM

Connie Rose said...

Well, some would say that having a show with work you made in a class is a definite no-no. So please don't judge the time it takes to do YOUR work against another artist's churning out 63 pieces in a week and showing half in a show.

Besides, us stitchers and textile artists already know that there's no reasonable way to account for the time we spend on a piece vs. the time it takes to make a painting or a print -- and that usually the painting or print will still sell for a lot more than our work will. I think it's one of the central unfairnesses of the art world.

If only all art was priced and sold for the amount of time it took to create it!

dreaminginstitches said...

Your expression of stitching as slow art exactly matches my own feelings. I stitch because it's part of who I am. It might not be commercial, but I'm happier because of it, so I guess I win.

Lesley Turner said...

I'm in the same space as you are

Heather said...

Yes, un-thinking is a very valuable part of the process.

Penny Berens said...

Keep on breathing!

ronnie said...

I know what you mean about the meditative 'un-thinking' that repetitive stitching creates (even though my stitching is done to bind loooooooong books) ..... but I find the slow repetitive work acts as my thinking time.... as I bind, my mind can meditate on all manner of things... I like to think that this thinking time is somehow bound into the work.... so rather than call this a time of 'un-thinking'- I say 'I bind therefore I think'....

Mo Crow said...

have been thinking about your post for all morning & these words by Mary Oliver pretty well sum up for me the space that any artist, craftsperson, poet, muso or whatever gets to in when deep in the process...
"In the act of writing the poem, I am obedient, and submissive. Insofar as one can, I put aside ego and vanity, and even intention. I listen. What I hear is almost a voice, almost a language. It is a second ocean, rising, singing into one’s ear, or deep inside the ears, whispering in the recesses where one is less oneself than a part of some single indivisible community. Blake spoke of taking dictation. I am no Blake, yet I know the nature of what he meant. Every poet knows it. One learns the craft, and then casts off. One hopes for gifts. One hopes for direction. It is both physical, and spooky. It is intimate, and inapprehensible. Perhaps it is for this reason that the act of first-writing, for me, involves nothing more complicated than paper and pencil. The abilities of a typewriter or computer would not help in this act of slow and deep listening."
- Mary Oliver
Winter Hours: Prose, Prose Poems, and Poems
via whiskey river
http://whiskeyriver.blogspot.com.au/

now back to the drawing board!

mansuetude said...

i love your images here. the last like looking at sand and stones through a shallow rippling water stream, clear light lancing.
.
just found on tumblr:

Art does not reproduce the visible; rather, it makes visible.”

Paul Klee
.

perhaps you are stitching your breath, making breath marks
visible
into the felt-life; into time.
holding it.
holding it up for others

valuing its every. intimacy
count them. life

.

on this "domestically tinged" phrase, are you using it as a pejorative (?) a stain. To me your work seems to claim as power and intelligence, vision and voice this work you choose. already i am changed by its code(s) of expression.

handstories said...

your love of stitching would be clear to anyone who laid eyes on your work. it reflects and holds so much.

Velma said...

breathing rather than birthing. i like htat.

Ms. said...

Your stitches are like seeds, your work is your garden and You've found your way in natures chain, made fertile from your silent devotions. Inch by inch and row by row you've made it grow. It's what you were meant to do, and blessings to it.
http://youtu.be/u90qRE2F7CM

Robyn A said...

Lots of great and thoughtful comments to go with your usual beautiful and intelligent phrasing! Your stitching is beyond beauty and thought, hence un thought. You already know the weight of the marks you make carries you to the place you want to be.

woman with wings said...

I like your practice of morning stitching. I write morning pages everyday, but maybe I'll stitch and see if the thoughts pour out the same. But it may take practice, I know. ;-) This is beautiful, Judy.

Martine said...

Birthing is a creative act but breathing is nessesary and so is stitching, to me too..............

Jacky said...

Judy your posts always touch me...your gentle words, your slow stitching.
Stitching time for me is quiet thinking time. Everything slows down and I can clear my head.
I love your ritual of stitching time each morning. Something to look forward to when you get up, and a lovely way to start each day.

Jacky xox

Sandra Robinson said...

I love your stitching and your beautiful soft colour palette, and I understand what you are saying, both are marks made by the hand one with needle and thread the other with brush and paint. Thank you for stopping by my blog recently and leaving a comment, your blog looks interesting and when I have more time I will pop back to have a good read.

Caterina Giglio said...

i so agree, "breathing rather than birthing" I adore your work, the large scale is amazing to me... my tiny stitches are meant to be another way of mark making...
sometime I will have to consider something larger... you give me courage...

Prue Batten said...

Perfect thoughts. I call stitching meditation for my hands. Lovely...

Gwen said...

Judy, I too am a stitcher, who looks so forward to time spent with needle and thread.
Thank you so much for sharing your work and thoughts about the "un thinking" process.

jess said...

I'm so glad I found this... your hands and needle and thread and cloth speak a language that is a comfort to witness.

Anonymous said...

Stitching has become my savior of my sanity. Though I've had many hobbies, over my lifetime, nothing is more satisfying or calming as the simple act of stitching. The last 4 years I've taken up quilting, but I hand quilt and embroidery each quilt. You cannot make someone understand that the repetitive act of stitching is what calms one. The house could burn down around me but would I notice?
Reading your post almost brings me to tears, knowing there are so many others, out there, who understand what I'm trying to say. To me, stitching is breathing. I can feel my blood pressure dropping, my heart rate slowing, as I enter the hypnotic act of the simple needle and thread, making it's way down the path I have laid out in front of them. "Un-thinking" is the perfect explanation of stitching. Thank you for your lovely post.

Linda said...

I think your handiwork is absolutely beautiful. You don't have to take a back seat to anyone concerning time, quantity etc. Enjoy your time!

WesternWilson said...

Judy, I really enjoyed your thoughtful ruminations on the very spiritual dimension of stitching and creation. I too like the contemplative act of hand stitching. And your quilt is stunning. So beautiful, complex and subtle. Very soothing, too. To quote one of my favourite movies, "You have done Almighty work!".

Karen @ Pieces of Contentment said...

Your words are just as true today as when you wrote them 3 1/2 years ago. Timeless.

SheilasEmbroidery said...

Stitching in this way is part of my way of switching off. Well done for the inspiration to carry on.

Mallory Anne Porch said...

"Breathing rather than birthing." This is so beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

Elaine Mayrhofer said...

I am hoping to make a kantha quilt, but don't want to use a hoop or frame...I see the lovely work you do has a similar stitch. Is it possible to make a full size quilt just on your lap? I have not quilted for 35 years and used to do baby quilts. I don't understand how to manage hand quilting a large item without hoop or frame.
for some reason my grand daughter's name is coming up on the email. my email is elaine.mayrhofer@yahoo.com and I have signed up to your site.