Am I good enough to be a fiber artist?

Am I good enough to be a fiber artist?

Yes.

Last month I saw an exhibit of painted and stitched tissue paper hanging from the ceiling. It was fiber art exhibited in a gallery. My lizard brain stood in front of this work gobsmacked, all it saw was colorful tissue paper. My creative brain saw movement color and play orchestrated by exactly what this artist wanted me to see weightlessness and joy. Rather than comparing my work to this artists, I decided I wanted to compare my courage to hers. I want the courage to say, “Hell yeah it is tissue paper…on the ceiling… and I am daring you to reach deeper.”

What if it were a row of socks hanging in that gallery. Or a series of felt patches. Or yarn. Or weaving. Sometimes it is easy for us fiber artists to get hung up thinking what we are making is too mundane to be considered art. But this is the medium where we find creativity in texture, color and form.

Tissue paper…

There is no magic formula to being a fiber artist other than committing to move forward. Even if you were the best fiber artist in the world, you would still have to commit to continue to grow and move forward, exploring new ideas. Growing. So if you are using fiber to express your visual language no matter what that looks like, then you are already a fiber artist.

Good enough is subjective. So commit to strive to make fiber art that you love. Your heart will show through if you are being true to what makes it swell with pride when you make something you love.

So, today is going to be about moving forward with my weaving. How are you going to move forward today? Leave me a comment below.

 

 

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Making Fiber Art: It is all in the details

Making Fiber Art: It is all in the details

Check this out. This is my most recent yarn…

It was made from this fiber I dyed a couple of weeks ago. The first in the new dye space.

So this fiber was a miss mash of mill ends, farm wool, angora from my late great bunnies, and sole roving ends. I could not tell you what breeds of wool was in there. This was in a box and I just needed it dealt with as opposed to actually having to sort it into the organized stash. I did not even bother to card it all together. I just dumped it into the dye pot. It was my first run in the new dye space and I just needed to see if my set up needed tweaking. When I spun it up, I just divided the whole batch in half and set about spinning it up into a mindless two ply I could make while watching a movie and using my espinner.

There is something about the mishmash of subtle textures that is just awesome. Look closely, you can see a sheen from a mixed fiber containing silk, some fuzz from the angora, rich colors where the dye strike was deeper in one type of wool compared to another. There was also a good bit of white in this batch. I know so many dyers hate having white in their batches. I think the white provides a much needed separation in some of the colors. The white also affects the range of values for the colors, adding a lot of depth within the yarn.

Check this Superwash BFL dyed and spun similarly. While this is a lovely even yarn, there is something predictable about every inch of the texture. And there is nothing wrong with that. It is interesting how just the subtle difference in the wools of my recent yarn adds so very much interest was. This yarn was also dyed with no white, and a smaller range of colors that were within the same value.

You can see while these yarns are similar, the subtle differences will affect how I use each skein.

While I love this new yarn and I am all about art weaving lately, I have to admit, I do not think this new skien would be best suited for art weaving. I think the texture would get lost against the warp (I am not a big fan of weft face weaving). There is a lot going on within one skien, so there is not much need to add to that visual language with other yarn. I really would like to use this skien in some knitting. But chances are I will need to add come other skiens to stretch the yardage for a project. Those yarns will need to just amplify what is already going on in this skien, be it a color, of texture. That may be as a compliment or a contrast.

The BFL skien however would be great in some art weaving. It has a subtle enough variegation to make a weaving section to work in concert with other sections and a panel as a whole.

So yeah, for me fiber art is not necessarily about high end materials or even the techniques I use, as much as it is finding the the ways to show off the best part of each material and technique in a whole piece. You kind of have to really get down to the details of your work and how each bit contributes to the aesthetic of the whole. It is really not that different from what you may be doing as a hobby knitter/crocheter/weaver, It is really all about being thoughtful and observing how each of your choices affect your project as a whole.

Want to know more about how to take turn your knitting/crocheting/weaving hobby into honest to god fiber art? I am hatching a new offering. Sign up here to get updates and notices for when these lessons go live.

Check out my art journal and the art it helped me make

Check out my art journal and the art it helped me make

So, today, Fiberista, I have a new video for you.

I was looking through some old posts trying to think of what we would talk about today and I found this post where I shared a video of my art journal. Can you believe that was 6 weeks ago? I have to say, my journal has evolved so much since then. Not just as a work art in and of itself, but in relationship to how much work I have done in the last 6 weeks.

Ever since art school, art journaling has been hands down the best way for me to stay creative, process ideas for my work, and keep details as I work. Here is an updated video of my journal today, and some of the work it has inspired in the last 6 weeks.

I can kind of feel my momentum taking a tiny dip and I really want to keep it going. So I am challenging myself during the month of April to work my art journal daily for 30 days. I am going to post the work daily to Instagram, and will be using the hashtag #30daysartjournaling. Feel free to join in!

 

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The 5 Keys to Making Art You Love

The 5 Keys to Making Art You Love

For the longest time, the idea of making a body of work and really embracing the idea of being an artist was just overwhelming for me. I have always done creative stuff. Not just little crafts. I would take art classes and learn some intensive techniques like metalsmithing, bookmaking, lampwork beads, or ceramics. And I had always hung out in art communities. But I never really dove in to creating a body of work. I was an art major in college. How did I not really understand how to make a body of work? It was as if I thought that learning complex creative techniques would somehow give me license to consider myself an artist. And maybe just by the nature of how I used my visual language communicate ideas, did give me license to call myself an artist. But I had nothing of substance other than a couple of successful projects to show for it.

Once I found my medium in fiber art, I kind of felt I really still did not understand where I was falling short in terms of how and what I was making as an artist. Even as I started UrbanGypZ I was not really producing something cohesive that I felt like I could stand behind as really art. It is one thing to be a professional knitter, dyer and hand spinner, but I am not sure I would consider any of those things (outside of the the actual business) a body of work. I found little clues to my own style in the materials(the yarn and the fiber) I was creating. But, actually making a real body of fiber art work– one that I felt was cohesive, had substance and considered my personal style–took a really long time for me to come to terms with and produce.

Here is what I figured out: Being an artist doesn’t have much to do with talent (which by the way is subjective) or even what you are making. It actually is all about consistency and confidence using your visual language. Today I am going to share with you what I have found to be my 5 keys to actually making art I love and am proud to stand behind.

Make art a priority. I am the first to admit, I will often bump my studio time for random everyday errands. But, I have to say, the first thing that HAS to happen when you are really, really ready to start making some art is you MUST show up. Seriously. Get the calendar out, slug out some non-negotionable time, and start saying no to anything else. This shit is not going to make itself. Get in the studio.

Make a lot of the same thing. It is so easy to just cycle through a series of techniques and consider yourself a craftsman. Don’t get me wrong trying techniques and playing with ideas is important and fun. But, what if you take time to explore an idea deeply–doing the same thing over and over, until you feel you have really mastered the technique and it becomes second nature. The next step would be to make tiny adjustments and add small details that bring your personal style to this body of work. The artists whose work I can identify, are the ones who have made a lot of the same or similar things over and over. With each exposure to their work, their style becomes recognizable. I remember the artist and may even seek out their work.

Stay curious. While making a lot of the same thing, you also need to continue to give your work room to grow and evolve. Inspirations are born out of feeding your curiosity. “What if” is the best thing you can ask yourself in terms of growing your work. Be curious enough to take a chance on trying new versions of your work. It is okay if you decide these ideas are not right. There are really no mistakes. It is all information and will most likely lead you to the next “what if” moment. This is what growing your work is all about.

Don’t overthink, just do. It is easy to fall into the trap of measuring your work against other’s– worrying how your art will be perceived and judged. This can be one of the biggest creativity killers. Get out of your head and judge your work only by how you perceive it in your heart. Do you feel a little flutter when you stand back to really look at your work? Do you find yourself thinking “oh hell yes”. When your share your heart, anything you make is a million time better than working off your fear of how your work will be perceived.

Show your work. Just do it. Even if it is only with your friends. Actually…share your work especially with your friends. I know this is outright contradicting point number 3. There is no explaining why this will make you a better artist other than to say, the people who know you the best, will see you and your heart in your work. AND…they will also call you out when your work does not ring true.

Being an artist is not an endpoint, but a never-ending process. Looking back I can see that even the doubt and dissatisfaction I had, was all a pert of the journey. And from what I can tell will continue to be.

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My Creative Emergency Toolkit

My Creative Emergency Toolkit

I have been avoiding my weaving. Really. I have scheduled so many weaving days in the last month and just don’t do them. It is not that I am losing the weaving love…in fact I am really excited about the stuff I have made so far. It is really more like I am feeling a lot of self induced pressure to make something even more awesome. So I just avoid it all.

Here is the crazy thing…I think my new obsession with clay has totally saved my weaving log jam. Here’s how it all went down:

After months of searching for a much more attractive solution to for hanging my wall weavings, I created a series of wall tile headers to sew them onto. Once glazed and fired, I pulled out all my old weavings to match them up to my new tiles. I was surprised to find myself noticing how subtly my work has evolved. I also found so old techniques I am wanting to go back to. But new/old ideas aside… I found it most amazing to realize that my work has progressed without my even noticing it. And it did so because I was not in a place of pressure to innovate innovate innovate. The evolution happened through the steady work of being in the moment of turning my favorite colors and textures, inch by inch, into fabric.

Art is still happening when you work from exactly where you are in the moment of using your visual language doing what you love.

All those daily inspirations happen far easier when you just don’t overthink it… and I am living proof that it is much easier to say than do.

Because this is not the first time I have experience this particular creative log jam, I decided it was time to build an emergency plan to have on hand when this particular creative/motivational block comes up. Here it what mine looks like:

 

Take some self care time to check in and see if there is some underlying issue I am just not seeing. Sometimes it is burnout, sometimes it is another unrelated stress I am avoiding. Sometimes I just am physically not feeling well. Most of the time I am just overthinking it. But it does not hurt to really check in to make sure I am not missing an all together different concern to be addressed. Often it is as simple as taking a walk on my neighborhood greenway. Or even taking a nap.

Using my essential oils. Y’all know I love my oils. My diffuser runs 24/7. I only use Young Living Essential Oils because I love the purity and they work so well for me. My favorite way to use my oils is to help me through this very kind of emotional issue. My go to oils when I am feeling motivationally/creatively blocked are Present Time, Envision, Motivation, and Clarity. I will sometimes add Valor II if I am feeling insecure, and Stress Away if I am fighting some everyday crazy outside of the studio.

Set up my space. When the motivation is iffy, damn straight my space needs to be über inviting with snacks and beverages, a good movie or music, and my favorite tools in place. Sometimes I might add some of my favorite non tool items, like my favorite rocks and crystals, a plant. It is almost like arranging my living room…or better yet creating an sacred space with tiny alters.

Journaling time. It also helps me to flip through my art journal, add a little bit of work even start a new page.

Schedule my studio time. Sometimes I need a day or so to mentally clear time to focus. That studio time does not have to be very long either. Sometimes an hour or two is just fine.

Plan on working on more of the same. This part is huge… when I am feeling overwhelmed, to keep moving with my work, sometimes I just need to take baby steps. AND there is absolutely no shame in making more of what was awesome. Many many  famous artist spent lots of time painting the same thing over and over allowing the tiny innovations to surface naturally as they work. So, when I am feeling overwhelmed, I am going to just pick one simple look to recreate. Keep it simple.

I am even going to make myself a paper reminder to hang on my notes board. My creative block cheat sheet. So, what kinds of things would you put on your creative block emergency plan? Would you use some of the same steps? Do you have some favorite creative self care tips? Leave me some comment love below or share them in the Fiber Art Collective. Not in the Collective? Sign up below.

 

 

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Getting back to the art journals

Confession time….I have fallen hard off the art journaling.

While I would like to be able to say I am one of those people who can not live without her paper brain, lately that just has not been the case. I have always admired the sketchbooks of artists who are constantly working in them, Those books are a work of art in and of them selves. And I have seen first hand in the Graphic design industry, how those journals have helped some of the most successful creatives in the industry grow their work. Those journals are how they process ALL their ideas into form. It is how they keep their creative brains limber. It is where they let their creative ideas play and grow without judgment or outside influence.

I find artists are pretty polarized when it comes to working their ideas out on paper. I once taught a college level design class and required the students to keep sketchbooks as well as provide thumbnails and roughs of their work. Half the students hated going through the documentation process, thinking it was wasting creative time. The interesting thing was it took those students more time to do the work, and they did not have a reference to refer back to for future projects.

Since the beginning of the year, I have been in a much needed creative flow. Finally settled into a routine in my new town, with an amazing new studio resource available to me, I am awash with so many ideas right now. I am so grateful and it i like a breath of fresh air after 2 years of stagnation while we sold our house and moved. But alas, my ideas are scattered among so many tiny little notebooks. It is time to wrangle those into one place. Here are some of the things I need to document

  • I am on the edge of a new body of work with my weaving integrating my new love of clay
  • I have been in the thick of a LONG website overhaul and with each page I start to rework, I find 3 more pages that need to be redesigned or created altogether.
  • I am developing a series of dyeing tutorials and will have copious notes
  • I am making clay stuff and have so many new ideas I just can not keep up with them all.

 

I have an art journal that I started last fall that has been shaping up very nicely. I am loving all the pages so far. Liking them enough to be afraid to actually write  on them! I have added quite a few pockets, not just because I have written my notes in other notebooks, but because I am kind of afraid to mess up my book.

BUT…If I were working in my journals on a much more regular basis than I would be less afraid of messing up.

So if I understand why journals are so important , than why the hell do I fall of the habit? A few years ago I created the 30 day art journal challenge as an exercise for myself to get back into the art journal groove. And Ironically as I am finding I want to get back into the journaling groove again, I am also in dire need of updating the 30 day art journal challenge.

So here is my accountability, For the next week I am posting my daily journal work to my Instagram. In the mean time here is a journal flip of my current book.

 

 

Want to join me in the 7 day journaling challenge on Instagram? Leave me comment below with your Instagram link and use the hashtag #7dayartjournalchallenge on your posts this week.