Tag Archives: Craft

Report From the Trenches: On Craft

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I would like to take this opportunity to formally apologize to my university 2 Dimensional Art professor. He was a young grad student, teaching a pre – requisite to a class of excitable undergraduates. We had to make a color wheel. I went to the school bookstore, bought a pack of origami paper, and got to work. The result was okay, in retrospect. Circles of paper on plain white mat board cut out with a pair of scissors. I’d been doing collage for a while by then, I was hot shit. Totally developmentally appropriate for any 20 year old art student.

He said I needed to work on my craft. I was deeply offended (although I didn’t say anything, thank goodness).

Twelve years later, I get it. I’m working on my craft these days, all the time. I want my lines to be as smooth as the famous comic inkers of the 1960’s, I want my edges to be perfect, I want my mats to be cut perfectly square. It’s not as though I need all art to be perfect everywhere – for there is beauty in the imperfect – it’s that I realize that I can do better. I can get closer to the idea I’d had that drove me to make the piece in the first place, I can make the picture in my head more real in the work I do. It’s a process of learning to keep pushing to be better, even when it’s frustrating. I didn’t get it then – that even though you can be a good artist without paying attention to your craft, it’s so much more fun to be better than you thought you could.

So for this, I apologize, Professor. My cuts are a lot cleaner now, you know.

Inking by Adriano Benedetto – check out his work here, beautiful stuff.

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Inspiration Friday: Crazy Quilts

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Have you seen a crazy quilt before? This classic American art form blends embroidery and quilting with traditional frugal values.  Quilters take out their scrap bag, and piece the materials together into a haphazard design.  No square corners here – it’s all crooked squares and triangles and odd shapes, like fitting a puzzle together when you don’t know what the final picture should be.  These works are a perfect place for those tiny scraps of fancy velvets and satins that would look out of place anywhere else.  Different styles of embroidery tie the whole work together, creating beauty out of the bottom of the scrap bin.

Image via www.crazyquilts.ca

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Stay on target… Stay on target…

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Momentum is a tricky thing. Too little, and everything slows to a halt. Too much, and everything spins out of control. And then when you’re tracking more than one project, everything really can get a bit out of control. Just in time for the craziness of the summer craft fair season, I’m starting to get the hang of tracking multiple projects at the same time. It’s something like letting one slow down a bit, speed up another, keep the third at a steady pace. Checking, rechecking, calibrating, re – calibrating. A cross between a switchboard operator and the Wizard of Oz.

These days I’m tracking a few major projects in the studio – developing a fine art portfolio, maintaining a product line for the business, and staying inspired by writing the blog. The current approach is pretty simple – an adapted Getting Things Done  system, merging a paper system with monitoring on the Iphone and Cozi – but so far, it seems to be keeping me on top of most things, most of the time.

The most powerful tool towards keeping the momentum at a sane pace has been balancing Next Actions with Tickler actions. Keeping the option to either actually do something about the project, or to remind myself to follow up on the project in a few weeks has been huge in the studio. It means that I have permission to set some things aside, so that I can follow where my energy is pulling me. It makes the creative steps more satisfying – I can doodle and design drafts without spending a third of my bandwidth on worrying that I’m forgetting something.

I’ll keep you posted as the summer cooks along – with any luck I can keep this going and maintain my grip on reality too. What about you? What systems are you using to keep track of your creative projects?

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