I’ve started thinking about what to do once the move is complete. Phoenix Rising, of course, but what else? What would be of most use to me in my work?
Well, for that I’d need to have an understanding of what my work is, and where it is going. Which I’ve been considering, in the back of my head, for awhile. Do I want to continue with wearable art? or do I want to work on other things? What characterizes my work – is there a particular style or genre that interests me?
I’m not a big believer in sticking with an artistic style – which is to say, just because you’ve done a body of work doesn’t mean you should feel bound to that particular style. In fact, I think it’s easy to fall into a rut that way. On the other hand, there are definitely things I enjoy and things I don’t, and it’s useful to be aware of your creative likes and dislikes as well as your artistic habits.
So here are the results of my contemplation, things I like and dislike:
- Intellectual exploration. I like complicated puzzles. I also like taking a concept, developing it, and seeing how far I can make it stretch.
- Variety. I don’t like doing just one thing for extended periods; I need to have several intellectual irons in the fire to be happy.
- Interdisciplinary techniques. I rarely do a finished project in just one discipline (weaving, fashion design, sewing, dyeing etc.) I find there is more variety, and more opportunities for original thought and exploration, from combining multiple disciplines. I suspect this is because the more disciplines involved, the fewer people there are working in all of them at once – which means a smaller body of existing work and thus more fresh ground to explore, intellectually speaking.
- Big, complicated projects. Projects that last only a week, or a month, aren’t as much fun because I don’t get to think or explore an idea in depth. I like months or year-long projects, something I can really sink my teeth into.
- Planned work. I don’t really enjoy (or haven’t explored) spontaneous, “just do it and see how it comes out” artistic styles. I prefer to plan, sample, and then create, once I’m sure what I will turn up with.
- Challenges. If I’m not operating at the far reach of my abilities, I’m not happy.
- Aesthetically appealing. I like my work to be beautiful.
- Colorful. I occasionally work in muted colors, but generally speaking, my work is full of bright colors.
- Three-dimensional. Two-dimensional pieces leave me, well, flat; three-dimensional work has greater depth.
- Tactile. Things like painting, etc. don’t appeal to me because I like the feel of materials in my hands, not paint at the end of a brush.
- Symbolic, but not necessary deep thinking. That is to say, it tends to have a strong theme, but not a specific message. It’s not meant to engage the reader on a deep level – it’s more technical and showy than political/meaningful. (Not necessarily a bad thing, but something to think about.)
I think artistic style is more mutable than working style – working style is about what you enjoy doing, artistic style is about your output. But still, your own sense of aesthetics feeds back into your work, and that isn’t totally mutable.
The interesting thing to me is that nowhere in this list of intrinsics does a specific discipline, or even textiles, appear. This suggests that textile work may just be an artistic habit – not one that I necessarily want to break, since I have invested a lot of time in developing skills in textiles, but one that might combine with other, non-textile, disciplines.
So I am thinking where to take my work, and what to study next. When I originally launched into this idea of being a fiber artist, my goal was to develop a deeper understanding of fine art and design, as well as textile techniques. That is still my goal, but I also want to understand what I am “saying”, artistically speaking, and also explore this idea of three-dimensional work in non-traditional, multidisciplinary genres. Which may mean, eventually, stepping out of wearable art and into things like sculpture, etc.
The three options I’ve been contemplating the last few weeks are: studying fashion draping, taking the introductory OCA class on textile design, or taking a course in three-dimensional design. All three require a substantial time commitment, and I want to continue working on Phoenix Rising, so I can’t do all three at once. I’m inclined to try fashion draping at the outset, as I’ll need those skills for Phoenix Rising, and then do the course on three-dimensional design.
The OCA class on textile design gives me mixed feelings. On the one hand, it sounds like it would expand my artistic horizons substantially – reading Judy’s blog has given me a good idea of the content of the course, and I think I would learn a lot. On the other hand, it also means a fifteen month commitment at roughly ten to twenty hours a week – which would seriously cramp my ability to work on other things. I’m also not very good about doing work that doesn’t interest me – so I wonder if I’d have the discipline to carry through with the less interesting parts. Still, it sounds like something really intriguing and worthwhile…possibly next year? Not sure.
More to contemplate. But enough philosophy! Back to packing.