Something is happening really amazing...

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Within the lines

According to leader of my book club, it is an impressive thing when I toss out the directions to something and try to do it on my own.  She mentioned a time that I'd given up on the hopelessly complicated pattern to the mandarin collar on a dress I was making. I knew what mandarin collars looked like, and it was pretty clear how the pieces could fit together to make one. It was not at all clear how the directions even involved the collar shaped pieces, much less how they would all come together. So I sewed the thing in the way that seemed obvious and ignored the directions that I didn't understand. The collar worked.

Tossing out the directions and doing my own thing is definitely a pattern of mine when it comes to creative endeavors, but I don't know that I would categorize it as one of my positive traits. Though the collar was successful, the dress itself, and the costume it was intended to be a part of, was a disaster. Definition slapdash. And I think that's true of a lot of things that I make.

Not that I make a lot of things.

I am trying to do more though. That's part of what the book club is about. We're working through Kim Werker's Make It Mighty Ugly toward the end of 'conquering our fear of failure and creating our own masterpieces.' Or something. (I have not conquered my fear of failure. Or my suspicion that my attempts at art are not worth the effort.)

Anyway. Directions. Tossing them out. Going it alone and all that.

The "art" I do mostly is needlework. I draw stuff on cloth and trace it with the one stitch I know. (Beautiful stem stitch which curves so nicely.) These projects are limited by my drawing skill, which has never progressed beyond almost-but-not-quite there where proportions are concerned. I've been using a light box and working from photos, and that's a little better.

Anyway, I just finished my most recent needlework drawing. It's a portrait of my favorite singer, taken from a picture of him wearing all white and angel wings.

Andy Bell is kind of my spirit animal.
Or maybe my final transformation -- the Eternal Sailor Moon of my personality.

Anyway, so I'm embarrassed to use that as a contrast to what I'm going to talk about next because it feels in that case like I'm setting up my silly stitched drawings as something Good to counter the Bad that is coming. But anyway.

One of my favorite moments in literature is in Kurt Vonnegut's Bluebeard. A friend asks the main character, an abstract expressionist painter, why his art is "art." He says something to the effect of, "Because if I wanted to, I could do this," and sketches a perfect likeness of his friend.
One of my biggest fears about things that I make is that I haven't reached technical mastery in a way that makes wandering away from conventions acceptable.
Somehow, I got it into my head that knowing more stitches would count toward the kind of proficiency I think I need to have. (I think I am going in that direction because the alternative is to become better at drawing and that is a prospect that is intimidating. It sounds hard.) Anyway, though I don't find working from other people's designs very satisfying, I decided to buy a kit toward the end of broadening my repertoire of stitches.

I chose this design.  

Dimensions Needlecrafts Crewel Embroidery Tree
I thought it was pretty.

I mistakenly thought it looked easy, too.

I usually use a pretty tightly woven fabric for embroidery, even though that's "wrong." In my experience, it makes curved lines come out better. Did you notice that the above design is all circles? Or that the fabric provided is a heavy and with a low thread count, the sort that is usually used in embroidery? Have you ever tried to make a bunch of circles on a grid? I had not.

My efforts are embarrassing so far.


This is a football. Not a circle.
Back to the original point of this post though. I suck at following directions. Looking at my own work compared to the professional photo, I now see that I did my green satin stitched circle all wrong and will have to pull it out, along with a couple of my early small brown circles. I find it frustrating, but I think it will be good for me in the end. You only get better at things by sucking first.
I am definitely sucking first, so I guess I'm on the right path?

No comments:

Post a Comment