Slouching Into 2022

It’s close to the end of January and I haven’t really thought through my artistic goals for the coming year, much less considered my achievements in 2021. Somehow, there doesn’t seem to be a clear delineation between the years, just more of the same. In some ways I guess my goal is to just do the work, with no inspirational word of the year.

I know that sounds bleak, but I feel the need to be realistic about what I can achieve. I am optimistic about the renewed artistic curiosity mixed media is giving me. A whole new learning curve there, plus the supplies and products take up far less space than fabric and quilts. I’m certainly not giving up on quilting but my emphasis is shifting toward more personal, make what I feel like, work.

In years past I have created work with an eye to entering exhibits and shows, but I am kinda over that. Right now I have pieces in a regional and a national show, but I am entering far fewer shows. Why? One, I recognize that many exhibits prefer large pieces as they show much better. My work is getting smaller. Two, costs of entering shows and shipping (if the work is accepted) are getting higher, easily reaching $100 or more per item. If my work doesn’t sell and if I’m not trying to boost my name recognition, why bother?

I have drawn up a list of projects for 2022. Most are continuations of work I began in 2021: my unknown family series, my felted wool squares, and my small quilt tops. My first start of 2022 is a series of four strip scrap medallion log cabins. So far I have no must-make new project, but I have the fabric for several possibilities.

A blurry photo of all 25 felted wool embroidered squares.

The wool project is awaiting inspiration as to the best way to sew the squares to the background wool. That wool is soft and floppy despite repeated hot water washing and a spin through a hot dryer.

Unknown Family, panel 1

My family photo project is also awaiting some technical solutions as I try to combine fabric, paper, and old textiles. It occurs to me that the subdued color palette is tamping down my enthusiasm.

Gold log cabin, 25″ square

While in Florida I produced four small log cabin tops, ranging from 25 to 35 inches square. The one above is quilted; the others are in my quilting queue.

Speaking of that, I find myself with 5 or 6 other small tops to quilt, in addition to what I call my staircase top. I know I’ll quilt the last, but am wondering if I should use the small tops as quilt backs rather than spend more time on them. I have enough completed quilts I don’t totally love already.

My final goal for 2022 is to pare down the number of quilts I have, either by selling or gifting them. I’d love to finish 2022 with fewer quilts or at least no more quilts.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Fridays.


Filed under Art quilts, Commentary, Completed Projects, In Process

20 responses to “Slouching Into 2022

  1. kjk9x

    Love your felted squares too! I can see your problem with the floppiness, though– and the heaviness will pull unless you find the right fabric backing. Maybe a piece of plastic embroidery canvas? Since you are handsewing anyway, it might provide the structure you need.

  2. Flexibility is a good thing. Recognizing where we are and rolling with it are okay too. 🙂

  3. When my children were school aged the school they attended visualized learning as a spiral, both circling through subjects and expanding outwards. Pursuing art is like that. There are times of experimentation and pursuit of ideas and times when marketing, selling and exhibiting are drivers. It is a curiosity to find ourselves drawn in a different direction. Maybe it is the need to chase the elusive and new. Like you, the pull to exhibit is waning for me. Who says you have to invest your time and money in exhibiting? You make the rules. You can break them.

    • Honestly, the mindless sewing I did on those small log cabin quilts was satisfying. Right now I feel like I’m dancing at the margins, looking for ways to combine some older, unfinished pieces and completing ones I feel committed to. Experimentation is good, but I prefer to be good at a few things rather than be sort of okay at many. An online class I’m taking is helping me realize how much I don’t know about paint.

  4. Donna

    I too love your felted circles. I predict you will find a spectacular resolution to your problem.

  5. Sherrie Spangler

    I identify with your not wanting to enter shows anymore. A few years ago I, too, lost the motivation. I felt bad about it at first, as if I was being a slacker, but now I just see it as a different stage. And that’s okay!

    • I think once I realized my work wasn’t reliably appealing to jurors and I didn’t want to go bigger and more elaborate, I lost steam. If I see a call that resonates with me or I already have a piece I think is perfect for the stated theme I will apply. I’m also a sucker for a no entrance fee show, as some virtual shows were. In fairness to jurors, the work in most shows I wasn’t selected for didn’t make me think it wasn’t as good as mine. It was just different.

  6. So much of this post resonates with me! I love your felted wool embroidered squares. Have you thought about mounting the background felt on Timtex for stability? I wonder it you could use Neo-colors to add a shadow around the lace pieces in your Unknown Family piece, if that would help. I still think it is a really neat piece. So many people I knew early on in the quilt world have moved on to knitting and crochet for the same issues you mention about quilts; fabric, space, and all.

    • I had planned to look at fusible backings, and have been ruminating whether to apply a backing before or after sewing the squares down. Since I thought I’d hand sew them I’m leaning toward adding backing after. As to Unknown Family, the top lace piece is already sewn down. I had hesitated to add color for fear it would look too garish. I was going for a sepia look. And I will never move on to knitting – I really suck at it and find it boring.

  7. Penny

    I don’t see it as slouching, Joanna. Maybe malaise is a more accurate word. Sometimes the ideas get mired down, and I know that’s an uncomfortable feeling, as I’ve had it as well. Maybe doing more of the mixed media and making art that feels personal to you is what you need. Those felted circles are beautiful and galaxy-like to me. Maybe you could do a series of narrow vertical pieces with sheer fabrics or papers that extend beyond the backing to give them some room to “orbit”. Just a thought….as for your smaller quilt tops, maybe parts of those will find their way into your mixed media explorations. Try stepping away from them as projects that need to be “finished”. The way forward isn’t always apparent.

    • Indeed, that’s why the smaller ones are marinating in the closet. I see them more as sketches than finished work. Interesting ideas for the felted circles, though I have to deal with the fact they are soft and floppy.

  8. I love the felted circles and the log cabin piece — your color sense strikes a chord with me!
    I watch a lot of art journal and junk journal videos, and one thing they emphasize is getting the focal images to blend with the background so it all looks like it belongs together, and I have a huge problem with that myself. I am wondering if that issue is affecting your “Found Family” and that is what is giving you pause on that?

    • I think my issue with family does relate to getting disparate bits to blend together. It’s easier with paper and paint than with paper and fabric. Because the fabrics are so different each will take any paint/pastel/marker differently. At this point the work I showed can’t be changed much, though subsequent ones can. Of course, then I worry about how well they’ll work as a group. That assumes I want a blended effect, and not a scrapbook one.

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