Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A Voice

As I mentioned in my last post, I'm casting around looking for my voice.  I know, I know if I just keep working it will come, but I feel frustrated.  I'm a visual learner and a learn-by-example person, so I find it really helpful and inspiring to look at my art quilter friends and classmates.  One of the things Lisa Call stresses in her Working in a Series class is "closing doors."  You can do anything, but you can't do everything.  Find what you want to do by closing some of the doors, and saying "I'm just not going there right now."  You can always change your direction - you're the boss, but you have to pick a direction.   I think the only door I can safely say I've closed is "representational."  I'm very comfortable and feel very focused on doing abstract work.  That's a big door, because so much work is representational,   In the "crowd"  I hang around with, though, we are mostly abstract.

Of course, Nancy Crow is my ultimate role model, and her "voice" was very clear for many years, doing the Constructions Series.
CONSTRUCTIONS #95: Reaching An Understanding!
2008-2009  © Nancy Crow 

She moved on, eventually, after exploring that series in great depth.  In 2011 she moved on to mono-printing.  She poured everything she had into this endeavor, creating over 125 pieces.

© Nancy Crow, 2011
Nancy is an amazing role model, but it's a little intimidating to consider emulating her. 

One of my other role models is Lisa Call.  I've taken several on-line classes with her, and greatly admire her work and her work ethic.  Lisa has developed a clear voice and style, and does not seem to tire of working in that way, exploring color, line and shape in her Structures Series.  Here is number 165.    
© Lisa Call,  Structures, #165
Lots of doors closed creates fixed variables to explore.  Still essentially unlimited variables, but at least graspable.

Some others that I've become aware of via internet classes or Facebook groups include Heather Pregger - she has been working on her series, "Tuning Forks" for a few years, I think.  Her website shows many of them, up to #28.    Here is one of my favorites.  I love the way that the cascading red shapes seem to ripple like water.

  ©  Heather Pregger, Tuning Fork #11,  54" x 72"

Carol Trice has done an amazing job - and a very successful one -  of closing doors, and focusing.  Her current series is called Connections, and it is entirely in black and white, with some slightly off-white hand stitching included.  All of the pieces are made up of black lines on white background.  I find it fascinating to watch her mine all of the endless possibilities of what might seem a very limiting series definition to some people.  Carol must be doing something right, she's been accepted to Quilt National this year!
© Carol Trice, Connections #3

I also have followed Maria Shell's work and career for awhile.  When you visit her site, you will see a more diverse body of work, and a very prolific one!!   A lot of her current work is in her Color Grids series.  Here's one I particularly love:
© Maria Shell, Dance Party at Tamara's House  37" x 37" 2012 

Maria just finished a batch of 15 (15!!) pieces for a new show called Hot Crossed Squares.  You can read about it in her blog entry here.  They are so filled with joy. Here's one example.  Go look at them all.  I don't know if she considers these officially part of the Color Grids series, but you can clearly see the similarities, and her voice is obvious in these, as well as in her other work.
I want to be her when I grow up!   :)
© Maria Shell, Hot Crossed Squares: Neon.  2015, 12" x 14"

So I could go on and on selecting artists with clear voices, but by now I've convinced myself that in order to start developing this "body of work" an artist needs to close all the doors except one, and to fearlessly and tenaciously walk through it.    I will pick one.  I will.  Soon.  I'll report back when I do.


  1. Wonderful post! For myself I have definitely closed some doors but plan to keep several open and hopefully open a few more on my quilting journey. And I am sure I will close quite a few as well. Who knows I might think differently in a few years.

  2. Thanks, Marianne! Yes, it's good to know those doors are never locked for good, right?

  3. Hi Sharon! just visiting to say Happy New Year -- I always read your blog posts and enjoy keeping up with you and your work. I wish you great progress in finding your voice in 2016 (it's not a treasure hunt but a process that never ends).


    1. Hello Kathy, and Happy New Year to you. What a pleasant surprise to hear from you! I'm flattered to know you are reading, maybe I will do a bit more blogging this year. I find it helps me to think through things.