quick, slow, slow, quick

9 May


Two things to be quick about this week;
Working towards twentyONE+ targets and deadlines – fast and furious – and trying, trying, trying to get a hang-worthy 40cm x 40cm Art Quilt ready to enter OZQUILT’s Australia Wide 5.

The finish line is approaching for twentyONE+. Things are quickly falling into place with only a few hiccups. Still plenty of hours, many conversations, emails and head down action to come BUT we are progressing in a timely manner.

My AW5 entry on the other hand, after many, many hours of intensive stitch has failed.
I am disappointed but I was also prepared for this gamble not to succeed.
Starting a new area of exploration can be fraught and when that exploration was in both technique and subject matter it is doubly difficult.
I have realised of late that I need a long time to percolate initial works in a series – and I do much prefer to work in a series – they almost need to be born resolved.
The ideas come fast and furious (and are always brilliant:) which is why I think I teach well and critique easily.
So the ideas are there and I see the completed work as a vision in my head but often the interpretation into quilt or textile doesn’t match that vision.

engraved stitching underwayTechnically the piece I worked on is okay but it does not illustrate what I love about the subject matter so it does not work for me visually at all. The beautiful colours and sheen of the silks I chose have been obliterated by the black ‘engraving line’ stitch much more than I was prepared for.
I need to rethink BUT I just don’t have time to play and to get to know the subject – I have priorities elsewhere.

Invariably it is when I am in this rushed state of meeting a deadline that I end up being disappointed – so the poor result is no surprise.
Having said that I did enjoy the process. The over the top stitching/quilting was a lovely challenge.

engraving lines/ stitched engravingsWhereas my joy in playing, albeit slowly, with the paint chips is making my heart gently glow. I love the process and I love the resulting visual. I love the solidity of these spare works.
It is as though I have the base line sorted and so now I can start to both play and to sing…if that makes sense?

What doesn’t make sense at the moment is starting on yet another thought-line and technique when I have bigger priorities and shrinking time. My longed for works celebrating etching marks is almost certainly to be sent off to the back burner – joining many other brilliant thought lines….unless I can re-envision the idea in my head in a style that I have already resolved….?
I could simply do a version of the paint chip feathers for AW5 –  but it is a traveling exhibition and whilst they are VERY sturdy mounted on board and could be quilted onto fabric, as I have trialed that, I worry that they may struggle to travel for years if sandwiched between other quilts.

paint chips quiltedSo where is my brain nervously flitting?
Pick another of the three sets of images I decided on last week? This time print digitally and work at it in a different manner?
Return to another established theme?
Reinterpret the ideas behind the paint chip series as a quilt?
Or put myself out of my misery and forget about entering anything?

I’ll see how the next few weeks pan out…there is still a little bit of time….
The really interesting background brain chatter that I have identified though is that I don’t want to be making quilts right now….hmmmmm.

week 18-7Sandwiched between the constant bustle of the week’s tasks the slow relief came in a few ways. A visit from a young family friend who is living, for the while, in Toronto. We had a long catch up early in the week enhanced by Miff and Flick and Esther’s company.

Miff and the girls returned on the very wet Friday when a planned visit to the zoo with four grandies was rained out. A highlight for me that day was setting up Esther for painting….. and boy did she concentrate.

Painting at our place has been a Sunday night affair with George and Esther wielding their great-grandfather’s large brushes outside, dipped in a bucket of water. Our tiles, windows and pavement get painted. A clean and yet messy affair.
So on Friday when Esther asked to do some painting that was what she meant.
I, instead, decided to set her up in the studio.
A drop sheet on the table, an apron of mine on her, her Tripp Trap chair pushed in tight and a tray of old watercolours. We made marks together. We talked colours. She concentrated. Her focus and her two handed approach was a delight to see.

two handed concentrationThe REALLY wonderful slow down was bought about by the safe arrival of grandie #5 on Wednesday morn, and then on each of my subsequent frequent visits to see him.
Such a relief and a pleasure to meet this very alert boy.
Brannon James Mullen, son of Brodie James Mullen, grandson of Brendan James Mullen, great grandson of Hugh James Mullen (dec. – one time painter & decorator, supplier of those enormous paintbrushes:).

number five, nameless at the time we metWe now have, for a couple of weeks, five little ones under two and a half years of age.
The difference in their ages will minimise very quickly.
Our family life will get more and more interesting.

Jan Mullen

B. Ed. Art/Craft (Textiles/Sculpture) Living in Perth, Western Australia Artist, Fabric Designer, Author, Teacher, Mentor.