Thursday, August 30, 2007

random thoughts on quilting influences

Our Modern Quilting webring 'Mom' asked us a question this week, one that I've been mulling over. She asked:

What inspires your quilt designs, where do you get your ideas?
How has Modern design has influenced your quilting, is there a specific style?

I came to quilting from painting, from an art background. Hmm. That's not necessarily true. I come from a strong grounding and deep appreciation for fibre arts, handcrafts and all things hand made. For a long time I thought that my future was in capital-"A"- Art, and saw my hand craft as a way to enrich my lifestyle and surroundings, a way to make and give significant gifts.

My quilting has been informed the same way as my other 'arts'. From art history, from historical ornament. My current favorite period is the Renaissance, but that will change. I tend to dive into a specific time period and learn as much as I can about it, in all kinds of different ways.

My ongoing fave time is the 30's - 50's, in western culture here in North America. It was the birth time of so many things that are such a huge influence on our culture today - television, for instance - and the surviving textiles and print ads seem to encapsulate a sense of innocence and wonder that we don't come across often in the highly cynical, dissatisfied, 'why me?' culture that we are currently living in.

How does this relate to quilting? Well, our attitudes inform what we do. I'll be inspired by a motif in an old ad or piece of historical ornamentation and explore it in fibre. Sometimes I'll go through a long process of brainstorming and drawing different aspects of that motif and related motifs in multiple media, and often will throw many of those ideas away. Sometimes all of them. Or set them aside. Sometimes, just sometimes, a form or idea will rise to the surface. Those are the good ones. They have the weight of all the other (rejected) pieces behind them, they reflect more than one facet of the original idea. The path from idea to finished piece might be untraceable to the viewer, but the traces of it are there. When the work is done deliberately, with thought, it shows.

Most of the quilts that I do for myself these days are a deliberate exploration of colour, of form, of technique (hopefully not of too many things in one piece). They seem to be more and more informed by Western Culture, in deliberate ways. But, hey, what's a girl to do? I was born here, immersed in all of this! It's mine to claim or to reject (even though rejecting it is a way to claim it, too). Right now I'm going through a process of claiming it. I rejected it long ago, before I even knew what it was, now that works from that time seem a bit naive to my eye. Hmm. Maybe I'm growing up. Finally, eh?



EileenKNY said...

How profound! We are influenced by the world around us but I think our inner life also contributes. What do you think?

flippytale Quilter (Christine) said...

What a great response, thank you for revealing so much detail about your process. It is so encouraging to read. It seems to have been a good topic, I've gotten a lot of great responses!

Lisa said...

Hi ladies,
Thanks for taking the time to read.

Eileen, I think our inner life is a huge contributor to our work. It greatly influences the way we interpret what is going on around us (culturaly, interpersonally, politically) - and therefore influences the work we put out. It's a good observation, and one that I neglected to look at in my post. Thanks!