So why am I waxing philosphical? Yesterday as I was trawling the net i came upon an article Gwen Magee had put up on her Textile Resource blog ( which has all sorts of wonderful things on it). In a recent post she transcribed an article by Nancy Doyle entitled Getting Discouraged. These lines struck a particular chord:
The bottom line. I don't believe in the idea of talent - that we have it or we don't. Art is not measured only for its perfect design or flawless technique - the main objective in art is expression. If an artist has great skills, and has little to say, his art is not as valuable as someone with little facility and a great vision. Of course, the ideal might be to have both - but of the two, expression is the more essential ingredient. Expression is what is remembered centuries after the fact, whether it is Michelangelo or Van Gogh. So - this means that we are to be evaluated not by our aesthetic perfection, or our talent - but by what we have to express, and how well we express it. So, if we are criticized for weak design, or poor drawing, this is not necessarily a sign that we are not good artists. We should strive to be the best artists we can, in terms of formal elements, drawing, etc. - but the ultimate goal is our expression. We should not be as concerned with whether or not a work of art is "good," as whether or not it expresses something substantive and meaningful, for us and for others.For me this Expression is the crux of the matter- it is what i try and teach especially in my Inspiration in Fabrication classes. Looking is part of expression , learning to look is part of the journey, part of the process. Without expression things can be nice, with expression they can transport you to another place, another way of seeing ,to some form of understanding. For example rough stitching seems to have become a bit of a rage at the moment- and especially in contemporary quilts much more hand stitching is apparent now to say 10 years ago- rough stitching seems to be the used to express some form of individuality. However for whatever reason, unbeknowst to me ( because it certainly doesn't form any part of my housekeeping routine ) I stitch rather neatly- I can vary the size but I can't stitch rough- I have tried but it always becomes neat- there is a regularity in the rhythm with which I stitch and I suspect that is a determinant in the neatness- so is my work any less expressive because of this neatness? I am isolating an element of part of what i do but it is also llustrative of the fact that single elements do not a whole make- you need many things to create expression- and creating expression to me is all about communicating a feeling.