Sunday, 15 February 2015

Technical Ability

Technical Ability


Heres part of what Idaho Beauty had to say in a recent comment:

The other thing I "think" is that most people, artists and non-artists alike, get it into their heads that the finished piece of art work they are looking at just happened because of the talent of the artist. Easy Peasy if you have the talent. It was so helpful to me, for instance, to find out that you had not stitched that stone wall without any markings. I know that there are machine quilters that COULD do that, and I thought perhaps that's what you had done because I think your quilting is so good, but I surely cannot, and sometimes even get chided for being so "uptight and concerned about perfectionism" when I mark a lot of things ahead of time. Has nothing to do with perfectionism but more with avoiding an unhappy outcome or even disaster. 


These quilts that we make take a lot of doing.  You have to get your head around a great many techniques in order to make them work, and you have to practice them and gain experience before you can relax and know you will be able to achieve the effect you want; but it's a means to an end, and that's my point. Achieving technique on it's own is worthy of course, and I'm not belittling it at all, but it doesn't have to be the be-all and end-all of what you do.  It's useful for quilt shows, I'll give you that, and if you're making a bed quilt then it's a bit of a fail if it falls apart on the first wash.

If you are a perfectionist and need to put lines to quilt on, like Idaho Beauty for example, then so what? Who is going to know when you've done? That ability, that value, I suspect lies no further than with the maker. Looking at the bigger picture, it's not the mastery of technical achievement that's important in the end.  A successful piece of art can have work which isn't perfect because it trancends the ability to make, and stretches out and speaks to the viewer in some way; to cause an emotional response of some kind. As the posting above suggests, that could mean a response to the colour used, or the concepts the artist is seeking to convey. It's a roused gut feeling and not easily quantifyable.

When I look at a quilt, I don't stand there and wonder if they put pencil lines in to stitch around - it's irrelevant to me.  I can appreciate technical achievement, and can look at piles of perfect quilts but not be touched one iota. 

As for perfectionism, or any other ism, then if it's part of what makes you who you are, then use it in your work.  If making a completely perfect object is your goal then go for it but perhaps highlight the need to be perfect in some way, and use it to tell us about yourself.  Your voice is what is important not the techniques you use and if you stay true to yourself you will be heard.

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