Enough is as good as a feast

>> Thursday, March 12, 2009

A friend of mine mentioned this fortune cookie fortune to me at a party last summer and it's stuck in my head ever since. It was definitely on my mind when we made the big decision last fall for me to quit my good corporate job, and it's been on my mind a lot this year as I've been focusing on my artwork.

When I quit my job last year (and when I was considering quitting my job in the months leading up to the big decision) I was kind of in a panic about needing to make money from my art - and needing to make it NOW. I did a little bit of this and a little bit of that - anything that I thought had potential to sell. I certainly wasn't "following my muse." I couldn't even hear her. When I set up my work for the Studio Tour in December, I was disappointed. It didn't look like the work of an artist - it looked like a rummage sale. Alan and I sat down and chatted about it - what I was proud of and what I was just ok with. I love my big quilts - but it's dang hard to sell a full-sized handmade quilt for even minimum wage, let alone anything better. Plus I was getting a little bored with the abstractness of them. I wanted to push myself. I wanted to try something I wasn't sure I could do. I wanted to make pictures of things - for me a terrifying prospect. But I also love the slow meditation of sewing by hand and I didn't want to give that up.

So I decided to make small things. Fabric pictures of actual things. I decided to piece the backgrounds like I piece my quilts, but on top of that piecing I do some applique and some embroidery. It's slow work, but I love every minute of it. I love the sheen of the embroidery thread in the light. I love the sound of the thread as it pulls through the fabric. I love the feel of the cloth in my hands. I love the portableness of it, that allows me to stitch in Alan's office while we brainstorm a project together. Maybe I love it because it's slow? The slowness of the process allows me the time to enjoy it?

I still haven't figured out how to make a living from this - each piece takes me a LONG time to make so the price of the originals would be pretty high. I'm trying to see if I can get decent prints made. I'd really love to do that - spend as much time as I want on each piece and then sell prints at reasonable prices to regular people. I was pretty unhappy with the first samples I ordered - but I'm trying again. I'm not sure if the embroidery will even translate well to a print, but I'm trying. In the meantime - I'm enjoying. I'm making work that makes me happy. I have a part-time job at a place that inspires me. I get to spend more time with my family. I'm cooking good food with good ingredients. I'm reading books for fun - not for work. And I'm breathing. The breathing is good.

This piece embodies all of my new year's resolutions - slowing down, enjoying what I have, challenging myself, working on things that mean something to me, spending time with family and friends. I'll try to make prints of it - but I won't be selling the original. This one is going to hang on my studio wall as a reminder.

Note: I finally got some prints with good quality - so now they're available to you and you can buy them right here! The price is $20 and your signed print will ship in a clear sleeve and a rigid cardboard mailer. They're printed on heavyweight smooth watercolor paper - very nice.
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Sara Z. March 12, 2009 at 11:53 AM  

I really love that quote, and this post. I love the idea of enough, and of slowing down. I am constantly having/wanting to reframe the American Dream and figure out for myself what makes ME happy, not what external forces might say I "need."

tanita s. davis March 12, 2009 at 5:26 PM  

This is gorgeous, quote, quilt, and frame of mind.

a. fortis April 10, 2009 at 6:03 PM  

Truly beautiful! And I sympathize--even after a few years of freelancing and trying to find time to work on my own art and writing, I'm still in a panic about making money, making progress...and this quote is a perfect reminder that not only is enough a feast, that sometimes what we have at any given moment is enough, even if it doesn't feel like it.

So thanks!

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