Saturday, February 14, 2009

Changes in the Way I Work

I found writing a post about "München Opera House Park" for my website excruciatingly sad. It was a piece I wove very early in my weaving "career", and I was stunned at how far I've come, possibly down a wrong path, in three years and a little bit.

While writing the post, I remembered the raw passion and excitement that pushed me forward when I thought the project was too big for me. It wasn't all fun and games, but I was so sure I would end up with a stunning piece. I was pleased with myself I had enough knowledge to pull off making something in my head into a real cloth. Ignorance was bliss; I didn't have certain kinds of knowledge about weave structure and fibers I do now; three and a bit years later, I still don't know enough, but given a similar commission, I most probably wouldn't plan it in straight draw. Yet, part of me knows whatever I'd weave, it won't be as spectacular as the few pieces I wove in this period.

The nine weeks I worked on this and this alone, I felt joy. And that joy of weaving has dissipated imperceptibly but continuously, replaced by knowledge, a type of confidence, matter-of-fact-ness, and a little bit of disdain. And I know how I arrived here.

I took part in so many exhibitions in 2007 that after a while I didn't want to waste time on the inspiration phase. Rather than designing in the way I think I ought to, I started cranking out original drafts and sensed they would "do". There was not as much love or care or joy put into my work, but treated worked professionally (oh, what an ugly, overworked concept!!), got the numbers, and met the deadlines. But always, as I stepped into whatever venue I was to drop off my work, I felt a tinge of sadness and guilt that these pieces were rushed. And eventually, this abbreviated process became my norm. No wonder the pieces felt "thin". No wonder I couldn't wait to see them out the door and hopefully sold; it wasn't about the money, it was the shame I felt that once again, I wove to meet a deadline, and though they may have been adequate, they were never satisfactory. No wonder I didn't photograph my work beyond the obligatory few mug shots. I used to spend a couple of days taking 300 and 500 shots at different times of the day, only to cull down to about 30 shots. And though I knew less about digital photography and lighting back then, they are better photos than what I've taken in the last couple of years.

I've come to not appreciate commissions. Some clients specify too many factors I dread my finished piece won't match their vision of the final product. Some are so simple there's no room for creativity. This has led me to pay dismal attention to the individuality and uniqueness in these pieces. But I improved at talking the talk!

I think I'm finally understanding, just a little bit, why art schools teach design processes in depth. I thought it was elite/artistic masturbation to dwell on it and thought technical training was lacking. But when enough thought goes into the inspiration/designing, there is something moving about the finished piece, and perhaps I'm starting to sense that. Of course the piece is more appealing if the knowledge and technique backing the inspiration is solid.

I'm doing the right thing in committing less this year. I'm a slow weaver at best; I don't want to crank out more of the same. Though I don't regret having made strides in improving my routine in one way, (and I apparently have something of a reputation of making it on the deadline come rain or shine), I need to pick up the good things I did earlier.

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