Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Pride, Confidence and Arrogance

In the last few years, I've twice watched the documentary about Cat Stevens' conversion to Islam and his return to public life as Yusuf Islam. What interests me is the changes in his attitude towards his music in relation to living life with humility. After his conversion, he withdrew from music completely because he felt living a public life was the antithesis of the new life he wanted. No doubt his teachers saw his celebrity bankable; he was persuaded to use his talent in spreading Allah's teachings, and I presume he's reconciled his feeling on the issue.

This morning's post on compliments was quite spontaneous, but it relates to an issue I've had for a while.

In Japan, especially for girls in a Catholic convent school, humility goes a long way, and expressions of false modesty can be considered in good taste at times. Written in English, the previous sentence reads peculiar even to me, but one of the measure of maturity in that country is the ability to not only read, but to speak/write, between the lines.

In New Zealand, tall poppies other than athletes are often cut down promptly, but one is allowed to be quietly confident and go about doing one's thing quietly. And there's a line so fine between being confident and gloating that you can't really know when you've crossed it unless you grew up here, I think.

When I say I'm a newbie at this game of weaving, that's not false modesty; I base that first and foremost on my lack of knowledge of weave structures. I see myself as a kind of new breed of weavers; I have a nifty setup with a computer-controlled 16-shafter, and because I know how the software and loom work, I can weave stuff that looks good to me. But when I'm asked what the structure is, I'm often dumb-struck unless it's twill; often I have to show them the draft and let them figure it out. I didn't study structures the traditional way, I wove plain weave for five years without even getting into color-and-weave, and have been working with twill for the last eight. And I'm not done with either yet.

Beyond that, I don't know how to behave in relation to the stuff I make. I'm greedy about how I want to my stuff to turn out; I see a lot of things wrong with the pieces I weave, and I am never completely happy with my outcome. I don't consider myself a perfectionist; rather I see that so far I haven't lived up to my own standards. And, true, sometimes I am unable to enjoy the fruit of my labor, but only sometimes. On the other hand, I've put in a lot of work in the last few years, changing my life and the way I think and work, in effect the essence of the type of person I am. And in networking with weavers and other artists and arts organizations, and most wholeheartedly in exhibiting handweaving when and where I can.

I would like to be able to weave well and beautifully so I can take pride in every piece I weave; I would like to be quietly confident about my abilities and outcome, but remain realistic about my limitations and shortcomings, and I don't want to be arrogant or overconfident.

So, which self-help do I need for this??

5 comments:

  1. You need absolutely no self help, as I see it you are if not a great weaver a true artist. I'm a baby weaver in diapers, but I'm confident with time that too shall pass. As with most creative people I talk to and meet, we are our own worst critics. I have had people try to commission me to do scarves, table runners you know simple weave, plain weave and I don't ever think I can be good enough to sell anything, just because of my standards, so you see we all have it, the I'll never be as good as xyz syndrome. Confidence has nothing to do with ability and everything to do with attitude. Your weaving is great and inspiring, don't doubt yourself for one minute. And on that positive note, I'll join the Virtual exhibition, keep me posted. Oh, and all you can say to a compliment is thank you and keep the conversation going.

    We can do anything we want to do if we stick to it long enough. - Helen Keller

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  2. The road to enlightenment is "the woven mile".

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  3. A good and brutally honest post. I will make a totally immodest suggestion. Study structure. On the basis of what you said, it seems to me that you are really suggesting to yourself that that is where you need to go and I think you are right. In order to move forward you need more understanding. Now you can study a bunch of structures methodically. Or you can pick one (one you are really keen to learn more about). It doesn't matter. Or you can decide not to and focus your current weaving life on 2/2 twill and plain weave. An equally legitimate possibility. Look at the beautiful things Bonnie produces with plain weave!

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  4. ohhhh Meg!
    we are our own harshest critics.
    Peg's right...study structure. As soon as you do it I will make an attempt too. ;)

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  5. Well, well, Deep End, where to start. Did you know that "This too shall pass" has been my mantra for a couple of years now? That was the title of my first post, and I still have the small magnet on the window ledge in my stash room.

    And of course I did the same as you; friends would ask to buy something I wove, and I quickly took my stuff away saying they weren't good enough. It's only around last October that I became comfortable if people wanted to buy something I didn't like, they still saw something that appeal to them. And when I see them worn or used, I can sometimes see the appeal.

    And good for you for joining us; we look forward to seeing your scarf. Goodness, you have me looking up hand-manipulated techniques and your curtain in detail.

    Bonnie, by that measurement, I should soon join the ranks of the Plain-, Dornick- and Two-Faced-Twill-Enlightened, but I'm not ready yet.

    Peg, studying structures has been my intention and the reason I joined a sample exchange group, but I sem to take years before I feel satisfied with my knowledge of a structure. I never intended to stay with plain or twill for so long, and I still intend to move on, but I'm not satisfied with my knowledge of twill (or plain for that matter) just yet; maybe twill was the wrong one to get into so early? I can weave that for the rest of my life and still discover new things, I'm sure.

    The methods are equally legitimate, as you say, and that's where my intentions and actions disagree, because the designs I want to weave have so far been achievable with twills; however, if I knew more structures, I know I can express them more precisely, or I'll have choices to better suit the purpose of the piece. I know this.

    Lynne, you're back!! You'd like to study structures, too? Oh, no, I feel another item on my To Do list coming on. Maybe in a little while? I'll keep you posted.

    Thanks you for your comments and insights, weavers.

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