I've never actually heard of Artist's Block, but don't see why we shouldn't have a block of our own since writers do. I have, of course, heard of artists getting stuck and not knowing what work to do next. I've never really experienced it, though. Recently, I have been feeling the next best thing, I suppose. For those who don't know, I'm part-way through a five-month stay in France. To achieve five months away from pottery production I have been working overtime on pottery and keeping pace with textiles work for the best part of two years. The plan was to bring with me textiles work, including card making, as this is all work that can be done away from home.
In the early part of 2009 I ran a few workshops in silk painting, which I enjoyed very much. I certainly hope to run workshops again this winter. One of the results of the workshops was that I began to look past some of the trees and see the wood and became aware that my textiles work was ready for a bit of a change and so was I. A five-month stay here in France seemed a good chance for a bit of a sabbatical. I packed boxes of art materials and cuttings as well as the usual textiles equipment.
The thing about providing a space for something to happen in is that you just have to provide the space and then sit back and wait for something to happen. This is where the artist's block comes in. Here I've been all this time. I had vague glimpses of ways in which my work might develop. I brought picture-framing equipment because I had ideas about mounted and framed pieces such as I used to make in the past, for instance. I've also been quite clear that I couldn't get up one morning and decide that would be the day when I'd decide what direction I might be taking. For a long time I managed to delay things by making cards - the original goal being to make enough stock to last until next time we are down here, though it may not have been achievable - but eventually I needed just to start some bigger work, whether in a new direction or not.
It's not been a happy few weeks. I've made a start on a couple of new projects but was aware that I didn't have a vision of what either would be like when finished. This is unheard of for me. Normally I see the whole finished piece pretty much in my mind before I even start. Not every detail, but the concept, the why of the piece. But not this time. Yesterday I pushed myself back to the smaller piece, which is also the most different from all my recent work, and continued with it until I'd really reached the end of a stage. Nothing went wrong. But I was left wondering, What Next?
Well, it means something to me. I had been playing with some pieces of silk dupion a few weeks ago, certain that they had some important part to play in future work but not sure what. Then last night I spent about 3 hours being awake when I wanted to be asleep because the pieces suddenly fell into place. I had to wait for daylight today to see whether my ideas were right and I'm happy to say that they were. Silk dupion is the way to go. It will be a day or so before I have a chance to get hands on again but it's a huge relief to feel the familiar excitement about my textiles work.
I'm not going to say any more at the moment, partly because I don't like to say too much about things before I've actually done them, but will just add that some new pieces will be wallhangings and others ... won't. Not framed pictures either. Watch this space. Or, more accurately, wait until Another Beastly Art Exhibition 2010, which is traditionally where I show new textiles work for the first time.