I have been thinking about two different conversations I had with some fellow stitch artists the last few months. The first was an artist who was lamenting that she really wanted to create a crazy quilt with her treasure trove of collected fabrics and embellishments but she didn’t know the correct techniques and was afraid she couldn’t do it properly. The second was another artist (very accomplished and well known) who stated emphatically that she thought her work was terrible…actually I believe she used the word ‘sucked’. I encouraged these artists to go easy on themselves but felt that my words may have fallen on deaf ears.
Back when I was still mainly doing traditional quilting, I had a bee mate who had terrible technique skills, her points never matched, her stitching was erratic and everything turned out wonky and lumpy. She didn’t care, she was proud of every creation. She was the most joyful quilter I have ever met! There is a point in our lives as creative beings when we must embrace what we love to do even if we can’t do it to some standard of perfection the world has devised. Why do we strive so hard to achieve some silly standard or idea of perfect? Art is not a competition! And yet, we have been taught to compare our work to others instead of enjoying the pleasure of mutual admiration for each others creations.
The fact is that someone will always be better than me and my work can always improve. If I am spending my time worrying that my art is not as good as my neighbor’s art then I can no longer do my art because I will be trying to emulate their art. When that happens, my heart is gone from my work. In the meantime someone else is thinking that my art is better than their art and they are then stuck trying to emulate my art which I am not even doing any longer because I have embraced the fear that I am not good enough. It becomes a cycle of feeling inferior and mediocre that is difficult to escape.
Art should be created from the heart and soul, telling your story and expressing your view of the world. Art needs to please you and only you. Relish the ‘mistakes’ because they are a sign that you are stretching and growing. Create what makes your heart sing. Tell the story you feel compelled to tell. Only follow the rules if they serve you. Nurture your creative spirit and it will grow strong. Experience the joy of creating what you love. Each piece you create is a step on the art journey…relish every step of the way.