Shannon has long been a friend of this blog. I’ve written about her before, but she deserves a little more praise than I’ve been giving her. Shannon is an amazing person. She kind and smart and creative. She’s sweet and it’s not saccharine. She’s just plain adorable. I’m really lucky to have her as a friend.
Art therapy doesn’t have to be literal, though that’s how I do it. When Shannon feels bad, she makes these abstract designs to self-soothe and release. You don’t have to use special images. This isn’t voodoo. The act of moving one’s hands to create something is an act of beauty and self-care.
She has tons of other exciting things to look at on her blog. She has fabulous portraits of cult classic heroes, art deco pieces, 70’s funky owls and birds, etc. You can see them all together on her Flickr stream. Stop by and say something nice to her. She deserves it.
Here is my self portrait. Some yarns are hand spun and dyed. The rest are commercial crewel wool. It also contains hand spun buffalo down in the hair. (I collected it from tree trunks while camping in Montana, Wyoming, and Utah.) The bottom half is covered in English paper pieced hexagons of repurposed ABU pixelated camo. They were scraps from my husband’s USAF uniforms. (The insides of pockets are sometimes cut out and sewn flat to give a neater, more professional appearance.) This measures 11″ by 14″.
The juror in a local fiber show gave me a stinging comment about my bad design. I know the formula for a perfect composition. I’m pretty sure that most high school freshman art students know it, too. Edit: My point is that I choose not to follow rules and formulas. I make what I want to make.
I hope that you can see a sharp disconnect between the head and the “body.” That disconnect represents the friction of being a military spouse. The heart and the head aren’t together. The head must soldier on in real life while the heart must stay flat. I hope this is making sense.
I hate this part. I hate looking at what I’ve made and feeling like a failure. I hate feeling like I’ve made a mess that I should hide from everyone. I hate looking at that brown clump on the right side and wondering if David is right, that it looks wrong, that it’s too much brown, that it won’t look right, that it won’t look like a face.
When I was in grade school, I was the type of kid who tried so very hard to get things right, that I’d tear up my paper for the slightest error. I watch my 7-year-old daughter struggle with pencil and paper the way I did at her age. I could never make the pretty cursive that pretty girls made, so I didn’t want to try at all. The leap from child to artist means that I have to live with uncertainty and imperfection–hoping for something more meaningful in the end.
My hand makes imperfect letters and imperfect stitches. But I know my handwriting from anyone else’s and I love it–just like I love the exact color of my eyes–because it’s mine. My artwork is marked with my hands, too. It’s as personal to me as my fingerprints. My heavy, clumsy hands have been all over it and it’s mine. It means so much to me, it’s so beautiful, because it’s mine. A thousand stitchers with a thousand embroidery kits couldn’t make what I made because it’s mine. It comes from my very personal hands.
It’s an Alexandra Walters. I will work on it doggedly. I will fuss and worry. I will stare and regret and worry more. When it is done, it will be fine. It will be mine and it will be beautiful.
If you love embroidery, you probably know Beefranck. She shares a blog (http://www.mrxstitch.com/) with some of fiber art’s most influential people.
Here is what she had to say about this piece:
“I’ve had this idea floating around in my head for awhile. It seems fitting that I finished it this week, which marks a year since I was laid off.
This is my problem with unemployment. If I’m not busy enough, I have time to think – and that never ends well.”
As much as I enjoy a snarky cross stitched quote, I usually just read it and move on. What I really love about Bridget’s stitching is that it holds you. Her quotes are pensive, her backgrounds are interesting, and I find them very emotional despite their geometric appearance.
You can just imagine her frustration as she stitches every bit of this background.
“Before enlightenment; chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment; chop wood, carry water.”
My life is full of simple tasks that bring me joy. I make art. I keep house.
That’s my version of Zen. I’m not really calm or enlightened, but I enjoy my small tasks and appreciate what I have.