Keep Going

In any creative activity, whether it be gardening or building an image of a donkey, it is not easy to know when to stop. Creators in every medium are often warned about this. Art: If you go too far, the paint will become muddy! Poetry: The freshness of an idea might be lost. Cooking: The flavors might become confusing. Songwriting: Maybe a simple orchestration is a better way to highlight the lyric. Interior Design: Will the feeling in the room be overwhelming with so much color and pattern? When is it time to stop, and when is it good to keep going?

Editing is a process that requires addition and subtraction. The fabric medium is usually accommodating to both removal and addition of elements. In my recent commission piece, it was necessary to have faith in the process. “If I keep going, it will end up OK.” The donkey was “not there yet” for an uncomfortable amount of time. It was by accident (a bag of plaid fabrics I stumbled upon while looking for something else) that two fabrics made the donkey finally look OK. There was also much self-reassuring about it being completely natural to add more dots and scribbles!

Both voices were there in my head. Go for it. Have fun! and also Don’t muddy the paint! Even after the sleeve was on and the quilt hanging in the livingroom, I saw things that I wanted to change. The piece refused to be completed. Because there was no looming deadline, I had the luxury of living with the art quilt for as long as it took.

In the next few days, I removed some of the quilting, added fabrics to the tree and sky areas, added a few more dots, and added more fabrics to the woman’s hair and shading to her face.

Donkey Face

Full image, 30 X 36
Color ingredients for Wyoming commission.

Donkey Photo

And now a recipe. Easy Leap Year Salad Hot or Cold: Bake sweet potato and allow to mostly cool. Wash, rinse, and pat dry a can of black beans. Cut sweet potato into small cubes and combine with black beans and chopped red bell pepper. Add olive oil, salt, and juice from one or more limes. Optional ingredients: cilantro, red pepper flakes, diced red or green onion, diced red cabbage.

5 Responses to Keep Going

Shirley Neary

Hi Joan, It’s fun to read about your process, and see the work! Personally, I can identify with overworking a piece, having recently done it in a color pencil drawing, trying to show the depth of the water. Hope I can fix that!
Thanks for the inspiration, and recipe!

Leah Vader

I’m making that salad to bring to son’s tomorrow! Also, lovely donkey art and good advice for all creators.


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