Friday, September 8, 2023

Build Your Own World on Off the Wall Friday

(The following post comes with a "My Opinion Only" Warning and you are more than welcome to disagree)

Look, I know artwork like everything else goes in and out of fashion.  But lately, I've noticed a LOT of art quilt work that is more derived from rather than inspired by another artist.  Now, I'm not talking about direct copying and using for profit as this article shows.   More like I see art quilts that look more like they were done by the same artist when they haven't been.

You can see where this can easily and innocently happen.  For instance, many famous art quilters are now giving classes online.  People take their classes because they admire their teacher's work. Now the student's work starts down the same creative path as the teacher.  It feels very derived.

The problem I have with that is that's where it ends.  The student doesn't grow.  I remember Timna Tarr saying (and I'm paraphrasing so forgive me Timna!), "The most enjoyment I get from teaching this class is seeing what my students do with it.  I hope you all come back with new ways to use what you learn this week."  I thought she pretty much said what all teachers hope. 

For the record, this rant isn't just directed toward art quilters but also traditional quilters!  Just because you're a traditional quilter doesn't mean you have to always follow the pattern of another designer.  (Of course, there is nothing wrong with that if that is what you want to do - revel in the craft of quilting.)  Still, as a traditional quilter, you too can develop a unique voice.

That said.....

 There is a lot of value in copying.

Wait!  What?!?

Yep, it's a great way to learn a technique or learn how to create different effects in your art.  Not to mention to gain confidence to move forward. So copy one.   But then what do you do?

Take what you made and play "What If"
  • cut it apart and rearrange it
  • change the values
  • crop out small sections and change the scale of them
  • keep the composition but use a new technique
  • keep the technique but use a new composition  
You get the idea.  These are just a few....but the piece may still seem derived.  Now what?  Take the element you really like the most from your second piece and use THAT as the jumping-off place for your new piece.  Not only will your quilt feel more like you but it will be more fun to work on because it was your "favorite" part of the last two pieces.  

This is not the first time I've had this rant on this blog, it's just that after seeing the work that is being made out there, I thought was a good time to revisit the concept of developing your own style from what you have learned.  I know its harder.  I know you have to be braver.  But it will be well worth it!!

You find more posts on this subject under the tag "Steal Like an Artist"

This is what I've been thinking about as I spend hours hand appliquing...

What Have You Been Up to Creatively?

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1 comment:

Jo said...

That article on blatant stealing of art was eye opening. I recall that Paula Nadelstern won a lawsuit against a carpet company that copied one of her designs without permission. I have based some of my quilts on others' work, but I have always at least attempted to get permission. Where I got no response I didn't exhibit or try to sell my work. As to derivative quilts, I know that Quilt Canada's big show used to have a display category specifically for work created in a class. Maybe teachers whose students emulate their work should include a workshop bit to have students create a plan to make the technique their own. I realize the students are paying to learn the teacher's techniques, and that first efforts are likely to closely parallel the teacher's work.