Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Silencing the Inner Critic

Okey-dokey. I've finished the second layer of my work quilt, (which consisted of sewing on more patches, and quilting many more rows of machine stitching, both straight and zig-zag stitch). Now I have moved on to the 3rd and final layer, which consists of hand stitching, (I still have a long ways to go on the hand stitching.)


I knew from the get-go that I wanted this quilt to have a "rough" quality to it. By that I mean I didn't want it to be precious or perfect, with lots of neat and straight rows of stitching. I wanted the machine work to be a bit crude and crooked. I wanted the hand quilting stitches to be irregular, on the large size and a bit unevenly spaced.


Well, I have followed what I set out to do, but in truth the perfectionist in me, that part that likes everything just so, is really having a hard time. She is being very critical of this piece. (But my true spirit, where the child in me still resides, loves it.)

In the past I have often struggled with this overbearing, critical side of me, and have felt that although it comes in handy in insuring I make good, solidly constructed work, it also at times can be a real hindrance to my artistic self-expression. I feel that the perfectionist side of myself keeps me boxed in by playing on my fears. She knows how to keep me afraid to explore all of the ideas I want to explore. The perfectionist in me censors my creativity. I am really getting fed up with her.


I am fighting everyday to muzzle that perfectionist, appearance driven, part of me. I am pushing myself to keep going with my intial vision. I am begging myself to not get hung up on outside approval, or fear of failure. Ask anyone of my family members and they will tell you, this is a real and daily struggle for me.

So, this may appear to be just another quilt, but for me it's becoming an exercise in letting go, trusting my inner guidance, and following something that has been tugging at my heart strings for sometime.

45 comments:

Owl_mania said...

Fantastic! Congrats! :)

arlee said...

Once you let that fear of "uneven" go, you will fall in love with handstitch---it's relaxing, portable, gives a lovely drapey hand and is soul satisfying!

netamir said...

Keep on with the wonderful work you are doing! I assume that any artist face the conflict you had described, art wouldn't be art without it.

Michelle | Cicada Studio said...

Victoria, you really need to stop reading my mind. It's beginning to freak me out.

I have the same struggles and boy, do I get PO'ed with myself.

Really, the fact that this part of us is there, means it's really a part of us. While Ms. Aries wants to go nutso, there's another part (let's call her Madame Virgo, only because I know that's her name in my makeup), must constantly put a hold on that impulsive spirit. At least we're giving time to our two particular natures- they challenge each other and as a result, the decisions made are very meaningful. In a way, it keeps us balanced! (but perhaps balance is overrated?) (I know it can be frustrating as hell).

Not sure if this helps.. but maybe it feels better to know you're not alone :)

This is beginning to take on some beautiful form. Whatever you're doing- letting go or reeling it in, is working nicely. It's "you". Personally, I originally gravitated towards your work because it did look "spontaneously planned". There's definitely some thinking there that makes the creativity shine through. I mean this in the most respectful way because I'm in awe of the balance that emerges.

Diva Quilts said...

It's hard to believe that anyone would find something to critcize in this beautiful piece of work.

However, if you think of it as the perfect fruition of your vision, perhaps that'll help. ;)

Hope your shoulder's better!

Blue Is Bleu said...

That is just so beautiful! I really love the look of the hand quilting against the machine stitching!

And I have problems with my inner perfectionist too... it stops me from doing a lot because I keep second guessing myself.

Linda said...

Oh, I am thinking maybe I should try an exercise like this. It would be a struggle, but the beautiful results you have with your quilt inspires me. Thanks for sharing the thought process!

Diane J. Evans said...

Good for you, Victoria! Great minds must think alike -- I just posted on this very topic on Sunday. I know how much we want to break free; however, keep in mind that precision and neatness are things that please us and attract us to the work of others. Ms. Perfectionist will take a back seat when you want her to -- just don't make her get off the bus completely, because she is part of what makes your work so special.

shellysquilts said...

V, Looks like this quilt goes a long way in tell your inner critic to "sit down and be quiet." This piece is fantastic. Your work makes my skirt fly up! You rock! Happy creating!

Julia said...

It really is wonderful work!

connie said...

I think your inner guidence has something important to say!!! I just love this piece.

Keep listening and trying.

Fer said...

Oh I hear you!!! The problem is that if we let go we may lose control - that's my biggest fear. I need to have my stability with a happy dose of freedom. I'm still trying to find it.

This quilt is going to be perfect in it's own careless way!

Jennifer said...

looking good.

so many of my projects remain unfinished because of the perfection issue. i am a perfectionist with an extreme need for control. it's really hard to make mistakes and live with them.

Jackie said...

Sometimes I find it difficult to work "outside my box". But find that in the end it is definitely a learning experience.

I think you really did a wonderful job and it shows so beautifully in this quilt. Trust your instincts, they are good.

Minka's Studio said...

I love this quilt. I hope you post more photos including the binding, backing, label, etc.

Penny Nickels said...

Truly beautiful work! Fabulous post, too. I often find that after spending gobs of time on a project, I can't tell if it's any good any more. It's great to hear about other artists' pep talks to themselves!

Allie said...

I am familiar with this struggle....but oh I'm loving this piece so much that's coming out of your struggle! It is flat-out fabulous.

mjb said...

So good to discuss this balance. I'm afraid that my pendulum has almost shifted too far away from the values of solid construction, so I need to remind myself from time to time that there are some rules that shouldn't be broken, but that I also shouldn't let them prevent me from getting something made and creating something new.

Cheryl Arkison said...

It is fantastic that you are challenging yourself - in more ways than one in making this and blogging so honestly. This looks like a very impressive piece of work, I can't wait to see the whole thing.

henny said...

Vic,
I love this post. I think most of us in sewing and quilting world are very familiar to this struggle. For me, I won't stop the perfection voice form inside me. Just accept it, as long as you don't take more than your mind and heart could handle it. I don't know exactly how to put this into words..maybe 'Balancing'? Just enjoy and use it like an ART. I can see that in most of your beautiful ART works :)
Btw, I had join a group to share our imperfection http://www.acommonplacelife.com/moments/
maybe you should read this link http://www.acommonplacelife.com/
Good luck with your works :)

Mrs Moen said...

I love this piece sooo much!
Good for you breaking out of the box, but I do understand the struggle. Being somewhat perfectionistic myself, quilting is one part of life where I let go and just have fun with the process.

Stephanie said...

Your style is quite unique and you have inspired me to try things I wouldn't have even thought of otherwise. The most important thing about any creative process is enjoying it, learning from it, and not worrying what anyone else thinks! As long as I love what I make...that's all that really matters.

Hey Harriet said...

That's quite the struggle happening! I'm loving this quilt and I can appreciate it even more now that I know a little of what's going on behind the scenes! I can understand that it can be so difficult to simply let-go. Keep on trusting your inner guidance! I have faith in you :)

handandspiritstudio said...

this is an awe inspiring piece! those colors! really striking.
sorry to hear of your battle with perfectionism. it can be crippling. be brave!

kelly said...

Beautiful quilt. Beautiful post. Beautiful you.

Thanks so much for sharing this, Victoria.

RosaMarĂ­a said...

I am happy to read such honest words. I have questioned many times in my mind, if all the people who have blogs are honest with ourselves and with readers and because that I love to visit yours... I think what you're doing is a great exercise that many people should continue... Your quilt is incredibly beautiful! it may have "mistakes", I can only say that with all the imperfections that surely you see, looks really perfect!

Cristin said...

Whatever you're doing, KEEP doing it! I see a fabulous quilt forming, and I can't wait to see more of it! I struggle with the SAME thing and have yet to really get outside my comfort zone... But I'm in a VQB and I'm sure it will happen soon =)
Well done girl!

Tally said...

I had your page open for hours. But I am so tired/busy that I never succeed into reading it. But I want to tell you that the pictures are just so pretty and yummy. I will look at your post for longer after my Friday full of stupid conferences and the weekend full of beloved sewing.
cu, Tally

jude said...

i see quite a bit of freedom here.

Ann Champion said...

I saw your quilt in progress posted on the Flickr group and HAD to visit your blog because your quilt drew me in with all of it's texture and charm. I was shocked to see that this isn't your normal style and is a bit out of your comfort zone.
That perfectionist trait controls most of what I do, but I so enjoy seeing other's works that seem so relaxed and free. The mere thought of random color placement can make me break out into a cold sweat! LOL
You are doing a fantastic job..keep going! I want to pet your quilt. :)

Janis said...

I LOVE it. I love the charming simplicity and earthy feel. I think I understand what you say about your challenge. I find myself in that position when I attempt something rustic. I'm always pulling back to that familiar balanced comfort zone. But you, you are a master -- it's amazing!

T.Allen-Mercado said...

I am a HUGE fan of your work, but this raw reveal about your struggles with perfection is incredibly inspiring. I too struggle with oft-crippling perfectionism in my writing, it often keeps me from completing projects or even starting...that first word, (stitch) is always the hardest. I applaud you for continuing to allow your art to grow in new, challenging and exciting ways.

Vivika said...

I like this very much- it is creative, flowing and visually interesting... and it meets all of your "goals" at the top of your blog...

Emily said...

This piece is BEAUTIFUL on so many levels!!

Kayla coo said...

This textile is beautiful.x

bascom hogue said...

I am fascinted by the way your perfectionist and child sides are combining in your new work. I wish that some artists lived closer together so we could talk about the issues our work presents us. After all, Motherwell hung out with other artists; and so do Salle and Schanbel. Anyway, here is my take: there is no such thing as intuition. Nothing comes out of the blue for artists. We artists, sewers, painters etc, spend much time shapening our skills,craft, art, and visions. Then when the time comes to make a new piece, the artist leaves him or her self open to meet the challenges as they present themselves. So sometimes what seems like a perfctionist side is really the child side saying, "Look at what I learned," "let me show you how good I am at this." And when the perfectionist"heart is open" one's work blooms just like a flower; becuse one is also embracing the inner critic as a friend; just like your new work is doing, Victoria.

Colleen MacDonald said...

First, this quilt is so beautiful that I get a little teary-eyed looking at it. It is a visceral experience looking at it and I cannot imagine the swooning that I would do if I ever saw it in person. Second, the journey that you are going on whilst working on it is so important and true: we all struggle with balance in our own way. The layers of the quilt help with the layers of ourselves. I'm thinking that I might benefit from a little layer project of my own. Victoria, you are the ultimate inspiration. Thank-You.

karen said...

I so understand your struggle against the perfectionist Victoria. I tried to fight my own but gave up, we are what we are for a reason. I honestly do love the quilt though so perhaps you will win your battle!

Amy C said...

this is so beautiful and so intricate and just stunning - the color combinations are just outstanding.
I understand your struggle with the perfectionist, I battle and wrestle with Mr P every single day.
Looks like you are doing an awesome job.

kopeckys said...

I know just what you mean!!! My perfectionist tendencies hold me back to the point of procrastination. I constantly tell myself to "just do it". I'm not sure why---I love the wonky stuff and people who can just sew and not care if every point is perfect. Sometimes its painful to grow!!! I plan to keep at it. I love your quilt.

Renee said...

It is going to be fantastic. It already is.

Renee xoxo

parisa mahmoudi said...

So happy to find your blog,all the stuff are beautiful here! :)

Sarah Star said...

If you ever figure out how to shut up the perfectionist part, let me know, please? :) I have the same problem any time I start to work on something.
The funny thing is, your perfectionist part is telling you everything you're doing wrong--I see your quilt (as a fellow perfectionist), and see lots of lovely handwork. All of those little nitpicky things don't show up on this end. I think it's wonderful, and the textures caused by the different disciplines will be awesome in the end.

picciolo said...

I think that the very fact that you recognise that you are a perfectionist goes a long way to helping you let go, I am the same and for years it stopped me making anything at all as it had to be 'perfect'. I love this quilt and can't wait to see the finished thing.
: )

Dot said...

I think you are very talented and I adore this quilt.
Gorgeous work!
Dot