Coming 'round right... / by Karen Anne Glick

 

I have loved the twists and turns of my creative journey, but little did I expect another turn that would land me where I find myself now. But turn I have and, as the Elder Joseph Brackett wrote in his Shaker song Simple Gifts,  I've "come 'round right."

"What happened?"

Well... Do you have some time?

My work of the past few years grew largely from the 297 small quilted drawings I completed as part of a daily practice I began in March 2012. I made one each day, burnt myself out, and wasn't able to finish the full year as I had hoped I would - in spite of how the work captured me in a way nothing else had. Each day was magical.  I learned to listen, allow, trust, honor, and let go. Those words defined the year, becoming my mantra. They guide me still.

Nine of the quilted drawings mounted on stretched linen and exhibited together as Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow. Each is 17 inches square.

Nine of the quilted drawings mounted on stretched linen and exhibited together as Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow. Each is 17 inches square.

I was surprised by how those  little quilted drawings, and the stories and haikus I wrote to accompany each,  garnered so much  attention and opened new doors. They gave me the opportunity for new sales, publication, collaboration, and exhibition. It was gratifying to know that my work had reached so many people and that it would grace the homes of the many collectors from the US and around the world who had so kindly purchased it.

"And then what?"

As one would expect, I moved on to other work. I needed to flex and stretch.

I had longed to work larger, so I did. I wanted to simplify, so I stopped layering and machine stitching the pieces and, instead, fused the fabric to raw canvas and stretched the work over stretcher bars. I combined hand stitching with the machine work, and began adding printed elements, drawing, and pieces of discarded oil painting.  Some examples from this time:

Requiem for Fukushima - the largest piece I've done. 42 inches square. fused, machine stitching, stretched

Requiem for Fukushima - the largest piece I've done. 42 inches square. fused, machine stitching, stretched

A Migration of Souls -  22 x 28 inches, fused, hand embroidery, stretched

A Migration of Souls -  22 x 28 inches, fused, hand embroidery, stretched

Ja Vi Elsker - 17 x 17 inches,  incorporating  digital printing, ink drawing and pieces of discarded oil paintings, stretched

Ja Vi Elsker - 17 x 17 inches,  incorporating  digital printing, ink drawing and pieces of discarded oil paintings, stretched

Oran Mor I  - 22 x 28 inches, fused, with hand stitching, drawing, watercolor pencil, stretched

Oran Mor I  - 22 x 28 inches, fused, with hand stitching, drawing, watercolor pencil, stretched

My work became simpler in expression, and my palette more subdued. I was intent on eliminating the decorative and extraneous. My visual vocabulary was becoming stronger and I was confident in the choices I made to bring a work to completion. I had few sales, but I continued to exhibit, even having my work be part of a show in Finland.

And so it continued until events in the last year and a half kept me from the studio for an extended time...

"And then what?"

Well, I thought about the work from a distance. I took joy in tending to family members and our family pet who needed me, grateful that I had them to love and be loved by.  I tended to some unexpected health issues,  grateful that I found a way to heal. 

And in between I whined about not having studio time. 

A certain numbness and lethargy set in.

The dreaded doldrums...

Eventually life settled down and while I had time to be in the studio, I found reasons not to go. So, so, odd - I felt exactly like I did in March 2012 before I started the daily practice. And here it was March again - only this time I was 4 years older. I began to think about how the daily practice had revived me 4 years prior. I began to think about them a lot.

Which brings me to the "coming 'round right" part of this post.

"Finally!"

I'm doing small abstract textile pieces again and I'm feeling revived and refreshed and excitied again. Gone is the rigid daily schedule though. Gone are the three layers that defined the earlier works as quilts.  Gone is a reliance on machine stitching. Gone. Gone. Gone.

The new pieces consist simply of fabric pieces sewn to raw canvas and then to heavy watercolor paper. Instead of a reliance on machine sewing, I work simple stitches by hand.

Here are the first three I've completed thus far:

10 x 10 inches

10 x 10 inches

10 x 10 inches

10 x 10 inches

9 x 12 inches

9 x 12 inches

While the way I worked originally might have changed, what hasn't is the joy and fascination I feel as I work with these. I still follow my intuition and really, really listen to the work as it develops. But this time I listen with a more mature ear, I compose with a more confident hand, and I use color with a heart deepened by the experience of being away. I see these works with new eyes, but I know without a doubt that I've come home again and that I've  "come 'round right".

It's a wonderful place to be.

Again.