Now that the pages are complete, it will just be a matter of stitching them together, then hemming and backing the cloth before folding it into a concertina-type book for storage.  I’ll probably make some sort of wrapping cloth for it as well.  I must thank my mother again for her brilliant idea of making this into a frieze – much better than my original idea.

Of course, it will now be almost impossible to photograph… I haven’t measured it because it’s not all stitched together yet, but I estimate that it will be about 24 feet  in length.  It’s taken around six weeks, stitching quite intensively, which has given me plenty of time to think and reflect.  I haven’t quite sorted out all my thoughts about this yet, but these are some of the things I learned:

I learned the value of working on paper first.  It’s the first time I’ve truly appreciated the importance of that.  All the colour, all the composition – already done.  All you have to do is stitch.

I learned that I don’t want to do more illustration.  Upon reflection, I prefer the abstract over the figurative.  Some of the pages strike me as being too literal, too obvious.  I like the hidden, the subtle, the suggestion.  It has been quite difficult to let go of the illustration dream, which has been with me for some time.  However, it may be a case of letting go for now.  Maybe I could revisit this at some point in the future.

I learned that I still have no ‘body of work’.  I have a lot of work, but none of it existing in any cohesive form, and none of it having any consistent intention.  I intend to remedy that.

I learned that I like working small, and that I like detail.  I like to zoom in on something so closely that it becomes something else.  I admire large, expansive works – particularly the paintings of Rothko, for instance – but I know that’s not something I can do.

So, am I pleased with my cloth book achievement?  Yes, and no.  It’s always the process that I find most enjoyable, educational and engaging.  I would be more pleased with it, I think, if I was intending to make more like it.  Maybe one day I might.  But not yet.

Part of the process of this cloth has been a huge ‘letting go’: releasing a dream I’ve had since childhood, realising what I can and can’t do ‘well enough’ (in terms of my own standards, which are admittedly quite high).  I’ve also had yet another massive cloth clear-out; I’ve destroyed/recycled/dismantled many old sketch books; I’ve cleared a load of unnecessary photographs off my computer.  I’m currently finishing off some cloths that need an ending.  After that –  a new beginning, I think. I’m looking forward to that.

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15 Responses to Reflecting

  1. kaite says:

    a good reflective post, good to learn things, good to consider what you’ve learnt and good to take stock of it all. a big tick…k.

  2. Elizabeth says:

    I’m glad that you learned so much and that you cleared away the unnecessary stuff. Now you can slowly grown into the work you want/need to make.

    Have a lovely day finishing the book.

    • Karen Turner says:

      Thanks, Elizabeth. I think it will take slightly more than a day to finish… I’ll take my time with this and will be working on finishing some other things too.

  3. Penny says:

    This has been quite a cleansing experience for you. Thanks for sharing. Just one thing…are you sure you can’t work like Rothko? I think it can be done!

    • Karen Turner says:

      Penny, I agree: I think it can be done, in fact. I know where I’m going (I think!) and I think something Rothko-esque might work quite well. Keep watching!

  4. joanna says:

    I think its interesting to look at what your are drawn to eg Rothko and what you are able to produce well. I am drawn to every colour under the sun but i find it hard to use lots of colour in my work. I understand your feling of not being sure if you like your piece, it can be hard to undrstand why. I have realised that not eveyone has that feeling and its bot because all their work is great, some people dont reflect on their work in the same way. Thanks for sharing the process and your refelctiveness.

  5. Trudi says:

    I’ve really enjoyed being able to follow your process and progress with this project, and think it has been extremely successful. I also think Penny has a point, if you are drawn to the works of Rothko, then maybe part of your growth process will be finding a way to work that way, have you looked at the pannels of Nellies Needles? Just a thought! Thanks you for such an honest reflective post, I’m certainly looking forward to where this now takes you 🙂

    • Karen Turner says:

      Thanks for that, Trudi – Nellie’s Needles is new to me. My new plan is not quite for panels, but is not a million miles away.

  6. Penny says:

    Ahh those ‘after the piece is finished’ thoughts! They are good in that I think they help refine who we are and who we want to be, but they can be sort of agonizing also. Thank you for sharing your thoughts — I’ve often wondered if other artists go through those self same reflections, especially after a lengthy project. I know I do — but each time I learn a little bit about who and what I am. One thing I’ve learned that I think is most important is that I MUST please myself — that often guides me on my art journey.

    • Karen Turner says:

      Yes, the important thing is that I learned a lot, and that’s always useful. I believe reflection is a vital part of the process.

  7. Jan Marriott says:

    thanks for sharing Karen….keep us posted.

  8. Debi Minter says:

    Very interesting post Karen. I love reading your “after” thoughts and I’m so looking forward to seeing where your reflections lead you. I do the same thing as I’m nearing the end of a project. I think this project of yours is absolutely delightful! And I hope you find a way to share it with others. It’s very inspirational, in it’s scope and in it’s subject matter. Sometimes we “over-think” the ending of a process instead of just enjoying the ending of it. I’m learning a lot about myself and my processes in the past couple of months. I’m grateful for the insights, and have mentors like you, Jude, and others to thank for them.

    ;~) Debi

    • Karen Turner says:

      Thanks for that, Debi. And thanks for your positive observation about the cloth book as object: I know that I tend to over-analyse, and I know that my own technical standards can be unrealistically high. Really, it’s a curse. I don’t apply those same standards to anyone else!

  9. sandra says:

    I love your honesty. These 6 weeks ( wow, you did a lot in them) have been a big exploration for you. You’ve learned a lot, and by telling us you help us reflect ourselves, so thank you Karen for being so open.


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