Friday, February 5, 2010


Dots and Prickly Pears
TC #2 2010

Welcome to Studio 24-7 ! Before I talk about my newest Weekly Textile Construction, I want to give a tip of the hat to Elizabeth Barton and her fine blog: Art and Quilts, Cogitations, Thereon.

Elizabeth writes on all manner of topics related to quilts, the making of quilts, shows etc. all with the clear understanding that we are making Art and what this means. During a recent exchange we discussed a little about the concept of making art intuitively and so she has followed this up with a very thoughtful article which generated some equally thoughtful comments. I invite all of you to popover to her site, read the article and comment.

My joke is I can't claim to work intuitively because I know too much! What this means to me is I have studied art and made art for a long time and I know that what some may call intuition, is action based on knowledge and experience. Does this mean I always 'get it right'? Well I wish, but then where would the fun be in that. I sketch, I cut things out, I talk to other artist, I visit shows, I read (when I can stay awake), and I work in my studio on a regular basis. I find if I am doing these things my intuition gets much better.

I think one of the most interesting aspects of this conversation for me is when you turn the light on 'so called' primitive artists. I say 'so called' because these are most often people who not only haven't gone to art school but may not be highly educated at all in traditional subjects. So how does their intuition develop? Well I have not made any kind of study of this, but because I love many forms of primitive art I have thought about this. I think they actually have had a kind of training and it came to them through family, community, and local traditions. I think of the wonderful work of some of the aboriginal people and how they are often encouraged to spend their days painting or making whatever they make. Likely they have sat next to someone else who made paintings or pots etc. Think of the Gees Bend quilters. As a group of people, they may have been making their quilts for utilitarian purposes but I think they may have shown their work to each other and maybe complimented one another and these activities influence what we do. My personal belief is that as soon as you see a piece of artwork, good or bad, you have been be careful what you look at! For me the things I don't remember are works that are so bland there is nothing to remember.

So. Whether you have a studio Phd. or have learned your art from books, experimentation and workshops, I agree with Elizabeth, you learn your lessons so well you are able to internalize the concepts and use them without thinking about every little thing you do. Work, stop, look, absorb, change, adjust, stop, look, study, wait, appreciate, get happy.

Now. Before you head off to make something wonderful..... here is my report on Dotty.

Last week I showed you my little study of black dots on yellow fabric and the piece at the top of the page is how it looks now. I call this type of stitching seed stitch but that may not be a real name. I love this technique and I am pleased with the results. Actually I was not pleased until I had finished it all and put it on the design wall so I could see it with proper light.

I tried black thread and that did not work. I tried a kind of cream white and that didn't work. This one if an off white and I like that. I shows on the yellow and makes each of the black shapes and dots look like cactus and really animates the surface which was already pretty animated! I have not finished the edges as I may add another element to this little study. Only time will tell. Here are some details for you to enjoy.

Please drop by on Monday as I will have an Artist Profile on Joan Schulze.

Love hearing from you!!!


  1. Terry, I love Dotty. Can I take her home? The colors and shapes that you realized in this piece are a perfect match. There is a great deal of animation that makes me think of figures running for taxi cabs in a summer rain. Well, it is raining today and that may have something to do with my impression. The little short white hashmarks really create a lot of energy in this piece.

  2. Terry, you metion you "know to much" (from an educational perspective) and thus it may affect your ability for intuitive response---I tend to think of intuitive or intuition AS experience---the collective whole that we develop over a long period of working with successes and failures. Those experiences imbed in our memory/brains somewhere, and affect how we respond to future situations. Some call it a gut reaction, or viseral response, as though it is mystical, but I think of it as intuition and though it is not always immediately clear why we respond intuitively, in a breakdown analysis, I think more often than not we would see it has logical and rational foundations.
    Thanks for posting this. And, I the Dotty piece!

  3. Oh what it is to be ...dotty!! I love the connects and makes them less alone and lowering.
    Enjoying the conversation on intuition:
    for my response!!!

  4. Thanks guys for your comments. Jane, I too think as intuition as 'the whole ball of wax'. Everything you know. My reference to knowing too much really is in response to the suggestion that you just go into your studio and 'something magical' happens and the work just gets made. While I do have a belief in the idea of the 'collective mind', I also think you have to take responsibility and ownership of what you do and that just saying you work intuitively somehow sidesteps that responsibility.

  5. oh, ok, Yes. I work every day to get students to talk and write about what they do and how they make decisions. You're right about taking responsibility for the work and the decisions.

  6. couldn't have put it better! your last sentence sums it all up perfectly. We are and SHOULD be responsible for what we do. There is No Magic out there, it is all within you..but you have to Exert it!

  7. Terry, your comment above is right on about citing intuition as a substitute for articulating what really went on in your head. I think that we all have intuitive moments, where we just know what to do next, but the thoughtful artist will subsequently reflect on what happened and figure out why. That knowledge can be very helpful as you contemplate what to do in the next piece in your series or at some other future decision point.