Monday, March 14, 2011

in search of spring--back to basics

Ah the approach of spring. The time to prepare for new growth. This week-end my DH and I spent time pruning our grape arbor. Now this arbor was a thing of wonder--old locust posts with the bark still on them.  An arch formed by metal bands from a wooden silo went up and over it. Birds nested in the spring. Cats lounged in its cool shade on hot summer days. Long, long grape vines intertwined and matted with the detritus of dead leaves.

Unfortunately the winter's snows crumpled the arbor. Twisted the metal onto itself. The grape vines collapsed into a tangled mess of snow, dead leaves, long new vines. I read on the internet that the strength of the vines is in the roots. Time to cut out the mess. Rebuild the arbor. Dirty nasty work. Tugging long vines. Take this--oh tsunami that hit Japan. And that--you politician that threaten my beloved NPR. A great and vigorous morning until finally we could see what was left. Stark gnarled vines standing there alone. Will green buds grow this spring? Will clumps of grapes form next year?

I've been doing the same with my quilts. Every few years I need to cut back. Change. See what is basic and essential. How to use color and fabric as the essence. Working in blocks. Simple. Works of substance that go beyond quilts. That sing with color.  Half awake in the morning I can catch glimpses of the art I want to make--still in the distance. Still waiting to be discovered.

Meanwhile  I go into the studio and study, learn what I need. I play on the design board and make pillows. I analyze and step away. Finally I finish the first wall hanging. Simple and elegant. I love the feel of the work. Strong and basic.  Should it be hung long--a story board of color?

Or horizontal? Over a bed--echoing a table? What will the public think? I am doing the Paradise City Art Festival this week-end. Time to get a reaction. Will they like this direction? Will they be enchanted in its substance and vigor? Or am I just playing games? Did I just waste my time?  And you--what do you think? Do you ever want to work with just the basics? And my grapes--will they grow back?

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