One foot, then the other…

Over the last week of Palustrus Festival, I was given compliments on my piece, “Fireline” that I created for the Double Takes 2013 show. To be honest sometimes things like this amaze me. I knew I had a vision about translating the photo into an art quilt, but it didn’t go exactly as I had hoped. There were moments that I was quite frustrated with it. There was one night it kept me up trying to think of solutions for a problem I encountered during the process.

Toward the deadline, I kept pushing (and stressing) through the construction. At several points, I contemplated destroying what I had done and starting over (at a much smaller scale). But, I didn’t destroy it. I kept on going.

DoubleTakes2013_pairWhen I handed it over to Nancy, I literally gave it to her in tears. I guess the tears were partly relief that I had finished it, but mostly frustration of what it wasn’t.

The vision didn’t turn out exactly as  I had hoped. There wasn’t time to start over, it had to be what it was. That’s what happens when you live by deadlines, there’s no time for do-overs. When I handed it over all I could see was what it wasn’t.

I’ve taught enough classes and know enough about my own emotions, that what I was doing is not abnormal. I call it the curse of being a perfectionist. Women tend to do this (I’m not sure that men do). We see the flaws in our work, criticize our abilities and get anxious about it. We somehow think we have to live up to some standard that is realistically impossible to achieve. I do know NOTHING is perfect! and I must remind myself of that frequently.

I’ve learned how to deal with this curse. First accept any compliments with a simple “thank you!” and never, ever, point out what I see wrong. The reality is no one else sees what I see. I spent countless hours with this quilt staring at it 8 inches away from my face. The viewer doesn’t have an insight to my original vision, nor do they have an insight to what went off course during the construction process. Based on their own personal life-experiences, they see something quite different than I do.

DoubleTakes2013_artworkI’m telling you this, because I want you to learn with me. The angst I had is part of the process, I’m learning to let that drive me. This quilt affirmed the lesson for me again…

During the Palustris Festival, Eye Candy Gallery allowed viewers to select their favorite artwork, photograph, and artwork/photo pair. Yesterday I was notified that Brady and I won viewer’s choice for the artwork/photo pair and “Fireline” came into a 3-way tie for viewer’s choice artwork. Seeing the competition and knowing my own angst during the construction, I am truly amazed, humbled, and thankful for the recognition. The validation reminds me that I’m on the right track…”one foot, then the other.”


  1. jenny says:

    You are absolutely on the right track. I followed your angst through that weekend and understood your frustration. I have been there, as I’m sure all artists have. You are smart enough to understand the lessons and use them to you advantage. When your work seems to be working against you, sometimes you have to be the one to bend to the work and let it go where it wants to go. It seems that’s what happened here and now the work speaks for itself. and you, of course, because you were able to go with it, even as the work changed from your original vision. And what a payoff! Congratulations Nanette!

  2. Congratulations Nanette! I know exactly how you feel! I learned while writing the book (with you) that what didn’t turn out as I had expected became a “design element” 😉

  3. Kerry says:

    As a poet and writer, I totally understand your feelings. I’ve placed poems in publications that I was sort of shocked were accepted. Even with revision after revision, I don’t always end up with an effort I feel 100% about.

    Your quilts are so beautiful. It’s hard to imagine them not living up to your expectations. You’re a gifted artist, and as such, you’re cursed with the perfectionist mindset. The thing is, though, your fans are blessed because of it.

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