That intrigued me, because I’ve been mulling over how to tell the story of my art for a while now. Contemplating just what that means, the story of my art—or any art. The idea of story in relation to art tripped me up at first, because one of the things that draws me (I know, pun) to art, that I love about it, is the absence of words, of narrative structure. Its ‘non-verbalness.’ Silence, even. Sometimes I need a break from words, from the cacophony in my head and in the human world, all the talking that goes on. A place to rest. I find that in stitching, in thinking spatially, thinking in color and line and bright shiny things.
Then I realized that what I’m telling is not the art’s story, it’s my story—of what led me to making my art, why I make it, how I make it, what thought processes go into its creation. And in fact, my initial resistance to narrative in art is part of the story (though I’m re-thinking that idea, but that’s for another post).
Art, for me, usually starts with a physical response to stimuli in the environment around me, and then, as I work, to my chosen materials and what happens with them while forming the piece. It’s a feeling in my arms, my shoulders, a gesture, a movement of the head. It’s indescribable, actually, which is, I think, why I make it. Because it can’t be talked about. It can’t be created in words. (Which is not to say that words don’t have their own art, which I also love, but it manifests differently.)
In the piece I’m currently working on, I’m at the point in the story I call the plateau stage. This stage seems to happen with every piece. I’ve finished the section I had initially planned out, and now… what? The piece doesn’t feel done, but the next step isn’t presenting itself. I play with a few ideas, take pictures of it in black and white to better see the values, start doubting what I’ve already done, stare at it for long periods of time. Consider cutting it up and rearranging it, transforming it into something different.
This isn’t a comfortable time. It’s distinctly uncomfortable, in fact, but it’s necessary. I know that if I try to power through this phase rather than giving it the time or space it needs, I won’t be satisfied with the results. Sitting with the crunchy feeling of not know what should happen next seems to be part of the whole process. I know that either something will identify itself as the next step, or enough time will pass (how much time? I can’t say definitively. Just… enough) that I’ll find I can start to do something and the piece will move along.
It’s hard to trust this part of the process. But if I do trust it, I find the piece has the potential to become something much more interesting than what I had initially planned.
In the meantime, I’ll start another piece, clean up the studio, take a walk. I’ll post pictures on Instagram, either of the piece or of interesting things I find during the waiting. And who knows, maybe throwing Instagram into the mix will help the process along.