Taking Hold of Uncertainty

"...vision is always ahead of execution, knowledge of materials is your contact with reality, and uncertainty is a virtue." Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland I've been following these words as I work on a challenge for an art quilt exhibit I'm participating in.

Our group of artists agreed to pick a photograph, which each of us would interpret in her own way.

It made me think of women quilters back in the 19th century, spurring each other on to greater heights of inventiveness, as they watched their neighbors take the same old shirt fabric and use it in entirely different ways.

We chose a photograph taken by Maura McEvoy, a stunningly simple shot of a mandarin orange and two dominos, sitting in a raku fired bowl on a deep teal colored linen background.

My first thought was to get as far away as  possible from the photograph and create a quilt that looked nothing like it. Then I careened back with an almost comical desire to imitate the photograph in a very literal way.

Frustrated by opposing impulses, I decided to channel my imaginary 19th century ladies.

It seems to me that these women were the early forerunners of color theorists like Josef Albers, employing an understanding that colors appear differently, according to the colors  around them. The use of color in a pattern created the spirit of the quilt.

Although I'm no slave to pattern (I usually want to break it as soon as I begin), I wanted the blues of my piece to pulsate around the squares, suggesting the delicate cracked bowl with the bright orange mandarin and the ochre colored dominos.

One week and many stitched together scraps later, I've begun to enjoy the process; stepping into the unknown, unsure of where the next stitch will take me and also not knowing exactly where the final stitch might reside.

Thinking of my ladies, both the real and the imaginary, I'm discovering the loveliness of uncertainty.