Deeper, not wider

Thanks to the wonders of Facebook, by chance late last year, I came across an article Go Deeper, Not Wider on David Cain’s blog
He suggests –
“You take a whole year in which you don’t start anything new or aquire any new possessions you don’t need. No new hobbies, equipment, games, or books are allowed during this year. Instead you find value in what you already own or what you’ve already started…It’s wonderful to have the freedom to continually widen our interests. But like many luxuries, it has it’s downside. Ever branching possibilities make it harder for us to explore any given one deeply, because there’s always more “newness” to turn to when the old new thing has reached a difficult or boring part”.
 In the article he suggests going deeper into your interests rather than continuing to purchase bright shiny new things that the appeal of disappears not long after you bring it home. Think the books you buy and never read, the art supplies never used…however I personally can’t add the fabric stash to this list. 🙂
I think this equally applies to developing your art practice. The more new techniques you try, the more books, materials, equipment and supplies you purchase, you can only ever scratch the surface…or they simply sit in the cupboard.

I went wide…

I looked at my art supplies several years ago and gave myself a challenge of going wide – to sample all of these textile supplies and books I had purchased over the years. For one whole year I sampled all the techniques and supplies I had already purchased. The Colour Project forced me to try all these techniques, it gave me five great reference files of samples, many of which I will never look at again, discovering that most of them were not my thing, either interest or time wise. In the latest issue of Down Under Textiles magazine I have written an article about how to go about your own version of The Colour Project.

…then deep

Setting limits on techniques, materials, size etc allows you to go deeper. We associate particular artists with certain styles and techniques. Where the artist has continued to explore, push and refine, thought what if?  on the next piece I’ll try…, rather than jumping to the next thing as soon as it gets boring, or especially when it gets difficult.

In a recent interview with Hanny Newton in she says: A lot of my pieces start with a ‘what happens if…’.

A notion comes into my head and I try to delve as deeply into it as possible, I find that if I simplify my work down to one type of stitch or one idea, it actually gives me more freedom to explore than if I had a world of possibilities, that would be quite overwhelming.

I tried this in the Fibres West 5 day retreat I did last year with Amanda McCavour on Experimental Surfaces: Machine Stitching and Unexpected Materials. After the initial class samples I pushed the idea of a cocoon shape for three days, trialing colour, shape, threads, tension. I came to the workshop with the idea of incorporating the connecting technique in my work as I was getting frustrated with the current joining processes I had been using. I’m really pleased to say that because of this intense experimenting, working through the challenges and possibilities of the material, the two most recent works I’ve been making it has worked a treat 🙂
Working in series is also a way to go deeper. Over the past few years I have been working on the theme of Silver Linings and explored many aspects of this and ways to interpret this into textiles.
How can you go deeper? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

6 thoughts on “Deeper, not wider

  1. Go deeper with less, buy nothing, actually use up some of your stash, all of these recommendations have been coming towards me from many directions over the past couple of years. I can even (almost) resist the lure of adding to the fabric stash, which mostly comes from ‘discerning’ op shop excursions. Your posting is another reminder of the value of really looking at what you are and have and seeing it in fresh ways. You certainly are a great exponent of that! This morning I completed a piece for ‘Don’t Jettison Everything’, Mundaring Arts Centre’s members exhibition later this year, bought nothing and used the old technique of crochet. Feeling chuffed!

    • Anne, I have learnt so much about the value of the materials we already have and the memories they hold – from you. Thank you!

  2. I feel the needling Louise! The idea of actually READING the books I have bought rather than just flick through them has particular appeal. Now, to select the one to start on…..

  3. Using seems to be on many on our minds. I have dabbled with learning many techniques in the past 8 years. I now have a stash and enough art supplies to open a small store.

    I decided that this was a year to Find it , Finish it. Go though the projects and create some closure.

    Learn to use my toys…. camera, editing software and long arm.

    Make for me… not for exhibits, not for others but for me.

    Stamp out FOMO in my life. Lose the fear of missing out and revel in the joy of finding out.

    I have read several blogs in the past month that all have these types of themes. Thank you for yours.

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