I am sure you know what vulnerability feels like. It is an uncomfortable feeling and therefore most of us shy away from making ourselves vulnerable to others. Well I know I do. I am quite picky about who I reveal my vulnerability to. The funny thing is as a writer one does go out on a limb and to some extent become vulnerable. We open ourselves up for criticism as well as encouragement. People might reject us or disapprove of our content rather than embrace our writing.
I for many years found it difficult even expressing myself in spoken word as I feared judgement and rejection but what I have discovered over time is that the more I share of myself (with discernment and diplomacy) the more opportunity there is for people to get to know me. When people know me they are free to like me or to honestly say “I don’t connect with what you are saying or sharing.” There is no shame in it because we can’t feel an affinity with everyone or what they say all of the time. And so I don’t take it as rejection anymore.
What are W.I.P.s?
That being said I do hold back on sharing my works in progress (W.I.P). I have come across the term “work in progress” in the crafting community, like knitters and crocheters and it refers to the work that is current and not yet finished. They often post their current work so that the public can see their progress. I like the term so I have decided to use it with regards to my art projects.
So in the past I use to “emotionally whip” myself because of my imperfections but this type of WIP is nothing like that whip. In actual fact it is the opposite and it is filled with grace because one doesn’t know yet if the works will be failures or successes or just middling when one posts as one goes a long. For me there is a risk involved especially as I do a lot of experimenting I would be opening myself up to “embarrassing fails.” Yet isn’t that what I have been talking about?
I feel ready to see what happens if I show my artist’s vulnerability. I could rationalize and say I don’t want to waste your time and the good will of my followers but under it I want to save face. I am so totally aware that when I try to save face I omit to share life. It’s as if the life is sucked out of the words. So at the risk of vulnerability I am going to share my latest process in my art journey.
What I am up to right now.
I am an environmental enthusiast and so I want my art to reflect this passion. Part of this process has involved tentatively exploring eco-printing. I am inspired by Elisabeth Viguie Culshaw who is a French artist living in Scotland and also by Kristen McClarty who lives in Kommetjie, Cape Town. My curiosity was ignited two years ago but it was only in November, 2020, when we went away for our anniversary and I saw handmade clothing and soft fittings at a market that I became inspired to explore and experiment this avenue more.
I learnt a little bit about dying, mordants, and pre-mordants and about scouring your natural plant fiber fabrics before dying but I am not going to go into all the details as I am not an expert and certainly could learn a lot more. Here are some examples of my experiments:
I also tried bleach on fabric, some took but other fabrics didn’t respond. This effect is not very precise at all. I think it would look effective if I did some rust-mordant printing over it so that it gives a ghost or halo effect. I will try that in the week and show you next time.
This is the nature of experimenting and it can feel disheartening if you are plodding along on your own, trying and trying with not much success. I have decided that I would probably not embark on this as a long-term form of art expression or take up a career in it but it was fun to learn and experiment. I would be interested in going on a course where I could learn from an expert so that I can cut out all the donkey work and failures. Maybe when I visit my daughter in Scotland I will take a course with Elisabeth Viguie Culshaw. Otherwise I will use the technique as and when I need to in future.
Black ink and bleach.
The shapes of the leaves were imprecise and not what I had planned in my mind yet in some way I think it expresses well how I feel at the moment. To me it looks like the image one sees when viewing part of a tree where the light shines through the leaves but most of the leaves are indistinct. It feels quite symbolic of how the future is unknown and indistinct and how I personally am not too sure of the way forward; both in my art process and in other areas of my life.
In my view of public opinion I might think it was not a great success and so in the past I would not share this sort of thing in a blog. This is my first attempt at vulnerability and sharing art on my blog. I like how the unplanned is actually saying something of me – and of us – that I would not necessarily have thought of expressing. So I am happy.
Take care, till next time.