Stuck on the Okay Plateau?

Thought it was worth sharing a link to this blog entry by Lisa Call in which she writes ”Just making art is not all it takes to becoming a better artist. We could spend years churning out the same average artwork over and over unless we take the time to practice our artwork with the goal in mind of becoming better.”

NO TIME FOR TEA (2013) 104cm x 98cm

104cm x 98cm

Lisa has a great blog. Yes, she uses it to actively market her art and her teaching. But she shares so much along the way and she often gets me thinking. In this piece Lisa talks about the things we can all do to push ourselves beyond average and sites working in series as the mechanism she uses to grow and develop. And I couldn’t agree more. For me the great advantage of working in series is that you don’t have to try and resolve all your good ideas in a single piece. Before making a conscious decision to work in series I would often feel paralysed and unable to even start work because I could not see how to get all my ideas and thoughts into one piece. Or I would get disheartened half way through working on a piece when I realised that it would have more energy if I had used turquoise instead of moss green. Knowing that you’re going to make lots of pieces around a theme or an inspiration is wonderfully liberating. The development of ideas from one piece to the next is a form of continuous improvement that prevents us getting stuck on the Okay Plateau.

So in the spirit of sharing I will let you into a secret – the first piece I made in my Hidden Message series is better known as No Time for Tea and bears absolutely no resemblance to the pieces that followed. I knew that I wanted to say something about modern Chinese society and how weird it is that the population aspires to a Western lifestyle whilst living in a country with single party politics and rampant censorship. The piece didn’t have the gravity I was aiming for but it did contain elements that I wanted to develop further. In one sense it was a failure but I love it anyway!


5 responses to “Stuck on the Okay Plateau?

  1. I am one of Lisa Call’s students and took her Working in a Series workshop several years ago. My Connections series was born from that workshop and continues to this day. Since working on this series, I have been juried into several national juried shows (USA) and also got into Quilt National 2015 which is often considered to be one of the most prestigious textile juried shows. I have to say….working in a series has worked magic for moving my art forward.


  2. Isn’t it fascinating how imposing limitations on yourself by defining the paraneters of a series actually results in the experience you describe as ‘wonderfully liberating’. For me working in a series serves to provide much needed focus by not eliminating all the competing possibilities but by putting them in a nice orderly (very British) queue. I don’t have to make choices between options I just have to pick one option at random and know the rest can be done soon. Liberating indeed!


  3. This ties in well with Elizabeth Barton’s post on learning and developing


    • Thanks for the link to Elisabeths blog. I love her point that art is an activity where perfection is impossible but trying to achieve it is wonderful. Very true.


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