Monday, January 18, 2016

In the Beginning; It's Scary--Beth Schnellenberger

Beth and Judith from And Then We Set It On Fire asked me and at least one other former resident artist for the group to fill you in on what we have been doing since we left the Fire blog. I was one of the original contributors to the blog. It was a GREAT learning experience for me.

I remember when I first started my own blog Quilter Beth's Blog. I was really scared to put myself out there. I decided to work through a book (Art + Quilt) and post my successes and failures on the blog. Again, it was scary. Then, I was contacted by Judith and asked to become a resident artist on the Fire blog. I remember emailing Judith and saying I couldn't do it; I wasn't an artist. I had been quilting for MANY years, but I hadn't really "done my own thing." I wasn't sure what I could share in the "art realm." Judith had been following my blog and saw something in me that I didn't see myself. She convinced me I did have something to contribute to this new blog. I was SCARED, but I have NEVER regretted the decision. I did have REAL trouble, however, calling myself an artist.

Throughout my time with the Fire blog, I learned SO much--I met Judith in person (and found we had A LOT in common), I learned to write a decent blog post explaining my process (including pictures), and I added MANY new "tools" to my toolbox. I did not, however, do much work on "becoming" an artist--on finding MY OWN voice. After much soul searching, I dropped out of the Fire blog to work on my own art. Again, I was scared.

Since leaving the blog, I have been spending time developing my own artwork. It really started when I took an Advanced Independent Workshop (for two years) with Jane Dunnewold. I really feel that the work I did in that workshop set some really good things in motion for me.

I had told Jane that part of my problem in creating art was that I liked every aspect of fiber art (stitching, piecing, dyeing, painting, screen printing, etc., etc., etc.) and couldn’t narrow it down enough to actually get started. I had read LOTS of books, worked through LOTS of exercises, and taken LOTS of classes. I guess I was afraid to actually “do my own thing.” Jane made me focus on “what I liked and what I was good at.” I had to quit being pulled in so many different directions, quit taking classes, and quit reading how-to books and experimenting--I had to actually DO/MAKE/CREATE. The fact that Jane made me accountable for getting some of my own work done gave me the incentive I needed to get started. During that time, I ended up making 12+ pieces of art.

I got brave enough to start exhibiting my work and sold one of the first pieces I showed publicly. No one was more surprised than me!

"Flying Bikinis" (named by my son) is heavily hand quilted (as Jane would say...something I like to do and am good at). It contains pieced silk sari strips within appliqu├ęd bias curves and measures 10" X 23.75".

That sale and the positive comments at the show gave me the courage I needed to continue creating and showing my work. Since that time, I have had pieces juried into several shows, have had a solo show, and have had pieces in an invitation-only exhibit with artists I really admire. I was scared to do it all, but I have found that I grow when I do things that really scare me.

Have you been thinking you might want to "put yourself out there?" It is a scary thing to do; but you CAN do it, and it can be very rewarding.

16 comments:

  1. Thanks for this post. It was a real encouragement to me, a fellow scaredy-cat. One of my goals for the year is to display something I make in public. I have been working up my courage a couple of years now. May this be the year!

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  2. What an inspiring post.......I'm so glad you get yourself motivated.....the rewards were worth it.

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  3. Beth, your piece is wonderful... so full of color and beautifully executed! Thanks for sharing your story. I remember when I first started trying to sell my art at craft shows... even there, it was a bit scary to put myself on display. But I've been at it for a long time now, and even have work selling in a local gallery now. I do think we have to push the envelope if we want to grow, and I love that you have been doing this.

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  4. So good that you overcame your fears. An inspiring story.

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  5. I am totally relating. Time for me to do what I like and what I'm good at!!! thanks for putting yourself out there. :)

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  6. Wow! This is inspiring on so many levels. I love the title you son gave the piece--Bikinis was might first thought as I so the top bit scroll up on my screen. Your story resonates with me. I read a lot of blogs and try a lot of different things but I haven't figured out what "my thing" is. I guess I also don't see myself as an artist.

    I'm so impressed by the large areas of orange. So bright and such a difficult color but it really works.

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  7. You mentioned you took a two year course. When I read that I thought whoa... that would be quite a time commitment but I liked what you said about what it did for your career path. Well done.

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  8. Interesting to see who you are as I am the other quilter Beth (quilterb - Beth's blog) and also a big fan of this blog!

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  9. Very interesting! Part of this could have been written by me... The fears, the not knowing what to focus on... So, what is the technique or look you decided to focus on... And how did you get there?

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  10. Very interesting! Part of this could have been written by me... The fears, the not knowing what to focus on... So, what is the technique or look you decided to focus on... And how did you get there?

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  11. Thank you for sharing your inspirational creative journey and how you dealt with the fears and the unknown.

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  12. Leslie asked "what is the technique or look" I decided to focus on--I had to determine what I liked to to and what I am good at. The intersection of those two points is handwork. I like hand quilting, hand embroidery, bold colors, and graphic designs. Almost all of the pieces I make contain those four elements. Occasionally, I will machine quilt a piece if it calls for it or if I'm on a deadline and don't have time to do the handwork I'd like.

    Don't let the fear dictate what you do. I have really worked hard to begin to overcome those little voices in my head that whisper, "You are not REALLY an artist. Your work is not good enough." You can do that too.

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  13. Loved your post and can totally identify with it, congratulations on your sucess!

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  14. Flying bikinis...ha I didn't see that until I read what your son named it.

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