Mom and I started a new challenge for ourselves recently. Each week we would make a small art quilt featuring a circle. The challenge was inspired by an exercise from Jane Dunnewold's "Creative Strength Training" course to draw mandalas. I am still drawn to the circle and I keep using the circle as a starting place for drawings. I don't always keep to the symmetry of a formal mandala.
A few months ago I thought it might be fun to take this obsession with circles further. There is so much symbolism associated with the circle and so many patterns can be created inside a circle. It presents seemingly endless opportunity for exploration. The circle on its own can represent completeness, unity, and creativity. Common symbols like the peace sign and the yin-yang symbol are based on the circle. Also the Sanskrit meaning for the word "mandala" is a circle.*
I wanted to get back into making art on a regular basis and doing something that was a manageable size and commitment level. I tried the stitch meditations format as presented by Liz Kettle where you create one tiny stitched piece each day. I couldn't keep up with committing to do one piece a day and I wanted to do something a little bigger and spend some more time on it. I had enjoyed doing small journal quilts quite some time ago now. The letter page size of those art quilts was manageable for experimenting.
As I was deciding to do this, I thought it would be fun if Mom was interested in joining me in this new challenge. It's fun to be able to talk about our creative plans and see what we come up with. Who knows, the art could make a good art exhibit someday. Thankfully, Mom was interested so we hashed out the details. We are making a 6x8" piece every week for about 12 weeks with some leeway for the holidays and other life interruptions. Mom made us each a template so the circle would always be the same size and placed in the same spot. This would ensure that if we lined up a bunch of the pieces, there could be some continuity in the layout.
I'm working on mini art quilt number 6 now. Last I checked, Mom was ahead of me by one or two pieces at least. We're having a great time. I've used some gelatin prints created recently and some fabric that's been sitting around for quite a while that I printed on during a workshop with Jane Dunnewold at the Quilt/Surface Design Symposium . I still have lots of ideas of what to do next so I might have to make more than 12 pieces.
*Tresidder, Jack. "Symbols and Their Meanings." Barnes and Noble Books, 2006 (pages 148 & 155).
Mother & daughter, Ann Lee & Sonja Lee-Austin share their joys and struggles in their art and lives.