Knittin' mittens for ma kittens!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Just some thoughts on art

As I approach the one-year "anniversary" of learning to knit, I find myself thinking about the progression of my artistic and creative pursuits. For me, art has always been a constant, though the media has changed; when I was a child I made little dolls using scrap fabric and string, took oil painting classes, created scrapbooks. My parents were always supportive and signed me up for all sorts of classes, and wondered where I'd gotten my creative streak from.

But for a while, especially after high school and during my first few years of college, I started to feel that I'd lost the creative spark that had fueled me for so long. Most of my energy was being put into classes and studying Japanese--the year I spent in Japan was life-changing, but marked by a significant lack of creativity and artistic pursuits. All my energy was going into trying to cram as much vocabulary and grammar into my mind as possible, not to mention memorizing Chinese characters by the hundreds. Art fell by the wayside, and it wasn't until I got back to the US that I was able to concentrate on reconnecting with that lifelong passion.

Drawing and painting were my passions in high school, but self-expression with those mediums was difficult for me. My drawing was always as precise as possible--I was probably the most skilled at recreating portraits from photographs, and doing still-life paintings. But there was always a level of anxiety and stress that I felt while drawing, as I struggled to depict what I saw exactly as it appeared before my eyes. The end results seemed impressive enough to others, but to me, there was not a lot of myself in those finished drawings and paintings. I'm sure that part of the problem was that I was very serious about my art class, and my projects became less about enjoying the process and more about having a polished finished piece that would receive high scores.

In college, after returning from Japan, I began to gravitate towards more "functional" types of art. I was getting back in touch with the love of crafts I'd had since childhood, rediscovering my passion for art--and creating things I could put to use. In my senior year, I had the money to take pottery classes at a local studio, and found a fulfillment and pleasure in it that I hadn't found in other kinds of artistic mediums. I never became that great at it, but to me it didn't matter if I ended up with a finished product on the wheel or not--at last, it was the process that was appealing, not just the end result. I began to love the way that pottery fuses art and function (much like knitting!): you use your two hands to create something beautiful that is also of value in your daily life, something you can use rather than just look at admiringly.

Though in the last year I've become more obsessed with things like yarn and fiber than I ever would have imagined, it's been a natural progression of my love of crafts and functional art. I still occasionally draw, but only when the spirit moves me. I drew a portrait of my boyfriend and I from a photo I particularly liked as a gift for our one-year anniversary, and enjoyed every moment of the process. Though I haven't done any wheel throwing or other types of pottery in about a year, I definitely plan to take it up again in the near future--though I certainly would need to set aside money that would otherwise be spent on yarn to sign up for a class or workshop!


  • How wonderful that you're recognizing your one-year anniversary!

    And you've been so adventurous thus far... I can't wait to see what you spend this next year knitting!

    By Blogger jen, at 9:01 PM  

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