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Ellen Anne Eddy
Author of Thread Magic: The Enchanted World of Ellen Anne Eddy Fiber artist, author and teacher
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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Art outside the Box: Pushing Limits

An odd thing has happened to me as I've gotten older. The stop signs in my life have gotten bigger. Redder. My eye sight may be worse, but my ability to notice a red light somehow has improved. It is possible that I notice my limits more. Or am more willing to acknowledge them. Is it possible that I've finally had sense beaten into me? I'm beginning to recognize that there really are limits I need to pay attention to. I'm afraid to eat too much cheese or sugar. I'm terrified I'll fall.

So it's fascinating to take a break from that. I've spent the last year on a project that's demanded I push all my limits. I've run out of underwear and forks and still pushed on. If the news cameras roll up to my house I know I'm in trouble, but I got done. And now I'm discovering what happens when I push past the limits of sense and reason.

First off, my housekeeping is at a new low, even for me. If you have a significant other who needs an attitude adjustment about creative clutter, mess, and general filth, send them over. I can help.

But I've found, not a second wind. Perhaps a fourth or fifth. I've found I resent the sucking sound of the television, that hoovers away my time and energy.And I've found myself breaking my own rules. For years I've worked towards more realism, more feathers and scales, more intricacy. All of a sudden I'm tired of that. I'm playing with simple shapes.
Intricacy is  fun, but it's also a trap. If all you can to do stretch is make it fussier and harder, there's a day where it won't push further. The system finally collapses.

I almost never work with heart shapes. Too artificial. Too sentimental. Too silly. Too heart breaking, tell the truth. I do romance the way some people do soap operas. Someone else's, please. It's all vicarious because I'm way too scared, old, plain, fat. Since we know all of that is just the dark whispering, let's just  just be real and say scared.

But after having pushed that many limits and dealt with the great unwashed fork incident, my sense seems to have been blunted. I'm playing with heart shapes.

Perhaps if we never push past the limits into that other place, we're stuck where there's nothing but that icky whispering darkness. Baby birds have to push past that egg or it never happens for them. So having pushed past those hearts, I'm off to go make day lilies out of shapes like dragon's claws. You never know.


Janice Paine-Dawes said...

You are such a wise woman. And BTW, I could tell those are your hearts, lol.

Createology said...

I am entranced reading your post. Your words are magic and tell such a visual tale. Your hearts are fabulous and fun. Why struggle when you can have such a wondrous time making art. Thank you for sharing. Happy Holly Jolly Joy to you...

Judy Warner said...

I love your heart quilts - keep breaking some of those rules!

Gisela Towner said...

Just Wow.
I see some of me in what you've written -- and things to think about.

Anonymous said...

We used to have a "Bleeding Heart " tree with leaves that colour.The wonderful thing about sewing as we do is that "there are no rules". It's all just Playing, and "breaking rules", which really are our self-imposed limits.
It feels fabulous to be bold!
I now have your books Ellen, and Next Year I plan to leap off some cliffs(metaphorically speaking).Love your Blog.

Anonymous said...

Why not?? I love it!
An inspiration you are indeed!!

Dianne Leatherdale Johnson said...

Ellen, you are a courageous woman. Thank you for sharing your heart with us.
Dianne Leatherdale Johnson

June said...

Wonderful insights. Thank you.

arlinda said...

Ellen your hearts are lovely and bright. You have been an inspiration to me since the day I bought your book Thread Magic when it first came out. Your work gave me the courage to pursue my own creativity. Thank you

momzilla said...

Ellen....I relate to so much of what you said, and I KNOW about intricacy being a trap! That said, I wear a silver bracelet that has a saying by Appolinaire:

come to the edge, he said - they said, we're afraid - come to the edge, he said - they came - he pushed them and they flew.........

happy season, Lisel

Lili said...

curious minds want to know about the unwashed fork incident.

Ellen Anne Eddy said...

After around 3 weeks of working on the last bit of the last manuscript, there were no more clean forks. There were only dirty forks hidden in furniture in the living room. There were some dirty forks also in the dish hider, but it didn't shut. So we did, what all ugly Americans do under stress. We went to Walmart and bought more forks that immediately became dirty. Finally, I stopped caring and used any fork I found. Anywhere.
Writing a book is an insane process at the end. The deadlines are real, the time is incredibly pushed, and civilization is always a fragile thing.

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