channeling

Sometimes I have to unsettle the settled patterns of my mind. I start with no ideas, no burning need to communicate. I just have to get out of my head and into my hands. I grab the nearest slab of fabric, stick some batting into the fold and start stitching. Black and white satisfies the need for definition. It forces me to focus. These pieces flush out and flesh out latent anxiety. Perfection isn’t here. Neither is story or parable. It’s just a traveling line.

traveling lines in black on white.

They mean nothing. It’s just a release. I may find a use for them in the future. The dimensions please me.

What fun.

Gobble Gobble

Gobble Gobble, detail, Paula Kovarik

I teach a class about line. Following the thread is what I do. Needle down, head filled with thoughts, I let the line travel. I draw like this too. Something about letting the line tell me where it needs to go lets me tap into an unconsciousness that builds my stitch vocabulary, soothes my worried soul and brings thoughts to the surface. 

Gobble Gobble was done in one of my classes. You can see the practice one in white and the final in black here. It's about greed. I think.

Gobble Gobble, practice tile, Paula Kovarik. With the exception of the small independent circles that are stitched by the bird heads this drawing is one continuous line that builds the composition.

I don't pre-draw the lines to stitch in these pieces. Instead I begin with an idea of what motifs will repeat in the work. In this case it was the bird-like heads that are gobbling up the resources. As the line travels through the piece the architecture of the composition is created with a connective tissue of swirls, leaf forms and repetitive pattern.

Gobble Gobble, Paula Kovarik, 12" x 12" 2018

This piece will be part of the Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) Benefit Auction. SAQA is an international organization that promotes quilts as art and forges a community of artists who share a common passion for fiber and stitch. The auction will take place online from September 14 through October 7.

Pathways and choices

If you search for the phrase "You're probably not as busy as you say you are" you'll get a number of articles about the psychological weight of feeling overwhelmed and the nature of choice. Today's electronic environment is a rabbithole of interference and distraction. It also inspires.

From Maria Popova's Brain Pickings journal: The stories that we tell ourselves, whether they be false or true, are always real. We act out of those stories, reacting to their realness. William James knew this when he observed: “My experience is what I agree to attend to. Only those items which I notice shape my mind.”

I choose to go down rabbitholes. I choose to allow mystery to guide me. I choose pathways that don't make sense in an effort to abolish the literal.

Stitch pathways mimic the complexity of confusion. Paula Kovarik, 2016

Adding spotlights to the cacophony sorts out simple scenes.

Stream-of-consciousness stitching reveals anxious wanderings. Pathways, Paula Kovarik, 2016

Morning sun gives me some ideas for extra detail bubbling up.

gratefulness on edge

I really wanted a cigarette last week. It's been 13 years since I quit smoking and that does not stop the urge. I really wanted a cigarette last week. On Wednesday I woke up in a cold sweat believing I had started smoking again (because that inevitably means that I would have to quit again). Tension is as tension does.

So my stitching is frenetic. Punching the needle into the cloth with a frenzy that borders on manic.

Health questions in the family generated this invasive species.

Cypress trees on a stress-reducing walk reminded me of the new leaders walking into office — dark and foreboding figures.

An automatic stitching exercise reveals how my head is untethered and askew. Paula Kovarik, 2016

I am focusing on both detail and fuzziness. Big ideas are too big, details mimic the tension.

The fuzzy thinking, edgy tension and churning stomach will end sometime. For now, I will continue stitching, allowing the stitch to tell my story.

Breathe in, breathe out. I am grateful for that.

And I won't light up a cigarette.

The automatic stitching cloth grows larger every day. Paula Kovarik, 2016

Insomnia

©2013, Insomnia, Paula Kovarik

Here's a work-in-progress shot of a piece I am doing about that netherworld we all feel while trying to go to sleep on a full brain. It is done on a pillow sham given to me by a friend.