Thursday, October 14, 2010

Artful Thursday Meets Philosophical Friday

Almost all my Artful Thursdays have been project oriented but today I am feeling philosophical...

The picture above is of Robert Service, Bard of the Yukon and he has written a few of my most favourite poems (remember the Spell of the Yukon?).
I like this picture because it looks as though he was telling someone a thing or two that he felt very strongly about, kind of like how I am feeling right now. 

There has been an ongoing refrain in the quilting world for decades, and I am hearing it more and more, and also in other creative disciplines, - "I have so many things that aren't finished..." accompanied by a guilty expression and big sigh.

I gave up fretting over finishing things long ago and when ever anyone would say to me "You must have so much unfinished work because of all of your Demos and classes!" I would simply reply "Finishing is over-rated."

Puzzled looks, laughter and disbelief at my irreverent attitude prevailed until one day my good friend Carol bit and asked me whatever did I mean? She has a quiet, sarcastic wit and baits me all the time, thinking perhaps I might just be spouting off without any active thought. But I am old enough to have seen too many of Lucy's replies to Ricky's "Lucy, you got some 'xplaining to do" to miss a beat!

Finishing is over-rated if the thing you think you should finish has lost all interest for you. If you are only working on it to get it done and off the list, if there is no creative joy left in the making of it, only duty, no creative exploration, only mechanical drudgery, and no excitement to give it as a special gift either to yourself or a loved one, is the time spent finishing it not a waste of creative spirit?

Because we start something, are we obligated to finish it? 

When a piece becomes a bore for me it's because whatever I was supposed to gain from the making of it has been gained; I have what I was meant to receive, it has nothing left to give. I take it's gift of knowledge and understanding and excitedly move on to a project that will showcase all I have learned about a new technique or a special material. 

The great masters did studies; when they were looking to do a portrait of a lady in velvet, they would "play" at painting velvet - different colours, different light, different shadows. These were sometimes finished, often by apprentices, but sometimes not at all.

Perhaps if we shifted our thinking, allowed ourselves to be "artists" and recognized the value in "study" pieces, we could stop beating ourselves up over our unfinished work and recognize it gave it us what we needed, when we needed it.

If you can't do that, the next best thing is what I did last week - I told my daughter Laura that if I get hit by a truck, take whatever you want from my sewing room and then call Lucille. She'll know what to do with the rest!

p.s. - I really wanted to use the famous photograph of Churchill by Karsh but it's copyright protected... bah humbug...

**I've added this last bit after reading one of the comments - here's what I do with those unfinished projects, many of which were quilt tops. If the materials are something I want, I have been known to take a thing apart for salvage. If not, I sometimes took them to my old quilting group to see if anyone there wanted them. A large number of quilt guilds donate quilts to hospitals, women's safe houses. You could check with your local guild to see if they would take quilt tops as donations and they could then quilt and bind them for donation.
If they had no redeeming qualities at all, I pitched them. I know that sounds wasteful, but actually throwing something away that I had spent precious time and money on has made me think a little more carefully about what I start. And that in itself has led to less unfinished things. 
And the things that I really like that I haven't yet completed? They are safely nestled in a box waiting for the day I am in the mood to take them up. Mostly they are quilt tops waiting to be hand quilted and they'll all get quilted in turn - eventually!


Laura said...

Don't worry Lucille, I only like the glittery things... Or as you quilters say "metallics"!

Dorthe said...

Dear Jillayne

That "burden" have layed over me ,too, but I went for the same desission as you,-there is far too many things, and experiences, I want to try my hand on,- to spend time on something without any interest for me,any more.

Thanks for putting it down in words.and happy friday.
Hugs, Dorthe

oldgreymare said...

HIP HIP Hooray and three cheers for you!

You would think that as we approach, or are well into "that certain age" we would release all this crappola and put it where it belongs.

Unfortunately, some of us take longer to get..THE BIG PICTURE.

Jillayne, I think you said it perfectly " I have what I was meant to receive." Why do some people insist on beating it to death, or not beating it to death and regretting it?

my solution? I give the unfinished projects away at garage sales. I often wonder if they go on to linger somewhere else?

Love the post!


CosmoGirl Carla said...

Hi Jillayne! Great post! As a former, very avid quilter (I saw "former" because I haven't cut a piece of fabric for quilting in years - I want to, just hasn't happened in forever!), and having the great pleasure to have worked in a fabulous quilt shop years ago, I have TONS of unfinished projects, or WIP's - mostly tops. And at times I lament on them not being finished, feeling I really should just plop myself in front of the sewing machine for a few days and knock them out.

Your post is liberating. Actually having another quilter say it's okay to not finish these projects helps with the guilt. But still the question remains, what do we do with the "lost-interest-projects"? Keep 'em, sell 'em, donate 'em?

Thanks for an inspiring post.

Tina Eudora said...

Great post Jillayne!
I have totes full of half finished projects. I always thought that if I finished them all then I would fade away into nothingness, more likely I am bi-polar, lol.
Recently I heard that DaVinci took 11 years before he was satisfied with Mona Lisa's mouth! Well if it took him that long to "finish" her mouth, I can cut myself some slack...:)
Have a great day Jillayne!
Tina xo

Anonymous said...

Hear! Hear! SO WELL SAID!!! Every project is a learning experience! Maybe we've learned that we didn't enjoy a particular process or don't have the skill for it and perhaps don't want to spend more time learning that particular one because it didn't "move" us. Perhaps it was just a time-killer, not even meant to be a "work of art" but just a "doodle" in a sense. We've all doodled at one time or another. Perhaps unfinished projects are nothing more than doodles.

Focus! It's so hard to focus! That's my dilemma right now. I'm going in too many different directions and I have decisions to make. So, I hear you, Jillayne!

Thanks for the pep talk! You have a very sensible outlook.


MosaicMagpie said...

It is so very freeing, the act of destashing. A clearing of the mind and clearing of the soul. A clearing of the soul because all that stuff affects us, whether we realize it or not. You see it sitting there and a feeling of guilt (for not finishing) or a feeling of overwhelment from all the stuff evades your mind. Get it out, keep what is dear and precious and move on to new exciting things.

Becca said...

Humm, I believe I still have 1 unfinished "table runner" that I haven't finished yet along with several other unfinished projects! Thanks, love this post!

Robin said...

I love this post! You have put unfinished projects in a new light and are oh so right about the drudgery of just completing them so that you can say it's done and cross it off your list!!

WW said...

I love your thoughts on unfinished projects. Usually when I get sick of a project, I put it away somewhere until I think I have a way to add more onto it. Sometimes it takes me a long time to finish some projects.
I figure if it stresses me out, I shouldn't waste my time on it.

Anonymous said...

Im not near the crafter that all of you are.BUT, I do have some unfinished that I tried to start.Like a afghan and a few other things.

I came from Dianes blog, Im a new follower here.Looks like Im going to love it!

Happy weekend!

Barbara Jean said...

I came over from Diane Knott's musings and I am glad I took time to read your article.

Thank you for a new insight into unfinished projects!! I love the idea tha we learn from it even if we do not finish it.


barbara jean

Celestina Marie Designs said...

Hi Jillayne,
OH I AM CLAPPING LOUDLY TO YOUR GREAT POST. You certainly speak for so many of us who start, stop, go back, start again or leave a project all together. I too, long ago, let GO of the treasures I thought I needed or invisioned finished, to realizing, if my excitement for it left me, well then, it must have not been meant to be completed.

Your words and courage to say it so wonderfully, is to be applauded.
Like you said, when the joy of creating becomes big work, then it's time to regroup.
I have to remember this challenge all the time with business. Yes, I am busy and yes, I get a lot done in time crunches, but part of my joy in that regard is to pass treasures on to my wonderful customers.
However, an ended project not working or moving any longer is like spilled milk!! Don't cry over spilled milk!! LOL

Thanks so much for the great artwork reminder. It's so great to know that we are in great company with you!!

Have a wonderful Fall Day.
Hugs and blessings, Celestina Marie

Anonymous said...

Hi Jillayne,
You've got me motivated to go get some of my painting projects done! Thanks for inspiring me to get a move on it! :)