Beaches #2 hand dyed, hand painted, commercial cottons, bamboo, cotton thread
I used to think my day job as a software engineer and my artistic life were at opposite ends of the spectrum. But it occurred to me the other day that they are more similar than one might think. Although writing computer software is often portrayed as a scientific process, I can tell you, thirty years on in my career, that more often than not it’s the skillful and creative application of techniques honed thru experience. There’s always the delicate balance between creating a product that serves the customer, and the cost to the organization to build it.
In my artistic practice, I draw on a similar skillset – spending time up front to understand the goal before me, then using the techniques in my technical skillset to create a piece of art that serves the person viewing it. At various points in the project, I’m called upon to solve technical challenges in a way that fits within the framework I’ve set for myself.
Where do you find crossovers in the diverse areas in your life?
Before I begin a new textile painting, I have some sense of what I want to try to say in the piece. Sometimes I draw a rough sketch of the idea, or use my watercolour pencils to try out colours.
As I compose and construct the piece, I work intuitively, letting my eye and brain work together to tell me what colour and what texture to choose next. When I cut the pieces of cotton fabric, I let my hand guide the rotary cutter in gentle curving lines, each piece an organically shaped thin rectangle.
Often times I’ll reach a point in the piece where I think to myself – this piece is terrible, it’s not going to come together, it’s a mish mash of nothingness. When I fall into that state of mind, I take myself out of my studio, out into the main gallery area, where I can look in thru the windows to my studio, but with the long perspective. From this place, I can usually see the redeeming qualities of the piece, and gather up the courage to go back to the studio, and keep making.
Like so many things in life, looking at the situation from a different perspective makes all the difference!