I have been mulling over Sharon B’s Take it Further challenge for January – this is from her blog:
The key concept for January is a feeling we have all had, the feeling of admiration for another. Ask yourself who do you look up to and admire? Why? What is it you admire about them?… Take the idea, develop it into a resolved design during that month and apply it to fiber or paper.
There’s also a colour challenge but I’m going to focus on the concept each month as it’s in this area of visualising the abstract that I know I really need to be challenged.
I struggled for a while with this concept, finding that there seemed to be no-one I could admire without reservation – I was relieved to read a very clear articulation of something of the same feeling from Liz at Dreaming Spirals; and stunned by the imaginative way she’s resolving it. I think a combination of stifling perfectionism and a deep-seated desire not to be misunderstood were combining to paralyse me and I wondered about pulling out of the challenge…
But reflecting on what is common to the people I admire – often people whose names I don’t know or couldn’t share (sometimes quite hidden, usually quite humble), I realised that it’s often precisely because they are such a mixture of opposing qualities that I admire them. I’m drawn to the way they’ve confronted their particular darkness by allowing something bright and fierce and tender and courageous to grow in their lives. I began to think about radiance and colour breaking through strong bonds or tangled chains. I’m remembering an image from LeGuin’s A Wizard of Earthsea, a ‘clot of black shadow, quick and hideous’. And seeing tendrils, tiny shoots, frail in themselves, but becoming tenacious and powerful as they grow.
This is all a bit scary – I discover I don’t really like to expose my thought processes before I know where they are going or if I can make anything of them. It feels too vulnerable.
As to technique, I’m using the challenge to make myself work more consistently in a sketchbook so at this point I think my entries will be pages from a visual journal. It will allow me to explore the ideas in more than one medium and it fits in well with my other commitments.