You already "measure up." (just weave)

I did a Facebook live in my private Facebook group last week in which a long-term student asked me a very good question. She asked this question live, so my response was off the top of my head and unrehearsed.

I continue to suffer from feeling so flabbergasted by other people’s work that it is difficult to dive forward with designing and weaving my own. How do I overcome that?
— Patricia J. in a FB live event 10-2-19

I bumble around my answer a little bit, but overall I was saying, stop comparing yourself to other makers and artists. You don’t need to “measure up.” What does that even mean anyway? I think we, as artists, need to stop spending so much time comparing ourselves to others and just get on with making the things we want to make.

I talk about something I’ve heard Tommye Scanlin say repeatedly. Tommye is a veteran college art professor, a committed tapestry teacher, and a well-known tapestry artist. And she just finished writing a book about designing for tapestry (which we are ALL waiting impatiently to read—sometime in the fall of 2020 I hear). Tommye weaves every day. She has a tapestry diary on a small loom that she takes with her when she is traveling if she can and she has a plan for the work every year. Her best advice about design might well be, “Weave every day.”

I’ve excerpted the portion of the Facebook live video that pertains to this for you all to enjoy. It is about 11 minutes long. When I make funny faces in the video it is because I’m reading the real time comments of the participants on the call.

If you get the blog via email, you may not see the video in the email you receive. Click HERE to see the video.

As I was working on the video above, I saw an Instagram post by another online student Lu. She posted a photo of one of the samplers she did for my online class that she entered it in her regional fair. She won first prize in the division and class. She also said this.

Thanks, @rebeccamezofftapestry for your encouraging video last week or else I wouldn’t have posted this.
— @lufiskinross on Instagram

That made me feel like posting this portion of the Facebook live discussion was a good decision. I hope I can encourage other people who are struggling with feelings of inadequacy in their art to have the courage to take risks. Start with people you know will be loving and helpful. Don’t show your first things to people who tend to be critical. Show them to someone who will gush over it and listen to the things they like about it. When you gain more confidence, you can ask for critical advice from people who have some knowledge of art or whose opinion on aesthetics you value.

Making stuff is worth the time in so many ways. Don’t let fear of being inadequate or anything else stop you from spending time doing something you love doing. Especially if that thing is weaving. We can’t change the world unless we are healthy ourselves. I maintain that doing things like tapestry weaving helps us stay healthy, helps us engage with a particular subject, allows us to broaden our knowledge of our own creativity and of the materials we’re using, and that making things that are important to us really does help change the world for the better. It might be the art itself that causes change, but it might just be that making things helps you as an individual change your perspective enough that you can take some action elsewhere in your life that makes a difference.

Now is the time people. Now is the time.

“Show notes”

These are some links from the video.

My YouTube channel for other Q&A talks and free content.

That tapestry design class I keep talking about.

Tommye Scanlin’s blog and more about her tapestry diary practice.

Do you have these feelings about your artistic practice? What do you do about it? How do you get yourself unstuck? Let us know in the comments.