Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Who's There?

Quilt No. 114
September 2016

Comfort. It’s a bad thing.  Despite the fact that it’s the thing we most desire when we’re toiling away at work, or when we’re swishing our butts around on those metal chairs they set up at graduations, comfort is no longer a good thing.  And the most offensive part of comfort?  Your own personal comfort zone!  It is now imperative for you to remain outside of it, where you will produce new and wondrous works of art.  It doesn’t matter if you gnaw off your arm in frustration along the way to making that art.  It doesn’t matter if you have less fun than the last time you had a root canal and a bunion removal on the same day.  Just like a marathon session of childbirth, the suffering will be erased from your mind when you see the finished product.  At least that’s the theory.

I hear it over and over.  “Get outside your comfort zone.”  This pretty much goes against the grain.  Humanity has spent more than a few millennia courting comfort.  Nearly all of technology has been developed in the name of comfort or its cousin, convenience - which is really just another way to garner comfort.  Ordinary things like eye glasses, air conditioning, bear spray, and Prozac have been invented to give us comfort.  We are genetically programmed to wallow in the blissful comfort of sofas, slippers, and Spandex. But in the same way that adversity fosters the creation of art, tossing aside your comfortable ways and plowing into the danger zone will win you the rewards of creative glory.

My take on this? It’s pure phooey.  All this “reaching” and ‘”stretching” and “pushing” is best saved for episodes of yoga or hockey or putting on those extra small pantyhose you bought by accident.

It is perfectly appropriate to step back inside your comfort zone.  Breathe in the euphoria.  It’s the zone where you are meant to be!  That’s exactly what I did with this quilt.  I deafened myself to the nay-saying anti-comfortists and did a quilt in the appliqué style with which I am infinitely familiar.  It felt utterly liberating.  I didn’t spend hours trying to figure out how to do something novel.  I was free of the grind of problem solving and trouble shooting and cussing over the fact that I was cussing too much. 

This quilt, made from a drawing I saved a few years ago, was a dose of fun.  I was captivated by the owl’s expression and the intimate winter setting.  A story is hanging in the air waiting to be told.  It’s early evening.  The snow has just begun its tentative descent.  The tree trunks huddle together in the sparkling snow, gathering in the silence that marks deep winter.  The owl opens his pink door to see a surprise.  Who’s there?

So, I’ve taken back my comfort zone and in the process I’ve learned something.  Not every endeavor has to supersede the last one.  I can’t believe I didn’t know that.  Sometimes “success” is just satisfaction.

Annoyingly, I’ve lost the source where I found this picture, so I can’t give proper credit to the artist.   While allowing my comfort-addicted brain too much leeway, I simply cannot remember where I found the original drawing.  Book?  Internet? Fever dream?  I wish I knew.  I’m still looking.

October 24, 2016 Addendum!  Thanks to the TinEye Reverse Image Search engine I've located the source of the original drawing for this quilt!  I uploaded the image of the drawing I used to create this quilt and easily found that well known children’s book author and illustrator Arnold Lobel (1933-1987) was the artist.  The drawing, Owl At Home, is the title page for a book of the same name that Mr. Lobel wrote.  He is also the author/illustrator of many other children’s books, including one of my favourite series, Frog and Toad.  Mr Lobel’s Owl At Home drawing came up for auction in 2009.  It was expected to fetch $US 10,000 – 15,000, and was sold along with famous works by Ted Geisel (Dr. Suess) and Maurice Sendak (Where the Wild Things Are).