Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Making Emotional Art

Sometimes, I feel like I am losing my voice in my art, mainly because of dealing with the grief of losing my parents so close to one another, cleaning out their house, and then having major surgery.  It has taken me aback some.  I have signs all over my studio reminding me about who I am, words of encouragement that I hope will help me scrape myself up off the curb of life and get me to where I am going.  But, it is challenging, to say the least.

I know that I have a voice in my art, but feeling that it is a bit on the weak side right now. 

Please read this thoughtful post from Kelly Rae Roberts about your voice here

Soon after my dad passed away, I started making prayer flags, for my own healing,and grief, sort of channeling my art.  That was all I needed at the time, was to make something small.
Then we moved our mother into an assisted living facility, where she passed away three months later
Then I joined The Prayer Flag Project  Making these small pieces of art has helped me get my mojo back, art-wise over the last year and a half.

My deadlines are fast approaching, and for one of the projects, I have contemplated doing a quilt about my parents.  The last song my mother sang was "Always."  I asked myself over and over again if I could really do it?  Am I ready to tackle such a highly emotional subject?

  I had saved a few pieces of their clothing.  So, my idea was to make a smaller version of what I had first envisioned.  My sister's birthday was coming up, and I knew she would really love a small quilt about mom and dad.  Small quilt, tons of emotions.  It was a struggle, and at one point, I almost gave up altogether.

 I had a lovely photograph of them, when they were both pretty healthy, and I needed to re-dress them in their own clothing.  The words to the chorus of the song "I'll be loving you always" is a photo transfer on chiffon over a light background.  My mom is wearing fabric from one of her jackets.  Okay, yes, it was hard to cut it up, but it will live on in this quilt.

For some reason, blogger is being quite disagreeable today, and won't let me put a caption under the next photo.  I could not use my dad's Hawaiian shirts, because the prints were too big, but this fabric reminded me of him, and they compliment each other.

The finished art quilt for my sister.  I was determined to just get it done.  However, I came to the conclusion that I am not ready to tackle a larger quilt with this subject in mind.  It was very difficult, and this piece sort of stunned me, for about three days, and I could not do anything but this, think about my parents, talked to them over the course of those days, and cried my heart out.  Maybe sometime, I can tackle this again, but not right now.  It was a learning experience, to say the least.  My sister loved her gift, and we both cried.  I'll be loving them always. Onward I go. 


  1. Great prayer flags and I think your parents are smiling after seeing the lovely little quilt. Much better using part of the jacket, and see it then just hanging in the closet. Big hugs to you and your sister.

  2. I wonder if part of the healing process is to realize that a big quilt is too big, maybe too much to tackle. We all deal with grief in our own way. Sometimes it is easiest to choose one small bit to think about, blog about, make art about, pray about, then move on. That is how I work through things - one choice, one word, one small bit at a time. Today I choose Peace for you. -Vivika

  3. Beautiful post, Jamie. Healing takes time...be kind to yourself.

  4. I love your prayer flags! My heart goes out to you Jamie. While your voice may not be what you'd like it to be right now, it's apparently where it needs to be. This too shall pass.
    Take care,

  5. What a beautiful memorial quilt and a beautiful post too.

  6. what a beautiful quilt for you sister. don't push yourself, the time will come when you will be ready to make a bigger quilt. there's no time limits on grieving. we each need to grieve in our own way in our own time. your little prayer flags look like a great project to get your mojo back.

  7. Sorry to hear your struggling Jamie.
    I think a big quilt might be too large and maybe too upsetting to use daily, let alone make.
    The smaller sized momento quilt is a size you and your sister could live alongside and draw cherished memories from .
    If that makes sense?!
    Its a delightful picture capturing their warmth and your love.......its a personal icon in a meaningful format.
    Take it slowly........you cant rush grieving, it has to mellow through us.
    Your wrong......your voice is still there but its altered its lilt, for a while.

  8. Love you for sharing this with us. It brought tears to my eyes. I had a year when I felt that I had been robbed of my creative voice. Last year it resurfaced and this year is looking good. Be kind to yourself.

  9. Jamie, I know your sister will treasure your heartfelt creation. I think the only way around it is through it. Each of us deals with loss and grief in our own way, in our own time. There is no "right way" to do it. Hopefully, making the piece healed a little bit of your heart in the process. There is no "getting over it" but the time passing and the positive memories do help. Sending love to you.

  10. This post and the accompanying pictures really touched my heart, Jamie. I think you're very brave to share such a personal story with us, and as always, I'm inspired by your strength and your art.

  11. What a beautiful gift and post. I am glad you shared. xo


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