It was right there, but I had never seen it before. I drove past it hundreds of times on my way into town, in all seasons, but never saw it. Then, as if by magic, there it was, an old fallen down building just off the road, becoming a part of the woods again.
How is it, I wondered, that I never saw it before. Why is it that I’m seeing it now?
There are different ways of seeing.
When I’m putting fabric together, creating a design for a quilt or potholder. I often “feel” the fabric, rather than look at it. I don’t mean by touching it, but by how the fabric makes me feel. The feeling it creates when I place it next to another piece of fabric and if it continues the first feeling or changes it.
The other thing I do is step back from whatever I’m creating and look at it out of the corner of my eye. I don’t think in formal terms about color and structure. I’m looking for something else in my work. Something that happens with a little distance. Something that happens when I remove myself from the process.
I’ll sit, on the other side of my studio from a quilt, my head turned so it’s caught in my peripheral vision, and wait, till something inside me tells me it’s “right” or not.
I don’t know how I came up with this way of working. It’s just something I’ve always done and never though about much.
Until a few days ago when I read a quote by the writer Robin Wall Kimmerer on the blog Brain Pickings. She wrote:
“A Cheyenne elder of my acquaintance once told me that the best way to find something is not to go looking for it. This is a hard concept for a scientist. But he said to watch out of the corner of your eye, open to possibility, and what you seek will be revealed. The revelation of suddenly seeing what I was blind to only moments before is a sublime experience for me. I can revisit those moments and still feel the surge of expansion. The boundaries between my world and the world of another being get pushed back with sudden clarity an experience both humbling and joyful.”
When I read this, it was so familiar to me. The idea of seeing something that was there all the time, but not visible to me. I did it instinctively with my work for some reason.
There are so many ways of seeing, but I often get stuck in the idea of my reality, of believing I know. I want to not be so sure of things. I want to let them reveal themselves to me, instead of placing my reality on them.