Monday, January 25, 2010

Editing an Improvisation



Can an improvisational work be edited? If it is edited, is it still improvisational?

The work in question is my January Bead Journal page, as pictured. Maybe it's done, and maybe it's not done.

It's improvisational bead embroidery--embroidery done without a plan. It develops as it is stitched, until the page is covered. The page is now covered, and the question is whether or not it can be edited and revised--ripped out and re-stitched--and still maintain the character of improvisation.

My considerations:
1. The page does not look balanced to me. I can visualize a couple of changes that would improve the page. After the eighth grade, anything I've learned about art has come from books. I don't have a natural feel for what would be balanced and what wouldn't. So when I improvise, sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn't.

2. The unbalanced page conveys a different impression than what I was feeling and thinking as I stitched it. That leaves me mildly annoyed. It's not a true journal of this month. Or is it? (The meaning of this page will be revealed later.)

3. I am perfectly comfortable ripping stuff out. Lots of stuff. I personally believe that every needleworker should have a seam ripper in every room. I have six seam rippers. That leaves the bathrooms without seam rippers, which I think is probably ok. If I had all the thread I have ripped out rolled into a ball, it would squish quite a number of people when it rolled down a hill.

4. I already ripped out some beads. But that was before the page was covered. Can I rip out more now that it may be finished?

So here's the deal. Nothing is going to happen this morning. Later in the day, maybe. Stay tuned...

28 comments:

Carol Creech said...

I think this is beautiful, Marty. It doesn't seem to be unbalanced to me. I love the color choices and the shapes that you beaded. Makes my eye follow through the whole piece.

I totally understand where you are coming from, though. I'm trying the improvisational thing with mine as well, and I'm not entirely sure I'm pleased with the result. I've done plenty of sewing and ripping out on mine! It's almost done and I'm hoping to post the finished piece soon.

abeadlady said...

This is rich looking, Marty. I'm not sure I would change a thing. If you are not happy with it, then do what you must. Gorgeous!

Sharkeysday said...

Wow! i love it as is! Heavily beaded, but what's not to love?

Dee D said...

I like it as it is. But the question is, will you be happy with it as is? I'm with you though when it comes to ripping things out - I did just that on my most recent page which was 7/8's done. Oh well, the beauty of beads is that they can be reused. Good luck.

Carol said...

Well, I look at your page and I think it looks fabulous. I am sure that I have mentioned to you how much I love your style. Now that makes me wonder if I would love your page any better if you DID rebead some of it. Maybe you have always ripped out and that is the perfection I love so much about your work.

I say if you are not happy with the page, then you should make it be what you wanted it to.

Me...well I just let the beads go where they want to. I like unbalanced. And its so funny that you mentioned unbalanced because that is part of what MY February page is about...just a smidge.

Carol

Holly B said...

Hello Marty,
Like you, I'm doing an improvisational piece. It has already had a lot of tearing out (mostly because it's my first bead embroidery) but I like not having a plan. Here's where it gets goofy. I don't think there's anything wrong with having a mini-plan (a plan within a non-plan). If you're not happy with it (for whatever reason) fix it until you are.

Lisa Criswell / Indigo's Beads said...

maybe i don't know anything about art, but i don't think it looks unbalanced at all. i think it is just beautiful as is!

Anne Marie - Toronto said...

Put down that seam ripper!!!! Don't you dare touch it!!!!!
I love it just the way it is!!!!!
What I like most about it is that it's spontaneous. Your soft colour pallette is the thread that ties the piece together.

Is working improvisationally something new for you? If so, keep it up and try not to second guess yourself. Pile on the beads, pick up a needle and just go! Of course, that advice is for your February piece. LOL!

Barbara said...

This is such a coincidence -- as I was ripping my own improvisational piece out, I wondered the same thing -- will it still be improvisational?
I don't know, but what I do know is that I *have* to be happy with it in the end. I agree with some other comments, it's absolutely beautiful. However, you must be happy. Onward!

Sharon M said...

When I think of improv I think of acting in the moment, or "re-acting," therefore, ripping out what you have done in reaction would certainly be improvisational.

But......I absolutely love your piece, the colors, the flow, and, to my non-trained eye, the balance! Whatever you do, I am certain your January piece will be lovely in the end.

flyingbeader said...

I never draw pattern either when I start a project. And I rarely rip out stuff unless it is god awful ugly. There are ways to balance your piece without taking out any beads or stitches either. I embellish on top of what I've already done using other beads, sequins, found objects...I've been doing this for awhile, but when I took the purse class with Sherry & she does the same thing, then I realized hey "you've been doing this right all along"...so try embellishing the top.

Carol said...

I don't think it's unbalanced either, not for pattern or for color...

But if it doesn't portray what you intended as you stitched, it would make sense to edit it...

Kaite said...

I agree with Anne Marie, put down the seam ripper. Go do another one instead. This one is just fine and by working improvisationally it's your unconscious spirit coming through, while your conscious logical mind says something different. I'm working the same way, it's Robin's way of picking up a bead and just doing it. Leave it alone and let yourself enjoy it instead.

Robin said...

I love this question, Marty!!! We all face it from time to time. I've struggled with it in my own beading and so have my bead buddies. In fact, I'm facing it now with my Jan piece. Your post just decided me. I'm leaving mine like it is. It is what it is and it reflects where I was when I made it, which is the essence of journaling. I, my life and my beadwork do not have to be perfect... So I decided to let it be as it is. Yay! I feel good about the decision and appreciate your post, which somehow brought the answer to me.

As far as improvisation goes, each of us has to make our own "rules" about it. Carol Berry, who started improv bead embroidery about the same time as I did, made a rule that she would never take out a single bead when she was working improvisationally. She said every bead you stitch has a reason for being there and she must accept that, putting aside her judgements and treating each piece as a learning experience - learning about beading and learning about herself. Many times, later, the reasons for the things she didn't like became clear to her and were reminders of lessons learned. With few exceptions, I've worked under that same improv rule.

Thanks so much, Marty! Whatever decision YOU make will be fine!

Robin A.

beadingprincess said...

well if you really don't like it, you could always send it to me! Then you could start all over again and not have to rip it out!!! lol I love it - love the colors and the design. I 'wish' I were so talented that my improvisational beading would look so good...
kat

a2susan said...

Usually if something bothers me, I will not be happy until I redo it. But if that's what you do, I would sit with the piece for a while and reflect on it. Why does it bother you? What's not right about it? Does it matter? Is the meaning of the piece the same whether you redo it (or some of it) or not?

Nancy said...

Yay - I managed to remember my Google account and password, so I can comment!

I think it looks great, but I agree with the others who have said the final decision on rip or not to rip is up to you.

Sweetpea said...

Ain't it wonderful that we all go through the same things in improv beading??? and in LIFE?!

I'm of a similar mind to flyingbeader's...I pretty much leave everything intact because that becomes part of my history of learning & making. And I like to look back on my history because it often makes the present feel so much better, if you catch my drift!

In fact, when I think about it, I've only done 2 BJP pages in the past where I ended up ripping something out - and that was because I was beading "socially" at the time so what I beaded was not really me being present with my work.

If spots bug me, I too embellish on top, or disguise around edges, or whatever... This also tends to provide a nice visual change in elevation :>}

Great question, thought provoking to say the least!

Lois2037 said...

Edit away! It's your piece, and only you know if it looks right or conveys the feeling you have in mind. I work improvisationally, but sometimes a plan occurs to me in the middle and I'll draw that section out, and I'm always taking things out and doing something different. I find that, for me, it's the best way to get the piece to become what it wants to be. "Freeform" doesn't have to mean "totally random."

Whytefeather said...

I think it is just stunning the way it is and being improvisational you started and it showed you the way it wanted to go. On the other hand, I've discovered I'm very much for the idea of "if you don't like it rip it out and redo" maybe more than I should be. Lol. I've only done a small amount of revision on the few I've done, usually near the beginning and small areas... I can't imagine ripping a ton out of this one and redo-ing a thing though. That probably isn't much help, but do what makes you happy with it.

Plays with Needles said...

Marty -- I see you opened up a very interesting discussion...so I won't weigh in but...what did you do??

I happen to think it's beautiful btw...

Barb said...

Ohmygosh, change something so gorgeous? It's amazing! (And, for the record, I love the three questions on the sidebar that won't be asked.)

Karin said...

It's gorgeous - I love the colour choices and the stitching. I'm learning so much from everyone else on this journey, so thanks for sharing.

Marty S said...

Thanks, everyone, for your thoughtful comments. For the moment, the page is in the "taking it under advisement" category. After all, I have until Sunday...
Marty S

Mary K. McGraw said...

I like your piece as it is. But if you want to rip it out do it. Instead of the term "improvisation" I use the term "intuitive." It seems to me that improvisation is in real time and cannot be undone, but intuitive means you thought something would work, but it didn't so try something different. Of course it is all semantics. I think you may have me beat by a seam ripper or two.

Cyndi L said...

I don't know if it's finished or not, but it sure is GORGEOUS!

Vickie A-Morgan said...

I love your piece. I don't think it is at all unbalanced. I wouldn't change a thing.

Kali said...

Improvisation, for me, is a way to shake myself loose when I'm stuck in a rut, and to tap thoughts and ideas that my conscious mind would have neglected or completely missed. But there's nothing sacred about it, and in my opinion there's no need to protect it too vigorously. So I look for the fabulous, fresh juxtapositions that pop up in improv, but then I apply my critical eye and subject my improv piece to the same rigorous examination that I do my composed works. So I'm all for ripping out and re-doing what isn't right, while preserving the stuff that is spontaneously wonderful. That said, I think the artist's eye is his/her best judge...