I rarely meet other hippo lovers in person, although I am aware there is a hippo society so large they hold yearly conventions all over the U.S., and yes, there is that one new friend who professes hippo love, too. But simply: we don't know why we fall in love, do we? And if we all fell for the same things, it would be a mighty dull world. For some reason a purple and white floral stuffed guy (who was sent packing when the giver eventually went) started the obsession way back in my Penn State days, and I've been on the continuing hunt for thirty-eight years now.
This year's hippo story is entwined quite neatly with this year's road to self discovery. It all started with my desire to make a journal of a different sort. For a number of years, the International Quilt Festival had showcased a category of quilts that were the size of letter paper, and recorded the maker's year long exploration of themes and techniques. By the time I found the courage to participate in the project, the rules and format had changed, and I decided I didn't really need to enter a contest to do the good work.
I wrote a proposal for my Designing Women that we should each adopt a theme close to our hearts (mine, a given), and that each month the group exploration of surface design techniques would be made into these small wall art pieces. More quilts, less time and stress, more learning. The first month of the project was based on improving our nascent machine felting skills. This is that quilt (based on a nature photo) and I was quite happy with the results.
|Silk and tulle on hand painted cotton, secured with needle punching|
|Layers of roving being added like paint|
|Fully fleshed out with wool and silk roving; machine quilted and bound.|
But overall I had a growing discontent with technique driven design. I was feeling scattered and uninspired after so many years with no real foundation in drawing and design principles. It all felt empty and a bit fraudulent. And so I backed out of the very project I had created for the group, to pursue the idea of learning to draw as an honest basis for my future design work. And of course that has led me here, on the cusp of the New Year, to sketching classes and journal projects both personal and universal.
And so, among my many goals and plans for 2011 are these:
1. Be a participant in the Sketchbook Challenge. If you aren't yet aware of it, check it out right now, it begins the first of the year and you want to be there.
2. Take Jane LaFazio's next level sketch and watercolor for journaling, which starts in late January on the Joggles website. Check it out here.
3. Work each week on a watercolor journal of Hippo Friends, so that I can begin to document my fun and meaningful collection, and perhaps get some insight into my attraction.
4. And just perhaps, when I have drawn enough hippos, (and other things of interest in my life,) I will be ready to return to the quilt journal project, and continue exploring wonderful techniques in textile surface design. My guild's next show is in 2012. I could be ready for that.
Hmmm. Twelve months of hippos. Sounds like a calender in the making.