Saturday, July 6, 2013

My Art and My Knitting

Ink, gouache, pastel on paper.
92" x 30"

A while back I mentioned that I've been busy working on paintings for a group show. 
Finally, the show is up.

After the show was hung, I had some thoughts of my art and my knitting.....

I've been a painter way longer than being a knitter. Rightly or wrongly, it's my identity. There is certain snobbery in the art world that has long made me feel like I'm working my way towards the bottom. First after grad school, instead of living in New York or L.A, I moved to Nevada, and up in the mountains.  
Instead of pursuing gallery shows, grants, or full-time teaching gig, I ended up not actively looking to show and teaching part-time at a community college. These moves basically tossed any "career" out the window for the rest of my life. Now I'm painting "knitting," a craft, and not as installations.  Yes, if I am doing instillation with the knits (which I may experiment someday for my own curiosity), I may pass as more innovative, but I'm not. I'm painting, a medium that is currently not ultra vogue. Third, I'm not well-connected, at all, and I don't bother. I'm sort of a recluse. At work, people think I'm fun and all, but really, I love nothing more than being left alone to paint or knit with some good music, an audio book or a British detective show in the background.  I only hang out with people I like and I don't do that too often. 

These are choices I made in life. Few years back I was frustrated with myself.  Now I'm at peace and I love the way I live.  Few years back I also began knitting again. I knitted for a year after college, but soon stopped because I felt being a "serious" artist" I had to give up on many things in life and just concentrate on making art. Ever since I got back to knitting, I became obsessed.  After some resistance, the subject-matter of knitting finally made its way into my art. I started to paint a lot more once that happened.  I don't really get too attached to many things in life.  The whole concept of develop a theme that means a lot to me, never felt right. I had my themes and they all felt as if I was taking on something too broad and too loosely.  But once using knitting, specifically lace for now, I felt it.  I felt the connection was something I'm growing with as I begin to explore knitting lace more for the art I do.  

Coupla years ago I went into a gallery with a friend. He introduced me to the director and said, "she is a knitter."  I was taken aback by the fact that instead of introducing me as an artist, he said "She is a knitter."  It stung and it stuck with me.

I'm glad and even proud to be a knitter. But the whole situation was uncomfortable. It wouldn't be different than going to a professional meeting and being introduced by one's cooking skill than by one's practice. It's fine to be brought up in a conversation, but it's condescending to be introduced as "oh, she cooks a lot" rather than "she is a pediatrician."  It made me realize how deep snobbery is in the art world. In art world, an artist is being judged even by the hobby she has, at least among artist friends/circles. There are "interests" that just scream not cool. 

This kept coming back to me. And in the end it revealed my own snobbery, that I too don't consider knitting the same thing as painting. I admit, I still don't. It's still hard to equate something I just pick up and self taught few techniques to something I studied for years and feeling all the ups and downs over the constant criticisms I faced as art student, and the thrill of visiting museums, galleries, spending hours reading articles and books written about art, and hours at the library poring over art books, and the hours of working in the studio. 

My thoughts that go into designing a sweater is very different than my thoughts that go into making art. It's not necessarily less of a thing, it's just not the same thing.

But I wanted to find a way to merge the two parts that I love so much in my life.  For the first time, I felt I'd found my ideas for a body of work. I'm not out to prove anything or trying to legitimize my knitting as serious. I don't need to prove myself to others who have the right to be think of things by the way they were indoctrinated and not too curious in ideas beyond that. While I may not feel knitting is the same as painting, it's is still serious to me, it is still just as worthwhile doing to me, it is still just as important in my life now. With these paintings, I'm not making revelations to others. I'm only trying to figure out things for myself, and paint things and ideas that I find deeply interesting. 

I'm hooked about exploring painting, something I love because it's still such a mystery to me and will always remain so, through knitting, something I personally find more readily to be understood because the construction is much more structured.    

Here are some of the pieces I have in the show. They were all done withing the last year.  


Oil on Canvases
each painting is 36" x 60"

ink on panels
20" x 30"


  1. truly gorgeous. any link to the gallery for those of us who might be interested and far away?

    It is a hard being an artist. We often end up feeling like we aren't meeting our own high standards... and we undercut ourselves. These are beautiful.

    (said by a woman who has a degree in photography but has been told that she got a degree in "point and shoot")

  2. I find your artwork and your knit designs equally stunning, Connie. I love how you've combined them here. I also completely understand what you're saying about the art world, as I was once part of that, too. I think you are smart to listen to yourself first. It doesn't matter what narrow views other people have.

  3. oh, these are beautiful. As a knitter who hasn't painted (my oldest passion) for years ... I am in love with these :)

  4. This was a lovely post, thank you so much for sharing your art! Those paintings are BEAUTIFUL! I might have to drive down to Reno to check out your work... I had no idea that you are a formally trained painter - - I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on how painting has influenced (or not) your knitting designs.