My life story - because it's about time you heard it

DSC_2169 You know that adult coloring book fad that's going around? Of course you do. Erm, everyone does. (Stick around, I promise this swings back around to quilting with very little discussion about adult coloring books!)

Well anyway, I was picking up some white elephant presents for our family Christmas swap when I found ADULT DOT TO DOT BOOKS.

Let me say that again: Adult. Dot to dot. Freaking books. It's basically a party for type A people.


But I bring this up because all of the architectural pages reminded me of my art classes in Italy. I sound awful hoity toity now, don't I? But some background information first...

My mother earned her college degree in a competitive architectural program, wherein she drafted everything by hand. After she got married & started a family, she became a stay at home mom. By the time she considered rejoining the workforce, she would have to be completely re-educated, as architecture design is now primarily done with software. So instead, she became an artist. It wasn't overnight - it started out as a hobby, which became a passion, and then she began teaching lessons in our basement...and now she owns her own art school & is a nationally awarded artist. Basically, she's awesome and hugely inspirational.

Some of my mom's paintings:

chiara ribbons harbor dawn

As a child, she gave me the option of taking art lessons from her, which I did happily. I actively dove into art (and math! and psychology!) and eventually started out as an art major in college. My passion? Graphite drawing. Here's an example of one of my drawings from this time period:

graphite drawinga

{the photograph of this work is slightly distorted, sorry!}

Study Abroad

During my first semester in junior year, I studied abroad in Rome. Of the five courses I took, four were art classes - photography, on-site drawing, and two art history courses.

I was especially excited about the on-site drawing class - especially since I absolutely loved using perspective. I began the class happily enough, but my teacher was less than enthused by my sketches. I distinctly remember one discussion he and I had:

Prof: This an architectural sketch.

Me: Well, that makes sense. I learned how to draw from an architect.

Prof: It's not a good thing.

Me: Umm.....why.....not?

Prof: It's boring. It's not interesting to look at. Nobody likes looking at drawings like this. You shouldn't draw like that.

I was pretty devastated. I shouldn't draw

{I was hoping to show you a few photographs of my sketchbook, but I can't find it. Did I throw it away? I pray not, but I might have. How sad. }

He locked down on me hard, every class, trying to dictate me into drawing like a painter. He was a painter with a very loose, suggestion style, so I understand why he wanted me to draw like that - but it's just not me. The project parameters he gave me were specifically meant to break me out of my drawing style, and they did - but not in a good way. My sketches got worse. I got worse.I spent a semester in Rome taking art classes and got worse at drawing. Even when I did "for fun" sketching without him hovering, I couldn't draw like I used to. I haddreamed for years of becoming an artist, and lost my gift.

Disappointment seems like such a lacking word to describe how I feel about it. Even now, just writing about it is hard. It's not just because he disliked my drawings that I'm so hurt, but mainly the fact that he managed to de-program my ability to draw like that - to draw like me.


I don't draw anymore. Sure, I could start again, work on relearning my style, but it almost feels like, why? It feels purposeless. As in, what would the point of drawing be? And then it's sad that something that was once so important to me now seems so expendable, so I just stop thinking about it. Emotionally, I can't draw again. Not yet, at least.

But that's one of those reasons I find so much meaning in my current work:

I quilt because I can't draw anymore.

I photograph because I can't draw anymore.

I design because I can't draw anymore.

Sometimes I think to myself that I'll get back into it one day. Sometimes I think that perhaps I actually find more joy in the quilting, photography, and design than I ever did in the drawing, so why bother looking back?

But whatever ends up happening, you'll probably better understand now why I approach my work with a slightly different mindset - the mindset of an artist, if I might be so bold as to claim that. Since these topics seem strange to some people, I haven't openly discussed them much, but always at the forefront of my mind with my quilts are questions like:

-  How does this project fit into the body of my work?

- What is the trajectory I'm currently on, and in what direction would I like to see my design aesthetic moving?

- Is this a color/shape I'd like to explore further, or is it becoming overused in my pieces?

- Do these works hang together as a group/collection? If not, then do they still fit within my style & vision as an artist?

And can I just say, if you've made it through all of that, that I love you guys? I love you, readers! Cheers to you. I sincerely value your support & feedback.

I'd love to hear your story, too - maybe it's simple, maybe it's lengthy - but tell me why you quilt. And if you're inspired to write a full blogpost on the matter, here's a button to grab:

13 Spools
OngoingAmy Garro