Seeing the Forest for the Trees

The past few weeks I have been sharing my progression on a small pictorial quilt  from my travels in Ireland in September. It is now complete and I am free to sit back and just enjoy it.  However, the process of creating it was not always that enjoyable.

I mentioned my frustrations last week (and thanks to all who wrote and offered me some perspective and suggestions). As I continued working, I recognized the roller coaster of emotions that I experienced as all too familiar. My internal critic is only too happy to point out the weaknesses in my work. To an extent that is an asset as it allows me to make adjustments along the way. But, there comes a point where that internal critic is non-productive. Listening to it can create blockages to continuing work on the piece if one gives up from disappointment. It also can drown out another voice – for me it is the magical moment when the art piece ‘speaks’ and begins to direct me in its completion.  So, how to know when to stop listening?

Recently I finished a book by Dan Harris, 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in my Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help that Actually Works.  While I have mixed feelings about the book, one of the points he makes in his writing relates to just that question – when to stop listening and shut off that voice? The answer: Ask yourself the question, Is this Useful?

Fortunately, I reached the point in creating my Irish piece where I asked myself just that question. It didn’t actually stop that critical voice but I simply observed it and actually smiled a bit at its points. In self-help jargon, you might say that as I embraced the critic, it lost its power over me.   I simply kept stitching. And, as I continued to build the pictorial as I had planned, I liked it more and more. It actually became fun to embellish it. I like to think that a positive mind overwhelmed the negative and made the whole experience joyful. It certainly added to the value of the project!


Ready for framing!


As always, I will link to Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Friday.

Back to main


  1. The piece is lovely, interesting and a bit quirky! I know all about the voices in your head-ever read Art and Fear? To me that is the ultimate book on voices in the head-it is just full of wisdom and observation. It has been a very important book to me. David Bayles and Ted Orland. I need to check out the book you referenced.

  2. The voices in my head are telling me that I like your piece.

  3. I really like the way this turned out! I was worried when you first showed the pink for a building.

    I like the way you worked through your bad feelings and made it work.

  4. I saw this yesterday in RAFA. I like this as I do most everything I see that you do, Your comments about the “inner voice and is it helpful” certainly ring true for me. I have been reading a lot about observing and acknowledging feelings or the inner voice and then moving on without giving in to all of them. I just finished the Dan Harris book also, and mostly liked it, especially since I am prone to panic attacks.

  5. I like the “happy walking down the street” feel of your piece. Glad you worked through the inner voice thing, and I will keep in mind the question , Is it Useful?

  6. I love it, It is fabulous

  7. Very interesting reading, thanks for sharing. Your little piece is very lovely, sorry not to be able to take a closer look.

  8. It has a nice feel of an Irish street. We need to ignore those negative voices and just keep working. Usually the piece resolves.

  9. Thanks, as always, for the thoughtful reflection on your process. It’s been wonderful to watch your quilt come into being. It’s beautiful.

  10. This is a lovely piece of work. I’m glad that you silenced that inner critic.

Leave a Reply to Maggi Cancel reply