A day in the life: textile artist Allison Green

I try to get involved with my work like it is a living creature whose feelings I must protect. - AG

Allison Green is a textile artist and mixed-media sculptor. She makes things out of stuff. More specifically, painted silk quilt art and learning toys made with digitally designed fabrics. Her work has an intuitive yet deliberate quality, it looks well-planned but still flows beautifully. She mixes art for the sake of art with art for learning, making stunning pieces to tastefully adorn a wall as well as colourful cushions that any child would delight in. Her creative range allows her the freedom to move in both art and craft circles, selling on Etsy and showing in galleries. No matter what she makes it is top quality. She is one emerging artist to watch.

Working mostly alone means each artist needs to create their own structure. They build their own rhythms and traditions that dictate their daily routines, though certainly with a good amount of creative flexibility. Allison is building up her practice and I wanted to hear about her day-to-day. Thanks Allison for sharing a peek into your daily life and creative process!

*Text and photos by Allison Green*

In the morning I wake up. We go for a sunrise walk. I have breakfast with my fellow, with my greyhound, with my trusty rat friends. Tea is important. When I am alone in the house and the animals are hunkered down, I go outside and spend time touching my plants. They inspire me and make my fingers tingle. When it’s time, I go to my studio.

If I had to describe the challenges of being an artist in one word, it would be starting. Once I am in the studio with something in my hands, I know it will be a productive day. I am a creature of habit. At different times in my life I have been harnessed by it. Nowadays, I like to think I harness habit. These little morning rituals are what help me to walk up those stairs and over the threshold.

Today I am working on a new project. I sketch, which really means I write barely legible schemes and diagrams. This is a really exciting time, all possibility. It is intoxicating and my mind feels like a catalyst for connections.

Other days I am making. Painting silk with magic dyes, making chemistry with colour, sewing with lightening fast stitches. This is a tactile experience, a body feeling, something completely different from the abstract cerebrals I use when coming up with ideas. The ideas have to be unwound in seclusion but I love building the work outside, and so I do when I can. Working where there are other people keeps me focused and out of my own head.

Some days I worry. That I am doing something wrong. That I’m on the wrong path or that I’m not capable. I try to let those worries drip off of me. I try to get involved with my work like it is a living creature whose feelings I must protect. That helps me to be less judgemental.

I always thought I would be a scientist. I had a great childhood and a bad adolescence. At some point I turned to art as a way out of depression and bad habit. It ended up being the greatest challenge of my life and in that challenge I found wonder. There is no antidote for apathy like wonder.

Now, I feel like a scientist of art. I am always seeking the line between humans and our environment, inside and out, self and other. I don’t really think it’s there, but I keep looking, because that’s the quickest way to disperse a phantom. Like math has done for physics and journalling has done for countless troubled souls, making art allows me to take the questions and thought streams out of my head and into the real world. There, I can examine them objectively and build upon or move beyond them.

When I came out of the Textile Design program at the NB College of Craft and Design, I had in my hands all these awesome capabilities but I didn’t know what to make of them. The Graduate Studies program, which I’ve come to think of as Life School, helped me look critically at where I wanted to be, not a romanticized ideal of the successful artist. It turns out I just want to be able to make things, learn with people, and play outside. That’s concrete and I can live it.

At the end of every day I stop making art and make supper. I do no more studio work today. After getting up in the morning, this is the second most important part of my day. For a long time I thought the key to getting more done was to work longer hours and crack the whip more vigorously. Turns out the key to better work is keeping the hours I’m not working intact, keeping them luxurious and filled with good food and exercise and living things that I love. Without that time, the will to make evaporates. Given ample nourishment, motivation swells.