nine :: progression

hello there. shari [who has a great interview with eireann today] and i return today with our documentary project. this week's word was chosen by shari.



moving ahead, making progress, steps in a sequence. this week's word was a difficult one for me, and i chose it! i struggled to find this word in my everyday existence and learned that often progression is taking two steps back and one step forward. my first inclination was to follow the progression of a collage i was working on, to photograph it daily and to watch the progress, noticing the changes. yet i am a bit unsure of myself in this medium and i felt paralyzed. i left this piece on the floor in my study and continued to visit it every day but could not bring myself to keep working on it.

this week i thought a bit more about the word and suddenly realized that progressions are a big part of my everyday life. chord progressions! i am in a creative period where i love playing the guitar and writing music. click the link below to hear more.

link to song

progression for your ears but also for your eyes. i did a quick little watercolor piece recording the major chord progression for my song plums. this visual representation seems a bit like a secret code yet it means so much to other musicians. t picked it up and immediately recognized it as the chords for one of my songs.

watercolor and sketch

what does the word progression mean to you?


progression felt like a $10 word for some reason. i don't think i would say that in thinking about it's "normal" usage... but in terms of documenting it in my life it seemed a bit daunting.

nine :: progression :: 1

i found that i was immediately drawn to nature - especially since it's spring and things seem to be "progressing". buds appearing, flowers popping, plants sprouting. you can't hold back mother nature..... or stop time from it's proverbial march forward.

i also thought about how progression in it's most literal sense means moving forward - or counting up. but as the word rolled around in my brain i wondered if that was really true. does progress fundamentally mean you have to go forward? can't things sometimes improve if you go "backward"? like the idea of living more simply. it's counter-intuitive to the notion of progress because it means to let go... of you gadgets, your crazy chock-full life, your desire to get a promotion [same word root] - but then again - couldn't just being more satisfied with what you have and letting go of cultural, social, self-imposed ideas potentially be PROGRESS?

in art it seems like sometimes the desire to move a thought process forward can actually impede the final outcome. i often feel like i am making progress when i re-visit an idea over and over and over - that upon reflection and not moving on i gain a better understanding of my materials, my vocabulary, my concept. i like this idea of progression in a multi-dimensional way. as if you can side-step, or crawl, or jump, or get to your progress how ever you wish.

then again - there's something sexy about progress isn't there? the future... technology... robots [hee hee].

what i did notice is that i like to place things in progressive order around me:

nine :: progression :: 2

i like arranging things from big to small, or in numerical order, or in color order. it makes me happy - it makes me understand my surroundings. does anyone else do this?

i actually also thought about singing you a scale of notes... do-re-me-fa-so-la-ti-do... but i am shyer than shari and so you'll just have to pretend i did it.

finally i want to share this image because i had to show a client how you can change the stitch length on a sewing machine. we were talking about how to create a sense of depth with stitches and she didn't know you could alter the individual length of the stitch. it fits so perfectly with the word for this week. [and red on white is always a good thing]

nine :: progression :: 3

hope your monday is progressing nicely!


shari said…
wow. your response is amazing. i loved every single bit. thanks for making up for my weak response and then some! i agree that progress is not necessarily moving in a linear path. xo
julie said…
more interesting thoughts...i love sharis watercolour codes and the idea of documenting the progression of work (not an easy task) and i can relate to the progression of nature - always observing the changes around me and watching an episode of David Attenboroughs of the growth of plants :)
Love that last image of the red lines of stiches monday has nearly come to an end! xxx
Abigail said…
Yum - I think this is my favourite response yet {and I have still to listen to shari's song which can ONLY make me love it more !}...not so much because I like 'progression' or identitfy with it specifically..but your responses seem so great and rounded and visually delicious...yum yum to watercolour chords, red on white stitching, buds busting opening...galvanised pots a stacking [fiiiiiive gOOOld rings!!!! haha] - eye candy if ever I saw it.

well done girls! xx
freelisa said…
Great thoughts on "progression"- I, too, see the correlation with nature. It is certainly all around us.
also- speaking of progression- thanks for the MDF tips on my blog- it worked beautifully!
poppy said…
progressive order.... i dig filing. i've always found no problem with that duty. even now at home with toys, no problem sorting a degree.
wendy said…
I love the watercolor cord progression is really really beautiful. I also love that you chose the word because it is hard for you in you can begin to explore why.

I love you idea of progression not going in a linear direction...that letting go caould also me progression, that you can revisist an idea to make it also the red stitches even if it just was just a visual test!
bugheart said…
i don't think
you give yourself
enough credit...
you are so
with the audio
which is what
so many of us lack
i love love love
your watercolor
and thoughts...

lisa: i feel the same
about the weight
of the word...
i have a difficult
time relating
to the word
since my progress
is so unsteady-
standing still
for what seems
than leaping
but nature...
that's progress...
or is it?
can progress
be cyclical?
love the stitch

love it all
both of you!
dandelion said…
i am someone who orders things as well - alphabet or colours or size, it soesn't matter! Fab take on the word...x
Listoria said…
I love this project! The words, your responses, how thought provoking each are! It really makes me open my eyes to my surroundings and to how I would document my own daily life in a simple word and why.

You two are just terribly clever!


ladylinoleum said…
Very intriguing for a "progress junkie" such as myself. And I do agree that progression is not always vertical. Progression is also comprised of lateral movements, which sometimes feel like backpedaling, but are truly just steps toward the goal in an of themselves. Very nice girlie...
Kelly said…
Progress. A word we strive for and are disappointed in ourselves if we don't see ourselves getting there. But I like your non-linear point, something I forget to honor and enjoy.
beccamonster said…
I too like (or feel compelled) to arrange things by size, number, etc. I have to arrange my m&ms by color before I can eat them. Weird, huh?

Moving towards a simpler life is progress, and often one of the hardest to attain... at least in the sense of personal satisfaction, as you said.

I may not know much about sewing, but I do know how to change the stitch length on my machine! I'm curious how you use this to create depth in your work... could you expand on that?
abby said…
Hi girls!
I love the idea of creating a visual piece from a song. Shari, you are always making me look at things in a different way-thank you for that.
Lisa, i love your red+white piece. I realize it is just stitches-but there is something about it that breaks my heart a bit. Maybe it is becasue I am in the midst of a "progression" myslef!
thank you ladies
maditi said…
a beautiful progressing post!!!
cruststation said…
As always, this is wonderful and thought-provoking. I agree with shari, the word can be daunting at first when looking at everyday life, are we making progress? But then I feel that even taking small steps, stepping back and seeing where we are or taking steps back until we feel we are in the 'right' place is also progress. That is better than being stagnant -love the watercolour chords, and I'm sure I'll be enjoying the song when I plug in my speakers :)

lisa: Thanks for the idea of nature growing and changing as a different take on progress. Thinking about art, I remember when I did my final year oil painting piece at college, I kept painting not knowing when to finish-moving forward? my tutor later told me that my piece was better early on, yet I 'messed it up' later...knowing when to stop? Love the stitching piece too, red on white is so striking.
lisa s said…
shari - nothing weak about your repsonse!!

julie - ah yes mr. attenborough :)

abigail... :) i can almost hear you singing

hi free lisa... so glad the MDF tips helped!

jan... come over! file for me!!

wendy... aren't those red stitches nice? so glad you like them too

bug - love cyclical progress... sigh...

dandelion... yes - order is good! :)

tiffany - i dunno how clever we are, but thank you

regina! nice to see you!! yes - backwards makes for forwards!

kelly... :)

beccamonster - i've done that [m&ms]
re: depth - the idea that things further away should be in a smaller stitch - things closer in bigger stitches... like how things are when you look at them. does that make sense??

abby - yes - there is something a bit sad about those stitches, huh?

hi maditi!

bablefish... so true... i think all artists have been there. should have stopped but didn't. great point!
UNIFORM Studio said…
I agree -I don't progress unless I revisit -again and again and again.
I never thought of it this way. In my mind I see the word progression as a gradient. You can't see any individual steps (they blur together) but you see a difference when you look from beginning to end. I have to admit, this one has me thinking hard.
Now to go listen to Shari's progression....
gracia said…
Help! Today I feel I am progressing in quite the wrong order... My list of jobs are growing at a rapid rate showing no signs of diminishing yet I am still working. Gasp! I think I am actually standing still today.
Another great response S & L... bravo!
see you, g xo
louise said…
I love this posting guys! I'm no musician but I'm totally into Shari's watercolours anyway, and Lisa what you said about things sometimes improving even if you go backward is so true.
amisha said…
hi there shari and lisa... revisiting... i always come back to your documentary posts and re-read... so much good stuff to think about.
shari... you are indeed hard on yourself my friend. i love your audio pieces for this, the chord progressions and your thoughts on the collage-- understanding blocks to progression is also such a part of this. lisa... that photograph! and the stitch sampler! more exclamation marks all around :) your thoughts on re-visiting, progress as a cyclical (or spiralling?) process were so interesting to me. i have found this to be very true for me, though i've also realized that i cling to an idea of 'progress' in my thoughts about history that is often imaginary + projected (posting on this soon :) ) i always need to believe that i am 'making progress' in my life, in my work... but how do i measure it, and why do i want to? i know that if progression is growth, then for me it comes more often slowly and sideways and unexpectedly, without my realizing it till much later.
xo to you both!
UNIFORM Studio said…
I think that idea of circling back is true. I often work iteratively, doing the same thing over and over again, just changing one variable each time. so going back can mean going forward.
When I think of progression the visual image I have is a gradient. You can't see any individual steps, but you see change from beginning to end.
Thank you both for making me think hard about this one.

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