A telephone visit with fellow textile artist Elinor Burwash sparked an idea. I asked if the possibility exists to turn this conversation and Elinor’s personal insights on creativity into a guest blogger feature.
I usually introduce my guest bloggers with a picture and a short bio. Instead I decided to send you to Elinor’s blog to read her biography and more of her musings. And instead of asking Elinor for a head shot I decided to use the image above to represent her. “Why?” you might ask… This is the way I know Elinor – bright, full of energy, creativity and always positive in her outlook on life.
It is my pleasure to introduce Elinor’s writing and art:
Reflections on the CDA Challenge
In 2014 Anna and I created a challenge designed to motivate us to spend some creative time each day. We invited others to participate and embark on a Creative Daily Act (CDA) with us… This seemed like a great idea at the time. And then again, sometimes it seemed like an overwhelming task.
It began as a daily act for me, and during the year sometimes it worked that way… and sometimes not. I did complete my 365 CDA’s on Jan 3, 2015, just three days late of our self-imposed deadline.
Now that I have had several weeks distance from this challenge I have had time to process the psychological impact and consider if/how it has changed my artistic practice. Upon reflection I have concluded that it was worth every minute of the exercise.
The challenge reminded me that I could stick with something and reach a goal. This was a good learning experience for me as my life has become less formally structured. It helped me feel more in charge of my life. It often seems that everyday life gets in the way of artistic endeavor.
I learned that I didn’t need to panic about what I was going to do. In January “In the Bleak Midwinter” I found that some idea presented itself every day. In February I didn’t have a clue about “Fever” until I watched the opening of the Winter Olympics and suddenly saw many graphic lines in the pageantry, the costumes and the stadium. I ran and got a sketchbook. More graphic lines presented themselves in the skating costumes. And so it continued: Every month the inspiration presented itself.
The logical question to myself was: How do I learn? I know and believe that recording details from my environment consciously as well as sub-consciously have resulted in many stored images in my personal databank, my brain. Things that delight me and get noted are everyday images, nature, garden, trees, buildings, art and arrangement of furniture.
Pausing for a moment to enjoy a sunrise, a flower, the moon or clouds. These images are supplemented by my training in design, in working with textiles for many years, in having pursued a wide variety of textile techniques. Additionally new ways of working with textiles come into my field of perception. An interest in historic costume and historic textile techniques add to my databank.
The second part for me is to do continuous creative problem solving. Each month I put the theme in my mind, consciously ask for a solution and leave my brain (computer) do the searching, sorting and spit out a solution. I then would examine the solution and see if it made sense. Often putting the thought back into the databank would yield further thought and refinement of the idea or one that was better. Next I would think about what technique would get me the results I desired. The ideas always came.
There were tweaks and more experimentation and many insights. I often had to be innovative in how to work with a technique to achieve the outcome I desired. I am much richer after exercising my brain, in drawing on the creative databank and problem solving mechanisms than I was before I undertook this project.
I have grown! I have a physical databank of 365 items (or samples) that delight me, and that I can draw upon for more inspiration. I can take one CDA and use it to develop a quilt if I choose. For example any of the “Fever” pieces could become the basis of a modern quilt design, or a Mola or a piece of Sashiko or a wool embroidery.
In retrospect am glad that I committed to this year-long project. I am proud that I saw it through to the end… and profoundly grateful that I took the time to consciously examine the outcomes of my creative practice.
Thank you, Elinor! I appreciate your personal insights and the selected images of your CDA’s. What a treasure you have created, and congratulations for reaching your goal. I can’t wait to see what you create next…