It is still dark outside my studio window as I begin this post. A strong wind is blowing, and I can hear and feel a change in the midwinter air. I am keenly aware how I am affected by elemental change, how my creativity responds to sunlight versus the absence of light, extreme heat and cold – all of which we experience throughout the year in Saskatchewan.
Such elemental changes affect my general disposition and the way I work. I used to embrace cold, rainy and snow-filled days, they were my reason to cocoon in the studio, pull out the sketchbooks, audition fabrics and dream up colorful new and exciting visual art pieces. Then came the opportunity to travel and teach – another great way to stay motivated while escaping the cold weather… but truth be told, traveling for work becomes less exciting with each commitment. I still love meeting new students to share techniques and exchange ideas, I always look forward to exploring new places, but what I dread the most is the way I have to get from home to my destination.
My first thought this morning circled around this dilemma… and I decided to give myself a new approach to infuse creative excitement into my studio practice. I have been up for well over two hours anticipating the sunrise and journaling. I have pulled out a precious leather-bound sketchbook, and I am exploring some brand new ideas, I am making notations about sampling specific aspects and I am building excitement within the studio and myself.
I continue to “savor” the David Usher Book “Let the Elephants Run” and it is a big reason for this personal shift and opportunity for self-evaluation. The part I am reading at the moment is all about the fact that creativity needs focus, it needs a structure to flourish. I analyzed my creative practice and realized how true it is, I always start with an idea, I make many notations, immerse myself in research, both intellectually and physically, referring to reading and the sampling of techniques and materials.
This practice has fallen short over the past two years with so many distractions associated with a heavy teaching and traveling schedule. Once identified I can begin to work on readjusting my focus. The best way to initiate change is by delving into a new course of action, a “new to me” interest area: I am entering uncharted territory which is both daunting and exciting at the same time. What will it do for my art practice? It will provide motivation to return to the studio space after a teaching trip and explore, create and finish new work. This strategy was successful for me in the past, and I know that it will guide me into the future.
Thanks for letting me ramble about what I am thinking. By typing the words I commit to becoming “an explorer” seeking adventure and hopefully finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow… The sun is shining brightly now and it is time to get on with my creative exploration!
What were your first thoughts when you opened your eyes this morning? If you care to share please leave a comment below.
Good morning Anna.
When I woke up this morning the first thought that popped into my head was that I would like to stay home and play in my studio. It is interesting to me how we shift our focus over time. I have always been driven to achieve professionally whether it be my practice or my quilting and I think as we grow through the years that redirection of focus appears to inevitable so we remain fresh and challenged. As we go about our daily rounds we are learning, exploring and having the odd epiphany along the way which draw us along new paths with this new knowledge or self realization. To me, this is what life is all about: graciously moving from one stage to the other. I believe the transition stage between these stages is where we can get stuck or have unnecessary doubt (as you said) before we allow ourselves to move toward the new goal, interest or activity. I am currently in this transition too and I am impatient for things to fall into place so I can move on. I know that time is all it takes and I still have obligations in my practice. It is just harder to get up everyday and go and make that part of my life happen. My thought, and perhaps yours too, is to resist taking on too many new obligations and remain true to the studio time need we crave and need.
Yes, we are in similar situations with old obligations hanging over us and new ideas and the need to step back from the world for a while to explore new possibilities creating tension. – My personal issue is that I have to many interests and a real need to explore these in depth but time and work obligations do not allow for that at this time. I find the best way to cope at the moment to take one hour at a time and one task at a time. – A little bit of tunnel vision has guided me through feeling overwhelmed and creatively under-productive in the past…
Oh Donna you have my sympathy but also I’m very jealous! I tore my rotator cuff in November but have been told I’m too old to have an operation as my tendons etc will be weak! So I’m left in pain on tablets and physio unable to do up my clothes or anything much with my right arm. It’s a nightmare! Good luck with the recovery x
I’m sorry to hear you’ve been told you can’t have surgery…have you asked for a second opinion? I know a lady who was 80 and had the repair done.
Really! Are you in uk? I will go and ask again then if you are.
No, I’m in Saskatchewan, Canada. Sorry
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Sounds like an exciting place to live x
Our NHS is wonderful but everything is rationed and for some things it is very difficult to get treatment sadly!
Creativity needs a structure and a focus to flourish”- you express perfectly exactly what I’ve realised recently. I have a myriad of ideas and interests, distractions and commitments which gobble up my time and stop me focussing so my creative writing becomes haphazard and shallow. There I’ve admitted it- I NEED TO FOCUS! Thank you for your post it has kick started me.
Now what was my first thought this morning- my husband sounds worse today and may end up being kept in hospital when he goes for his treatment later. I feel scared, anxious and nervous for our future as well as so sad that he has to suffer so much.
I have no one close enough to share all this with so I apologise for bringing it into this comment but you did ask!
Thank you for sharing. I do hope your husband did not end up in hospital… I am so glad my post has confirmed how important focus is when it comes to creativity. It is so easy to get distracted, however, I have begun to consciously analyze what I am doing throughout the day and a creative approach is important even when we do the mundane things like cooking our meals and walking the dogs. I carry my camera which makes me focus on the details around me…
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good morning Anna, your post reminds me I need to slow down a bit. I love making large multi-pieced scrappy traditional quilts…but perhaps if I slowed down and examined each step I could put these traditional quilts together with a bit of added flair. Use an exciting new variation on colour. Add yet more scraps. String piece some of the larger cuts to give the piece more texture. I have been so consumed with end result production numbers, I am sometimes missing the joy (and opportunities) that abound in the process. Thank you.
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Wow, Kathy – I just got off the phone with another quilter we talked about how so many quilters are product oriented and don’t slow down enough to put some of their personality into a quilt… it is as if you were on the other end of this conversation. I agree with your insight. My observation has been that the workshops I teach in the US are embracing the slow quilt movement – handwork is very popular and classes are well subscribed. Thanks so much for commenting!
Anna you might like to see my blog post from 2 years ago about the quilt for Stanley. When my grandson was born I wanted a quilt for him and my friend who makes exquisite works of art created it for me. It was simple but perfect using bits of material which had deep significance. I would love to see photos of your quilts x
Anna: Your post has inspired me to read the book Let the Elephants Run.” I have been housebound recovering from rotator cuff repair (6 weeks in a brace and without the use of my right hand and arm. Last week while I was at gallery seeing a fibre art display, I found myself thinking “Maybe I’m not really an artist”. I want to expand my work but fabulous ideas don’t just “POP’ into my head.
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Donna, what an excellent idea to read about creativity while you recover from surgery. Feeling a little down after major surgery such as yours’ can plant the seeds for unnecessary doubts, and this book is just “what the doctor ordered” to push these doubts aside, and if you can’t push them out of the way… try jumping over them. Here is to a speedy recovery!