Anna Hergert, Art & Design

When in Isolation…

Keep paddling away one stroke at a time and the opportunities will present themselves while you gain momentum…
(Photo credit: G. Powell)

…start building your own idea accelerator.

Here we are, Installment 5 of my week of jotting down ideas and expanding on inspirational thoughts of your creative mind. In my opinion, and after polling countless peers, I have realized that artists, writers and creatives tend to do their best work in isolation. Whatever space you claim for yourself, even if it is a quiet corner surrounded by shrubbery in the yard during the warmer seasons, find some place where you feel safe and inspired. Bring along your sketch/notebook, a pen or pencil and put your thoughts and ideas on paper. Remember, this is a safe place and nobody will ask you share what is in that book. It is the equivalent of a portable safe and only you can gain access by unlocking the vault to retrieve what you placed in it.

My alternate quiet corner when the studio prevents my thoughts to flow freely…

What if you have some slower days? The ideas are there but they are not flowing as freely as yesterday? You need a little nudge but your artist friends are otherwise engaged, or you are not quite sure you want to reach out and ask for some input… then it is time to start building you own ideas accelerator. (Note: The term “idea accelerator” was coined by David Usher in his book “Let the Elephants Run”.)

Here are some ideas on how to go about it:
1. Find a blog of someone you respect in the field you are interested in exploring. Subscribe and read the posts. Try to add a new source each month or more often, as long as you are able to keep up. I continually evaluate my list of idea accelerators and delete or unfollow for a time when I no longer derive the information or inspiration I want. Be judicious!

2. Peruse your personal library for books that provide suggestions on how to expand your ideas to push you forward in your creative endeavours.

3. Access your local library (virtually or in person, depending on social distancing rules) and get lost in their line up of books for creative minds.

4. Read, read, read and make notes! Set up a filing system so it is easy for you to retrieve the information you are gathering. Actual note taking helps me internalize the teachings from the books and blogs I subscribe to. What type of filing system works best? You will be the judge of that. Perhaps you love taking physical notes into the (so often mentioned) note book. Or, is it easier to make screen shots with your phone, perhaps your iPad is your favourite tool… The choice is very personal and I cannot guide you here.

Do remember this: The aim of an idea accelerator is not to make you an expert, but to flood you with ideas and push you forward to free the flow of imagination.

5. Set up a learning circle. Yes, you read this before. I heard the other day that nobody is self-taught! My inner light bulb suddenly lit up brightly… and I had to agree! We hear the statement: I am a self-taught artist all the time. In truth, and when we think about that statement, there is always someone that we have learned from. Purchasing a special techniques book and working through the samples one-by-one, following along the great photos and descriptions is not “self-teaching”. It is taking what a respected teacher/mentor has developed, invested the time and skill to photograph and formulate clear and concise instructions to provide a jumping off point for us to try just that technique. Yes, you internalize the process and technique and you hopefully hold on to these samples to create your own reference library to move forward and build on the basics presented in the book. But in the end it is an act of copying.

Do you remember the book “Steal Like and Artist”? Here is a poignant summary of what we can gather from it: We absorb and steal, rob and plunder – whatever it takes to get our creativity moving!

We all want to be original, unique, different and standing out from the crowd. I do too! Realistically artists and entrepreneurs are hustlers and thieves. That was a blunt statement but, when we dissect it I am trying to say this: We are an amalgamation of ideas that surround us. There are also a few rare geniuses around us that pull brilliance out of thin air without prior knowledge or contextual influence. But for most of us, ideas are generated by other ideas and we tend to build on work of others. There is nothing wrong with it.

In all my technique workshops across North America I met a few participants who were there for the handouts and the bare information to go home and teach it to their group of friends or guilds… They did not have to tell me this, their way of gathering the information, taking pictures of my samples and just hanging on every word made clear to me why they had paid for their spot. I made sure to spend some time addressing the class at the end to remind them to go home and expand on the techniques introduced in class. I shared freely and encouraged everyone to experiment and create at least three more samples of each technique covered in class. At the same time I was pointing out that one internalizes the technique by making and doing… not just copying it once. Any experienced teacher/mentor knows that the learning takes place well beyond the classroom. Once a technique or design concept has been internalized it is ready for sharing. I always said: “If someone wakes you up in the middle of the night and asks you to show them that technique and you are able to share it without hesitation, then you are ready to teach it to others.” I still subscribe to that motto.

As I am nearing the end of my five day writing exploration I want to go back to the core essence of why we make art. Artists make art for many reasons: Perhaps they are expressing themselves over the state of politics and injustice, or they are making a statement about the environment and our lack of stewardship, or an artist is making art for the sheer joy of creating and pursuing ideas that burst forth from their mind. Our internal compass directs us naturally to the course we are meant to take.

We realize that making art matter, and making art that matters, are two sides of the same coin. Art will matter when it once again concerns itself with issues that matter, when it once again arises naturally at the points where art and life intersect, when it once again demonstrates that making art is the way we manifest being human. (Ted Orland – The View From the Studio Door)

Thank you for your time and interest this week. The five blog entries are reminiscent of what the Art Quilt Campus participants would have had presented to them each morning at our gathering session. I have thoroughly enjoyed composing and posting these inspirational words for all blog followers to enjoy. Feel free to comment below. I am never quite sure if my efforts are helpful until I read your insights. If there is continued interest in regular posts similar to the ones I shared this week please let me know. I am also open to topics you are interested in. It will give me a little push to read, research and put pen to paper in the future…

All the best in your creative endeavours! Anna

This entry was published on August 21, 2020 at 7:01 am. It’s filed under Art, Creativity Update, Journaling, Motivational, Networking, Refocusing Creativity, Sharing Resources, Special Project, staying in touch, Virtual AQC and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

18 thoughts on “When in Isolation…

  1. Kim Morrison on said:

    Good morning Anna,
    Over the years since attending a few of your workshops, I have regularly searched out your blogs when I need to refocus. I find your writing style and inspired words complimentary to my educational needs. So, thank you many times over for being there when I needed a cheerleader, a redirect, a get off your ass and use the tried and true techniques and paths required to successfully complete a piece instead of just praying it will come together! Sometimes I get so bogged down in the doing. I leave no time for the planning or evaluating and that is a creativity draining rabbit hole to get out of. I have never had the pleasure of attending AQC, have dreamed about it and look forward to it sometime in the future. As many have said in their comments, I will save your musings from this week and hope you will continue to share your insights as you are part of my learning circle. Stay safe and thank you for being there when I needed you! Kim

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Kim! Your note today confirms for me that my writing is helpful and of value to others. I will continue with sharing insights. Perhaps it will lead to future in resin meetings and/or gatherings. I appreciate you taking the time to comment. Best wishes to you. Anna


  2. Anna- thank you for providing such wonderful food for thought this week. I really appreciate reading these and will reference back often. I have really missed AQR this week. I have found inspiration on our travels and been taking lots of photos. And finding my direction more and more. Hoping we can do a zoom AQR in the future…. or be able to have an in person group again!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Jane Jefferis on said:

    Thanks, Anna, for taking time to send these out! I’m back weaving, and was thinking of the wonderful yarns you carried at The Fiber Hut, and Colin’s skill at resolving brake problems on my LeClerc Fanny! I enjoy your musings, and find golden nuggets all the time!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pat Hoyer on said:

    I’ll be saving and re-reading these. You have given much food for thought.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Helene on said:

    What lovely sentiments you express Anna. Thank you for taking the time to write to us this week. It did feel like we were in a conversation. your writing is always inspired, thoughtful and kind. I too will miss AQR and the full immersion and inspiration it provided. All the best to everyone in your creative endeavours. I hope we meet again somehow.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ll try one more time to respond and see if it works. I have appreciated all your blog posts this week. You have almost transported me back to Muenster and the fellowship we all shared for 1 glorious week each year. I’ve saved all the posts, so I can go back and reread them. Thank you again for the inspiration this week

    Liked by 2 people

    • Carol, it worked! Your comment came through loud and clear this time! Glad you found the daily posts a bit of a consolation prize… this year has been hard on so many in varying aspects. We just heard that friends in Okanagan Falls, BC and Santa Cruz County, CA have been evacuated due to wildfires. I can’t wait to see the “tide” change this year! We have had a lot of trials and tribulations. Art and creativity will provide some refuge for us – it will keep us positive and working toward a solid future. Stay safe, my friend.


  7. Shirley Berlin on said:

    Thank you, Anna. Idea accelerator indeed!
    I’d love to read more of your posts. I would guess that there are many of us missing retreat/conference/gathering type contacts – not only classes, but the mealtime brainstorming sessions or accidental meetings in the corridor (fabric in hand!). Serendipity can be another creative nudge.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for weighing in, Shirley! So good to know that this week’s writing has not been in vain! I will put my thinking cap on and blog on a regular basis to provide inspiration to help in accelerating ideas and concepts! Stay in touch!


  8. Donna Tremblay on said:

    Thank you for the many inspirational ideas. It is giving me a kick in the back side.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Every morning as I drink my coffee, I’ve read your posts! I am not a big reader, but your posts gave me insight and a feeling of togetherness with like minded friends. I am thankful to call all of you friends! And now I realize just how much I shall miss going to AQR😕❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    • You are welcome, Paula. Yes, I think a number of former participants have realized how much the week together really meant after being apart this week. Perhaps interest rekindles and we can pull off a gathering of like-minded artists virtually via Zoom in the future… I qas always open to that.


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