Wednesday, 25 January 2012
You can't believe it, I bet. After all that silence, two posts in less than a week. But I did something today and I think it was helpful.
I thought about the art quilts I've made, and which among them were the ones I considered my best work. I identified three pieces that I think are my best work so far. Then I sat down and in my trusty Creativity notebook (we will have to do posts on our respective books, yes?) went through for each one and listed what I liked about it, what features it has that I feel great about, how it made me feel when I was working on it, how the process felt, etc.
Not surprisingly, most of the elements were the SAME THINGS in all three, although the pieces are not all the same technique or style.
And you know how we were talking about the list of 7 characteristics we wanted our work to have? Identifying what I liked in previous work was a good way to help sort out with a bit more clarity those characteristics.
By the way, I remembered where I'd read about that list idea. It was in a book about Vermont printmaker Sabra Field. (I realized I remembered it differently -- she used characteristics, not words, and there were more than seven.) Here is her list in case you are interested:
Sunday, 22 January 2012
Oh dear. I must apologize for the rather long expanse of time that has gone by since you posted and I left you hanging, pondering about rituals and statements of intent. You know from our personal conversations why blogging has not been uppermost in my mind ... but really, one of the reasons to blog like this with you is to make myself keep moving forward, however incrementally, with your waiting for me as a big motivator. So in penance I am foregoing a piece of See's candy from the box which Roger has just put on the coffee table. You undoubtedly recognize the sincerity of my apology if I am giving up chocolate over it.
So first, to the interesting insights you raised in your last post. I like the idea of a ritual to start creativity. Maybe the ritual is an awareness as one crosses the threshold into the studio, and some level of statement of intent: "Today I am going to do X." Like you, I'm suspicious of candles in the studio although I quite like the idea of that as a cozy, comfortable feeling. A few years ago at Christmastime I hung a string of sparkly white lights around the top of two walls in my office, and I love the light they give and the sense of sparkliness they give to the room in the evening. So maybe a special lamp or some goofy string lights would do the trick too. But the purpose of the ritual is to make a moment that recognizes the intention, yes? And maybe consciously thinking of the intention is enough. Which makes me think -- maybe a small whiteboard or chalkboard to write the day's intention as I go in. So often I go to do one thing and end up thinking about another. Confronting that written sign might be a good thing for me. Hmm. I like that idea. I just came across a small whiteboard that Caroline had to have for a math class some time ago... maybe I'll give this a try in my office and let you know how it goes.
I applaud your goal to not just meet a deadline, but to work toward a quality goal vs a temporal one. I suppose that the trick is to start the project in time to meet the goal AND spend enough time to do it AND make fixes or even redo if quality issues demand. And/or maybe to assess with each step whether it's where it's good enough to move to the next step. You asked if I get caught up in the self-analysis. Yes, I do. But my issue has more to do with stopping midway as I'm assessing what should some next, or what will make it be what I want... and I get hung up, and discouraged. You may finish things and have them end up less than you'd like -- I get stuck midway, with lots of things unfinished. I guess the ideal is something in between! Work carefully, consciously, finish, assess, and move on!
I have been working on my words. And I know, it is hard. Here's where I am so far, although I'm having a hard time distilling this down:
4. Complete - as in, not lacking something
Despite this long time, I don't have anything in fabric to show you. What with holidays and other things I've felt like I've not been able to OUTput -- it's all been about INput. I've been reading, and looking at images and just absorbing and soaking. I keep picturing what I think is a scene from the movie Fantasia, where a wizard comes upon the vast mess Micky Mouse has made, and casts a big magic spell to get it all under control so everything is swirling around him, sort of spinning around and moving upwards around him, gathering into one big tornado. That makes it all sound very intentional, when really I've felt more exhausted and creatively empty than anything else. So soaking things in and just doing a lot of LOOKING has felt like the extent of my creative ability.
But that has led me to think about what it means to be creative when you're not actually MAKING anything. I've written about this in my blog before, but I really notice that I have fallow periods where I'm just not in the mood to produce anything. I actually think it's a routine for me at this time of year. It could be laziness (and lord knows I've got that in me) but it's important to me that this be about pleasure and satisfaction for me. So when I'm not in the mood to sit at the sewing machine or shift fabric bits around, I don't. I think of it as incubation.
Some years ago, I started using this time between Christmas and my birthday at the end of January as a thinking and planning time, sorting out goals, looking at what I've done, what I hope to do. Your recent blog post about your organizing system got me thinking about being more structured about my jottings... which have generally landed in whichever sketchbook/journal I happen to have in front of me at the time. As a result, I've spent the last few days on a serious organizing kick. My office is cleaner. I've sorted out files drawers worth of papers, and gotten my desk organized with a system which will, I hope, help the flow of paper in and out of there work smoothly. I feel like I'm getting ready to start the output phase.
Any minute now. :-)
I will post more thoughts soon but for now that's an update, at least. Clearly I need a session at BocBoc over tea and cake to get things on the right track!