Saturday, June 27, 2009

Big Creative Block Lifted!

Today is a wonderful day for my creativity! I have been blocked for months! I've had fabric out to try to get motivated, talked with students in my creativity coaching class about the block, tried making my expectations more limited, and still couldn't get started.

I left my OT job at our local hospital a year ago about this time and that was very painful for me. I jumped into building up my coaching business, but felt very sad about leaving patients and co-workers who had become friends.

I also had packed up my downtown studio and moved it into storage 6 months prior to leaving that job. I brought some supplies, fabrics and beads home, but lots went into storage. This morning I finally unpacked a big box of beads that's been sitting, in the way, on my worktable for a year. I really didn't remember what was in it, and, OH GLORY, LOOK WHAT I FOUND!!!
These are some antique glass Mardi Gras beads that I bought on a vacation to New Orleans probably 15 years ago! Obviously they had never been thrown from a float!! They are glass, made in Czechoslovakia, and obviously seconds, but so colorful and bright and fun!These are just of few of my very favorites. Some glass shell beads I bought from Robin Atkins a few years ago, some great old coral, ancient Roman (green) glass beads that had been cleaned, some small clay Central American birds from a great dealer in Hinsdale, IL, a partial strand of ancient glass and striped agate amulets, and a cast polymer clay face.
I feel like the floodgates have opened, creativity can flow again! Like the Japanese goddess Amateratsu, the stone has been removed, I've come out of the dark cave, into the sunlight and my spirit, seeing all that just thrills me, can dance wildly! I didn't realize that my block was my grief at leaving my work pals, and thought I'd gotten over that. Finding my favorite beads was another important step in completing that circle, and allowing me to move forward.

See you later, I'm off to pet my beads!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

How I Use Books

Robin Atkins just asked in her blog Beadlust if anyone else underlines and writes in books like she does. Well, yes I do, Robin. It took me a long time to get over my childhood library training of "Don't write in books. Don't bend down the corners of the pages."
Sometime in my adulthood, maybe because of the many years I've spent in school, I decided my own books were meant to be useful. Useful to me means I can write my responses and thoughts right there by the lines that inspired them.
I journal irregularly, and often can't find which journal I wrote something in, if I want to retrieve it, but with a little hunting, I CAN ALWAYS FIND my favorite or most thought-provoking books.
So I am unaplogeticly a full service consumer of my books. How about you?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Staying in the Flow

When we're making art, we're in a change process. The paint or yarn or beads we work with change in front of us as we make a brushstroke, throw the shuttle and beat the weft, or thread on a new bead. Everything shifts from moment to moment.

This play is a big part of the wonderful energy we feel when we make art. Often we like the progression. Sometimes we don't. What happens with you when things are not looking the way you want them to? When that green you just used somehow throws the balance off in the work you're doing.

Part of your response will depend on how well you manage your inner critic. The critic loves pinches in the artistic process, and will seize them and become merciless with it's yammering. When this has happened to me, I have tended to freeze. The part of my brain that registers fear or anxiety gets triggered, and often in the past I have had to stop working.

This part of the brain is called the amygdala. It is responsible for fight, flight and freeze responses. It's quite useful at times, but not when making art. When this part of the brain gets activated, our decision-making becomes compromised. We actually temporarily LOSE IQ points, making solutions to that glob of green impossible to find.

There is a way to short-circuit this fear or anxiety response, and dive back into the creative flow. It is simply to breathe, 5 seconds in - deep into the belly; 5 seconds out - releasing fully. Breathe deeply and slowly for 5 minutes or more. Your body will start to relax, and you will become centered. You might focus for a moment on how much you enjoy making art. From this place, your thoughtful and reflective brain areas will start to work again.

You will have dissipated the energy of the inner critic and possibilities will begin to appear. You can take a nice refreshing stretch and move right back into the rhythms of weaving, beading or painting. You can come up with a cool way to integrate that gob of green.
How will you remember to do this next time the critic strikes? Practice.
Make it a point to practice slow deep breathing several times throughout the day - when you get up, when you sit down at your computer, when you come to a red light, before you start making art. Remembering to take a deep breathing break when you need the clarity becomes much easier when you make it a habit throughout your day.
How about trying it right now?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Play and Art-making

How much do you play as you make art? What separation exists, if any, between playing and "serious" art making?

I am going to be focusing on the topic of play this year. I know that I want to play more in my artmaking. I feel a distinction, rightly or not, between "serious" topics that demand focus and intention, versus the times I pick up my body tattoo pens or other playthings and have no expectations.

I hope my exploration leads me to discover how I can integrate these two approaches that seem so different, or whether there is indeed a schizm between art for fun and art for purpose, message or meaning.

I'd love to hear your thoughts.