Contemplating Creativity

I have had a couple of slams in the face about my own creativity lately. I have projects; I just don’t seem to be interested in working on them. I have plans for working, if I had days straight just to sew. I guess I have to face up to the fact that I seem to be stalled, even though I am limping along.

The first slam was the Peacock. I was excited when I put the blocks up on my design wall. I really was. The excitement faded as I contemplated putting the blocks together. The work involved, the actual sewing, seemed too daunting and I realized I just didn’t really want to do it. I can hardly believe I am feeling this way. Sure, I get stuck on projects, but to simply not want to sew the blocks together is a new one on me. I think part of the problem is the design wall. (Sense a theme??). I really, really dislike this design wall and this project may just propel me to really, finally do something about it.

Freddy Moran's Applique'
Freddy Moran’s Applique’

The second was a lecture with Freddy Moran. I went to the SFQG, because she was going to speak. Yes, I will write more about the lecture. In the meantime, a quick overview: She is over 80. She is the one who made the brightly colored house quilts and did a long term, two book collaboration with Gwen Marston. She always pieced, almost never quilted her own quilts. She has had some personal changes in the last year that have made her look at her creativity. She has been encouraged her to change her style completely. She still pieces, but is doing a lot of applique’ as well. She can, perhaps I should? I don’t think I am happy with what I have been working on lately. I don’t hate any of my quilt projects, but they seem…..boring. Perhaps I need to change my style?

Finally, the third was a lecture with Jane Dunnewold. She talked about her new book, Creative Strength Training. I don’t really think I need creative strength training, but I think there are things I could do to improve my creativity. She talks about cross training. Yes, of course, I do cross training for my body. Running as well as weight lifting. I wonder if changing crafts for a short time would improve my creativity? She also talks about writing. Not angsty teenager stuff, but writing for creativity: capturing ideas that tether them to the ‘earth plane’. ( <– this is how she described getting the perfect dream or shower idea on paper before it floats away).

I write a lot and Dunnewold says that writing begins to open people’s eyes to the idea that you have all the stories inside of you to make great art. This makes me think about what stories I want to use for my art. One of my quilts was made from deep in my heart and was very poorly received. It did not make me want to do such work again.

I do feel that I was smug earlier when I was reading about other people’s struggles with their work and creativity. I feel like now I am getting my just desserts. 🙁

Author: Jaye

Quiltmaker who enjoys writing and frozen chocolate covered bananas.

16 thoughts on “Contemplating Creativity”

  1. Jaye, thank you for doing this blog. I read it every day. It encourages me to think creatively. Not one to be very “artsy” (I was one of those kids who was excused from Art class to go to music lessons), not even learning how to draw a tree that didn’t look like a lollipop! I can follow a sewing pattern, choose fabric, sew crafts but never really attempted quilting from an art perspective. It makes me want to clean out my sewing room where all my mother’s boxes of photos are languishing, and do something! Perhaps Fall will be the perfect time…we shall see.
    Keep writing, please…
    Cdub

    1. Thanks for your comment. I am glad I am inspiring you! Creativity shows in a lot of forms, not whether you can draw a tree or not. You are one of the most creative people I know simply from knowing your success at reference. Keep it up!

  2. I like your reference to cross training. I think my painting and all that I have learned while playing with that has informed what I do with fabric a great deal. And made both things more interesting to work on.

  3. I will be very happy to take those peacock blocks off your hands! (Tongue firmly in cheek, sort of.)
    Seriously, though, I think we have always had times when this happens. It just does, although in my case I think it is usually related to some sort of mild depression I’m not even aware of. Or not getting enough sleep. No, I’m not making light of this. I get seriously uncreative when I’m not sleeping enough, which is more often than I want to admit.
    Anyway, about those peacock blocks…

  4. I’m giving you back your old design wall at least until the remodeling stuff can happen in your studio.
    Maybe it’s just that you’ve done enough piecing for awhile? It’s been pretty non-stop when you look back at your quilts. Or try something with just Tsukineko inks. But really, if you’re having a down time, let yourself enjoy it, write about it. It might be time to explore the stories you want to tell…

  5. It’s hard imagining you having difficulty with creativity. I’m also sorry a quilt that was deeply personal was not well received. For me, my quilts, even the ones I don’t think came out well (because it didn’t end up as I planned) are part of my story. And not all parts of our stories are good. But it makes way for the great.

    I’ve heard more than once that creating in another medium is good for our creative journey. I feel as though I am cheating myself out of time for that which restores my soul. I have to work at, and remind myself that I’m not cheating myself but moving towards more and better.

    Hoping you find the great within you soon so you can get back to creating.

  6. I don’t think we have an overwhelming well of creativity. I think it comes in fits and starts and relates heavily to what is going on in the rest of our lives and how we are feeling generally. Down time is ok, trying something new is ok, changing styles is ok. There are no rules in the creativity game, but I do think consistent work is an important part of creating (not creativity).
    I’m about to embark on a 100 day project. (if you google 100 day project new zealand you’ll find it)
    There is accountability involved and I’m hoping that it will push me to explore one subject to it’s maximum and grow my creativity by forcing the work. If that makes sense.

    1. I can’t wait to see what you come up with during your hundred day project!

      You are right that the well of creativity can run a little dry if the rest of our life is a little challenging. It is something to think about.

  7. You make me feel human after reading this post. I’m also struggling (in case you haven’t noticed), and think about what should I do, but that involves starting a new project again. It was shocking to read that you are facing the same situation. Although I know it will help once I have my sewing room in order (for real!), and I still keep putting it off. I keep telling myself not to start until I know I’ll have a few days I can dedicate to the task. I hope you can find your creativity Jaye! The Freddy Moran lecture must have been a blast! I saw her on different shows and remember her saying red was her neutral 🙂 At least that time. And now I can’t remember what else I was gonna write, so I’ll leave it at that :)))

  8. The question that came to mind, Jaye, about your deeply personal piece was by whom was it very poorly received? Sometimes people are uncomfortable when faced with work outside their own artistic comfort zone. How did YOU feel about the piece? Would you have pursued that direction if the reception had been more supportive? Just a thought….

  9. I like regular piecing and maybe paper piecing. I’ve only recently tried paper piecing and applique. There are so many types of applique to try, but I find it difficult to just get started with it. I get my fabric cut, then I stuff it in a drawer. Handwork just isn’t my thing. I’m doing a 100-block sampler with lots of bonus blocks and projects now which has so much hand embroidery and needle turn applique of various types. There are over 80 designers making blocks for this sampler, and each one shares their preference for how to do things. I figure I should try them at least once if I can. I like all the tips, but I have found that with all this new stuff is totally overwhelming to me. Although it’s great to learn new things, apparently I can only handle a few at a time and not all in the same quilt. My goal was to finish all the blocks, but now I’m wondering if that’s realistic for me since I’m just a beginner. I think I just need to set a goal of working on it for an hour a day. My problem is once I get started, I don’t want to stop even to eat, so 5 to 8 hours later…I’m totally burnt out. It’s like a bad obsession. So I’ve been catching up on blogs and genealogy…I’m finally after about a month ready to start up again. Fortunately, they encourage you to work at your own pace. I personally think Art Quilts sound like a lot more fun than applique or especially embroidery. Now back to my embroidery…

    1. Perhaps it would help to work with a friend. I know what you mean about not being able to stop. I try to work on a few projects at a time, so I don’t get burnt out on one. Is there a post about this sampler you are doing? I’d love to see some of the blocks.

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