Friday, June 26, 2015

WHY This is NOT a Creative Slump...

Hello My Fellow Creative Beasts!
You might be wondering why I so adamant about not being in a creative slump in my last blog post. Today I will endeavor to explain myself...

One of the beastly aspects of art and creativity is that many people fall into what they consider a 'slump' or a 'creative block' and they generally view this in the negative, imagining all sorts of horrible things, such as the idea that their creativity is finished, they have no ideas to work on and will never have any creative ideas ever again...

Simple beaded necklace made to practice with beading wire before attempting a paid necklace repair job for an acquaintance...

But I also notice that this seems to happen most frequently among people who stopped being creative in their childhood/teens and are now reconnecting to that natural creative impulse; it might also happen among people who have limited their creative channels to just one outlet such as painting or drawing or sculpture...

I am here to tell you that this is all wrong headed thinking...

Gallery of washi tape covered match boxes, recently made after discovering the book "Washi Tape"

As someone who has always been creative, who has never stopped herself from any creative activity that popped into her highly active mind, this idea of 'creative blocks' or creative slumps' is not really any of those things, but I have learned that it IS a natural part of the creative cycle.

I've never really considered myself to have fallen into a 'creative slump' but this could be due to the fact that I engage in several creative activities, possibly more than the average crafter. Here is a list of activities I have engaged in, in one way or another, since childhood and I will attempt to list them in chronological order to the best of my ability:

drawing - doodling - coloring - sewing - knitting - jewelry making - dancing - costume design - creative writing - photography - pattern drafting - fashion design - fine art drawing - life drawing - collage art - book binding - clay sculpture - 3-dimensional design - wood work - performance art - altered books and art journals - needle felting - fabric dyeing

My list of creative pursuits is a long one indeed!

Now, I admit this is a long list of creative activities, and there are many that I practiced for a short time, such as the clay sculpture, and the wood work. But some have been with me since childhood, such as the sewing, knitting and the jewelry making...

And I believe that dabbling in so many creative activities has not only fed my creative curiosity, I feel that it adds to my confidence in my skills.

And this is the crucial issue with many creatives who make a return to embracing their creative impulses, after burying them for many years.

Returning to creative actions such as drawing or painting or sewing means rebuilding old unused muscles and it can take some time to feel secure in your skills, but until you feel secure in your own skills, you will doubt and deride your abilities, which will lead to quitting, which can then make you feel as though you are in a 'creative slump', which is really just 'fear of not being good enough'.

And ALL ARTISTS fall into this mode of thinking, including me, from time to time...

I just don't allow myself the feeling of 'not being good enough' for very long, since I have all kinds of evidence of how good much of my work is, due to practicing many of my skills for many years, some of them for decades. And I continue to practice many of my creative skills weekly if not daily, so this always adds to my "Identity Capital*" of being an Artist.

Evidence of my book making skills laid out on display - I take pride in what I create!

I don't think any of us ever really drop the feelings of insecurity or inadequacy, but with much practice, over time, we can learn to tame that little voice into a whisper as we add and grow in our skill sets.

And I would also say that if one has several creative channels to dip into, there can never really be a 'creative slump', though there can be a time of creative quiet, which is sometimes needed to let big ideas percolate as we prepare ourselves to bring them to fruition, but that is still not a 'slump', just a 'fallow time', which is a natural part of the cycle, just as it is for planting and harvesting.

I'm currently in a 'jewelry phase' of creativity right now - pink and sliver bead necklace made last week - these beads have been waiting to be used for over 5 years!

And so, I will leave you with these words of Julia Cameron, author of "The Artists Way Every Day",  a book of daily musings on creating art which I've been recently been reading and enjoying for daily art-full inspiration:
"Our creativity never leaves us. Sometimes, however, its surface appearance fades away. We become parched with longing for our work, but our sources of strength are now not our easy tricks. We are being humbled and opened for greater work to come through us, and that humility feels to us like humiliation, that opening-up feels like a gaping wound. We are deathly afraid that art has left us alone forever, that we will never see the beloveds face or feel its simple touch. 'I was such a fool,' we think. ; I took so much for granted.' And we did. But faced with out drought, we don't any longer, and this is the beginning of humility and honesty. It is the beginning of emptying ourselves so art can again pour through us."
***   ***   ***
How you will take time to build your creative identity capital this weekend?
 Feel free to share!

* - I have linked to the concept of "Identity Capital" discussed in this amazing TED Talk by Dr. Meg Jay, but I don't think that building 'identity capital' ends in one's twenties; I believe that building a solid structure of identity capital is a life-long journey and well worth it!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

This is NOT a Creative Slump!

Hello my fellow Creative Beasts!
Once again time has slipped by me because, of course, LIFE is what happens when you're busy doing other things...and just what have those other things been, you might ask?

Well, I will tell you and be sure to read through to the end since I have included a bit of a 'tutorial' in this blog post!

Still "Tidying-Up"
As I mentioned in my last blog post, I have been embroiled in a HUGE cleaning, or rather, 'tidying-up' project in my home, which was sparked by discovering the book "The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up", by Marie Kondo. I haven't shared much of my process here on my blog, though I did share one day of starting to sort through the PAPER category at my Facebook page...but here is a peek at all the storage bins I've emptied since I began my 'tidying-up' process:

7 plastic or decorative paper storage bins are now emptied from my clothing closet since starting my 'tidying-up' process...they will be kept for use when I begin to tidy my studio in earnest!

I have been faithfully following the prescribed order of tidying-up and am getting a little stuck in the 'PAPER' category. This is not entirely surprising as many of the papers cluttering my home reside in my studio, which is the whole point of all my cleaning!

Wanting a 'Tidy' Studio Space
Last September, I participated in Seth Apter's Studio Table: The Reveal project, a blog hop that involved MANY artists sharing what their studio table REALLY looks like, to bust the myth of the 'picture perfect' studio space that is often, while I received many wonderful comments about my studio space, and despite learning that many of us artists constantly feel that our studios are in a perpetual state of disarray, I also learned that what looks messy to ME, seems to be inspiring to others...

And yet...I am still dissatisfied with the state of my studio space and I KNOW I can do better:

Not much has changed in this messy studio since the 'Studio Table' blog post, though I can say I have recently found a few items I thought I'd lost!

And after reading Marie Kondo's book I am feeling more strongly than ever that I really do have TOO MUCH STUFF for TOO MANY PROJECTS...

However, by following the prescribed order of tidying up, it is helping me build my 'decision making skills', which will help me to more quickly and easily discard the materials and supplies I will no longer need or want, as I begin to hone in on the crafts I truly enjoy doing.

But all this tidying-up has kept me from spending much time blogging here, as this process is quite intense =\

But it has NOT kept me from engaging in some creative projects! Here is the latest craft project I've been CRAZY about lately - washi tape match boxes!

I recently found the book Washi Tape by Courtney Cerruti at my local library and when I saw the idea to cover matchboxes in washi tape, I just HAD to try it out!

Washi Tape Covered Match Boxes Project
And here is a little step-by-step process for making these fun decorative boxes:

A matchbox holding some olive jade earrings and pendant necklace I made a few years ago...

To begin with, I have quite a few matchboxes which I often use for storing my jewelry, such as earrings or little necklaces. I always thought I would cover the boxes in decorative scrapbook papers to match the jewelry being stored inside but using washi tape is much faster since it's already got adhesive on it.

But the problem with washi tape is that it is often transparent and I want to see the color and pattern of the washi tape, so I found a way to remove the top layer of the paper on the box so I can have a plain surface to tape over...

It can be a little tricky, but using a straight pin, I locate the seam where the edges are glued together. Then I begin to slide the point of the pin into the corner edge of the top of the seam - you will discover that the cardboard has many thin layers making up the thickness of the box.

When I see I am slicing into the top layer of the label of the matchbox, I slowly slide the sharp pin along the edge, then slowly continue sliding the pin down the length of the box to remove the top layer of the box...NOTE: this step of the process can be tricky so be sure to take your time finding the layers of paper in the cardboard of the box and go slowly so you don't take out too much paper or the box will end up being a bit flimsy.

I'm now left with the craft paper surface to work on and add washi tape to...

I discovered that if I stack the tapes together, I can stand the box next to them to find out if the tapes are wide enough to cover the entire box - if not, I can add more tape or if there is too much tape, I can trim away the excess before I begin to add it to the box...and I keep the trimmings to use on another box later...or use for another craft project or journal page...

These three tapes were just wide enough to cover this matchbox!

I also discovered that a mere 4 inches of tape is needed to go around the box, with a little overlap to seal the seam.

And I began to cut little pieces of tape to use on the inner box to make a little 'drawer pull' for my boxes!!

Having the craft paper surface to work on often lends a bit of 'aging' color to the tapes being used, since the tapes tend to be transparent - this box turned out wonderfully and has a lovely vintage feel that goes nicely with the jewelry being stored in it:

Now I can tell what color earrings or necklace is in the box when I'm looking for something to pull my outfits together!

Needless to say, I've made quite a few of these little boxes - they are just too darn fun to make and I can't quite stop myself:

It's 'matchbox madness' around here!! ;)

Though I am not officially tidying-up in my studio just yet, I have had occasion to sort through some items due to category. As a result, a few items have surfaced, such as some file folder books I had made and finished last summer, but never got around to listing in my Etsy shop. Some of them were made from file folders with map graphics on them - I think they will make wonderful travel journals for some special summer trips!

File Folder Travel Journal is now listed in my Etsy shop...

A sheet of folded watercolor paper is a great way to paint a scene of a special location during your travels!

There are also a few other bright color file folder books that had been completed, but not listed - you can find them all listed in my Etsy shop. There are a few unfinished books I also uncovered, which I am working on, so be sure to check back in the shop for listings.

I have some fun, creative workshops I'll be teaching at my local community college - you can find the workshops with dates and times and registration links at THIS PAGE.

As for other creative projects, I have a few things 'simmering' at the moment, so be sure to stay tuned to see what they are and how they turn out! It's more fun experimentation and adventure so don't miss it =)

PS: I promise to be back soon - I won't let 3 weeks pass by without sharing what is 'simmering' around here lately!