Guest series 2012: I asked fellow bloggers, makers and creators to write on their creativity and focus their essay on one of four topics: creativity and health, creativity and business, creativity and parenting or creativity and process. I am very excited to have a wonderful lot of fellow creative folk guest posting here at whipup.net over the next couple of months. Please welcome…
Jodi Anderson grew up in the woods of Sauk County, Wisconsin, and her past is present in most everything that she does today. She finds beauty in the mundane, refuses to let her struggles with illness define her, obsesses over local history, and tries to keep track of it all in her online journal, Daybook.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait. Do not even wait, be quite still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice. It will roll in ecstasy at your feet.”
— Franz Kafka
I am lullabied, and a bit haunted, by daydreams. They are a combination of beast and wilderness, childlike wonder, science, and the more primal aspects of self. There is a guttural component to my thinking and overall vision, and as often as I can, I allow myself to be fully immersed in all of these elements. The most important thing that I do is listen to and watch what is going on inside of me.
When a concept is evolving, I feel it physically. It is not unusual to find that I am sitting, eyes closed with hands, fingers spread wide, placed upon my chest, as if trying to extract the equation from within so that I can unfold this into an outward expression, a stamp of my most authentic self. These feelings, this immersion, always come first, and it is a sort of love affair with my ideas. A right-quick affair actually, so I make haste or I am liable to not do the project at all. I need to move very fast and work while I still possess that first strong urge.
(If, on the other hand, I am following a crochet pattern or have specific instructions for a basket, I have all the time in the world.)
After that, it is just a matter of desire versus reality. What can I physically do with the objects that I have in mind? Can I learn any needed skills quickly? Do I have the necessary energy? Is this something that I will start and then abandon? What is my end goal? Do I even have one?
When working on characters and costumery, as I do in the unmasked series, I might sketch out an idea, but mostly I prefer to pull together materials and play with them. As they are gathered and begin to reveal more of their nature, I naturally work out the details and consider workability while everything is within my grasp.
An important element in my recent evolution as an artist has come in the form of a fearless friend, Jen, who is a skilled knitter and seems to quickly master anything that she attempts, like basket weaving. We have become crafting cohorts, signing up for classes to do things of which I’d not heard and otherwise raising my bravery status, as well as challenging my previous belief that an introvert wouldn’t enjoy company. (Ha!) It was she who suggested we try antler basket weaving, which, damn if that didn’t incite a whole internal revolution and rock my world.
Already at home in the woods and liking best those things that are alive, or once were, I find that weaving, whether baskets or a garden trellis, works well with my creative process. I have always been first inspired by the wild world, like the spring woods or a bustling river. You can work with synthetic materials, but I find that reed and cane fit in well with my personal design aesthetic. Although there are some general techniques in weaving, such as ojo de Dios (God’s eye) binding when the handle first meets the rim, the craft is remarkably forgiving and intuitive. I find that I don’t need to do much planning, if any. Weaving put a new notch in my figurative craft belt, and it shifted a bit the way that I approach unfolding ideas and then implementing them. It allowed me to more fully relax into making and the end result is like a timestamp of my creative self during that project.
In the end, I believe that our individual life journeys, all of the things that we make, the dreams that we mold, those thoughts manipulated by head and hand, even the art that is conceived and not taken any further, each of these is a step in the creative process, where the ultimate craft is the revealing of our true self.