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…
Anne Weil loves to make beautiful things and then show others how to make them, too. She designs projects that are simple, easy to make and pleasing to the eye. Beauty exists everywhere. You know you’ve found it when that happy place inside you starts to hum. A busy, working mother of three, Anne relishes finding creative moments in her studio to sew, knit, crochet, craft, and photograph handmade lovelies that really make her hum. Stop by and visit her at Flax and twine.
I’ve been thinking about different kinds of creating. Most of the creating I do develops from situations I run into with my family or my kids or, more recently, with a submission I’ve been asked to do or a submission I want to make. This kind of creating has a focus. I’m solving a specific problem, such as:
- I want to give my daughter small and easy gifts for advent.
- I have Easter eggs demanding to be decorated.
- I need an cowl pattern for my knitting students.
- My daughter wants something fun for her room.
- I want to create jewelry that my sons will wear.
Very specific, these tasks insert themselves into my brain and branch into a multitude of possibilities. I typically work with tools and materials I have on hand or can get easily. The materials spur me further and it becomes a frenzy. If it’s for a craft: I sketch. I make thirteen things in one sitting. I mock up samples of what I want to do. I pull out piles of fabric and thread and cardboard and trim. I feel a bit like a mad scientist.
With knitting or crochet designs, I sketch different options, fits, trims, details. I swatch it with this yarn and that yarn. I try it on this needle or that one. And then, I make decisions. This kind of creating, narrow and defined, comes easily to me. The exploration that I do is also why you’ll often see many projects made with similar materials or along the same lines, like 5 Fabulous Finger Knitting Projects or 6 Easy Chunky Knits. Once I get going with something, I explore it until I’ve exhausted idea.
Recently, however, I’ve been thinking a lot about a different kind of creating. The kind that starts with a blank slate. It’s the kind of creating that feels more like art. This is the kind of creating that makes me feel all panicky inside. Here is a blank page in a sketchbook, fill it. Here is an empty canvas, do your thing. I don’t know why, but this kind of creating feels super-challenging. The what-if-I-make-a-mistake feeling tends to overwhelm me. Or, maybe it’s more, what-if-I-do-something-that-makes-me-not-like-it-anymore feeling that is paralyzing. I’ve been driven, lately, to embrace that scary feeling and dive in to that undefined space.
I did just that at a recent creative retreat, where I took a class called Painting With Stitches with Marisa of Creative Thursday. I knew this would challenge me. Paint scares me–it’s so permanent. Marisa provided adorable templates, but I want to face the fear of the blank canvas head-on. So, I put a piece of embroidery thread on my needle and started stitching. I really just tried to let go and not judge myself. And, even harder, not worry! When it felt like I should stop, I stopped. When I wanted to go for another color, I used it. Then, the paint! I used it in the same way I did the embroidery thread, just letting the lines flow where they would. It felt freeing to just let it all go and be with the work in each instant. I had no preconceived notion of what it should look like or what it should be. Ahh, I kind of like that.
Yes, in a perfect world, there are things I would change, but I love it. I highly recommend this open-ended kind of creating, as I think it empowers you and opens up possibilities in all areas of creativity.
As a result of the embroidery experience, I decided to start a free sketchbook, not for projects, but for doodles and thoughts and color exploration. Dive in! Make it part of your regular creative practice, too.