Sunday 23 July 2017

Creativity and Vulnerability

I'm an over-thinker!  I don't doodle, draw or journal - I just think.  I write whole blog posts in my head.  Or write a journal page in there.  But these thoughts don't leak out anywhere.  Not into a book, or the internet or into any piece of work.

So I've been thinking about why these thoughts don't escape.   I have empty notebooks that I've bought to write in but I don't write in them.

Why is that?

I've been exploring how to find my own voice - my unique style.  I've been reading books and articles about it.  I haven't done any work.  And then I read this in a book on creativity: 'I distrust styles.  To have a style is to be trapped!' (Milton Glaser)   What!

Back to the drawing board!  Or in my case, back to the over-thinking!

I wrote about taking Risks.  I haven't taken any recently.  I told you I seem to be risk averse.  However I do have a risk planned for next week!  Can you plan risk?  Or should taking a risk be more spontaneous?  There's something to think about!!!

In my blog post about the mentoring session I had with Christine Chester I wrote this:
One of the things we discussed was my feeling that I did too many workshops and the skills and techniques I learned didn’t translate into finished pieces. Christine wrote this in the tutorial notes: “One of the key shifts in perception is that process should be subordinate to your ideas – that does not mean that process is not important – far from it. But it does mean that you are making the idea the key feature, rather than the process. This should keep the communication of your idea clearer – either visually to an audience, or at least in your mind in light of having to write artists statements.” This is quite a shift in perception for me and I am still processing it.

And the thinking and the reading and the thinking and the writing things in my head has all been part of the processing and perception shift.

Some questions arose from all this thinking:
Why do I keep taking workshops to learn new techniques?
Why haven't I found my own voice yet?
What stops me finishing things?
What stops me starting things?
Why don't I stop thinking and get on with it?
Should I have a sketchbook, visual journal or logbook?

I was encouraged by Leah Higgins blog post where she said: ' I am not a sketchbook person. All my ideas have a long gestation period in my head before I let them loose on dye and cloth.'

I'm not the only one then!  Although she does start and finish pieces.

And then . . .

. . . . it came to me!

It's about commitment and vulnerability.

The answer to all those questions is commitment and vulnerability.  If I keep on doing technique classes then I don't have to put any of me into the samples.  I haven't found my creative voice because that would mean I have to invest some of me into it.  Probably all of me!  Even writing in a journal - which is for my eyes only - means showing up and being vulnerable.  Writing it down (or speaking it out) makes it more real.

And as for commitment - that means doing the stuff!  And that takes effort.  I draw back from things that take effort.  Which is odd because when I worked, I worked hard.  I put lots of effort into everything I did.  I can be fiercely loyal and determined.  Many people would say 'I go the extra mile' for them.  So why can't I do that for me?  For my creative work?  For my relationship with God? For my relationships with friends and family?

Looking for an image to go with this post I found this piece of artwork I did in March at a retreat.  Obviously the thinking has been going on for a while!

You might be thinking - and I've been thinking it too - if I'm so reluctant to make myself vulnerable in something as private as a personal journal, why am I writing this blog post?

Because I have to break out!  Make a breakthrough!  Allow myself to become more vulnerable - to invest in  my creative life and the rest of my life.  Break down the walls that I have built around myself.

And pressing publish on this blog is just the beginning.

Thank you for sticking with my disjointed meanderings today.

Where are you on your creative journey?

Thanks for stopping by.


  1. This is a wonderful post! The image would translate fantastically into textiles!! I hope you find the courage to create.

    1. Thank you. I hadn't thought of making the image as a textile

  2. Thanks for being vulnerable with us, Bernice! It was a great post and a great peak into your heart. :)

  3. I could echo your words word for word! I hope that breakthrough works!

  4. Thank you Bernice. I could have written this myself, so much so it made me cry. I'm another Christine student and value the time I spend in monthly studio days with her, but still struggle to finish, or even to start once I get back home. Commitment and vulnerability - yes.
    Interestingly, your image of open hands above morphed into a naked newborn in my mind initially.

    1. I wish I lived closer so I could join you in the monthly visits to Studio 11

    2. They really are a treat, and challenge me to actually DO something instead of thinking and not doing

  5. Thank you for writing this Bernice, so beautifully written.

    I too am on the cusp of breaking out. I have been following the recent articles by Textile Artist about finding your own style and way of working, and I am trying to work my way through this. It is a common problem it seems, so we all need to help and support each other find their own ways creatively.

    Thank you again for posting xxx

    1. Thanks Morag. I have been reading all the Textile Artist articles too.

  6. I saw your post via Studio 11 Eastbourne. I really enjoyed reading it - spoke to me in a BIG way! You and I are practically interchangeable in our thoughts (and more thoughts!) and struggle to just DO already! Oh the stories I could tell ... �� I do understand about the "vulnerability" - still working on that in the rest of my life too. In my own creative work experience, I needed to take the "commitment" part one step further - to include in a self-worth piece. That, even in the midst of my struggling, idea filled, planning, course taking, technique searching and overall, unproductive creative life - my creativity and I are worthy of time and commitment. It has been a very, VERY long (and still continuing) process to commit to purposefully setting aside time, then honouring and being respectful of that work time both to myself and in my time with others. Thanks so much for sharing of of yourself Bernice �� keep on moving forward beautifully!

    1. I've found you on Facebook and am following you to see how you progress

  7. Ultimately if you want to make art youvwill make art.
    You need to ask yourself why you will do almost anything to avoid doing the one thing you say you want to do?
    There is the possibility that you do not want to make art and thst is why you cannot commit.

    1. It's certainly a point of view and something to think about

  8. Wonderful post, Bernice! As a fellow over-thinker, I found your insights profound, and very similar to my own discoveries of myself. Thank you for sharing this piece of yourself. :)

  9. Hi rea
    D your blog via FB. I find much the same, then I took a Berger in Fine Art, which finished this year. It gave me a structure to Get On With It. I also exhibit with a group once a year, which makes me finish things. I also find I work best when expressing my .......self. Thus I do a lot of work on Women in Society, I prefer to do figurative work so that fits. I suggested title for you might be Blocked. Or trapped by myself. Or whatever.....stitch it, loads of stitches and fabrics, use the processes you have learned if you want to, but choose one and make it just for you. X

  10. Degree, dunno where Berger came from.

  11. I wrote a reply about half an hour ago and then lost the whole site and been searching like a crazy woman as I identified with you soooo much. When I was studying I found it easier to create... i had a goal; but since finished last year, I've been floundering around.... What struck me most were your comments about having lots of thoughts ... thank you so much for sharing this it's helped soo much. I have approached a textile group to see if i can join them, and I'm hoping if they accept me I'll be making like it's going out of fashion !! They exhibit and meet throughout the year and I think I need that. I need critique from other artists. Good luck with getting your thoughts out. I will share one last thing... earlier in the year I was so frustrated with the fact that I couldn't make... that I took a huge piece canvas into the garden with a few paints/pastels and let rip.... God Help Me was one piece of scrawl.. my neighbour asked me if I was ok !!!!!!! That's really the only piece i've been working on.

  12. Bernice, your words struck a chord with I also feel like you in that I attend a lot of workshops, have absolutely stacks of PHD's (projects half done!!) and have folders full of ideas and techniques.....commitment, yes, I think that needs to be my mantra.....

  13. Bernice, I have only just read this post and boy do I relate to your text. I am an over thinker, procrastinator, not a journal person and love starting new projects. Reading your post has helped me to rethink how I can approach new projects.
    thank you


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