Saturday 15 February 2020

Climbing a spiral staircase

Do you have that sort of déjà vu feeling that you've asked yourself the same questions before?  Hopefully as you ask yourself the question you have moved on a bit - much like climbing a spiral staircase - where you come to the same point but higher up.

I went to Committed to Cloth for the workshop Unlocking the Mystery of Creative Play.  Having done it twice before, I knew what to expect - sort of!  Lesley changes it up a bit every year depending on who is on the workshop.  But I knew there would be playing with paper and design as you have seen in my two previous posts.

But I wanted to spend some of the time investigating what I am going to do with my work in the future.  I've been working through the Head, Heart and Hands workbook and found that to be really useful.  The activities are about finding your creative voice.

This is one of the things I wanted to talk to Leslie about.  I was very fortunate to have a session with her every day, just to talk.  In between I did the paper play activites but mostly thought and journaled.  I answered some of the questions that Leslie asked, which often provoked questions of my own.  Here are a few of my answers.

Why do I go to so many workshops?
  • I enjoy learning new processes and techniques
  • The 'cross-pollination' of working with other people and their ideas

Why should I stop going to so many?
  • I don't spend time afterwards playing with what I 've learned or making the process my own
  • Procrastination: a workshop can be a 'worthwhile' way of putting off doing my own work.  Why is that?  Lack of self belief in my own work.
  • Money spent on workshops could be better spent on quality materials for my own work
  • Free up mental capacity for my own work

Leslie talked to the whole group about 'finding joy' in our creations and our creative process.  She and I talked about numbing and how Brene Brown says you can't numb one emotion on its own.  If you numb one emotion you numb them all.   I wrote about numbing in January 2014.

I journaled about joy - or the lack of it.  I journaled about the investment of time and money.  I asked myself questions and came to a point where I felt there was a choice:

Give up creative activities altogether.  Clear out all the media and fabric and find a new thing.
Become committed totally to what I do.  But do what I want to do - no courses, no exhibitions, no deadlines - just play.

I decided on the latter.

I made a list of what I need to do.
  • Narrow down techniques I like - make a list.
  • List the colours I like to work with.
  • List materials I like to work with - narrow it down.
  • Take responsibility for my own creativity.
  • Develop my curiosity.
  • Go on Artist's dates.
  • Value my work.
  • Play

As I have written this blog post, all of the above seems so easy, but at the time - those 5 days away - there was a lot of angst.  I knew things needed to change but I don't like change.  I like to think I'm open to change but in reality I can be quite resistant.

I'm still working through the questions and journaling.  I looked back through my creativity journal and found that I was asking these same questions in 2017.  Hence the spiral staircase analogy.  I'm climbing the staircase and believe that I am making progress and seeing the same point from a different perspective.
Climbing the stairs featured in the first photo.

Thanks for joining me today.


  1. So many parallels there with my own thoughts and creative path. I think the hardest part is committing to doing, rather than being - as you say it's very easy to avoid facing the big question "what should I be doing" by going on lovely workshops trying out different things. It's that confidence thing isn't it? I have shelves of books on developing creativity, but they all require action and I'm soooooo good at reading and thinking about being creative - which becomes a surrogate for the real thing!
    Hope your new resolution works for you, just keep climbing that staircase and enjoying the journey

    1. Thank you. It's so good to know I'm not the only one

  2. Wow Bernice! This post is so insightful and challenging! Thank you so much for writing it. You’ve given me a way to consider my own art process and reasons for doing things and changing. Onward and upward!


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