Things are getting more and more eccentric at Casa de la Swain. Changing styles in my textile work, falling in love again with painting and photography...and then there is the ever illusive quest for continuing creativity through working with Eric Maisel. Still on the road teaching, posting now at the Ragged Cloth Cafe and taking the pledge to keep handmaiden up to date.

Friday, July 06, 2007

The Creative Funk Thang

As many of you know, I talk about creativity all the time.....teach it to students, give them tools to access style and develop personal work. Oh, that I had been practicing what I preach. This is kinda personal so if you aren't up for listening to me whine, stop now and go to a more cheerful blog.
Art/creativity has always been a driving force in my life. I worked in the theatre, writing, directing, acting and in arts management. During this same time I was also doing professional calligraphy work for architectural presentation.....showing my age...this was before computers and fonts. However, hand lettering still has a very classy quality. Back in the day, that would be the '60's, I even sang with a band. Long story short, I have never done much of anything in my life that wasn't involved with art...except for those pesky day jobs that pay the bills so you can do art.

Along the way there have been peaks and valleys and even plateaus but my recent absence has been from an empty well. Some of you have followed my attempts at transition in my work and for awhile it was really cooking. Then something happened, I am not able to label a day or time but I found that I lost the meaning of my work.

As I have repeated many times, art must be evocative and reveal something about the artist. What that is depends on the viewer. We cannot control what emotion our work will evoke or what they think it reveals about us. To the point, I felt I had nothing left to say. I didn't want to do production work just to sell....nothing wrong with that approach, it just isn't me. Nor did I want to skip from subject matter to subject matter. I work better in series where one quilt sparks the concept for the next......woke up one morning completely blank. There were things that interested me but nothing that held meaning for me. Due to some strange brain synapse, I feel that I must make work that is meaningful to me whether it is to the viewer or not. Long story short, I could not force myself into the studio just to crank out something.....maybe I should have just to get some energy flowing. Instead like a lot of artists, I retreated into myself.

All the old negative voices, no not the delusional kind although Ronnie might disagree, but the voices of self-doubt and what's the world need with another piece of art from me reminders. Ronnie kept trying to encourage me but I was having none of it. I was going to wallow in my misery or else, by golly. This is about the time I lost my editor and graphic designer to divorce so I had to take on those duties as well.....just another thing to do in my spare time. Literally, I was overwhelmed and could not see any solution.

Suddenly, this week it dawned on me that I wasn't living in the present but instead worrying constantly about the future and how to accomplish all the necessary business duties. Truly, I had experienced a total melt-down that art usually saves me from but I gave up the one aspect of my life that is salvation and was only focusing on the problems.

There were many days when I never moved off the sofa...stayed up until 5 a.m. thinking.....a bad drug of choice in my opinion. This was not clinical depression just sort of a mild form of insanity, which was spiraling down quickly. Of course, no one can help you but yourself in the final analysis so I started writing about what was going on in my journal.

As I read back on these infrequent entries, I hardly recognize myself. I had lost all self-discipline regarding studio time, wasn't taking to opportunity to quilt in front of the tv at night...definately just going through the motions of daily life. In essence, I had stopped being a participant/observer of my own situation and instead was letting it steam roll over me. Something had to change.

While I did not sew today or set foot in the studio, I wrote the story board for the two new dvd's.
Contacted our premier feature artist, finalized the retreat section of the dvd zine, sent all my paper work and $ to Houston leaving me free for the weekend to get back into the studio and make it my own space again. When the creative funk thang comes to visit, don't fight it...just let it run its course, like a fever. When the fever breaks, all will be well. It may take some time to get back to full steam but it will come.

What surprised me is that this came out of nowhere. I am not a fragile, delicate personality (had you noticed?); I guess it was just my turn on the wheel.

3 comments:

Caitlin said...

Be kind to yourself, sweetie - it is indeed a wheel. And I'm glad you're up and doing, eh?!

Jeannie said...

I am always amazed at what the universe has planned for us - the lessons we are to learn, and how, no matter how hard we try, we can only control how we react. Only later can we say, "Oh, that is what I was supposed to learn, hear, see, etc." Go slowly and enjoy the journey back to yourself. We are all glad that you are back. Cheers.

Diane said...

Gosh, it's kind of reassuring to know that some as accomplished and energetic and productive as you goes through these phases too. I have real creative times and "quiet times" and I'm learning to just roll with the feelings and keep working, doing WHATEVER until I push through the dull time into something more inspired. But it's still an odd feeling when it happens, isn't it?