Thursday, 27 September 2012

Too Much Of A Good Thing?

Hands up all of you who have lots and lots and lots of materials?


Now, hands up all of you who know what they're going to make with most of those materials?


Is it me, or are there not many people who know what they're going to make with their materials mountain?  No...didn't think so.  Quilters call it building a stash.  Problem is, they often keep adding to that stash without actually doing anything with the fabric.  Then, they call it 'collecting', to justify what they're doing.  They admire their fabric, stroke it, pat it, think about combining it with other fabrics... do anything except actually make anythng.  Painters collect paint...or materials...or both.  Ditto with mixed media artists.  

I think that this kind of thing is counter productive.   A materials mountain may be a thing of beauty...but it stops you working.  It is often confusing; when you have matched the same piece of cloth in permutations with six different fabrics, in six different ways, how do you decide what to do with it?  And it means you need lots of space to store it all in (another excuse for not getting the work done ; I haven't got enough space...).

I think that productive creative people buy materials for projects; stash builders collect materials to fuel their fantasy of being a productive creative person.  Which are you?  Which would you rather be?  And finally, what are you going to do about it?

Monday, 24 September 2012

Quote of the Week.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
This is one of my favourite ever quotations, and it's the basis for a lot of what I do and teach. I think we confuse ourselves between what we can and can't change.  We  have a lot more power over our circumstances than we like to believe.  It's more comfortable to dismiss an issue as something that we have no power over, instead of recognising that we do have a choice as to whether we take responsibility for it, or not.  There are always choices.  It's just that some of them are so small as to feel unimportant, and many of them involve the lives, freedoms and choices of other people.  It can feel impossible.  But it isn't.  
What many of us forget, is that in order to give to others, you have to give to yourself, first.  For most people reading this, that giving to ourselves will take the form of creative work.  It is a wonderful way of giving yourself joy and meaning.  I believe that it is essential that we make space in our lives for creativity, however we perceive that to be.  This blog is about making that space.  I hope you will find it useful.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Creativity Prompt : Do It Different! Do it Now!

We all get stuck in routines.  Some of them are useful, some of them less so.  If you want to give your creativity a bit of a nudge, try doing something different, every day (or whenever you remember, or once a week).  Get off the bus at an earlier stop than usual, and walk a little further than usual, looking around you as you will see the familiar from a different perspective.  If you go for the same walk every day, try doing it backwards (no, not walking backwards...though if you fancy it...).  Or take a completely different route.  Or do it at a different time.  And remember your camera, or sketchbook, or whatever it is you use to record ideas. 

What do you mean, you don't have a sketchbook?  Or a camera?  You're going to get one or the other (or both) now, aren't you???  Get out there!  Do it different!  Do it now!

ps don't over think this...just pick something to do differently, and do it.  Have brunch instead of breakfast and lunch; have coffee at a different place than usual.... break up that routine!

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Talking To Ourselves

It's a standing joke : we talk to ourselves because it's the only way we get sensible answers!  I'm a great fan of talking to myself, it's a great way of developing work.  I ask myself lots of questions, when I'm working, and answer them while doing the work.  Sometimes, it's a conscious answer, sometimes, unconscious, it just appears when I'm working, and I'm not sure where it came from, that particular brush stroke that made all the difference, for example. 

But we also talk to ourselves to justify not working creatively.  And we then tell others why it is we 'can't' do whatever it is we're telling them we'd 'love' to have time to do.    I've got a list of the most common of those;

  1. I don't have any/enough ideas 
  2. I have too many ideas
  3. I don't have any/enough materials
  4. I have too much in the way of materials
  5. I don't know how to make it look right; I don't have enough technique or skill
  6. I've got lots of skill, but no ideas.
  7. I don't have enough space/any space/the 'right' space
  8. I don't have enough time/any time/ the right amount of time
  9. I don't have any support. 
 There are lots of combinations of these, of course... the permutations are endless!  Have a think to yourself; which of these 'issues' are your favourite excuses for not getting on with the work?  Are there other issues that get in the way?  What are they?  Try making your own, prioritised list, with you favourite excuse at the top, and the rest in order, underneath.  If you really, really want to find creative focus, these are the things you're going to have to tackle.  Scary?  Oh yes.  Particularly if you're honest with yourself, and diagnose thoroughly.  But you have to know your enemy, to be able to defeat him/her.   And now is as good a time as any; if not now, then when?

If you have some additions to the list, please do leave us a note, here, so we can add it to our thought process.  Diagnosing the problem is important, and we need all the help we can get!

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Finding Creative Focus...

is something many people say they want to do.  'If only I had enough time, enough resources, enough ideas...then I would be fine', they say.  'Nothing could stop me creating'.  Or there is another type of issue around creativity... the permanent block.  We all know someone who has it.  'Me?', they cry, 'I don't have a creative bone in my body'.  'I can't draw'. Of course, none of this is actually true.  It's what we tell ourselves, to give ourselves permission to do anything other than follow our creative passions.  We focus on what we think we lack, instead of focussing on what we have, and taking steps to include the things we say we love in our lives.   

I wrote a book about finding your creative focus, partly because people kept saying to me, I  don't know how you get so much done... I would love to be you.  As if I had some sort of secret that made me do more than the average person.  Well... I'd like to let you into a little secret; the secret is, there is no secret.  But there are a lot of ideas, ways of thinking, tools, techniques and approaches that you can learn, and use, to make the most of your time, your resources and your ideas, to make sure that you do spend at least some of your time developing your creativity.  Mainly, I was writing for artists, but then found that singers, writers, playwrights, poets and all sorts of other creative people were telling me that this was a useful book.  And when I thought about it, it made sense.  Creative work is creative work; it doesn't matter what you are doing or making, the process is the same.  Yes, even if you're a nuclear physicist, I suspect, though I've never met one to ask!

This blog is intended as a support to the book. though it's not necessary to have read it to benefit from what's here.  It will dip in there, now and again, as I talk about my approach to this subject.  The blog will offer you prompts for creativity, little exercises to get you started on the work, suggested reading and links to challenge and inform you.  It's intended as something of a drop in centre.  I doubt if I'll post every day, but I will post often.  If you're interested in a particular type of post, then check the labels I use (they are listed at the end of each post); you'll be able to search on them to find similar posts.  All the prompts, for instance, will be tagged as such; searching will bring the most relevant up for you en masse.  If there's something you would like me to talk about, feel free to leave me a note on one of the posts; if I can, I'll reply (not everyone has their preferences set to allow this, however). 

Welcome...I hope you'll stop by now and again, and share things that are helpful to you, as well as learning things that will help you to be more creative in what you do.