Sunday, May 26, 2013

What Goes Up.....Must Come Down

Quite often, for me, the last step or stitch of a completed quilt is the first step down, into a time of creative discontent. This is especially true if I've been riding high on a wave of extreme creativity....you know the kind; fabric flying, ideas bombarding you from all directions and almost non-stop stitching. 

After coming down from a euphoric quilting high, a low is almost sure to follow. I chalk it up to the ebbs and flows of creativity. This is not unusual for me, yet each time it happens I'm unprepared and restless. Riding the crest of the wave is exhilarating....but what goes up, must come down.

My motivation comes to a screeching halt......yet the discontent and restlessness gnaw away at me. Do any of you   go through this as well?? How do you cope? How do get your muse back?

I've listed a few things I do to prime the creative pump...so to speak:

  1. Finish something previously started, especially if there's only mindless sewing involved.
  2. Go through my quilting books.
  3. New Fabric perhaps??
  4. Start something new.....even if I have several other projects waiting for me to finish.
  5. PHYSICALLY GO INTO MY SEWING SPACE....even if all I do is stand there.
  6. Take a complete break.
  7. Organize my space.
  8. Start playing....just for the heck of it, no expectations
  9. Spend some time outdoors.
It sometimes helps to ask myself what's stopping or blocking me:
  1. Does a specific project have me stumped?
  2. Is there something else going on in my personal life?
  3. Am I just to busy or perhaps not busy enough? There's a balance to be had with that.
  4. Too many deadlines...or not enough deadlines, again what works for me?
  5. What stymies me and what motivates me? 
The answers aren't always the same just as the solutions aren't. The recurring theme as I go through this process is: I DO MY BEST WORK.....WORKING FOR ME. Sounds rather selfish doesn't it. I don't necessarily mean the quilt doesn't go to someone else in the end it means giving myself compete creative license  Trust me, it's a liberating way to work.
  • No rules
  • No palette restrictions...except by me.
  • No deadlines.....only self imposed ones.
  • Not for any specific person
  • Not for any specific place.
  • Not for any specific purpose
When I work for me....the creativity unleashes itself, whereas when I try to create something tailored to another person's taste.....things seem to go awry.

At the moment I do have a few projects on the list that aren't for me and that could be part of the problem. And of course, as you can see from the pictures below, I have no shortage of works in progress to choose from (these are just a few).







I would love to hear how you keep up your creative motivation.

33 comments:

  1. As I read your post I thought you were describing me! Yes to all that you said, but I have found I can't force the muse. I just do a lot of no brainer, mindless sewing, refold and restack fabrics, etc. and then one day I have so many ideas I can't try them all out.

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    1. That`s exactly what I wo!uld have written! "Monoton works like refolding fabric sometimes has meditation effect for me. It seems as if my brain has to clean up itself and I have to give it the time to do it.
      Regards from Ulla, Germany

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    2. Well said...the brain really does get on overload doesn't it.

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  2. I come to a wonderful site like yours and get even more down, haha!!! I've been making fine art since I was a child and the cycle is always like this, that last pencil line, that last stitch, it can be heart wrenching. I realise that for me process is everything, so I like to have lots of things in progress - although it does mean some things don't get much attention and I might even lose interest.

    At the moment I'm deeply frustrated. I have confidence in my design/drawing skills, but none in my quilting. I want to make quilts the way you do, intuitively and freely, but I feel like I have to practice basic blocks, to improve my skills. My ambitions far out way my ability and the only thing that's going to improve that is practice and time. And I always have this dreaded feeling that I'm running out of time!

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    1. I feel like a hijacker replying on someone else's blog, but you really do not need to do basic, traditional quilting before you branch out like Marianne is doing. There is lots of info on improv piecing that usually works better for artists. Check out Rayna Gilman, Diane Hire, Jean Wells, Kathy Schmidt(me!) to learn free form ways of quiltmaking.

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    2. Well said, Kathy......I couldn't have said it better myself. I have all those wonderful books in my library.

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    3. Oh my word, thank you so much, that was really very generous of you - I will check them all out pronto. And of course I'll keep coming back here to be blown away again and again :) Thank you.

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  3. Yes, it is like that. We just have to endure the lows until the highs come back. Busy work helps..

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  4. It doesn't seem to work that way for me, but often I am just too tired or distracted from or by my work to sew. So then I tidy the fabrics or read books/the internet instead.

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  5. I can certainly empathize with you. I'm happiest when I'm creating. I feel the "let-down" when I'm finished because I'm not sure where I want to go next. I feel restless but can't seem to get "motivated". This doesn't happen EVERY time I finish a project but if the project has been a little challenging I seem to be worn out. I guess my poor little brain cells are low and need to be recharged.

    When that happens I take a break from it all. I redecorate or work out in the yard or visit my neighbors, go to the movies, go to the used book store and stock up....whatever it takes to give myself a rest. I put more pressure on myself than what any one else could do so I need to step back and NOT think about my next project.

    My mind and body tells me when I'm ready to get back to sewing. I read my favorite blogs (like yours!) and look at Flickr Modern Quilt site for inspiration. Soon I'm back in my sewing room and creating something new.

    All that being said...take a "mental" break if you need to and do something NOT quilt related. You'll be back at it soon enough :) Take care.

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  6. It is comforting to realize on some levels we all go thru the same thing. When the down comes, I usually read something fun. Then I look at my fabric and start to dream again. Sometimes I just cut strips and start playing with them :).

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  7. I go through the same cycle. I get really restless until the next art quilt project gels in my head, but in the meantime I usually get my creativity boost by taking more photos and more blog posts.

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  8. I like to turn to my sketchbooks and play. I am particularly enjoying a mixed media on-line course at the moment that is a lot of fun. I find that while the brain is doing something unrelated, but still creative, solutions and ideas for stitching projects seem to pop up.

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  9. What a thoughtful post! Your work is beautiful.

    Buying new fabric definitely helps me. Also reading all the great blogs like this one. I usually get antsy to sew after 30 minutes looking at quilts online.

    I agree that working for "myself" is somehow more fun or less pressure. I particularly dislike having projects lingering out there that I know someone is waiting for. Surprises are more fun.

    Maybe if you force yourself to work on a UFO then you'll feel a sense of accomplishment that will lead to fresh creativity.

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  10. I clean up my studio. It's usually a mess after a project is done. I do relate to the let down feelings after project completion.

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    1. I should clean up when I feel this way.....but quite often I don't do what I should do and make an even bigger mess.

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    2. I was going to suggest this myself. It not only makes room for a new project; it also clears the finished one from my mind. And sometimes I find what I want to work on next by handling my fabrics!
      Marianne, could your "even bigger mess" translate to beginning a new project?

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  11. Interesting and reflective post. Tidying the sewing space and going back to re-read quilting books and magazines helps. As does sewing small projects. Loved seeing your works in progress. All that wonderful color!

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  12. I do all of this as well, but find that taking a real long break from the project is really inspiring for, I see unfinished project with a different eye. If all this doesn't work, I turn to a hand project like hexies to get my mojo going again and it always does come back. Great post!

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    1. I'm all for taking a break from a project as well....that's part of the reason I like working on multiple projects. Thanks.

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  13. oh, thank goodness. I have been living like this for awhile now. ebb and flow, highs and lows. I start wondering if I'm the only one - because when I read blogland, everyone seems to be go go go 24/7 sewing. I just cannot. Maybe one just needs to accept that doing burst of intense work/design means also taking a break to do other things as well. I just cannot create continuously day after day like some people can. Fabric shopping does not help me at all - it makes me feel worse. Reading magazines or flipping through my sketchbook helps. I'll work on a design and that kind of catapults me back to the studio. Will be interesting to read what others have to say :-)

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  14. Your comment about working for *you*, with complete creative license... you could have been a fly on the wall in my kitchen last night during a conversation I was having with my S.O. I've been struggling with balancing one or two commissions, general production work and having an art project thumping around in my brain for a while and realized that I can't seem to find a way to work in all three ways: I either need to concentrate on making things I think will sell OR giving myself over to the art series and letting the rest go. Balance is hard to attain.

    And when creativity escapes, I find it's good to just BE in my sewing space, ironing one of my baskets of prewashed fabric or cutting down my scraps into uniform sizes. But rarely force the work. If I'm REALLY frustrated, I stay home and actually do some housework! Rarely, though ;-)

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  15. I'm with you on this! Totally. I do the organization thing and seeing all the "stuff" usually jump starts me on the next creative endeavor. But it's not foolproof. This was a really helpful post!

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  16. Yep. Know that feeling only too well...but in my case it is also a kerfuffle of what do I like most? Fabric and thread? Paper and paints? Stencils and stamps? Dyeing and playing with resists? Making books...from fabric and or paper? Journaling? Ooh...at my age I should feel settled into one thing. Sometimes I just stand in my shed and look in awe at the possibilities. Sigh. But then I don't do commissioned work ... Yet.
    Like everyone else I find what you do inspires me. Thank you for that.

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    1. Thanks....It's hard when one loves so many different things. Lots of possibilities is good.

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  17. Love your blog, Marie. I agree with the others, that handling and putting away fabric is soothing and can be inspiring. I like to "window shop" through Pinterest, and just go where it takes me. One site I especially like is http://design-seeds.com/index.php/search which is full of pictures from nature and life showing color palettes. Then I like to go for a walk and try to "see" color combinations myself.

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  18. I go through the same process as you... almost word for word. Each time it's as if I have to learn how to walk all over again, with lots of stumbles and worries that I will never find myself sure of foot again. Of course, I always do, but often times on a completely different path then I was originally on. (And, I agree that working solely for myself seems to assist in allowing me the room to work through whatever needs to be worked through).

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  19. It's funny how similar we all are! I go through exactly the same thing and I follow all the same steps in different orders. I always need the outdoors and it helps to take a camera. I like to sketch something just to relax. Mindless sewing is good too. I do it until I get sick of it and sometimes inspiration hits.

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  20. OMG...this is exactly how I feel. When I am in the zone, I am feverishly hard at it....thinking, planning, designing, working on my EQ7, staring at, feeling and ordering fabrics.......then I can hit a wall, so to speak. Perhaps it is creative block, or something doesnt quite turn out as well as I would hope, or I get bored or.....I like your strategies to deal with this. I do the same. Sometimes I push through...sometimes I need a break, a rest, some sleep (when it gets really crazy I can quilt all day and into the night). Sometimes I switch projects......sometimes I wait for my subconscious to work through the design puzzle. I can be limited by my skill, technique or fabric choices....at the moment I am struggling because I know exactly what fabric I need but I cant seem to find it on line or in my local quilt stores. Great commentary!

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  21. Thanks, Jennie....it's quite the process we put ourselves through, that's for sure.

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Thanks so much for stopping by and taking the time to comment. I try to respond to all of your wonderful comments....if you are not getting any response from me it's because you are set up as a no-reply blogger. In order to receive a response you can change your status in your blogger profile. I'm no longer accepting anonymous comments.

Thanks again for all your wonderful comments
Marianne

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