Tag: creativity

have a stubborn heart

I don’t know who said this (do you?) but I love it:

“Magic happens when you do not give up, even though you want to. The Universe always falls in love with a stubborn heart”

 

I think it’s true.  Letting go of things is part of the equation too.  And getting out of the way, letting things happen.  It all has to balance. That’s the tricky part.  And you’ve got to take care of your stubborn heart.  

It has been my experience that ideas are self perpetuating – one thing leads to another.  Showing up,  having a stubborn heart,  keeps things flowing.  Working, trying things, failing,  asking the second question and the third and wanting to see what’s around the next corner keeps me in motion.

Once in a while that cycle gets broken. The well isn’t empty but the bucket is not reaching.  A consequence of too much at once and not enough rest.

No amount of effort or discipline will fix it.  It requires another approach.  A rest and a reset. I let go of my ambitious day and did what I felt like.  Mostly I cleaned.  Laundry, serious vacuuming, making space,  clearing distractions and removing obstacles.  Making this a good place for thinking.  A place conducive to ideas.  And tomorrow a trip to the shore for a day of mudlarking.

That should fix me.  Part of the big tidying today was making my worktable an inviting space and making an appointment to show up.  Just to show up, no huge expectations or attachment to a particular outcome.

art supplies

It’s ready for me and tomorrow evening I’ll spend time experimenting, moving my heart and mind and hands and beginning to wake up the muscle, find my way back in.

paper mache teacups

I’ll share some of my mudlarking day in an instagram story tomorrow.  And if you feel like a project this weekend maybe try a paper mache teacup. They make a sweet mother’s day gift.

woodshedding birds and owls

hand stitched birds

hand stitched birds

I’m in the woodshed with songbirds. Evaluating the pattern and steps, testing and adjusting little things – using what I learned teaching the workshops last month to make the pattern all I want it to be.

pale blue textile bird

My friend Mickey introduced me to the term woodshedding and I love it:

“The ability to conjure up a feeling of wonder in others, to create a sense of awe, has always fascinated me. And while I do believe that magic can just “happen” under the right circumstances, creating magic is a much different story. It involves a lot of hard work, endless study and a constant refining of process and craft. In music, they call these periods of intense practice woodshedding, referring to the time spent honing skills privately out in the woodshed.”

Mick Riad  –  Creative Director, Fortuny

I think it is my favorite place to be, in the woodshed with something. Discovering, testing and refining. Deep in a learning process.

handstitched birds on my worktable

crimson and puce bird

hand stitched bird details

velvet fortuny owl

I’m also woodshedding owls to prepare for the dastardly owl workshops this fall (I think there are 2 spots left).  Eventually they will also become a pdf and print pattern too.

What’s going on in your woodshed?

happenstance, chance, accidental beauty

boro textile

boro textile

Why does this stitching, born solely of necessity, produce such compelling and powerful compositions? Does some perfect rhythm, some harmony with the universe reveal itself if we get out of the way?

And intertwined with the aesthetic appeal there is another sensibility about these patched and mended textiles.  Stephen Szczepanek refers to Boro as having soulful beauty.  I think that’s perfect, their unassuming and utilitarian nature and their absolute integration with life communicate an intimacy and humanity that is exquisite.

I chose some of my favorite examples of patched and mended old cloth to share with you below – click the images for the larger versions (all photos by Sri Threads).  

There is beautiful evidence of time and use everywhere. I’ve been photographing my paintboxes for years, to record  their transformations.

Like the Boro pieces I love them for their accidental beauty and for inspiration – there are so many things to think about and so many places to begin in them.

Note: this post was originally published in 2015 as part of my big creative year series and was edited and updated with new images on 4/6/2018

momentum

Momentum is crucial, and when you’ve got it,  you’ve got it and when you don’t, you don’t. Lack of momentum is why the wheels come off most New Year’s resolutions by February, why projects get abandoned and ideas get filed permanently in the someday folder. I started this blog 12 years ago (officially in february) – my first official post was titled momentum because I felt like my creative life, my personal creative life was in the someday folder.

cardboard stampede

12 years later I still work hard to maintain my momentum and occasionally I lose it and find myself in the doldrums. It happens for lots of reasons, failures, discouragement, disappointments, obstacles or plain old fatigue but most often it’s because I’m feeling overwhelmed, overwhelmed with tasks, or choices or possibilities, overwhelmed with indecision, overwhelmed with all that isn’t done. When I lose it the only fix is action. Easy to say, so hard to do. Inertia is so heavy and oppressive, but there are a couple things I say to myself that do help when there is no wind in my sails:

it’s easier to keep going than to start

Just telling myself that helps immensely. And it means two things for me – it’s smart to make it part of my day to do things that keep momentum alive, basic things like structure and habits that support forward motion, even very small things, done consistently help a lot.  And when I do find myself dead in the water I need to take some small action (it can be really small) –  just start – bust out of the inertia. I posted a while ago about getting stuck and ways to get past it here.

my best work is ahead

I believe this and it saves me, I just need to remind myself once in a while. It makes me not quit and helps me live and act in uncertainty. It pushes me to let stuff go, take the next step  and try new things. I feel like I’ve barely gotten started and I’m so curious about what’s next, its a powerful reason to keep moving, to get through storms and doldrums, to see what’s around the next corner. If I quit I’ll never know.

try

note : I’ve been updating and reposting some of me big creative year posts from 2015. They are ideas that are very much on my mind as I start the new year. I’ve got big plans and apparently I find myself very inspiring. This is one of my favorites from the series.

so long 2017, mending sleeves and bold moves

contemporary holly hobby

ann wood : mending

Everything feels slow and still and there is lots to think about so I am mending. I love to mend, I love the thrift and economy and the meandering pace of it. I love how it looks and what it means, these are badges that tell you something about me.

ann wood : mending

contemporary holly hobby

While I patch my sleeves and collars and knees I’m thinking about the year past and my plans for the next. I’ve got big scary plans and I’ll tell you about them in a minute.  First I want to tell you a painful lesson I learned about attention.

A few years ago I sort of learned to ride a motorcycle.  Slow in the driveway. I was bad at it.  The most serious problem I had was driving into things: trees, houses, people etc. I googled the problem and found an answer, the fix was remarkably simple and easy:

To not look where I did not want to go.

I was so afraid of driving into the tree, the person, the house etc. that I focused on them and they pulled me like a magnet.  The result was awkward and painful. When I only looked where I wanted to go it was like magic.

Starting now I’m keeping my big plans in front of me. Looking where I want to go. Making myself focus on the big scary things I want to accomplish in 2018.  Everyday.  Keeping the big stuff in front and working backwards from there. The little stuff will align because it must.  I’ve been thinking a lot about what’s next.  Feeling around for it for a while.  This will be a year of change for me.  I want it to be and I want to make sure my plans don’t evaporate in distractions and busyness.  I’m going to give myself very clear, consistent and simple messages about what is important:

write the book

paint the paintings

move north

Pick yours and we will talk more about it next week.

I’ll leave you with one success and one failure from 2017.  First the success. The most popular pattern this year was the tiny rag doll and that is a happy and unexpected thing.  I love the idea of lots and lots these tiny bundled up ladies in the world.

tiny rag dolls

The failure was falling out of my sketchbook habit mid year.  I miss it and feel the lack of it in all my work.  I’ll resume my small, daily squares this  Sunday.

Thanks for showing up and I wish you a beautiful new year,
ann

my big creative year : audacious thinking

forest diorama

note : I first published this post in 2015.  As I’m making plans for the new year audacious thinking and big changes are on my mind, maybe they are on your mind too.

Thinking outrageously, hypothetically removing limitations and entertaining wild possibilities is a good creative exercise, a good thinking tool and I use it often to get unstuck or to work through an idea. But applying that kind of thinking to my life and work in a larger way has been difficult. This weekend I spent time thinking about this question:

What if I could do anything?

If money was no object, if there were no obstacles, no chance of failure or negative consequences – what would I do? I think truthful answers might be enlightening, there might be signposts and arrows among them but I find the question paralyzing.

I’ve never been good at thinking big about my life, my work, thinking audaciously. Big makes me nervous. And it seems to me that I endeavor in the other direction – so much of what I do, what I’m attracted to and what I create for myself is small, the world recreated at a more manageable and comfortable scale.

forest diorama

I find it hard to turn my practical brain off and I think a large part of me never wants to be caught with grand plans – a deeply ingrained belief that modesty is a virtue. I’m fortunate, one thing has led to another and all sorts of wonderful things I could not invent have occurred, it feels somehow ungrateful to reach and it is incredibly difficult and uncomfortable to really get my head around the question. My answers, my list, mostly doesn’t feel very audacious, it feels quite tentative in fact so I’m going to keep working on it – look harder. Getting myself to write anything at all was like pulling teeth, there were a couple surprises though – here’s what I’ve got so far:

I would paint and draw a great deal

I would learn to surf – nothing crazy- little waves

I would plant a garden

I would cook a lot

I would travel a little

I would wander a lot

I would take a hand built pottery class (that seems pretty do-able – I’m looking into it)

Actually – I would take lots of classes – I could fill the rest of my life with that

I would have dogs and cats and goats

I would make a picture book for children or maybe children and grownups

I would make dioramas

I would buy a very old house

I would swim often

I wonder if you ask yourself this sort of question – if you find resistance in your thinking or spectacular visions – I’m curious – if you feel like sharing please do.